During much of my karate career, I’ve dealt with issues from injuries sustained in another sport. By age 16 I’d tallied up three ankle breaks, fractures of the spine in two separate incidents, a broken arm and lacerations of the face requiring plastic surgery. These were the more serious matters with stuff like joint dislocations and whatnot being placed in the minor injury category. It was difficult and sometimes impossible for me to do many of the things at the dojo the same way as others would do them. Getting from point A to point B without causing further injury was always a trial and error kind of thing. Consequently, there were things I just couldn’t do very well. Unfortunately, I let this get to me, but more so if I thought folks watching were dismayed with what they saw.
Later than sooner, it dawned on me that those training with me rarely made a big deal about my skill or cared one way or another about what I couldn’t do – these fellow karate-ka all had their own struggles. I figured out that those viewing me -in class or at a tournament- had more on their mind than me, thus I became less self-conscious about spectators and what they were and were not thinking. Anyone who may have been critical had no real idea who I was or my journey in life and martial arts. I quit worrying about what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could. I became free (from myself).
When we’re young, it’s common to allow head games to get us off track. One of the most important self-defenses is this: you can’t control what other people say or think, you can only control what you say or think. No one walks in your shoes. No one really knows you. There are people who will judge you, but you need not allow those judgments to impede you from achieving whatever goals you set for yourself and becoming the very best you. I tell you, once we learn to get out of our own way, martial arts and life become so much brighter and more fulfilling.
– Floyd Burk