Posi-talk: The Breakfast of Champions

two boxes of wheaties with michael jordan pictured
Wheaties. The breakfast of Champions. Click here to learn more.

Oh, wait, I got that wrong.  It is Wheaties that is the “Breakfast of Champions!”  Long advertised as the cereal star athletes eat every morning.

Although what you eat is of prime importance in developing a healthy, athletic body, unless you have the drive and the will to power through the rough moments of your training, what you eat will not help you in the least.


When a student began lagging after endless pushups, my sensei would say,

“You need to eat more Wheaties!”

If you are plagued by self-doubt about your training, if you are not sure you can take the rigors of the martial art world and are thinking about giving up, read on and learn about the 12-posi-talk habits of champions.  Perhaps what holds you back is not your breakfast but your mindset.

You, too, can be a Champion

Champions are made, not born.  Anyone can be a champion if they put their mind to it.  In this case, we are talking about how a martial arts champion is made.  Sure, people are born with various athletic abilities, some have to work harder than others to get to where they want to go.  It seems some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and anything they touch turns into success!

Positive self-talk is something we have all heard about.  The world is full of abundance gurus who are telling us we are as we think.  Actually, this type of thinking is not something new.  As far back as the Proverbs, we are told our thoughts lead us.  This is a hard concept to figure out, especially when stuck in the doldrums of self-doubt.

The purpose of posi-talk is to eliminate the negative self-talk.  Did you know, scientists have discovered we think in words, pictures and emotions at a rate of 300-400 words a waking minute?  Our minds are busily filtering out what we need to know in this instant, and the rest is information our minds store for later.  If you catch your mind racing, too many thoughts, maybe this is why.

Here is how negative talk works.  “Oh, man, I hope I don’t forget my kata.  I will be so embarrassed!”  You forget your kata and you are embarrassed.  Then you say, “I knew that was going to happen!”  The next time, you forget it even more.  Eventually you become discouraged, and feeling like a failure, you quit going to class.

Posi-talk works the same way, but in the opposite direction.  “Oh, man, I’ve got this down.  I am going to blow the judges away and take home that glittering, shiny first place trophy!”  Chances are you win the trophy.  And if you get second place, you say, “I did my best, we were so close.  I’ll get first place next time!”  You go back into the dojo and work on your techniques even harder than before.

The following steps are taken from the November 1990, Black Belt magazine, Posi-talk.  The Secret of Champions.

Bruce Lee on cover of Black Belt magazine November 1990
Black Belt, November 1990, Vol 28, No. 11

The 12-step Posi-talk Program

  1.  Talk to yourself in the present tense:  I am…, I can…, I enjoy…
  2.  Use complete sentences in the present tense:  I am the best.  I am grateful.
  3. Be specific with your thoughts:  I will win the first-place trophy.
  4. Keep the statements brief, easy to remember.
  5. Use words that are colorful and emotionally charged.  I’m going to blow the judges away and take home that glittering, shiny first place trophy!
  6. Say your statements like you mean them!  I am so proud and pleased with my accomplishments.
  7. Say them with emotion.  See your success, taste the feeling of victory, hear the roar of the crowd.
  8. Write ten to twelve of your statements on note cards, one on each card.
  9. Read your cards twice a day – before going to sleep and immediately upon waking.
  10. Softly play music while reading your cards.  The best for this is instrumental music that is played at 60 beats per minute.  Scientists recommend Baroque music.
  11. If you want, record yourself speaking your statements.  This is another way of cementing your posi-talk into your subconscious.
  12. Do this every day for 30 days.  You are well on your way to being a champion!

Note:  Please avoid using words like “should, will, need to, have to, must” and other such words that sound positive but have negative connotations.

Posi-talk Instructions for Instructors

  1. Remove the negative thoughts from your life.
  2. When you hear a student talking bad about himself, stop his talk with positive reinforcement.  Have the 12 steps handy to give to your doubting-Thomas students.
  3. Correct and praise. Correct and praise.  This cannot be said enough.  Find positive ways to change their habits.  Remember to bring your hand back to chamber, Johnny.  You’ll get more power that way.  Great job, by the way.
  4. Make a list of uplifting movies, books and videos to give to your students.
  5. Put up slogans around your dojo.  Here are a few to get you started:

Belief in limits creates limited people.  (Tony Robbins)

If you are afraid of failure, give attention to success.  (Dr. Joseph Murphy)

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right!  (Henry Ford)

You are just about as happy as you make your mind up to be.  (Abraham Lincoln)

You are what you think about all day.  (Emerson)

The Men at the Top

These techniques are used by champions across the board.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a martial artist or going for the Olympic Gold, talking negative will not get you there.  This isn’t reserved for champions.  You can reach the heights you want to reach by changing how you talk to yourself.  But there is more to success than saying you are the greatest.  Only hard work and dedication – and passion – will get you to the finish line.

An example of passion, hard work and dedication is how Bruce Lee approached his training.  In the same Black Belt magazine is an article called What makes Bruce Lee so Good?  A special birthday commemorative.  His dedication and spirit are what made him a great martial artist.  Few men are remembered so well 50 years after their death.

He was driven, always looking for ways to perfection.  He regarded his body as a work of art, “a piece of granite that needs to be sculptured.”  And sculpture it he did.  Tirelessly training.  He kept on improving because he wanted to “go where no man has gone before.”  I would say he met that goal.  He was never satisfied, always striving for something better.

There were other American greats in the martial arts from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Chuck Norris, world champion full contact fighter is only one of his accomplishments;  Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, known for his lightening-quick left round kick that gets you every time.  Watch this video of Joe Lewis and Bruce Lee.  One punch says it all.

The commentator calls this a 6-inch punch, but it is actually his famous 1-inch punch.  His hand is only an inch away from Joe’s chest when he sends him flying back.  Watch closely, and you will see it is only a flick of the wrist.

Never rest on your laurels

This striving for something better is a mark of humility, and a behavior all successful martial artists must have.  Having humility simply means admitting there is always something, someone, bigger, better and stronger than you.  There is always something to learn.  If you think you’ve reached the end of the road, your ego has taken you for a ride.

People who reach the top do not always have the genetic ability to get there.  Bruce was born with athletic abilities, but if he hadn’t pursued his art as he had, and developed the discipline to become the best, where would he be?  Certainly not on the cover of Black Belt magazine!

Genetic ability is less than half the battle.  Anyone can be successful.  Just follow the 12-step program outlined above.  You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you lack the desire to succeed, you will go nowhere in life.  You don’t have to be a great karate master.  You can be you.  Whatever you want to be.

Remember, only limited people believe in limits.  Nothing is impossible.  Impossible means I’m possible, I am possible. 

I Am Possible

Write this down on your notecard and read it twice a day.  Say it every time you feel down in the dumps.  Change your negi-talk to posi-talk with just three simple words.  I am possible.

Give it a shot.  Take 30 days for a little bit of posi-talk.  Good luck to you.

Oh, and… remember to eat your Wheaties!


Sensei Carol