Who’s Nyle DiMarco? He and his dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd, won the 22nd season of Dancing with the Stars last night.

What’s the big freaking deal and what the hell does that have to do with martial arts?

You see, Nyle DiMarco is the first deaf contestant to win this contest. 

And judging by the reactions of my deaf friends on Facebook, this is HUGE.

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

What? Deaf people can dance?

Clearly, Nyle did not place limitations on what he can or cannot do. I am sure that he was informed by others that he could not dance because he was deaf. Obviously, he ignored the naysayers and danced his way into history. 

Oh yes, he’s more than a dancer. He graduated from Gallaudet University with a degree in mathematics as well.

No doubt that he broke some barriers in the process and inspired millions of deaf people with his performances.

What barriers?

In my opinion, there are two kinds of barriers.  

The first barrier is often imposed by others: “You can’t do this because x, y, z.” 

Some may have been baffled by the notion that a deaf contestant can dance on a world class level as Nyle DiMarco did during this season. Given the unacceptably high unemployment rate among deaf people, his performances and willingness to break barriers surely inspired the deaf community. 

The message is clear: don’t let others dictate your limitations.

The second barrier is often imposed from within: “There’s no way I can do this.” 

I think that the second barrier is the more pernicious of the two and is a considerable roadblock to success. Unfortunately, many folks are prisoners of their own limitations. To overcome the self-imposed barrier requires tremendous effort. Sometimes, it requires inspiration or coaching from another person. Oftentimes, it requires courage and self-motivation to overcome this internal barrier.

I see this often in the martial arts. An example is a martial artist who has studied multiple styles but quit every one of them at the brown belt level. Why? That person had severe doubts as to whether she could pass a black belt test. She had difficulty overcoming the inner voice telling her that she could not be a black belt.

The greatest barrier to progress in the martial arts is often self-imposed. “There’s no way I can break three boards.”  “Me win this tournament? Yeah riiiiggght.” “OMG, how am I going to do a break fall from one feet in the air?” πŸ˜‰  It is often very difficult for some to break through their mental barriers and remove their self-imposed limits.

Bruce Lee often spoke about limitations. One of his most famous quotes was: 

If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

He also said, “Be water, my friend.” This implies being your own natural self and being in sync with the universe. This further implies living life as a human being without self-imposed artificial limitations. Otherwise, self-imposed limitations is not exactly being in sync with the universe, is it?

With this philosophy and outlook, Bruce overcame many obstacles to achieve his goals of teaching martial arts to Westerners and an acting career. In doing so, he inspired many to overcome their own limitations and achieve their goals.

As evidenced by his performances on “Dancing With The Stars,” Nyle DiMarco is living without limitations.

How have you overcome your limitations? Share your story with us!


5 thoughts on “Nyle DiMarco – A Winner!

  • May 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Old, fat, dyslexic. Old I can’t help. Fat, I lost. Dyslexic I overcome by finding ways of thinking about movements and the principles behind them. Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do. I can discover my abilities myself. Starting tomorrow I am undertaking the most rigorous training I’ve ever had to date. I’ll be training alongside those who are going to USA Karate Nationals. Due to financial considerations, I’m not going this year but next. So I have an obstacle this year – big deal. I’ll be that much better prepared next year.

    • May 25, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting! Fantastic mindset that you have and have fun with that rigorous training that’s coming up! Go for it! πŸ™‚

  • June 17, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Brian, I really like your distinction between internal and external barriers, and the way you illustrate it with this story – very nicely done & thought-provoking πŸ™‚

    All that aside, I can’t help wondering how he does it though? Do you know? Does he have some residual hearing? Or does he pick up the vibrations of the music through his feet, from the floor . . . ?

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