Get out of your comfort zone

We naturally seek comfort, this place where things go well, where we are in control. No unknown, no stress, no danger. Nothing new also, good or bad. If going back to our comfort zone on a regular basis not to die of stress is a great thing, it matters to understand that magic happens outside of that zone, not in it.

Wim Hof method and Ice Bath
Because I always try to explore what is happening out of my zone of comfort, I started the Wim Hof Method end of July this year. Wim Hof, a crazy Dutchman, is known for his breathing exercises, his resistance to extreme cold as well as his conscious control over his immune system. To know more about him and his method, I invite you to take a look at this documentary from Vice:

After finishing the 10 week-course, I was lucky to find a WIM Hof breathing workshop in Hong Kong, organized by Brian Lai from Primal Breathwork. I attended and it was way beyond my expectations. I got out totally high, after feeling my body tingling due to the breathing exercises, and never in my craziest dreams I would have thought I could retain my breath for so long (a max of 4.30 min that day, when I could barely do more than 2 min at home).

That was great but we couldn’t do an ice bath at the time. I was taking my cold showers every day but a part of me wanted to try the next step. And a part of me clearly didn’t.

And then in December, Brian organized a new workshop, with ice bath this time. First I got excited, then scared. I signed up anyway. Then I wondered why I was doing that to myself. Why would anyone in his right mind jump in a bathtub full of ice? For the longest time I hated cold, I was afraid of it. And the fact is… that didn’t help me grow. I was fearing it for sure, but did I have good reasons for that? After all, I had never been in an ice bath before, so I was mainly fearing something I didn’t know…

Did it hurt? Hell yes. Would I do it again? Very likely. The thing it that hurt, and it was very hard to breathe. It was uncomfortable but not necessarily the way I thought it would be. It didn’t feel that cold actually, but it felt like needles all over my body and I had a hard time slowing down my breathing. It also showed me there was no reason to be afraid, I spent two minutes in that bath and although it was painful, I survived.

What does all this have to do with martial arts?
Learning, improving is not something you can do if you stay in your comfort zone, and it is no different in martial arts. You do not improve by doing the same things over and over again, you improve by exploring new things, by challenging yourself. This is exactly what Rob was saying in an interview here, a few months back:

You need to actively search for where you are weak. Zero in on it, and then strengthen the hell out of it. You’re only as strong as the weakest part of your own chain.

Robert John, Hanshi, Aunkai

So next time you train, look at what you’re bad at… and try to become better at it!

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