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Huskies News · Lessons for Life – Spring Season: Lesson 5

SAVHS Lessons for Life allow our athletes an opportunity to look at athletics in a different light.  Each week a new lesson is introduced to our athletes to promote the development of the whole athlete – in the present and the future.

Overcoming a Weakness[1]

Jigoro_Kano_and_Kyuzo_Mifune“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Here’s a great story that’s been told for years that reminds us sometimes a weakness may actually be a strength in disguise.

A young boy was born without a left arm and sent to Judo lessons by his mother to help with his confidence. He was taught by an old Japanese judo master.   Every practice session the master taught the boy one throw.   Just one technique over and over again.

The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move.  “Sensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?”

“This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.

Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament.  The boy was terrified. Surprising everyone, especially himself, the young boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.

This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened.

“No,” the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.”

Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.

On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.

“Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”

His mentor just grinned.

That one move I taught you? There’s only one way to counter that move . . . the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

What had been perceived as a deficit turned out to be an asset; the boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.

In an athletic context, what is a strength that you possess that came about because of a weakness or in response to a weakness?


Why is it important to identify your own weaknesses?


What are the key steps to turning a weakness into a strength?


What’s an example of this from your own personal life (not sports) where a weakness resulted in developing a strength?


Can you think of any other situations where a weakness resulted into the development of a strength?  

[1] A product of the SAVHS Athletics Department.  Original source unknown.  Inspiration from: Alwyn Cosgrove,, and Maikel Michiels.