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A nice thing happened this weekend- I got promoted to brown belt by my coach Robert Drysdale on his visit to Dublin. we had spoken over the weekend about the evolution of the gym, about my own evolution as a coach and practitioner, and the recognition of that evolution is nice. But if I’m honest, it’s not much more than that to me, it’s just a nice recognition of the work I’ve been putting in on the mats. I know that some people really like to get belts and I was once like that when I was a Taekwondo student, but not any more. My goal is to try to improve a little bit every time I step on the mat, and I’m long since over the notion of having to be amazing every session. Now I know that some days you’re a rhino, others you’re a bunny rabbit, that you sometimes have to take 4 steps backwards just to take a half step forward, and that always, always, always, there is someone that thinks they can do it better than you or deserves what you have more than you, but most people are nice.

A while back, it seems like an age ago now, I decided that I would stop trying to be a physical Swiss Army Knife, and dedicate the precious hours of training that I had available to me to doing one thing and one thing only- getting better at the sport I love the most. 18 months, countless training sessions, seminars, trips to other gyms, visitors from other places, advice, videos, and drilling sessions later, I’ve got a brown belt and a recognition from someone I respect that my hard work and time is paying off. That’s nice.

I’ll train with anyone who offers. I don’t pass judgement on the skills of others. I don’t play us-and-them with other teams or gyms. I don’t get caught up in negativity and I try to catch myself if I ever start whinging about a lack of time or training partners. I don’t make excuses when I get beaten or swept or tapped. I don’t complain about the size/speed/aggression of others. I don’t use an ache or pain as an excuse to do nothing- even some light drilling is better than nothing at all. All of these are mistakes I’ve made in the past. They’re just human nature. I’m sure I’ll make them again so perhaps instead of saying “I don’t” I should say “I try not to”.

It’s customary now to thank people on the internet so I will say thanks to my training partners in particular Neil, Rowan, and Shafty. My students who help me think about everything about the game I play and who challenge me with their questions and reactions. To Andy Ryan who doesn’t have to let me train with his gym but does. To my dog Ralph.

Another milestone. On with the journey.



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