The Secret of Success

The Secret of Success                                  

“I never saw it coming”

By Ray Hughes

June 2016

I was 19 years old, a third generation underground miner, when a friend of mine forced me to observe a karate class.   At that time I knew exactly where my life was going, nowhere.  Most kids from my little mining town were destined for the same fate, to exist as uneducated miners for the rest of our lives; though an honorable profession, not a great goal for young minds.   I didn’t realize the “Secret to Life’s Success” would be given to me when I entered the world of traditional karate.  “I never saw it coming.”

Everyone knows martial art training teaches discipline, focus, and other related skills.  But few realize the complete life changing blue print of success that encompasses martial art training.  Many don’t realize that this training is the perfect working model in which participants can practice and prepare for future dreams and aspirations.

What is Life Success?  Life Success is achieving the goals and aspiration one dreams about.   Accomplishing that passionate endeavor that seems to be beyond possibility; such as becoming an astronaut, a doctor, or even becoming President of the United States (of course that was when it was an honorable profession.) Unfortunately, many people feel the dreams they have are not attainable.  Many feel accomplishing dreams are only for those “lucky few.”  Though our parents told us we could accomplish anything we put our minds to, most couldn’t tell us how.   We pretty much just accepted what was laid out in front of us.

But traditional karate training can change that.  It can give students the blue print to reach those dreams.  They just have to follow the path and model listed below:


  1. There must be passion evolved or overwhelming pressure to succeed.
  2. You must locate the group who has already succeeded in attaining your dream.
  3. You must join and grow within that group; requiring a long term commitment. You must be humble, starting at the bottom and work up according to the group.
  4. You must listen to the elders of that group. They will tell you exactly what it will take and how to succeed. Though each success story within the group will be slightly different, there will be a common theme of success.
  5. Stay within the group as you move along the path. You will need their support to continuously recharge your batteries and help navigate through the hard times. There will always be hard times!
  6. You must not worry about the destination. Following the plan is “Living the Dream.”
  7. You must work at it every day in one form or another.
  8. You must give back.

(Sounds like karate training, doesn’t it?)

Successful people will show you exactly how to succeed if you have the passion and are willing to listen.  You will still need to do the work.  Mentors will show you how, but not do it for you.

This secret is embedded within the martial arts; both as an overall structure as well as a training model for future ventures.  The above model is exactly how students succeed within traditional martial arts.  As new students begin their journey, they are groomed to follow the above success outline, even though they probably don’t understand the big picture.  They are moved along, encourage by the group, educated by the elders (Sensei), helped to develop the psychological understanding to endure difficult experiences, and given the skill of perseverance to stick to the plan.  If the students follow the plan, they become great martial artists.

In addition, traditional martial art training develops other valuable life skills.  The student is taught to be humble, how to relate to those with higher rank as well as those with lower rank (a valuable understanding used in all segments of life), to set high standards, and to psychologically manage the battle within one’s mind.  These additional skill sets are invaluable when striving to attain a dream or reach a goal.

As the student is coached along the path to martial art success, the participant is also in the process of training for future dreams.  As the student is following this martial art success model, the student is in practice mode for future experiences.  By the time the student has reached black belt, they have experienced a sample success model for future aspirations.  With this experience, the student can now apply this understanding to any dream or objective.

One thing that is mandatory for future success is the requirement of high standards.  The term traditional is used here to distinguish schools with high standards from those that don’t.  Future dreams, those that seem impossible to achieve, cannot be achieved if one does not know how to handle difficulty, failure, and grasp the complex battle within the mind.  This cannot be learned without going through the pain of high standard achievement.  This is a universal rule of life.  For those who drop the standards are in essence killing the student’s potential, in other words, their dreams.

In closing, instructors need to convey this concept to the students. The student must understand that martial art training goes way beyond self defense.  Techniques and philosophy learned through traditional martial art training will completely change the course of one’s life.  This understanding also gives additional purpose to help the student persevere through long term training.  These life changing skills cannot be learned any other way.

Many students have failed because their instructors were afraid to be truthful about pain or did not adequately convey the big picture of martial art training. The “Secret of Life’s Success” exists within the martial arts.  This is one of many reasons we train.