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A Lesson From Waterpolo

Since we’re on the topic of swimming and waterpolo, I’ll give you a little lesson that I learned 15 years ago at a waterpolo tournament. It’s amazing how much I can remember from this, it must have been that dramatic, but during the pool stage our team was facing the at the time #1 team in the country. Thankfully that was to be our final pool game because as we had beaten the other two teams already, it meant we were only playing for a better ranking in the quarter finals.

We had decided before the game that we would play hard for the first half, and if it seemed that we weren’t going to win, we would give our weaker players a go to give them some experience, but in a way forfeit the match so that we could focus on beating the next team. Well, we weren’t doing too well so we went ahead and put on our weaker players, and all this meant was that we faced the #2 team in the country in the quarterfinal. It was actually the first time I had come across this team after playing in tournaments with them for more than 3 years, because up until then we didn’t really have a chance, except this time we did. We put all our effort into beating this #2 team, we tried really hard, but we weren’t able to hold out and we lost.

We were all dejected. We were both physically and mentally defeated. And then came some of the wisest words I’ve ever heard. Our coach had been in the exact same position a few years back, where he felt personally responsible for his team’s loss at the quarter finals. He was so disappointed and that attitude carried on into the next match for third and fourth, but by then he had just given up and his team ended up fourth.

Our coach told us to put our heads up and look forward. Forget about the loss and focus on the next game. Don’t let what happened to him happen to us.

As it so happened the next game was against the #1 team in the country because they had lost in the quarterfinal. That was to our advantage. They had expected to be in the final, so they would have been dejected, but they didn’t have a secret weapon in the form of the wise words of a coach.

We stuck with our game plan, and had a great game and of course we won! Although it wasn’t for first place, it was the first bronze I had ever received while being one of the core players (I had received one as a junior player), but more importantly I had learned a valuable lesson.

When you’re down and out, you can only go up! Don’t let dejection take over you, there’s always another chance ☺

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi


Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website link). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

On my daily blog I post thoughts of a practicing Yamabushi that I hope people can use to better themselves and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

Sign up to the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter, follow me on social (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email via the link below to stay in touch.



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