Episode 8: What Does It Mean To Be Tough?
In this episode of the Martial Art of Self, we take an honest and deep look into the word and concept of toughness. We ask ourselves what it means to be really tough? Is toughness only limited to physical abilities, skills, and form? Maybe there is more to being tough than meets the eye.
Martial Arts is certainly a field where toughness comes in handy in many ways, from exercise to sparring to actual competitions and combat. However, many other areas of our life and self-experience in our life and this world require us to be tough.
In this episode, we explore how we can map the concept of being tough to many more areas of our life and self than just martial arts. I share a bit of my history with toughness, how I started to challenge my definition and relationship to toughness, and how I am living it right now in myself and my life. Turning it inside. From the within to the without. Expanding toughness to be an expression of myself rather than just limited to one singular field or application, such as martial arts.
Music by Fidelis Spies
[00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.
[00:12] Hi everyone, this is Aldin and in today’s episode we are going to be looking at the word toughness and toughness in martial arts, and how to map that toughness to other parts of our lives, so it isn’t just constricted and contained as an exterior, external and surfaced application, or point of a singular field or characteristic.
[00:42] As, I have come to look at and explore toughness, and what it means to be tough – I have seen that, for myself at least, and I am pretty sure this applies to a lot of people as well – is that toughness is mostly associated with, and as this exterior, external and surfaced application or point. Where it’s mostly associated with external power, with muscle size, with the ability or application of owning someone. Either physically, or verbally through words, or mentally in your thoughts, where you are resilient and more and more powerful and stronger and owning someone that you feel done wronged by or someone you have a reaction to and don’t like necessarily, or react to something of them and don’t like it.
[01:54] I remember when I was younger, when I was in my teenage years how this ‘wanting to be tough’ was really, really high in priority, of wanting to show it to my peers, of wanting to show it to my classmates that I am tough and I would use martial arts and becoming stronger physically and gaining ability in martial arts, such as new techniques, such as being faster and more powerful in my punches and in my kicks, having better footwork than the other person, than my friends, and this external appearance of presenting myself and wanting to present myself as not giving a f***, as not being intimidated or afraid of the opponent or the person in front of me, if it was to come to a fight actually. That I wanted to present this image, this application of: I am not afraid of you. I will take you on and I will bring you down. And this has mostly become my limited definition of toughness, where it’s only applied and seen within the external, within this surfaced dimension of this whole concept and characteristic of what it means to be tough, but lately I have been dissecting this toughness and this definition of mine, and my relationship to toughness, and trying to and wanting to expand it. What I have through this self-investigation and self-inquiry in relationship to this point of toughness, what I have seen and realized is that:
[04:00] Actual real toughness is actually an inner characteristic, an inner ability, or an inner skill, if you will, of your being. It doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with a physical skill, or a physical ability, or physical size, strength, muscles, the power of your kicks, the power of your punches, your footwork, and so on.
[04:32] Toughness and being tough – the application of toughness, is an inner ability, is an inner skill if you will of your person, of your individuality, of your being where — to be tough, for me, right now, the definition is: To have the courage, to have the resilience, the persistence, the strength to face yourself, to face your mind, to face your reactions, and face those bright and dark parts of yourself, and be willing to make that decision, and that movement within, and moving yourself physically – of having that resolve to do something about it, to understand those parts, and to do find solutions for them that you live actually as an application whenever you are facing that same point within yourself or your life. Like when the same thought or reaction comes up to someone or something, where you apply that solution or that realization that you have found and realized through your self-investigation, through you facing you and that part of you.
[05:54] Toughness – to be really tough, I mean, if you really look at it no external toughness in terms of for example fighting someone and being in conflict with someone externally, physically and fighting them, or any particular physical exercise does not compare in toughness to the toughness that you need to face yourself, to face your inner demons, if you want to call it that. To face your fears, your anxieties, your depressions, your anger issues, your personalities and characters and characteristics of rage, of spite, of anger, of hatred, of beating yourself up, of judgment towards others, of being judgmental towards yourself, and so on. I mean, that application to face those things, to have the courage to face those inner demons, if you want to call them that, and understand them and not shy away from them, and not try to run away from them in fear, but have that courage, that steadfast resolve of: I am going to face these parts and points of myself, and I will find a solution and I will will myself and move myself to change those, to apply the solutions I find, to live and apply the realizations I find through this process of self-inquiry, and self-understanding.
[07:42] I mean that takes actually, real, honest toughness within, and this has nothing to do with your physical abilities in terms of martial art skill, or physical size, or the amount of muscles you have, the footwork, how fast and agile and quick you are in your punches and in your kicks, and in your movements, etc. It has nothing to do with and as an external, exterior and surfaced application or point. It is an inner characteristic of how you express yourself towards something, such as facing a point.
[08:29] I have been for example practicing this toughness when I feel like I don’t want to train, when I do not want to for example do my standing pose, and where I would have all kinds of inner resistance and reactions towards it, of just not wanting to do it, feeling tired, bringing up basically all sorts and kinds of excuses and justifications of trying to give myself a plausible reasons why I cannot do this right now. What I have been doing in terms of toughness is applying the toughness, the definitions of toughness that I have briefly described here in this episode towards that point where I am actually being tough towards those inner thought or emotional reactions that my mind is bringing up and trying to persuade me as to giving me a reason, a valid reason as to why I apparently cannot train and do that standing pose, for example, that exercise right now at this moment when it is here.
[09:56] I would live and apply this definition of toughness, of being resilient, being strong, having the resolve, the will of making the decision and having and making that inner movement, and actual physical movement of standing up, going into that exercise position and start doing the exercise, and do it, and be resilient, and persistent in my will that I am going to do this exercise right now and I am not going to accept, and I am not accepting and allowing these thoughts, these apparent reasons, and justifications that my mind is trying to bring up right now to support the mental or physical resistance I feel towards the exercise, and not wanting to do it.
[10:59] Then I would just breathe, calm myself through breathing. Find that inner quieter space within myself, breathe and just focus on doing the exercise right now, applying and living that definition of toughness, of being resilient and persistent in my inner decision that this is what I want to do, and this is what I am going to do, and this is what I am doing. I am standing by this, and then I see the exercise through.
[11:32] That has been one of the applications of how I have been practicing being tough as an inner characteristic, as an inner expression of myself towards things. And, it can be applied to many more things than just exercise and martial arts, where you are being resilient and persistent to something that you resist, something that your mind comes up with all sorts of chit-chat and thoughts, and reasons and apparent justifications as to why you shouldn’t do, or cannot do something that you do see and would be beneficial, or is required to prevent consequence for example in yourself and in your life, or to support the achievement or the next step of – or is simply a necessary application in the long run of making your goals come true, and manifesting your goals that you have in a particular field of your life.
[12:37] So, this definition of toughness – making it more a within application and not limiting it necessarily to the external, surfaced point of making it based and be mainly physical, and defining being tough as being able to see through a fight and not being afraid of being in a fight, or a particular exercise, but having the toughness be an inner expression of yourself, of your being, of being resilient and persistent and showing and applying that strength within to face something that you resist, but that you see is beneficial and necessary in making you reach your higher potential that you can become and be in your life with yourself, or in your relationship to someone or something else, or life in general.
[13:46] Thank you very much. I’ll see you in the next episode.
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