“Fall down 7 times, get up 8 times” is sure to be a saying all martial artists have heard. I’ve seen it on a number of dojo walls and in a lot of martial literature … but it bugs me! It’s wrong!
Firstly, the mathematics and geometry make it impossible. If a person falls down, then they are down (Fall 1) … and when they get up, they are back up (Get Up 1). We then have Fall 2, and then Get Up 2. This continues five more times until “Get Up 7”. When you are up, you are already up. It is impossible to perform the action of rising from a risen position! How are we supposed to “get up” the eighth time? You can’t …. without an eighth fall. So, it’s fundamentally flawed mathematically.
It’s also wrong as a concept.
On the first fall, we should learn from the fall and try not to fall again. We were not pushed down or knocked down; we fell down. If you are advising someone who has fallen seven times to get up an eighth time you are effectively saying:
“Keep making the same mistakes over and over (you keep falling) … and seek the impossible each time (trying to get up when you are already up) …. instead of learning (stop falling!) … and moving forward (all this rising and falling sees you end up in the exact same place you started! While seeking to achieve the impossible!)”.
“Be a continual idiot, never move from where you are, and seek the impossible!” is hardly motivational!
The phase can be made a bit better by changing the the dimension and the cause. If we get KNOCKED BACKWARD seven times, then it is possible to step FORWARD eight times and then be one step forward ((-7) + 8 = +1). There has been a change in circumstance! You are no longer there you started! You changed your position by doing something difficult. You did not stay static while trying to “advance” in impossible ways.
However, if you can’t make the one step forward, because you keep getting knocked back, then it may be smart to try one step right, one step forward, one step left! You reach the desired location in three steps! And that can be quicker and less painful that walking into problems all the time.
1) Learn from setbacks; don’t keep repeating the same errors.
2) Some problems are best circumnavigated! Be flexible!
3) Accept that not everything is under you control, but you do have power over the things that are!
4) Move in the directions you can move. Change the things you can change. Always seek to advance in ways that are possible. Difficult is possible. Hard is possible. Rare is possible. However, some things are impossible. I can train myself to be fitter, faster, stronger … but not taller! We are seeking real world results! Work within the realms of the possible.
5) Be tenacious! But also be flexible and smart!
“Fall down 7 times, get up 8 times” is not a wise saying. On examination, it promotes pig-headedness, a failure to consider alternative paths, a failure to learn, a failure to accept what is in our control, a failure to advance …. it even reflects a failure to count! Can we dump it please? :-)
All the best,