Be Persistent

The best way out is always through.” 

― Robert Frost

For as long as I can remember I have been about the struggle.  When it came to training and pushing myself I didn’t think of it as a struggle. I find meaning in struggle and hard work.  Without a doubt there were many days when it was tough. A battle as much with myself as with the hard training we were doing. Through athletics and martial arts I have developed a mentality that enabled me to continue to push myself and be persistent. The habit of sticking with something until it is complete. Being persistent has enabled me to get through most everything that has ever been thrown at me.  As martial artists, we are fighters, combat athletes and by our very nature… is to be persistent.

I am not sure what made me want to be an athlete and a martial artist , but I have figured out a few ‘hacks’ along the way.  Just so you know, I feel that hard work and persistence are two of the biggest ‘hacks’ to reaching your potential.  That being said, here are a few ways you can become more persistent in your life.

  1. When taking on anything the number one thing is, never stop attacking it.  Whether it is a task that needs to get done, a goal you want to achieve or a problem that you have to deal with, have the attack mentality.  Even if you are regrouping, trying to figure out the next best way to go, it is with an attack mentality.  The task isn’t going to take care of itself. Real goals will keep nagging you. Problems are not going to go away…you have to attack them until they are taken care of.
  2. My motto has always been, “It’s always too soon to quit.” Never Give Up the Fight!  If something is important to you, if it needs to get done, or if others are counting on you, you can’t quit, you can’t give up, sorry that is not an option.  No matter how hard something is you have to figure out a way to finish.  Hey, no one said it had to be perfect and pretty, but if you start something, finish it.  One of the statements I have used is, “Better never begin, once begun, better finish.”  Bottom line, if I didn’t want to do something that I didn’t need to do, I didn’t start.  However, if I started something that I had to do, said I’d do, or wanted to do, I would not stop until it was done.  That mentality has served me well, both in making decisions on what I am willing to do and following through on what needs to get done.  
  3. Do not let circumstances defeat you.  Life happens to everyone We are all going to experience good and bad times, health and sickness, happiness and sadness, good luck and bad luck. We are all going to have circumstances that are going to have the ability to derail you, but do not allow them to defeat you.  I look at everything as a part of life, even accidents and tragedies.  I have had my fair share of accidents, failures, injuries, illness, losses, personal tragedies, even life threatening cancers. But, we are martial artists, fighters, warriors and ready and willing to take on what life decides to throw at us.  When it happens I will take it on, never stop attacking and Never Give Up the Fight!

It is not going to be easy, worthwhile things never are.  You are going to have to be persistent…especially with yourself!  Once you begin to build routines and positive habits in your life you will find your ability to be persistent grow.  Once you know what you have to do and what you want to do, then you have to knuckle up and do it.  As Robert Frost stated, “The best way out is always through.”  You are a fighter, a combat athlete, a martial artist, you attack, you never quit or give up, and  you won’t be defeated by the circumstances of our life.  Be persistent and stand your ground!

Don’t Fear The Process

In junior high and high school I was a gymnast.  In the beginning you learn how to simply swing back and forth, learning how to use your body to create more and more momentum.

Once you become comfortable with swinging you then learn how to do a kip. This requires some technique and timing.  On the outside, it looks very simple. However, there are many little movements that must be coordinated and timed to complete the move.  Eventually, the goal is to kip up and cast as high as you can so as to let your body drop and allow your body to swing completely around the bar.  Of course, the bar is 9 feet off the ground and what looks so effortless from the outside, is not so easy.  No matter how many times you swing back and forth, at some point you are going to have cast as high as you can and let gravity work. Allowing the process to happen is always the toughest part. Why is it so tough to just let it happen -fear!
What ultimately allows a gymnast to allow their body to swing through the air around the bar is faith.  Eventually, you have to believe you are going to get all the way around.

We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.

Most will never become a gymnast or have to swing entirely around a bar. But at some point you will have something in front of you, something new and scary, that you have to face and get over.  We all get to that place when doing something for the first time where fear hangs out and you have to choose to move through it.  Your first class, your first time sparring or rolling live, your first competition, the list goes on.…  Will you allow fear keep you from taking the next step? Will fear stop you from starting something new or will you have faith in the process, let yourself go and just have fun doing something totally new?

