Kick in the Pants

By D.J. Vanas ©
News From Indian Country April 2010

As I mentioned in the last article, this year is shaping up to be a time of great changes for me, both personally and professionally. Although I work out regularly, one of the areas I wanted to improve was to get back into a training regimen that was centered on self-defense and fitness. I had been a boxer in college and missed the discipline, intensity and camaraderie of the training. In January, after doing some research, I found a martial art called Krav Maga – contact combat taught by the Israeli Defense Forces. I had a good base of cardio fitness to work from, so I wasn’t overly concerned about keeping up or being in over my head. I was looking forward to the challenge and learning new things. No problem, right?

In the last three months, I’ve been punched square in the face, kicked in the privates, had my eyeball scratched, sprained my wrist, my thumb and sit here writing this piece with a bruise on my left forearm that looks like an Easter egg dyeing incident gone horribly wrong. I’ve been beat up now by a retiree, two women, the instructors, a college student, a 300-lb parole officer, and an airline pilot in my class.

What have I learned through this experience? Not that I’m a glutton for punishment or that I’m trying to stroke a macho-man ego. I’ve learned that I’m both stronger and weaker than I thought. I’ve re-learned that good things don’t come easy – and things gained through blood, sweat and tears are extremely precious. I’ve been reminded how much joy there is in learning new stuff. Plus, I’m not only in better shape than I’ve been in a long time, but I’ve got a whole new group of friends to do it with. I’ve re-learned why we fall – so we can learn how to get back up again. The impact of this has affected, in a very positive way, my attitude toward the changes we’re going through, my daily motivation level, my choices and my appreciation for “rest days.”

This experience has produced some of the most humbling moments of my life. Yet, I feel more confident than I did before I started. How can those two co-exist? Very easily. You see, confidence means that you understand, and feel, that you are good enough to compete, do business, converse or work with anyone. Humility means that you are not putting yourself above any of those people. We require humility to learn new things.

Without it, we stumble through life and through each challenge or disappointment, we keep only the pain and miss the lesson. I went into this knowing it was a “process” and there would be an “adjustment” period (love these words). I’ve realized that life is teaching that sacred lesson all over again – growth and change both require humility. If you don’t offer it up front in the first place, it will be taught to you anyway!

What are you doing to push yourself into new territory, improve your skills, your relationships, your career or your health? It may require time, commitment, or facing fear – but what you get in return is worth it and we can’t get it any other way!

However, I don’t recommend the crotch-kicking part. I’ve found there’s not much to be learned in this one…

D.J.’s upcoming schedule:

14 Denver Museum of Nature &
Science (Denver, CO)
19-23 Celebrating Grandpa's 96th
Birthday (San Diego, CA)

8-9 Santa Fe DWI Prevention Program
(Santa Fe, NM)
11-13 Behr Wedding (Pittsburgh, PA)
21-30 Europe

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Odawa) is a nationally acclaimed motivational storyteller, success coach and the author of the celebrated book, The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement and audio CD series The Warrior Within. D.J. uses traditional warrior concepts and wisdom to inspire people to achieve their best in life, school and career and owns Native Discovery Inc., a company dedicated to “building the warriors of tomorrow… today.” He can be reached at (719) 282-7747.

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