When dreams turn to nightmares …

I have worked, played, struggled and cavorted on the martial arts landscape for more than 40 years now. I have seen my fair share of legends, champions, grinders and wanna-bees. I have seen many thousands of people come and go; it has also been a distinct pleasure to see a handful of amazing people go the distance, sustain the long-race and make very meaningful contributions in their own right. A wild ride, it has most certainly been.

One thing that has not escaped my attention though is the surprising number of champions/legends who, after decades of dedication and effort, have failed to see their mat/training successes translate into the other areas of their lives. Gold medals don’t pay rent; fame doesn’t necessarily translate into financial independence or deeply fulfilling relationships. I know quite a number of well-known martial arts celebrities who are well past their prime and don’t even own their own homes. This is not only astounding to me, is is sad and a pitiful waste of opportunity. 

Such a situation may not sound all that bad to many but let me assure you that financial stress in ones 50’s and 60’s can send people spiralling into depression, it can break down seemingly solid relationships, and it can elicit bad-behaviour, envious feelings and can drastically change personalities. Perhaps even worse, after years of public adoration and celebrity-status, to find oneself alone and without family or loved ones, could be soul-destroying to say the least. 

To be excellent at something is a wonderful thing to strive for … but to do so at the expense of the rest of your life, can prove to be a huge mistake in the long run. Trading in just 10% or 20% of our efforts, to achieve balance and success in other areas of our lives is something I strongly recommend. 

Most people dream of turning their hobby into their profession; this can often come at a high price. A passion or hobby, doesn’t always or easily translate into the great living we think we deserve. Don’t let your dreams of today turn into the nightmares of tomorrow. Balance in all things and a little forward-thinking is the trick. Sometimes, for many of us, a hobby, a passion, should just remain that. We may even find a way to make some nice pocket-money on the side … but the leap from hobby to full-blown professional can be a longer and more precarious leap that many think. 

If we are excellent at something we should be able to discover how we achieved excellence. With some thought, we may be able to apply some of that knowledge to rounding out our lives in other areas. 

Thirty years ago I knew I had to round out my martial arts training; I knew there were great gaps in my skill and I sought to fill those gaps. It also occurred to me that there were aspects of my life that could evolve into problems down the track and so likes, I spent a small part of may attention on forestalling those problems. Trading in some small percentage of my martial arts fanaticism to attend to family, to set myself on a path to financial independence, to optimise my health (both mental and physical) has paid huge dividends over time. 

Again, balance, forward thinking, enjoying the now, living a life replete with happiness, love and fulfilment … that, is rounding out our ‘game’. - JBW


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