BlogFrom Kumite to Corporate: What Bloodsport Can Teach Us About Business

Remember the movie Bloodsport? I was only two years old when this movie came out in 1988. However, growing up around older cousins, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I watched this movie. I can remember shuffling through all the VHS tapes that my grandparents had until I found the one that had Bloodsport written on with the black text. Once it was found I would place it into the VCR and wait for it to rewind. We never rewound the movie when we finished it. For the next hour and a half, I would watch Frank Dux (Jean Claude Van Damme) enter the Kumite, defeat Chong Li (portrayed by Bolo Yeung), and avenge his friend.  

This typical Van Damme martial arts movie may seem to have nothing to do with business or being a founder, but bear with me. You will be surprised at what we can find in this movie.  

Bloodsport tells the tale of Frank Dux, an American who enters the Kumite, an underground martial arts tournament. It is loosely based on a true story and showcases some great 80s-era martial arts in various styles. In typical Van Damme fashion, we have some great 80s music, and a few montages, including his standard training montage and his finding a way to showcase his ability to do the splits.  

After that amazing summary, you probably think I just wanted to talk about a film I loved as a kid and bring back all the nostalgia. However, how Frank Dux conducts himself throughout the movie shows us lessons that can be applied to a founder and start-up. Let’s see how the Kumite to Corporate parallels can be drawn, shall we?

Be Prepared
Be prepared

Preparation is a critical component of success in any endeavor, including business. In Bloodsport, Frank Dux trains as a martial artist his entire life. He develops his skills, builds his strength, and learns from his mistakes to become the best fighter. He shows discipline and is prepared to fight in the tournament. 

It is not enough to merely have potential; you must also put in the effort and preparation to fully realize that potential. Being prepared and having discipline is critical in giving your business any chance of success. Preparation is key. Whether you’re preparing for a meeting or a presentation, doing research on new opportunities or markets, or creating a business plan, taking the time to think through options and scenarios that could occur can make all the difference in your business. 

In the business world, preparation can take many forms, including researching your competition, understanding the needs of your target market, and developing a comprehensive business plan. By preparing thoroughly, businesses can increase their chances of success and avoid costly mistakes.

Be Adaptable 
Be adaptable

Adaptability is another critical business lesson that can be learned from Bloodsport. Throughout the film, we see numerous fights between different participants, each of whom practices a different style of martial arts or fighting style. The movie doesn’t make a claim for which is superior however, Frank does adapt his approach to each battle based on the weaknesses and strengths of the opponent he faces. Frank Dux also uses his intelligence and adaptability to avoid physical confrontations and win fights without violence.

This directly parallels business, and we know that we need to be adaptable to the different challenges we will face. No challenge is the same, and no challenge will require the same approach. Being prepared and excelling in what you do will allow you to be adaptable to road blacks that will inevitably come your way in business. 

In the business world, adaptability is crucial for survival. Markets and industries are constantly changing, and businesses must be willing to adapt their strategies and processes to stay competitive. This may involve pivoting to a new product or service, exploring new marketing channels, or adjusting pricing to meet demand.

Learn from Failure
learn from failure

There will be times that you fail; you will either need to choose another approach to solving the issue or, in the very worst case, you will need to close your business and try again. You will not always make the right decision or adapt to every situation, just like Frank. He loses his first fight in the Kumite but does not quit. He learns from the defeat and uses that learning experience to move forward.  Frank uses these experiences to learn and grow, ultimately becoming a better fighter.

One famous quote from the movie illustrates the importance of learning from failure: “Brick not hit back, not mean it not hard.” This quote highlights the idea that even when you don’t receive immediate feedback or results, your efforts and actions still have an impact.

Failure is a natural part of any journey, including martial arts and business. In the business world, failure can be a valuable learning opportunity. By analyzing what went wrong, companies can identify weaknesses in their strategies or processes and make improvements for the future. This may involve conducting post-mortems, soliciting feedback from customers or employees, or experimenting with new approaches.

Believe in yourself
believe in yourself

Self-belief is another essential quality for success, whether in martial arts or business. Frank Dux has an unshakable belief in himself and his abilities, which helps him overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

In the business world, self-belief is crucial for entrepreneurs and leaders. It means having confidence in your skills, decision-making abilities, and vision for the future. Without self-belief, inspiring others, and overcoming the inevitable challenges and setbacks of building a business is difficult.

As a founder, you must have self-belief in what you are building. Self-belief in your idea and approach will help you recruit an all-start team around you and allow you to move forward with a collective aim to bring your vision to life. 

Never give up
Never give up

Along with self-belief, you need to have a strong mentality and the mental fortitude never to give up, especially if you believe in your goal. In Bloodsport, Frank Dux faces numerous challenges and obstacles on his journey to the Kumite tournament but never gives up. He remains focused on his goal and continues to push himself, even when things get tough.

One famous quote from the movie that illustrates the importance of persistence is, “You break my record, now I break you like I break your friend.” This quote highlights that competition can be fierce and unrelenting, but those who refuse to give up can ultimately come out on top.

In the business world, persistence is essential for overcoming the many obstacles and challenges when building a business. It means staying committed to your goals and pushing forward, even when faced with setbacks, failures, or challenging circumstances.

Businesses pushing barriers and changing the status quo will always have challenges. Changing an industry, sector, or even people’s attitudes is difficult. You will face many challenges that may seem like the odds are against you, and they probably will be. However, you cannot give up on the first challenge. Just like Frank, he lost his first fight and moved forward. Each fight from then on introduces more challenges and difficulties, and all the odds are against him in the final fight however, he doesn’t give up and delivers a match that hits all the traditional van damme queues, we have him losing, then screaming, and eventually several spin kicks and ultimately is victorious.  

Key Takeaways

Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux shows us how to be an expert martial artist and win a Kumite tournament, but we also learn how to excel at business and as founders by following the principles in the movie. 

As we wipe away the blood stains from the fighting arena, we see that Frank Dux shows the following key lessons: 

  • Be Prepared 
  • Be Adaptable 
  • Learn from Failure 
  • Believe in Yourself 
  • Never Give Up 

Whether you are participating in a Kumite tournament or running a business, you must be willing to put in the hard work, stay focused, and never give up to be successful.
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