Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable

by Duncan Richardson (Founder)

Last night, I landed on a concept that resonated with our martial art students. As you may know, martial arts require the practitioner to focus intensely on proper techniques. Here’s the challenge, especially for youngsters, it’s hard! And, it’s ultimately why the martial arts is so good for them.

I have been teaching martial arts since 1998. And, I am constantly relating the martial arts to daily life with our students. Since 1998, I’ve been constantly exploring new ways to connect these 2 worlds. Usually, when a student is not kicking as high as she could, or he is not blocking as fast as he could, I relate it to effort, self discipline, and perseverance. However, last night, none of those character traits popped into my head.

What popped into my head was that students who were lacking effort were making themselves more comfortable. So, I asked the students, “Does practicing a high front kick make you comfortable or uncomfortable?” They said, “uncomfortable.” Ah hah!

Me: Does making a good front stance make you comfortable or uncomfortable?
Students: Uncomfortable.

Me: Does proper stretching make you comfortable or uncomfortable?
Students: Uncomfortable.

Me: Does eating cauliflower or broccoli make you comfortable or uncomfortable?
Students: UNCOMFORTABLE? (Except for a couple. And, one said, “Well, it depends on how it’s prepared.”)

Now, I’m having fun with this, because I know right where I’m going with this discussion.

Me: Does eating Halloween candy make you comfortable or uncomfortable?
Students: COMFORTABLE!!! (100% of the students)

Me: Does studying your math or spelling make you comfortable or uncomfortable?
Students: Uncomfortable.

I continued with a few more. They were smelling what I was cooking. I asked the students, “What do think is going on here with comfortable and uncomfortable?” Collectively, they concluded that pushing yourself to the level of being uncomfortable is what makes you better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter. And, often, the more uncomfortable something is, the better it is for you.

Before I wrapped up this little lesson, I was sure to discuss when being uncomfortable is a bad thing. For instance, when a stranger approaches you and begins talking to you. Or, somebody is putting their hands on you, and you don’t like it. This uncomfortable feeling a protective mechanism to alert you that something is not right.

Whether you’re in our martial arts program or not, I challenge you to ask yourself, “Am I too comfortable in my life?” Have you become too comfortable with the way you eat? Too comfortable with your physical activity? Too comfortable with your spouse? Now, what are you going to do to get “uncomfortable” in those areas?

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