There are No Failures- Guest Article by Self Defence Legend Dave Turton

This is a great guest article from the self defence legend that is Dave Turton. Thanks for writing this Dave. It is an inspiring post about failure and I would say this is a must read article for all martial artists Please check out his site on the link below.

Andrew Holland- Editor The Self Defence

“There are no Failures”

 By Dave Turton 9th Dan


I recently over-heard a comment about a person which was “He’s a failed Martial Artist” …

That remark got me thinking … are there actually ANY Failed martial artists, or indeed any failed ANYTHINGS in the related fields?


It’s really all down to subjectivity on what actually determines a ‘failure’…


When a newcomer starts his or her first session in a martial arts club, they have changed their lives forever; they can NEVER be the same person again.

WHY? .. Because even ONE session has made these people better, more aware and more skilled.


We are almost obsessed to the point of losing control when it comes to success, and the sense of ‘failure’ doesn’t help advancement.


Let’s take a few examples from the martial arts world and other somewhat similar pastimes/hobbies.


A young man starts for example at a Tae Kwon Do Club, he trains twice a week for a few months, then finds he doesn’t wish to train any more.

He has reached say 5th Kup, so is he a failure because he stops training.

He will be fitter, more flexible, more skilled and more confident of his advancements.


Maybe a few months after he has stopped training peer pressure and his own thoughts may make him feel he is a failure, but this isn’t so.


Another example would be two people who want to ‘alter’ their bodies … A young man takes up ‘bodybuilding’ in order to become a little bigger and stronger.

He currently weights 55 kgs or around 8.5 stones, with a chest measurement of 36 inches and not too strong (maybe using a pencil and two Polo mints as a dumbbell!!)


After 6 months he has added 6 inches to his chest, now weighs 65kgs (over 10 stones) and has doubled his strength.

He stops training and a year later mentions that he ‘used to do bodybuilding’. A couple of people look at his physical condition and doubt his involvement in bodybuilding.

Their perceptions of bodybuilding mean they expect a massively muscled man, but this puts negatives on our young man who now starts to believe he was and is a ‘failure’.


Number two is a middle aged woman rather overweight at 100kgs or over 15 stones. She joins a well-known weight loss club and starts to lose weight (actually its FAT people want to lose not just weight.)

After 6 months this lady has lost 25kgs (nearly 4 stones), and down a couple of dress sizes, however she still is slightly overweight and friends and colleagues (possibly jealous) still describe her as ‘fat’ or overweight, so this lady also (wrongly) feels she is a failure.


In truth all three examples are showing success not failure, and should all be viewed in that context.

Even gaining 1kg and adding 10% to his strength would have still made our young bodybuilder a success not a failure.

Likewise with our overweight lady … losing just 1 kg would have made her lighter, albeit not that obvious visually. Yet 1kg lighter is better than 1kg heavier.

So how does this equate to YOU and your martial arts, and how do we combat the negativity the wrong outlook produces.


Every little step is a success; every little percentage of learning is a success.

Just an inch or so higher on your kicks, or understanding and learning a bit more of a kata/form is a success.


Set little achievable goals and you are always a success, its only when WE set goals that are maybe at the time not reasonable, or we listen to the negativity of others that we start to look at ourselves as ‘failures’.


I know one set of parents (who I could have happily slapped), whose daughter took 9 GCSE’s and got 4 B’s and 5 A’s, but because the parents’ expectations were A-stars, told the daughter she was a failure … Grrr.

They wanted ‘Oxbridge’ she went to Sheffield and became a successful professional.


On a more positive note, many years ago I had a young lady come in to my martial arts club for advice, just advice. She had been worrying over a small gang of youths who congregated on a corner near her home, and she had to pass them every evening coming home from work. I gave her some simple advice, and credit to her she came back to my club a few weeks later and told me it had worked and she felt safer.

I had gave her the opportunity to empower herself and feel safer, and even though she hadn’t taken up training in any martial arts, she had become ‘better’ and solved a problem simply by asking for advice…. another success I would say.


So, cast off the negatives from yourself and your friends and family. Take each little step as a success, and you will be more satisfied and complete.


Come on … there are NO failures


Dave Turton 9th Dan



For more information on Dave Turton 9th Dan, or the All-Styles Martial Arts Association (ASMAA) and the Self-Defence Federation (SDF0 please go to:



Andrew Holland


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