Not a very nice start, but what can you do: there are times in life when you bleed, and I am not talking just about those paper cuts and other wounds you get falling off your bikeā€¦

I had Orange belt (which was the third level those days). One of the Judo training sessions, during a Judo fight practice, Randori, I hit my nose and started bleeding.

Of course, I cried: I was six or seven years old. It hurt. And the sight of blood gushing through my nose didn’t help either.

My dad, who oversaw all my practices (and training sessions, and competitions) since I began till I was drafted into the army, and my coach, took mine outside the dojo (training hall). They were greening.

“What’s so funny”, I asked, with teary eyes. I didn’t understand why are they gloating at the sight of my pain.

“You are a man now”, my father responded. “Now we know you are ready to compete.

“What do you mean???”, I cried, it was painful, and I had no patience for that kind of BS. They just smiled, and let me cry this one out.

The next week, I competed in my first competition. Won my first medal – bronze (third place).

I didn’t understand what they’ve meant at the time, I was too young, and that was probably the reason why my dad and coach didn’t try to explain, but the fact that I was hurt during a training session, meant a lot about where I was, not just physically, but mentally as well.

When you practice martial arts, like Judo, which is a “full contact” type of sport, there is a fine line between training and fighting. In practice, you are expected to give “all you got” into the training session. Physically and mentally. But, when you need to compete, and I don’t necessarily mean judo world championships, there is something else that you need to get out of yourself. Something that will allow you to deal with the most challenging state-of-mind a human needs to cope with: fear.

You see, when I pushed myself, in that training session, to the point where I was not afraid to get hurt, the point where I wanted to win that match with my training buddy, that was the indication for me being ready for the psychological challenge of competition.

Our lives are sprinkled with challenges. We deal with them every day. Some are more difficult, other just annoying, but challenges nonetheless. There are challenges that we care of. Challenges that can utterly change our lives, but we need to deal with them, for all sorts of reasons: business, relationship, family, health (god forbid), etc.

Now, of course, you don’t have to “bleed” literally to be ready for a challenge. You do need to be aware that any challenge sides a risk of getting hurt. If you are aware of that, expect that this would happen, it will make fear bearable, and easier for you to deal with.

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