Suck It Up Or Go Home – how to keep going in tough times

A blog written by Nottingham Partner member, Simon Gray:

Lockdown has been a difficult time for many of us. Enforced isolation, the risk of unemployment or damage to our businesses all add to the worry, distress and upset that have become a normal part of life.

Are we at a turning point? In truth, nobody knows. Coronavirus is an unknown quantity and while the cost to life is now being closely monitored, the economic damage has yet to make itself known.

I used lockdown to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years. In 2006/07 I completed arguably the toughest martial arts bootcamp in the world. At the age of 34 I sold my house, car and other worldly possessions, said goodbye to family and friends, and flew out to Tokyo, Japan. For the next 11 months I trained with the Tokyo Riot Police and immersed myself in Japanese life, culture and Budo (traditional Japanese martial arts).

Training in Aikido intensively for such a length of time was a huge physical challenge, but much more than that it had a profound impact on me mentally – the way I think and how I approach life.

Discipline, determination and the courage to step out of my comfort zone were daily requirements. On most days I was quite literally knocked down and had to get back up, no matter how tired I was or how I was feeling.

Nana korobi ya oki is a Japanese proverb I drew confidence from and took comfort in. Fall down seven times, get up eight is advice to keep going no matter what life throws at you. It’s not what happens, it’s how you choose to react that counts. When it’s tempting to quit, the better advice is often to keep going – you might just learn something in the process.

The physical hardship rooted a deeper meaning within me as to what Aikido is really all about. Under pressure, it’s easy to get angry or to find yourself in confrontational situations. Aikido teaches a better way – step out of the way and let the negativity fly past. I describe this concept in the chapter entitled TRAIN ON THE TRACK and 13 years on, as I finished the book, this lesson remains one of the most important of my life.

The book is much more than a story about martial arts – its message runs much deeper.

Suck It Up Or Go Home is now available on Amazon worldwide:

UK –




Or search Suck It Up Or Go Home on your country’s local Amazon platform.

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