Try a Class for FREE!

Thomas Clifford’s Martial Arts

What Really Drives You

What Really Drives You?

Posted: April 21, 2019

Dear Friend,


I trust this blog finds you well.

Have you ever wondered why some relationships last and others do not? 

Sometimes the reasons why relationships fail are obvious.

Relationships with people are often complicated, right? 

Of course.

We also have relationships with ‘things.’

These relationships have complexity, as well.

For example, our relationship with food is called a diet.

Our relationship with work can be called a career.

If we expect happiness, fulfillment, and longevity in any relationship - with people, places, or things - it is necessary to satisfy 6 specific needs. 

Please read on...


The 6 Human Needs


It is very common for adults to enroll in a Martial Arts program in order to get fit, healthy, and perhaps learn some self-defense skills. 

They often fall in love with their training, embrace an active lifestyle, and the Dojo becomes their home away from home. 

What is it about the Martial Arts would inspire someone to stay with it, year after year?

I would love to hear your story.

I am sure that if you are training, you are training "on purpose."

But do you know why? 

I believe that your desire to continue studying the Martial Arts is driven by a simple, yet powerful set of needs. The fulfillment of these needs inspires you to follow through and achieve your goals.

There are 6 specific needs that we must meet in order to transform an interest into a lifestyle.

You may be familiar with the 6 Human Needs, because many people have written about them.


The first of our needs is certainty. There are a lot of things that we take for granted. We simply expect many things to just happen. It gives us a sense of security and confidence. Think about your need for certainty in your own life. How many things do you “know” are going be the way they have always been? A lot, right?

Are there things at the Dojo that provide you with certainty? Do you have expectations that are met each and every time you walk out on the mat? The answer is yes. There are a plethora of practices that we do in every training session. You have grown to rely on them.


On the far side of certainty, just past its outer edge, is variety. These are the unexpected events of our lives. Have you ever been surprised? Surprise is an example of variety. Sometimes it brings pleasure, sometimes it brings pain.

Can you think of any examples of variety in your experience at the Dojo? In the beginning, everything you did in class was new. Variety was over abundant. As you progress through the ranks, the major differences from one session to the next, seem to blur and melt away.

Ironically, you will begin to notice greater variation in training as you advanced in rank. What was once beginning to seem like the same thing over and over again, will eventually seem completely different. It doesn't actually change, you do! Your ability to detect the differences in every; strike, block, kick, and stance, increases with time.

Truthfully, the variety can be so overwhelming, that you may “shut down” on occasion and confuse it with boredom. This is very common.


Do you remember your first class at the Dojo? Were you uncomfortable? Was it embarrassing? Did you feel out of place? How important was it for you to just fit in with the rest of the class? I am confident that it was extremely important. 

No one wants to stick out like a sore thumb.

It will not take long for you to learn how to get through class without feeling like everyone is focused on you. You quickly acclimate to the culture of the Dojo, and before you know it, you feel at home on the mat.


The need to feel like you belong in the Dojo is shared by all of your classmates. Being part of the class is important to everyone. Getting in there, and rowing in the same direction as everyone else has value, especially when you know it is the right direction.

Not long after the joy of fitting in loses its luster, you have the need to stand out in class. You train hard, make progress, and intuitively expect to be recognized for your achievements. You notice other students being acknowledged for their accomplishments. Are you being overlooked? 

Of course not.

Your progress is recognized in many ways. As your skills improve, attention is naturally drawn to you. You are asked to demonstrate moves for the benefit of your classmates. You stand out.

You may earn stripes for your dedicated participation. You earn belts to indicate your experience and responsibility. Titles are earned to distinguish your unique leadership role in the Dojo. Standing out is inevitable.


You were drawn to the Martial Arts to get something from it. You are still training, and that means that the value outweighs the cost. The specific reason for starting your training is likely to be different from the reasons why you are continuing. This is the way it is for everyone who embraces Martial Arts as a lifestyle.

Did you really have any idea how much you would get from the Martial Arts when you first enrolled? You grow every time you walk out on the mat. The Dojo is an amazing place to challenge yourself and become a greater version of who you are.


You have another need. It is the need to give. When you began your training, it was appropriate to focus on what you wanted to get. As you mature, you realize that approach is limited.

Our highest need, is our need to contribute - to add value to the lives of others. 

As you progress through the belt ranks, you come to an awareness that your classmates are an incredible “resource.”

Aside from your own desire, dedication, and discipline, they contribute more to your Martial Arts education than anyone else.

The greatest contribution that you can make for your classmates, is setting an outstanding example. 

They watch what you do and how you do it. 

They rely on you to be a great training partner during cooperative drills. 

You add value to their experience when you do your best.

Perhaps you have gone through periods in your training when you contemplated giving up. 

Your classmates inspired you to continue. 

They count on you to inspire them.

For more depth on the subject of the 6 Human Needs, please seek out the masterful work of Anthony Robbins.

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



Kyoshi Thomas Clifford 

Recent Posts