The Art of Badassery


Every year in January we are bombarded with #NewYearNewYou messages of how we have to shrink our bodies by giving up our favorite foods and doing some kind of fitness challenge, only to quit it all in a matter of weeks. Well, this year, I am challenging you to something greater, something deeper. I am challenging you to have your most badass year to date.

The Urban Dictionary defines badassery as “engaging in seemingly impossible activities and achieving success in a manner that renders all onlookers completely awestruck”.

In 2004, after four years of shedding blood, sweat and tears at a martial arts school in NYC, I finally tested for my first black belt in Hapkido. We were instructed that the test would start at 4am and to be prepared to train for many hours. That’s it. The rest would be a surprise. So, myself and the others I trained with, prepped ourselves as best as we could and practiced our forms, trained our techniques, adjusted our sleep schedules and our diets to get ready for the big test.

The night before the test, knowing that I had to be up at 3am, I barely slept. But, I got myself there and after 8 long hours of physically grueling work, we finished! (I can’t tell you what we did in the test because a) it’s a giant blur and b) it’s like the first rule of Fight Club. You don’t talk about Fight Club.) We all passed the test and received our first black belt. After the test, friends (non-martial artists) would ask me things like, why is the test so long? Or, why can’t you drink any water during the testing? Or, why does it have to start at 4am?

What I realized is that our martial arts Master intentionally designed the black belt test to challenge us mentally, even more so, than physically. Becoming a black belt wasn’t just about memorizing the forms and techniques and LOOKING like a badass; it was about challenging your mental beliefs and CRUSHING your self-imposed limits.

Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have these self-imposed limits. Maybe they sound something like:

“That’s just the way I am.” Or, “I’ll never be like…..”. Many times we develop limits from something in our past that happened or someone that told us we couldn’t do or be something. Regardless of where these limits came from, 2017 is the year for you to release them. Release your limits and choose areas in your life that you will achieve true badassery in. Render onlookers awestruck. This coming year, this country needs you more than ever to step out of your smallness and into your greatness.

We need YOU to be badass.

Instead of thinking that we have to accomplish some mega feat in order to achieve badassery, I’d like to propose the act of practicing the art of badassery. Practicing badassery is playing life outside of your comfort zone. It’s setting the alarm at an ungodly hour to train, it’s studying long hours for a test, it’s sending out resumes for jobs you think are out of your league and it’s standing up for others when they can’t stand up for themselves. I’m sure there are so many areas in your life where you can practice badassery. But, just in case you need a little more inspiration, here are some other ways that you can practice badassery this coming year and beyond in the everyday ways like how you walk, talk and think.

Walk like a badass.

Body language is a skill that most of us take for granted. A large part of our communication actually comes from non-verbal cues that we give off with our posture, eye contact and movement.

Even on days when you’re not feeling so hot, you can change your thoughts and other’s perception of you by practicing badass body language. Shoulders back, head up, eye contact and walking with awareness and purpose show onlookers that you are on a mission and don’t have time for nonsense. Eyes and thumbs on your phone, headphones on and stumbling around show vulnerability and disengagement with the outside world.

Talk like a badass.

Tone is as important as language. Use your tone deliberately when you want to powerfully communicate a message. Lower your tone at the end of a sentence to let people know you are complete in your thought. Choose words mindfully when speaking to yourself and others. Ask yourself if your message is spreading positive or negative ideas or vibes to yourself and others. Try not to add more negativity as there is enough out there already.

Think like a badass.

Being a badass starts in the mind. A true badass doesn’t let life just happen to them. They take responsibility for as much of their life as possible (life does throw you curveballs every so often), which includes their health, safety, career and relationships. A small daily practice is to replace negative and self-defeating thoughts with an empowering mantra. A mantra is a word or sentence that you create to counteract negative thoughts. You can even use: I am a badass!

Practice random acts of kindness.

Focusing on improving ourselves is great. But, giving love, attention and your skills to others is honorable and true badassery. Random acts of kindness are so rewarding because the recipient isn’t expecting it. It can be as easy as giving a compliment or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger. The act can be small but the impact is enormous.

I want to hear from you.

How will you practice the art of badassery this year? What self-imposed limits will you crush? How will you render onlookers awestruck.