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Thomas Clifford’s Martial Arts

Take Control

More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows

Posted: January 19, 2020

“Self-respect permeates every aspect of your life.” -Joe Clark                                        


Dear Friend,


I trust this blog finds you well. 

Martial Artists spend a great deal of time evaluating their skills.

In order to make progress, it is beneficial to know our strengths and weaknesses.

We want to move forward, improve, and grow. 

Having a deep understanding of; where you were, where you are, and where you want to be, are necessary if you are truly responsible for your development. 

Sometimes we overlook a crucial component of this “ownership.”

We neglect to establish presuppositions in regard to how every training will play out. 


Before a training session, some of us may wonder anxiously: 

What kind of class is going to be taught?

Is it going to be a good class or a bad class? 

Will it be difficult or easy? 

Is it going to be exciting or boring? 

Will it be a class with too much of this or too little of that? 


Some may decide in advance that their experience will be negative:

It is going to be grueling. 

Class is going to be repetitious or exhausting. 

It will be irritating, because others will slow down the pace of training. 

Class will be too overwhelming, because others are more advanced.


You could instead choose from this list of appealing presuppositions: 

It will be a spectacular training session. 

There will be something new to learn. 

Training will be extraordinarily challenging. 

Class will be fascinating. 

Everyone in class will contribute to the intensity. 


When you approach your training proactively, with appealing presuppositions, your progress gets accelerated. 

You do not need a new invitation to move quickly, count loud, stay focused, and do your personal best. 

You have a permanent invitation to bring your 'A game' to every session.

You certainly do not consult the Farmer's Almanac to determine what kind of day you are going to have. 

You take full responsibility for your conduct, and you gladly accept the consequences. 

You choose the quality of your experience before it even happens. 


Conversely, you can choose to be a victim. 

Has anyone ever ruined your day? 

I am ashamed to admit it, but I have allowed many of my days to be ruined. 

The quality of my life was often at the mercy of someone else's mood or agenda. 

I was on the reactionary end of things. I knew that I did not like it, but it was convenient. 

It provided me with a way of finding someone or something to blame for everything that was not "going" well in my life. 

Then something happened...

In 2005 my total cholesterol was 364. 

I thought that I was a victim of a high fat American diet. 

I felt like my parents fed me the wrong food (I was a 37 year old man in 2005) and it was their fault. 

I thought fast food should be illegal, and if it was, I wouldn’t have this problem. 

I told my Doctor that my high cholesterol was the result of culture that does not value health. 

I told him that it got out of control because 'most of the food that is available in this country is bad.' 

He looked me straight in the eye and laughed in my face. 

My Doctor said, "If it will make you feel better, after your autopsy, I will try to put homicide as the cause of death, However, suicide would be the correct explanation.” 

I immediately understood what my Doctor was telling me. 

I did not 'get high cholesteroled.'

I 'high cholesteroled' myself. 

I had a choice...

Take full responsibility for my health or come up with a bunch of reasons why it was not my fault. 

It took nearly a year to bring my total cholesterol below 200. 

6 months later, I got it down to 180. 

That’s where it has stayed. 

I actually miss my old diet. 

But I made a decision.   

Have you decided what kind of day you are going to have? 

Have you decided what you are going to do tomorrow? 

What about the rest of the week? 

Are you achieving your goals? 

Are you becoming the person who you decided you would be? 

Are you living the life ‘of’ your dreams, or are you living your life ‘in’ your dreams? 

What does all of that have to do with the Martial Arts? 

Everything, if you decide it does. 

I did, but you certainly don't have to. 

If you want your Martial Arts experience to be superficial, go right ahead. 

If you are using your training as a diagnostic and developmental process, I am certain that you are fascinated and fulfilled. 

My influence on your journey is trivial. 

You are in control of it. 

If you are approaching your training as an entertaining way to exercise, you will be disappointed. 

Because in that case, my influence is too important, and I will invariably disappoint you. 

Martial Arts affords us a wealth of introspection. 

It can be excruciatingly painful. 

However, if we continue to act on our discoveries, our progress will ultimately lead to pleasure.   

Martial Arts practice is an action-packed adventure, if you decide to make it so. 

I look forward to seeing you and your family in class at the Dojo! 



Kyoshi Thomas Clifford 



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