As some of you may know, I am the last person on earth who has the right to an invincibility complex. For those of you unfamiliar with my history, I seem to almost invent ways to get hurt, or break things, or get weird and almost unheard of maladies. Fun in some ways, with some serious potential for disaster in others.
The problem is that I’m also a martial artist, which means that despite a resounding body of evidence to the contrary, I operate on an assumption of invincibility, because – let’s be honest here – martial artists as a whole suffer from a Superman complex. We flirt with being delusional. Advice is what we give, not follow. Injuries are what happens to other people. Boo-boos may threaten our acquaintances who aren’t smart about their training but not us.
We routinely forget that we are, indeed, mortal. The world sees a limping Kokondoka and thinks “that person is hurt.” Kokondoka limp around after a National Seminar and think “I’m amazing!” It’s easy for us to confuse a limp with “swagger.”
Kokondoka are like a community of Supermen/women. We run around in strange outfits, change clothes in odd places and rock joint braces and compression shorts with the best of the spandex-clad heroes in the movies. It’s just that sometimes we are a little stiff getting in and out of the phone booth.
The past year has not been kind. For that matter, I’ve spent the past few years with something bent, broken or otherwise damaged. Occasionally, I’ve felt very, very tired. As excited as I get about training in earnest, I’ve also had my breakdowns. I’ve been a little less Superman and a little more Clark Kent. My cloak of invincibility has ripped in a few places. Okay, more than a few. I’ve been vincible……. pretty darned vincible.
The realization that you’re not invincible is a jarring one and its not entirely pleasant, considering (in my case anyway) it takes a series of crash-landings to recognize the truth. We start to think twice about things that previously wouldn’t have caused us to blink an eye. We become gun-shy. We feel like strangers in our own skin.
The good news is that vincibility can be used for good. Namely, it can remind us that all the advice we dish out isn’t just hot air. All those recommendations we give out about strength, endurance, sleep, hydration, stretching and eating right? Yeah, its not just for other people. It really works for us, too.
The next time you crash and burn, think of it as a physical Post-It note reminding you to be a little smarter. Take your own advice. Heal up, rest up and move on. If we can do what we do while being vincible, just think what we could do if we really were invincible.
It almost wouldn’t be fair to Superman.