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2015 Year in Review

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This year was epic in many ways. My life changed permanently for the better in 2015, and as with any year, it was full of peaks and valleys. Since January, the peaks soared to the top of the atmosphere, and the valleys sunk to the core of the Earth. Luckily for me, the ups way out numbered the downs. So much happened in the past twelve months that I could write a book on all the noteworthy events. I met some goals and didn’t meet a lot of others. Looking at the goals that I set back in January, a number weren’t met. I can give excuses, but the plain and simple fact is that I didn’t meet my goals. Instead of mulling over my misses, I decided to focus on the two main events of the year that without doubt changed me for the better:

  1. I got married!
  2. Master Zach Whitson promoted me to the rank of first degree black belt in Counterpoint Tactical System.

These two monumental events are really what dominated my year. Both preparing for and celebrating these events took up most of my time. Our wedding was a much bigger event than little, ole, introvert me was comfortable with, but on the day of, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. It was the best day of my life so far. That, by itself, would make for a great year, but I also had the chance to fulfill a martial arts goal. I tested and earned my black belt in the martial art that I love. The black belt is at once a special moment in the journey and also just another step along the path. I just want to take the time again to thank everyone who helped me on my journey – this year and every one leading up to it. Thanks to Master Whitson, to the STL Counterpoint Club, and to my CTS family.

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It’s been a great year on the blog as well. I had a bit of a slow down in posting around the time of the wedding. Instead of doing a post based on stats, I thought I’d do my five favorite posts of the year.

Number 5 – Five Easy Steps to Martial Arts Mastery

This is a very, very new post, but I love it. It was so much fun to write. Unlike other articles, this one I wrote in one sitting. It took a couple of revisions but not near the normal amount. I give this advice to anyone, and really, it’s applicable to anything that you do in life. The reception was good, and it got quite a few shares. I love these steps because everyone knows them. Everyone understands them, but in pursuit of our goals, we sometimes look for more complicated solutions because the simple solution is difficult. But any task requires us to do the work. Put in your reps, and invest in yourself

Number 4 – 2015 Iron Mountain Camp

Iron Mountain camp is the heart of the Counterpoint Tactical System experience. It is a chance to meet other students from different parts of the country. Camp is the place where you make connections, learn really cool material, and get outside your comfort zone. Iron Mountain camp is my yearly vacation, and it’s a place where I go to get away from the world. I turn off my phone most of the time that I’m there, and the people that surround me are genuine. The training is fantastic. I learn so much during the sessions, but I think that I learn more talking to people during meals and at night. It’s a time to get to know people and learn about who they are. Life is about people, and I believe that the best way to treat people is to take an interest in them. Iron Mountain camp blends excellent training with a vacation from life and the company of solid people who inspire me. Of course, any blog post about that time is going to be in my top five.

Number 3 – Jocko Willink

Photo courtesy of the Jocko Podcast website. Click on the photo to listen to the podcast. Read his words, and implement them.

With the blog post that I had planned not working, I dashed off a review of one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts. I decided to talk about what I felt was the best podcast of the year. As a regular listener to the podcast, I heard the majority of 2015’s episodes, but one inspired me head and shoulders above the rest. It was a podcast about leadership by a retired Navy Seal. As I said in that article, I hear a lot about leadership in my day job, but most people don’t understand that a big part of leadership means ownership. Own your actions. Even if you are just your own leader, Jocko’s philosophy of ownership will do right by you. This was another fun article to write. Without thought, I put Rogan and Jocko’s twitter handles in a tweet that announces the article has posted. They both retweeted it for me, and then it got posted on the Joe Rogan Experience Facebook page. The views came pouring in. The graph below shows the spike in page views that these two gentlemen gave me. That was the first day. That post by itself has been viewed more times than all of my other posts and pages have been viewed put together. Since then, Jocko has started his own podcast creatively titled, “Jocko Podcast.” It’s worth the listen. Thanks Joe and thanks Jocko. To everyone else, check out both podcasts. They are inspiring.

Number 2 – The War of Art

The War of Art is a book that all martial artists should read. It has been the biggest source of inspiration for me this year. I’ve read the book twice from cover to cover, and now, I just pick random points and flip to it. If you put all those random pages together, it probably puts my read count up to four or five. What I like about this book is that it reminds me that fear, self-doubt, and ego are natural. They are part of the process and can be overcome. I guess 2015 was a year that I needed inspiration more than most, and if you look at the two biggest non-CTS sources of inspiration, their message is the same: DO THE WORK. That has been the mantra of 2015, and most likely, it will be catch phrase of 2016. Thanks to Mr. Pressfield for writing this, and thanks for his generosity. I have more books that his assistant sent to me that I need to review as well. If you’re in need of inspiration, check out Black Irish books.

Number 1 – Footwork Friday

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Okay, so this isn’t one post. It’s a series of them, but I’m extremely proud of these articles. I have a confession to make though. This series got started simply because I was looking for a post for a Friday, and footwork was alliterative. When I worked for Ford Motor Company, they did research that showed alliterative names were more likely to be said together. Thus the Ford 500, Ford Fusion, Ford Fiesta, and Ford Focus. Remembering that, I looked for an F word that went with Friday and was PG. Thus, Footwork Friday was born. It helps that footwork has always been a weakness of mine. I needed to get back into regular posting, and these articles gave me a chance to explore different aspects of my weakest attribute. Back in July, I set a goal to post one article every Friday for a year. So far, I’ve only missed two Fridays. Despite missing two Fridays, this goal is on track for me. To stay on track, I had to change the end date of the goal.

FMA Footwork Pattern

These articles have been opportunities to dig into the technical aspects of the art. It has been a real challenge learning how to write in a detailed, technique-oriented manner without slipping into my dull engineering writing. Whether I’ve succeeded or not is up to the reader. The articles have gotten good reception so far, and I appreciate the feedback that I’ve gotten. I have many, many more articles planned for this series. We’ll see where our footwork takes us in 2016.

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Happy new year, everyone. Thank you for reading. Thank you for the support. I hope your 2015 was great and that your 2016 is better.

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