I can tell you I have done both. I have hesitated and even prevented myself from experiencing something new. On the other hand, I have ‘casted straight to handstand and let it rip.’ I have taken chances to do new things, meet new people, experience the curiosity and joy of being a complete beginner again.  What is it that prevents you from taking that swing?  Whenever you are at the cusp of doing something new and hesitate to jump, you must not let fear win.  Courage is not about the lack of fear; courage is about being afraid and doing it anyway.

Learning to trust the process will allow you to experience many things that will never be there if you allow fear to control you.  Learn to simply let go.  It’s something I wish I would have done it always throughout my life. Just like when I went for that first giant swing in gymnastics.  

Start doing those things you are putting off, that you may be afraid of, but will benefit your life….you’ll be happy you did.

Rules For Living Part 2

Rule #4

All Champions Have To Start Somewhere And Quite Often It Is At The Bottom

My first year of wrestling I was on my back looking up a lot! I counted a lot of gym lights my first year of wrestling in Jr High losing 11 matches and winning only 1. I was a real ‘loser’ all around that school year. I got in a ton of trouble and was eventually expelled in the last 2 weeks of school. Incidentally, that made that summer a turning point in my life. My dad, who was athletic, an eagle scout, a successful manager at one of the first computer companies, grew up poor and worked on a farm, put me to work. My dad gave a list of chores to do everyday, and I was expected to finish it. What wasn’t finished was added to the next day’s list. I started my 7th grade year pretty much on the bottom of every area of my life, sports, school and letting my parents down. However, with my dad’s stern guidance and a summer of continuous work something changed in me. I definitely started on the bottom, but the following year my season record was 12-2. In addition, I stopped getting in anywhere near the same amount of trouble.

It is not where you start, but where you end and how you get there

Rule #5

If You Truly Believe In Yourself, Others Will Too


After starting from ground zero and working to change my self image, I started winning. More than that I was pushing myself in ‘most’ areas of my life. I decided to set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier every morning and get up and jog. Training was now a habit and by high school I was excelling in gymnastics, doing well in wrestling and my grades were good, but not great. My teachers saw that I was working harder than ever and taking classes more serious, but I was certainly not one of the most studious in the school. They soon began to realize that I was beginning to believe in my ability to be scholar athlete. I began taking an interest in my classroom work and looking at my school work in the same way as my athletics. A few teachers began to really work with me in areas I did not excel. They saw me not just as a high level gymnast and good wrestler, but as someone that wanted to succeed.


There are two types of people who begin to attract help from those in the know: those who try hard, fail, get back up and go hard again, and those who succeed and are always open to suggestions to get even better. I was of the first group and I found that people like to help those who work hard to improve, listen and actually follow their advice. When you go to a coach, mentor or teacher and share your goals and ask for advice, criticism and guidance they are in your corner as you fight to succeed. We should make sure our mentors become part of our successes, let them know how much we appreciate all they do and show your gratitude with every new victory.

Judge your successes by what you had to give up to get them

Coaches Corner: Do or Do not, There is no… not doing what you Need and Want to Do Pt. 1

muay thai minneapolisYoda knows what all successful people know, it is about ACTION! But, so many, including myself, have created barriers and blocked our own paths to getting started and just simply taking care of business….whatever that business is. “​Life was never meant to be a struggle, just a gentle progression from one point to another, much like walking through a valley on a sunny day” ​But, for many they often create their own mountain of doubt and make even the simplest task so much worse than it really is. On the other hand, for others the climb is an adventure, the harder it seems the more they want to do it, the struggle to get from one point to another is how they want to spend their sunny day. No matter what your goals are, the truth is either you get after it or you don’t.

‘​Nature’s way is simple and easy, but men prefer what is intricate and artificial’ ​

Why do some people make such a big production out of doing the simplest things and others thrive in the most difficult of environments. Well, I have no clue, but I do know people will make things out to be more difficult and see themselves as less capable before they really know what they will be doing. Creating negative images in you head will dissuade you from doing things that in reality are pretty simple and easy. To take away some of the apprehension it is important to be aware of your potential of being successful at some level, be realistic in your goals and understand that everyone starts somewhere near the same place….at the beginning. I feel many people put an unrealistic expectation on themselves and without having any real idea of who they will be training with and what they will be doing, make imaginary comparisons of themselves and others who will be in the classroom and are self conscience that they do not know what they are doing. The same mental process will take place every time they want to do something knew, and in many cases dissuade them from new experiences. How can we reduce and even eliminate our doubts and fears of new opportunities in our lives and experiencing all that life has to give? Well, that is the million $ question. To Be Continued….

