Leadership, Memoir

What Kung Fu Taught Me About Growth

As a kid, I became fascinated with martial arts. In part because of my dad, and partly because I am a guy (What boy ISN’T into punching things?!?). I used to watch Kung-Fu movies (especially the ones with Bruce Lee) and TV shows, and from an early age I wanted to become a ninja.I can remember when my dad started to teach me basic stances and the frustrations I felt because I didn’t want to learn them. I just wanted to punch something and yell like Bruce Lee (Waaaa!). I can remember spending what seemed like hours a day focusing on breathing and gently gliding from one pose into another. The frustrations felt in the beginning stages of martial arts eventually made me quit learning all together but not before I was so anxious to start punching and kicking that I had failed to recognize the importance of foundation.

When my dad saw my aggravation before I quit, he always tried to reinforce the purpose of stances, claiming the stances created the foundation necessary for the attacks. Sure enough, he was right! After spending time learning the stances, the hand work was easy. Punches were simple, and traps were merely a result of the foundations I had built doing the “meaningless” stances.

One day I was watching Jackie Chan talk about what he had to do to get to the place of climbing walls and weaving between ladders. I learned something that I had just taken for granted when I was younger. Skill was not a result of natural-born ability, but rather, the progression of goals – where each goal built upon the achievements before it.  I could see that NOBODY, not even Bruce Lee, was born throwing a ninja kick or judy chop out of the womb. I learned that every good “ninja” had to first define their values as a fighter – would they be reactive, impulsive, patient, offensive, or defensive? Once they established their values and foundation, they slowly built, expanded, and grew into the fighting machines I watched on television and in the movies (some good ol’ fashion “staging” helped too!). More importantly, I learned that this application was universal: I could do ANYTHING I set my mind to if I were willing to first build a foundation, then discipline myself in a way that stimulated growth.

What I had failed to realize as a boy and still sometimes as an adult, was that a strong foundation is necessary to encourage growth – as the saying goes, you can’t run before you crawl. Foundations help define value sets and goals that become the nutrients growth thrives upon. Without these things, growth stagnates and eventually dies.

With that said…

I AM GROWING. My writing is growing, my passions are growing, my relationships are growing, and now…my blog is growing :-D. After prayerful contemplation and being inspired by my friend, Melissa Ellis, I have decided to switch the focus of my writing.

Personally, I have enjoyed writing up to this point, but I am not satisfied with the caliber of work I have put out. I feel it has been a disservice to you, my audience, because I have failed to insert myself into my writing. Instead, I have written as objectively as possible, knowing full well that my encounters which led me to the thoughts I share are just as important, if not more important than the shared information itself. I was already leaning in this direction at the start of the new year, but it wasn’t until I read this post by Melissa, that I resolved to fully commit to opening up my life to the scrutiny and opinions of others.

Over the past couple years, a core value that has developed within me is not just my passion for the Gospel (written about on this blog), but also a desire to add value to all those around me. I don’t just want to talk about ideas that will help people, I want to give value to your life through sharing my experiences and allowing you to peer into my life. There will be times the things I write may not make sense to you, but I am confident that as you continue to follow along, you will read something that will impact your life forever. Likewise, I want to know who YOU are (YES…you there, reading this post). I don’t just want to share my experiences, I want to know what your experiences are as well. I do not have all the answers, and neither do you, but through sharing experiences together, we might learn a thing or two.

In terms of this blog, there will be changes. I am putting the “Arise Shine” idea on pause for now, and although I plan to continue sharing various ministry ideas, this blog will cover an array of topics including leadership, faith and life; I will even throw in some music and book reviews (I will be reading at least 12 books this year).

If you want to read more of my biblical reflections, I encourage you to check out my 2012 reading challenge, Bi 365, where I am reading the bible in chronological order and writing reflections for each days reading.

To close, I leave you with this statement from the kung-fu master himself:

Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.
~ Bruce Lee

QUESTION: This year, what are ways that YOU can begin adding value to others?

5 thoughts on “What Kung Fu Taught Me About Growth”

  1. Wow. Now THIS is the Matt Clyde that I know and love!
    Your writing has always helped me, so don’t sell your previous posts short. I’m a female, one that is going through a major shift in her life’s journey so I’m okay with being “open”. This, in no way, means that you are required to be open or not… but if that’s where the Lord is leading you…
    I love your writing style. with every word, every sentence I actually HEAR YOU. It’s you! My Matty – my best friend. I am excited about this writing journey you are going to be on. It’s not an easy one at times, because it really forces you to look at yourself and share yourself with others. You risk humility and judgement, but keep in mind that more often than not, YOUR HONESTY can inspire and uplift those that are walking in similar shoes. And to help heal people through the words and experiences you share – that’s priceless. That’s the kind of love we should all be sharing.
    I love you and I am so happy to see you opening up to everyone with who YOU are. I’m a selfish kind of gal (horrible at sharing good things), but if I really want to be honest – you are too amazing of a person to simply keep to myself.

    Awesome post. Absolutely awesome.

    1. Thanks Melissa. You have truly inspired and challenged me to push myself beyond my comfort zone to better myself and my writing. This is just the beginning; I look forward to this new journey and approach, and I appreciate all the support you have given and will keep giving (as my editor 😉 ).

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