Failure is an essential component to rapid learning and growth.
It is often said that martial arts which incorporate live, resistance-based, freestyle sparring (randori) create more effective martial artists more quickly than those that do not. Why is that? Simply put, people who regularly spar with each other fail more often than people who do not and failure contains lessons that success does not.
Martial arts that do not incorporate live, resistance-based, freestyle sparring offer only success as a means of learning. Of course, this is an oversimplification. There are ways to fail in these martial arts as well, but they are more a matter of doing a technique incorrectly than suffering an actual consequence like getting punched or submitted. Real consequences cause real pain, but the pain need not be permanent in order for us to learn. In fact, longevity demands that it not be.
Pain, whether physical or emotional, is motivating in a way that success is not. Failure, consequences, and pain require from us rapid problem solving in order to avoid experiencing them. The more we experience these, the faster we learn. Experimentation, randori, is the path to failure and, therefore, growth and learning.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body, Severna Park’s Holistic Chamber of Commerce, and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
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