Coaches Corner: Never been a horse that can’t be rode, Never been a cowboy can’t be throwed

Martial Arts Minnesota

Bottom line, you are going to have good days and bad.  We have all had times when everything is going great and times when we seem to deal with set back after set back.  The ups and downs we all experience is part of life.  No matter what, at some point or another you will have to deal with events, injuries, illnesses, personal crises, or whatever that is out of your control.  For me the martial arts has been one of the vehicles I have used to develop the ability to deal with life’s struggles, and find a way to work around, over or through them.

I have had my fair share of ups and downs, but I have made it a habit to be positive and have developed into an eternal optimist. When I was in 9th grade I started to look for positive sayings from wherever I could find them.  I did a lot of reading, digging through books and started writing them down in a notebook.  As an athlete, you learn how to grow from wins and losses.  Dan Gable has been synonymous with victory.  He went 64 – 0 as a high school wrestler and then 118 – 1 in college at the University of Iowa.   Gable says that it was his only loss to Larry Owens that allowed him to become ‘good’.  In fact, after that loss Gable became an even stronger wrestler, even more determined to excel.  Gable stated, “I say that I went undefeated for seven years, lost a match, and then I got good.  He would go on to become undefeated in international competition and go unsecured upon in route to winning the 1972 Gold Medal in the Olympics.  In addition, Dan Gable believes that without that loss he would have never have become the coach he was. 

When life gives you lemons make lemonade“, not only that but drink that lemonade down to get more energy to grow even stronger.  When you get thrown off that horse, you have to shake off the dust and get back at it.  Do not stew over losses and mistakes, but rather the some time to see where you can grow from the experience.  The mentality with Muay Thai fighters in Thailand is unique compared to the U.S. In Thailand it is about the experience and not simply a win/loss record.  In Thailand they  don’t ask “what’s your record?”, but rather, “how many fights do you have?” It is the experience gained from fights that will eventually make a great fighter.  The same goes for all of us in life.  It isn’t about dwelling on mistakes, personal problems and whatever else life throws at you, but rather learning from them.  I have made it a habit to write down what I’ve learned from life’s experiences, good, bad and ugly.  It is not what happens to you, but rather how you grow from the experience. 

It is a learned skill to be positive.  One of the sayings I wrote down 35 years ago was, “You can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”.   The same event can be taken in two different ways.  There are those that seem to find the good in everything.  No matter what we experience it is how we look at it that makes the difference.  Good luck, bad luck it is how we deal with our experiences that will determine how we grow.   There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields.  One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck.  His reply was,  Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?  Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to break in one of the wild horses, he fell off and broke his leg.  Everyone thought this was very bad.  The farmer again said,  Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?  A few weeks later, the military came to the village and drafted all able-bodied young men in the area.  When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they had no need for him.  Good luck, bad luck?  Who knows?  Things that seem bad on the surface may in fact end up making you a better person. What determines how you will respond to life ups and downs? In simplest terms it will come down to how you habitually respond to them, positively or negatively. It comes down to how you deal with the 1/2 full glasses of lemons surrounded by thorny roses.  I found that using the thorns will make it easier to fill your glass with lemonade. 

Your mind can only focus on one thought at a time, that thought can be positive or negative. You can be actively dealing with or freaking out about what you are going through. I can honestly say I have been through the ringer a couple times. Not only the normal ups and downs of life, but also a little more.  14 years ago I was diagnosed with liver cancer, then sciatic nerve cancer.  In both diagnoses the doctors said that the chances of survival was bleak. There were many times that I had my head full of negative thoughts about dying, not seeing my kids grow up (by far the worst), if the pain was ever going to stop…Now if I would have let those thoughts take over there is a much greater chance that the outcome would have been quite different.  However, I had made a habit out of thinking positive.  It was at times a battle, but knowing that you can only think one thought at a time, I would often repeat a positive affirmation or a Bible verse over and over until I had changed my thought.  I was so happy that starting in 9th grade I had memorized positive statements and later Bible verses.  To this day I repeat positive affirmations daily to both start and end my day.  Being an optimist has in fact been both instrumental and a necessity in my life.  So whether I am able to ride that horse or get tossed on my butt, I know I have the attitude to keep getting better.

