One of the MMA fighters at our dojo, James Harrington, has a tattoo over his heart that says “100%”. He’s said that sometimes in a fight when he was out-sized or out-skilled, all he had was heart to see him through. It takes heart to step into the cage in the first place, but giving it 100% is what makes champions.
I believe having heart means you give all of yourself to the fight. You are completely engaged in the battle, not the outcome. It means you don’t give up when the odds are stacked against you, and you don’t stop fighting until the bell rings. You fight through the pain, and the doubt, and the fear. I believe having heart means you fight because you love it, not because other people love that you do.
Having heart is what helps keep me going through the down times in my training. When things start to seem futile, and I ask myself why I am doing this, the only answer I can come up with is that I just really love martial arts. I am completely engaged in this battle, and I give it my all. Sometimes I get side-tracked by pointless measures of success, but at the end of the day, win or lose, I still love what I do.
It was actually a hard thing for me to deal with when I realized that I really like to fight. I worried about the concept of being a violent person. Outside of a fight I think most people would describe me as compassionate, so the idea of hurting someone bothered me at first. Now I understand that it isn’t any different than any other contact sport, I simply enjoy the process of physical battle.
Heart is what keeps me walking into the dojo day after day, covered with bruises and minor injuries that will probably never really heal. Heart is what helps me push aside my fears of inadequacy and failure. Heart is what makes me keep asking people to roll, even though I know they are probably just going to submit me yet again. Heart is all I have sometimes…but it’s all I really need.