Or, “Don’t Let Other People Tell You Otherwise”

I’ve always dreamed of flying in the air like in the kung fu movies. As life would have it, I was 22 years old when I finally started my martial arts training. By most accounts, this is considered late in life. Most of the professional wushu team athletes have already past their prime at that age and would be looking to retire in the next couple of years. One of my earlier instructors said she didn’t even want to train me. I was too old and would never get anywhere. There was no point in investing her time with me. To say that wushu is a demanding sport would be an understatement. I suppose that is true with any high level sport. The analogy that I tell students all the time is that wushu is like rowing upstream. If you stop wushu, your skill doesn’t stay at the same level, it gets worse. If you stop rowing you actually go backwards, and so you must constantly row, but I digress. The point is, if I had been a “realist” or logical about my decision to start training at such a late age and had listened to all my detractors, I probably never would have started wushu. Sometimes you just have to ignore the noise and go with your gut.

Pek in various aerial wushu poses

When I watch tapes of professional wushu athletes, others would think, “I could never do that”, while I thought to myself, “Wow, I want to be just like them.” Besides the fact that most of them were hand picked by professional coaches at a young age for their genetic predisposition and started their training around 6 or 7 years old, and the fact that they train 6 days a week, I said, “Why can’t I be like them?” I guess deep down, I knew I would never be exactly like a professional martial artist in the true sense of the word. But I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying it, pursuing it, and practicing it. Not only did I go ahead and do what I wanted, I went on to win many tournaments, and my experience has led me to opportunities in the video game industry.

Dream big. Reach for the stars and maybe you’ll get to the moon.

There will be people in your life who will tell you that it’s impossible, it can’t be done or that it’s way out of your league. Listen to their reasons, but do what you feel is right for you. I was passionate about wushu and I wasn’t gonna let anyone tell me that I wasn’t good enough or that I would never get anywhere. Actually, I love it when I hear that because it just makes me want to work harder and prove them how wrong they were. Remember, there is no spoon. Only chopsticks.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that something is too competitive. Once you subtract the people who don’t work very hard, or the people who aren’t as good as you, your competition shrinks dramatically.
- Maggie Mason, entrepreneur, author, and founder of Mighty Goods

Speaking of inspirational themes, I found these books to be really inspirational. They’re both in my library in fact, and I highly recommend them.

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