How do you define strength in martial arts?
Is it the power of your punches or kicks? Your ability to beat an opponent? Your willingness to tolerate physical and emotional discomfort, no matter how difficult it gets?
One year ago I sat down in my film studio to film the last video I’d ever film before my mom died. She died the very next day.
I didn’t feel strong.
I sat down in that room just before midnight, more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life. I just wanted to sleep forever—forget filming. But I’d made a commitment to myself. One video per week and one blog article per week, no matter what. No excuses.
That’s the only thing that got me sitting there. It wasn’t motivation. It wasn’t wanting to or feeling like it. I had none of that. No: it was commitment.
It didn’t have to be good, that video. I just had to do it. And it wasn’t good. I cried on camera. I blew my nose. I talked in circles for 11 or so minutes. I didn’t even edit the footage. I just uploaded it and went to bed.
It wasn’t good at all. But here’s the thing: I showed up.
At one of the lowest points in my life, during the hardest year of my life, despite zero motivation and zero drive, I showed up. And I showed up because I had made a commitment to myself.
Discipline. Grit. That’s our strength as martial artists.
We make a commitment to being martial artists. Even when we’re lost and exhausted. Even when we’re heartbroken and devastated and alone. Even when it all feels so irrelevant and futile.
We’ve committed to showing up, and so we do.
And sometimes that showing up is just going through the motions. Half-hearted, low effort, doing the bare minimum. And that’s okay. Because we did show up. And the more we show up—despite not feeling like it—the stronger that commitment becomes. And the stronger our trust in ourselves to be able to show up becomes.
Showing up when we feel our best? That part’s easy. But showing up at our lowest, our worst, and our weakest? THAT is strength.
If you’re feeling low right now—weak or lost or unmotivated—what can you do to honour that commitment? What can you do RIGHT NOW to just get off your butt and show up?
Remember, it doesn’t have to be good. You just have to show up.
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