Decreasing Stress, Encouragement, Karate, Learn to Appreciate, Motivational, Philosophy, Reader

Only One Winner

I was at a martial art tournament recently. I was not competing, but had a vendor table to sell some of my books. My table was set up in a prime location where I could see all the events happening in the different rings. There were children and adults, beginners to advanced, all performing various skills and techniques, including kata, weapons and sparring.

As a martial artist, I am always motivated by what I see at these events. They remind me that I need to work a little harder on my own skills. I can see how much effort and practice these martial artists have done to compete. Seeing the precision, focus and power of competitors inspires me to do better.

Many martial artists received trophies that day for first, second, and third places in all different categories. The children had the same trophies for each place, and those who did not place received a medal for their participation and effort. Some people believe in a competition that there is only one winner, and that is first place.

I saw a child or two crying because they did not win first place. It is a difficult lesson. Losing a competition is not meant to break confidence, but to build responsibility. Everyone has an equal chance to win. Often, those who exude more effort end up with a reward. More effort leads to more chances for success.  Better effort normally means better results.

Losing a competition is not meant to break confidence, but to build responsibility.

A young eighteen-year-old man stopped by my table. He told me that he was upset that he had only won third place. He said that younger students had done better than he did and that frustrated him. I told him that if he gave his best effort, then he is a winner. We all have the chance to be leaders of our lives, and although always room for improvement, I stressed to him that third place, after all, is still part of the winner’s circle! He had taken initiative, done his best, and won a prize.

The more experienced adults have an easier outlook when it comes to winning and losing. They compete together, bow respectfully to each other, and expect the best man or woman to win. They step up to the judges, announce their names, styles, and forms. Then, they carefully step onto the mat with a sense of anticipation, enthusiasm and hope.

Life is a lot like the martial art competition, except the biggest battle is often with yourself. A few martial art women that I know have struggled with cancer. Thanks to martial arts, they had a fighting spirit, a black belt mentality, and a strong mindset. Through their difficult journey, several of them continued to envision themselves in front of the judges, and later returned to competing.

The difference between how they saw themselves after cancer and before cancer is very revealing. Before the cancer, they competed to win. After the cancer, they competed to prove to themselves they could still do it. Life brought martial arts into perspective, and vice versa. It was not about the competition as they originally thought, but more about indomitable spirit.

Put your life into perspective. In many situations, you are judged because that is the way life works. If you are in the right place, and surrounded by the right people, they will always see you as a winner. If I could, I would hand you the biggest trophy ever.  In your life, in all that you do, there is only one winner, and it is you.






My new book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available. Purchase through my e-commerce store: or on Amazon!

The Martial Arts Woman shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives. Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!


Andrea F. Harkins is a  writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at or on Amazon!

Andrea is Internationally known for her positivity through martial arts efforts and outreach, and her writing. She is currently a contributor for Think Positive Magazine, as well as a columnist for Martial Arts Illustrated UK, The Martial Arts Guardian (UK), the World Martial Arts Magazine, MASUCCESS, Conflict Manager, Martial Arts Business (Australia), The Parrish Village News, and her blog, The Martial Arts Woman.  Contact her through this website’s CONTACT ME page for information on public speaking, autographs, and life coaching.


4 thoughts on “Only One Winner

  1. Great inspiration for the people who did not come in first or second place. There will always be the ones who do not come out on top. It’s sad, but they can either choose to give up or to persevere and prove to themselves that they can do it. They just have to work a little harder. It’s the time to make that decision and hopefully there will be someone around like you, Andrea, that can give them the encouragement they need with words to show them the support.

  2. Amen and amen! At tournaments I’ve been easily the best, I’ve been definitely the worst and a lot of the time I’ve been somewhere in between. I’ve been the dark horse and sometimes I’ve been dead last. I’ve learned from every single experience. The most important thing I’ve learned is not to undermine myself with negativity and to have fun. Applies in life too 🙂 Thanks!

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