Coaches Corner: A Warriors Opinion


Life is a struggle for survival, for success and to be the best that you can be. Life is a battle, a personal ‘no holds barred’ ring fight; however, it doesn’t need to be this way. We don’t have to go through life kicking, screaming and pissed off at everything. In all of us there is a warrior. Notice I said warrior, not a fighter. 


A warrior is calculated, cunning and ready, a consistent, persistent, creative and hard working individual who does not give up when trouble arises. A warrior learns from everything he/she can – the good, the bad and the ugly. A warrior is guided by principles and driven by beliefs. The warrior dedicates to absolute competence. Are you warrior material? Of course we all are; however, it takes some longer than others to take the bull by the horns and start kicking some butt.

What motivates you? When I teach and train, the primary motivating factor that drives me is the quest to find my limits, or those that I’m teaching – and then go past them. I don’t try to find how little I can do to get by, that gets you hurt. Instead, I become the “creative and hard working individual” and push myself, physically and mentally. In doing this, I continually learn where my current limits are and ways in which I can surpass them.

The only true way to find your limits and discover new things about yourself is to simply go for it. Experience is the ultimate teacher. Don’t put limitations on yourself based on opinions, doubt or fear. In my experience, I have found that nearly every limitation I have was created in my head. Through years of training in gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts, competitive ring fighting I have had to constantly look at my own personal limitations. And through doing this I have found that there is almost no realistic goal that is impossible to achieve, unless I have made it that way in my mind.

If I work hard, push through barriers,Motivation_AWarriorsOpinion become creative and daring, and push forward one step at a time I find that I am able to do whatever I set out to do. And for me the hard work, the creativity and daring, the planning and then seeing through the plan is my motivation. And once I have achieved a goal, another goal is put in its place, even as simple as improving on what I have just accomplished.

Now it is your turn to figure out what motivates you, and then activate it.

The little failures others call “defeat”

What is defeat? A definition I found most effective is when the word is broken down into its two root words: de, in Latin means “to go from,” and feat, an English word meaning “accomplishment.” In my athletic career and personal training regime, there were many “accomplishments” that I had to “go from” temporarily. I was derailed, not destroyed. I was bruised, not broken. I may have lost a battle, but I lived to fight another day.

One thing I hate about what outsiders see as defeat is the implication of loss; the defeated have been beaten down and overcome. We see this most blatantly in ring fighting where the crowd views a defeated fighter as “beaten”and “lost”. They criticize and say how the fighter should have done this or that; even say how they could have done better. When they themselves are ”those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” They understand nothing about the preparation: the physical, mental and emotional battle that happens; before, during and after the actual “experience.” The “experience” that is worth a 1,000 hours of training, that is real world and in real-time, has no substitute. In the warriors mind, the training has been a great learning experience.


To a warrior, defeat is a temporary condition that will motivate them to push a little harder, look a little deeper, plan and prepare a little smarter; in the end, will enable them to bash future obstacles out of the way. If you stop before all your little “defeats,” you will never overcome all of your internal limitations. You are all in your own battle, your own training “ring fight.” Some days there may be some accomplishments that you will have to go away from. This is where you regroup, kick yourself in the butt and go for it again. If you continue to train and push forward long enough, and refuse to give up, you will be able to overcome your self-imposed limitations,and reach your goals. Your personal victories may not put you in the lime light. If you continue to push yourself to the best of your ability, and overcome the obstacles in your way, you will be a winner.

The Bottom Line
If your ultimate goal is to be the best that you can be in your career, personal life and/or training, you have got to be: tougher, more motivated, and more focused than anybody and any obstacle that might be in your way. Your goals must be as high as the stars and you must be willing to get down and dirty doing the work that victory demands. You must knock out laziness, weakness, complacency and self-imposed limitations. A warrior starts every new day with vigor and optimism, and hits their training with joy and disciplined devotion. To succeed, you must accept the plain and simple truth – Life is a battle, a war, if you want to win you have to give it all you can.

Remember: Good, Better, Best – Never Let It Rest.

Fighters’ motivation