The Only Way Life Defeats You is When You Stop Trying

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 700 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Nov 6, 2018

Words: 700|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Nov 6, 2018

I don’t remember much about Terry Millwood’s Open Taekwondo Tournament. I assume the incessant roars of a cheering crowd rung loudly in the air during my fight, but I can’t say I remember hearing them. Judges stood to my side, then behind me, then in front of me, as I quickly maneuvered around the twelve-by-twelve foot ring, but all I can remember is the fight. My opponent was as focused on me as I was on him, and equally ignorant to the world outside the ring. He was the only other boy in my division. There would be no second chances were I to lose this sparring match. Like a machine gun, a flurry of punches and kicks, low, high, and spinning, came my way, but I kept up my stalwart, yet faltering, defense in the face of hopelessness. I was clearly outmatched, but giving up wasn’t an option. As I was pushed towards the edge of the ring, I grew desperate. A ring-out would count as a loss, and I had already lost once. I mustered all the strength I had left, and jumped, spun, and delivered the hardest wheel kick I possibly could. However, I too was met with a powerful kick, knocking me out of the ring.

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For the next couple days after this loss, all thoughts of taekwondo were associated with a feeling of disappointment and failure. It wasn’t so much the loss itself that bothered me, but rather the fact that I lost after many weeks of preparation. About two months before the tournament, my taekwondo instructor, Troy Bates, put our class on a strict schedule to prepare for the upcoming event. Our school had never participated in a tournament before this one, and we were determined to prove ourselves. Every day I came to practice, Mr. Troy would waste no time lining everyone up and immediately “getting down to the nitty-gritty.” First came stretches, then running exercises, then forms, then hand techniques, kicking techniques, sparring, and whatever other ‘preparation’ he had in mind for us. Quite frankly, I was rather fed up with getting ready for a tournament that I didn’t want to participate in in the slightest. Attending practice had gone from a fun pastime to a difficult and repetitive chore. Admittedly, it wasn’t easy from the start, but now it seemed as if Mr. Troy was being hard on us for the sake of it. Every class was ‘Do technique. Fix technique. Repeat.’

I hadn’t signed up for taekwondo lessons for this. I had only begun taking classes as a young child to emulate my favorite characters from Dragon Ball Z and the World Wrestling Federation. Before news of this tournament came around, classes were fun and interesting, and we still learned new techniques and improved our skills. Now we were just grinding for some stupid tournament hosted by some stupid old ‘Master Instructor’ from who-knows-where. It had been ‘do, fix, repeat’ for almost a month and I was sick of it. So I quit. For the entire month leading up to the tournament, I didn’t attend a single class. I was tired of the extra work and tired of the lack of instant payoff. After receiving countless pleas from Mr. Troy however, my mother managed to convince me to attend the tournament.

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Obviously, I lost at the tournament. The second place trophy I received by default didn’t make me feel any better. In the wake of the event, I ruminated on my defeat, and came to realize that I didn’t lose because my opponent was a better fighter than me. I lost because had put in more effort. He came from another school that apparently had a history of success at tournaments, but they weren’t inherently better than those from my school. In fact, many of my peers won their matches with flying colors. No, I lost because I undervalued the importance of preparation and perseverance, and the determination to succeed despite times when it seems impossible. Sometimes we fail and we punish ourselves for our failure. But I believe we need to start viewing failures less as defeats, and more as instructions for how to succeed in the future.

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The Only Way Life Defeats You Is When You Stop Trying. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“The Only Way Life Defeats You Is When You Stop Trying.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
The Only Way Life Defeats You Is When You Stop Trying. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
The Only Way Life Defeats You Is When You Stop Trying [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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