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Mindset, Motivation, Discipline: Starting a New Year Strong

In last month’s feature we talked with Technical Intelligence Recruiter Chris Manning and heard about active-duty service transition, lessons learned, and desire to serve other transitioning veterans in his role at BTS. Today, with the start of a new year, we asked Chris to share how his experiences in martial arts and bodybuilding can help shape your mindset when it comes to starting a new year.

When it comes to a new year and making change in your personal and professional life, mindset is absolutely huge. There are many deeply rooted layers to the question of mindset, motivation, and discipline. For me, bodybuilding and martial arts is where I learn from, practice, and grow as a person in these core areas. Essentially, there are four common-ground areas for Bodybuilding and Martial Arts. My form of Martial Arts is Souseiki (Genesis) Ryu (School) Sekkinsen (Close Quarter Combat) Shigaisen (Street Fighting), which I’ll share more about later on. Here are a few specific areas however that can apply to anyone when it comes to your mindset, applied to real life:

Spirit/ Discipline:

One’s heart and mind needs to be in the right place in order to effectively execute without any unnecessary damage to self or others. Remain emotionless. If one’s heart and mind are not in the right place, we add emotions into our actions, which can potentially create a negative outcome (to others or self) or a knee-jerk reaction. Do not confuse this with being passionate about what you do. You can always teach and train a technique, pose, or logic, but you cannot teach someone to have heart.


As previously stated, you need to have heart in what you do. If you don’t, many will become impatient, add in short-cuts and second guess their actions. Bodybuilding and Martial Arts are a process, just like changing your mindset and your life. Processes take time and dedication to execute effectively and flawlessly. I am an eternal student, forever learning as the battlegrounds and competitions are always changing. You must be dedicated and willing to adapt as the arenas are always fluid. Those that are not dedicated short themselves or others and eventually exit the arena leaving themselves and others unfulfilled.

Individual Performance:

I am a competitive person and openly admit that, but there is a time and place for everything. Teamwork makes a company succeed, but individual performances all contribute to the team. Bodybuilding and Martial Arts are an individual sport and way of life, as is much of recruiting. In my eyes, three facets revolve around protecting and providing for others. If my individual performance falls short, others may suffer.

The Bodybuilding organization that I am a part of is Deadly Fit Bodies. Through the process, I transformed myself internally then externally. Through this process, I rediscovered myself and maintain a level of fitness that enables me to maximize my time with my family being able to provide for them. My discipline, drive and individual performance inspired my family and extended family to follow a similar track.

Through Martial Arts, I employ a Sheepdog/ Shepherd mentality. I am the provider and protector of my family. If my traits and characteristics (physically and mentally) fall short, I have failed them. If I failed them before I am put to the test, how can I protect them? I must be able to endure whatever is thrown at me (physically and mentally) so they can live life free and comfortable without a worry or concern. I live a life of pain in the gym and training so I may endure so others will not suffer. I refuse to fail my family and loved ones; failure is not an option. As we say in the Dojo; A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime.

I employ a similar mentality as I work at BTS.

Repetition: A Thousand, A Million, A Trillion.

All three facets require repetition, and even more discipline. Many people believe that once you practice something once or twice, they just learned it. Practice, Repetition, Rehearsal is the key. Competitions are never the same. The Ring and the Octagon is never the same. People are never the same. Through countless repetitions and practice we learn to adjust and fine tune. How much adjusting you need to do is generally dictated by how much preparatory work you have completed. Transitions on all three must be seamless and practically flawless. Train and work hard enough in practice where competitions and a relief.

Let me share a little more about my dojo specifically, and some of the ways this approach transfers to my mindset. I practice Souseiki (Genesis) Ryu (School) Sekkinsen (Close Quarter Combat) Shigaisen (Street Fighting) (SRSS) Urban Warrior Training Academy (UWTA). Let’s unpack that.

Souseiki Ryu Sekkinsen is referred to as an open-minded system martial artform because in addition to its own base group of techniques, it also incorporates techniques and concepts from other martial artforms. This meshing eventually become part of Souseiki Ryu’s widened system. Souseiki Ryu allows qualified black belts from other martial art styles to cross rank their belts into it. This gives the student the opportunity for advanced training and promotion to higher black belt levels in Souseiki Ryu, while still maintaining the heritage of their original style by utilizing the flexibilities of the widened system.

The strength and growth of Souseiki Ryu comes from the simplistic efficiency and devastating effectiveness of its base techniques, as well as from the diversity of its black belts and of the various other martial arts that are incorporated into its widened system. The base system provides Souseiki Ryu its own identity and stability, and the widened system of Souseiki Ryu provides change and growth through research, development and inclusion of new techniques and concepts.

Now let‘s back up to everyone reading this blog, regardless of whether or not you practice martial arts.

When it comes to your mindset, the first step is that you need to set the equation correctly in your mind. How you set yourself up is the key. I enter a week thinking about how I am going to get 28 hours a day into 24. This is my mental prep and where I front-load as much work as possible, and I maximize a day. My schedule is fluid, but I also learned how to recognize the triggers and the events. If I maintain this type of balance, I am “Left of the Bang” (a must-read book) as much as possible. This also frees my hands to help others as much as possible. Essentially, this all equates to you being truly committed and all in.

Whether it’s a new year, a new week, a new day, or a new experience in your life, your mindset is where it all starts and you have to have to be proactive about shaping it before the challenges of your life shape it for you.

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