When the going gets tough…

I opened the back door to take out the trash…

And there he was…

Homeless drunk guy (HDG) was curled in the fetal position lying right across the entrance to dojo.

(Our reception is at the back of the building – strange I know, but it’s a long story for another time.)


“Hey buddy!”, I said as I gently tapped him with my foot.

No response.

“Yo, bro!”, I shouted as I nudged him a little harder.

No response.

“Dude!”, I yelled. “Hey man, wake up!”

Still no response.

I carefully reached down and shook his arm and repeated myself.



Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… “Is this guy dead?”

Yikes! I hope not.

What am I going to do if he is dead? A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind like traffic on a Los Angeles freeway.

a) Call the cops?
b) Roll him into the bushes and pretend I never saw him?
c) Carefully remove his skin, polish it and make him into a guitar case?


I crouched down and looked a little closer. As I saw his chest rise a fall with his breath I then smelt the waft of stale alcohol. Thank goodness he was just passed out.

So I went back inside the dojo, grabbed a cup of water and yes, you guessed it…


Right in the face.

HDG woke up, opened his eyes and looked at me.

“Hey man, you can’t lie here. I’ve got people coming in this way. I need you to move on please”, I asked nicely.

HDG’s eyes flickered and closed, as his mind left on the ferry to dream land once again.

“Hey bro, wake up!”, I shouted, “You can’t stay here. I need you to move otherwise I’ve got to call the cops and I really don’t want to do that. Please move on.”

“Got any change?”, asked HDG.

“No man, I don’t have any. Please find somewhere else to lie”, I asked.

HDG slowly stood up, took 4 steps sideways into the wall of the dojo, bounced off of it and stumbled down the stairs into the parking lot with his finger in his ear. I assume he way trying to get the water out of it.

As HDG wandered off I heard him ask some of my students who were arriving for class, “Got any change?”

They avoided him and he moved on, wandering back and forth looking for anyone who might throw him a quarter.

Hmmmm, I thought. Sad for anyone to get to that level in life.

Here was another human being at rock bottom, sleeping on the concrete in the afternoon heat, and for whatever reason had given up on life. Perhaps he suffered a great misfortune? Or perhaps his goals in life were ruined by the bottle? Maybe he blames his upbringing? His parents, his last boss? Who knows?

The point is he’d clearly lost his way. Something had become too tough in life, and he quit.

And as sad as that might be, he is not blameless. Consciously or not, he played a role in creating his current situation, now relying on the change of others to feed his addiction and null the pain of his troubled life.

You and I are also not blameless for our situations, no matter how similar or different. We’ve both played a role in where we’re at physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially. And as martial artists (through our disciplined approach to life, our never give up attitude, and our heightened self awareness) we should have enough self understanding that if we’re not happy with something, ultimately we are the ONLY ones who can make the decision to CHANGE what we don’t like and set sail for a destination that we do WANT.

Sure, it can be hard. It can be extremely challenging to achieve our goals, big or small. But when we lose faith in ourselves and we quit there is only one certain outcome – we’ll never achieve them.

Next time you’re down on your luck; when the chips are stacked against you and your dojo isn’t going as well as you hoped; when you lose a bunch of students or a valuable instructor, and you feel like quitting; think of this story of our homeless friend and ask yourself if you’re going to quit too? Or will you find a way (or die trying) to better your situation?

Remember as Vince Lombardi once said, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Your thoughts? Post ’em below!

~ Jason

1 thought on “When the going gets tough…”

  1. Trained 5 months for a tournament- not sure why i didn't do all the things i did in training – literally just took 2 mins of kumite like a punching bag- they kept coming at me- should have, would have, could have BUT didn't- but glad i at least went in the tournament- valuable lesson learnt to apply what i learn everyday


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