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  • Shihan Kendall

The Case for Getting Hit


"It ain't about how hard ya hit.

It's about how hard you can get hit

and keep moving forward....

That's how winning is done!” -Rocky Balboa

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I have some very paternal, protective instincts when it comes to the kids I teach. So it was hard for me -- counterintuitive, actually -- as I found myself telling one such student, a grade school-aged girl, that I thought the best thing for her was to get punched and kicked a bit.

No, I didn't give her the Rocky Balboa speech, which also includes the observation that "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it." I'm actually a lot more optimistic than that--and a lot more sane (did I mention this kid is in elementary school?). But I did give this sweet, kind, innocent kid the best advice I could: there is a lot of value in learning to take a hit.

This is perhaps easy for me to say, because I learned how to get hit and get back up at the hands of neighborhood bullies--long before I ever learned how to fight. Most of the people I teach have thankfully not had that ugly experience, but also haven't gained the wisdom that comes with it. What's great about our Dojo training is that we get to learn to take our licks on the mat, rather than on the street; at the hands of people we trust rather than those we fear; people won't kick us when we're down, but will rather help us back up.

Yes, it goes against our instincts to put ourselves in that position, just like it goes against my protective urges to recommend to my students getting knocked upside the head a bit. But the world, while not "a mean and nasty place", is all the same going to give us a wallop every once and a while whether we like it or not. Should we ever have to use our self defense skills, we're likely to take a hit or two in the process. Better that we learn now, in a safe place, so that we can keep moving forward.


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