Life and Training Lessons From Dragon Ball Z


1. Mentorship is crucial

Gohan and Piccolo.

Krillin and Master Roshi

Goku and King Kai.

For some, there’s a weird stigma surrounding mentorship. On one hand we’ve all benefited from the guidance of others in life, but on the other side is fear. It can be scary to admit out loud to someone else that you don’t know everything and that you need help. To do so takes is an act of vulnerability, and the older/more experienced we get, the harder it can be to ask.

Imagine 4 year old you asking someone how to  tie your shoe – no shame there, right? Now imagine a 40 year old you asking the exact same question – hot damn that’s scary! Why? Because at this point in life you should pretty much have that locked down, and our ego would rather have us remain ignorant and proud than risk embarrassment.

I used to be exactly like this. In class the teacher would ask if anyone had any questions or didn’t understand something, and I would sit in the back of the room yelling “WHAT IS GOING ON?!” inside my head, yet on the outside I said nothing, and that lesson passed me by. Now, I revel in being ignorant. It means that I have so much to learn still, plus I’ll meet exciting and interesting people in the process of figuring things out.

Mentors come in many forms. Some teach you actual skills that would’ve taken you years to learn on your own, while others simply teach you how to harness the power that you already have inside yourself. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am career wise if it weren’t for the guidance of friends and mentors like Alan Aragon, JC Deen, John Romaniello and Leigh Peele (among many others).

The best part is that if you take the risk and ask for help, people are usually more than happy to do so!

Embrace your ignorance and actively strive to chase it out of your life. If Goku, the world’s greatest martial artist, can seek out help when he needs it, so can you.

2. Excellence is a journey, not a destination

As much as I love Goku and tried imitating him as a kid, he’s not my favorite character – Krillin is.

At the start of the series, Krillin was kinda sorta able to keep up with the other Z fighters. As things progressed and power levels quickly  reached absurd levels (over 9,000! *breaks scouter*), he was left behind. Once you start throwing Destructo Discs at villains and they just stand there letting it hit them in the face while laughing, you know you have a problem.

But that didn’t stop him from stepping up to the plate and giving it his all when needed. The fact that he died more times than anyone else in the series is a testament to his overall badassery and commitment to excellence in the face of overwhelming odds.

The biggest part of success is simply showing up.

In the gym and in life, the outcome may not always be in your favor, but you can bet a delectable Cinnabon that what you learn about yourself while pursuing a goal is priceless and will serve you well going forward.

3. Live by the Saiyan creed

A Saiyan grows stronger each time they face a challenge greater than their current levels. Something inside of them craves it, and they’re constantly running towards these opportunities.

We’ve all seen that person in the gym who has been there for years yet looks and performs exactly the same as a result. Growth is not an accident. You adapt to what you force yourself to endure and overcome. Do the same and you’ll stay the same.

Piccolo trains with weighted clothes on so that when the time comes to throw down he takes them off and is stronger as a result.

Goku trained under 100x Earth’s gravity to prepare himself for battle on planet Namek.

Growth is rarely comfortable. It may suck and it may hurt, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s absolutely necessary if you want to accomplish anything remarkable. By pushing through your comfort zone and into the unknown, you awaken an addictive quality deep inside yourself that thrives on being challenged and thus becoming better.

If you want to sexify your physique, focus on building a base of strength first. No matter what your goal is, being strong ALWAYS helps  and enhances every other quality. Constantly push yourself to become better in whatever increments that you’re comfortable with.

From Vegeta to Freeza to Cell and Buu, Goku grew stronger from each encounter. Instead of viewing challenges as something to run from, embrace them and the growth that they’ll inevitably bring.

4. Competition is healthy and necessary

When Vegeta came to Earth, he thought conquering the planet would be an easy task, but several battles and an epic energy blast battle later, he was forced to change his perspective. From that moment on, the Saiyan prince devoted the rest of his life to one goal: becoming stronger than Goku in every way possible.

While he never reached this goal, Vegeta would have NEVER become as strong as he did if he didn’t have someone whose simple existence pushed him to strive for more. Chasing after Goku gave him something to aim for. Goku on the other hand used himself as the benchmark, competing only with himself.

Both motivation styles have their benefits and which you choose all depends on your temperament and the situation at hand. Some are motivated by seeing excellence around them and aiming to surpass it while others only want to become better than who they were yesterday.

5. Quests are awesome

The premise of Dragon Ball Z is simple: find 7 magical balls that summon a huge ass dragon who will grant any wish while defeating every villain that attempts to destroy the planet.

Oh yeah, and have a whole lot of fun along the way!

Life is long and as thrilling or boring as we make it out to be. Going on a quest, whatever it may be, is exciting because we’re actively involved in the pursuit of something. Learning different skills, exploring new places and everything in between opens up a world of exciting possibilities that we’d never encounter if we never ventured beyond the mundane.

6. Be a good person and good people appear

The Spirit Bomb, Goku’s most powerful move, can only exist because of the natural goodness inside of people and their willingness to lend him their energy.

This one is really simple and something that I can personally attest to: just be kind!

By being a nice dude for no other reason than it makes me happy to see other people happy, so many opportunities and friendships have come my way that otherwise would’ve never come about.

People naturally want to help and be around those who make them feel good or add something positive to their life.

I reckon if Goku was an asshat, nobody would be lending him anything and his Spirit Bomb would look like the epitome of whackness.

7. YOLO is the dumbest thing ever

Every time I see YOLO, you only live once, I want 1990s Mike Tyson to punch me in the face!

With the Z fighters being killed and wished back more times than I can even remember, it helps frame risk and reward in an entirely different light.

In the year 2013, we’re safer than we’ve ever been at any point in human history. Almost any injury can be overcome through a combination of medicine, technology and ingenuity, but each day we’re faced with death by a thousand small cuts.

Settling for less than we deserve.

Unrequited love.

Getting in our own way.

These little things can add up, and one day you may look around and realize that at some point you stopped reaching for more and settled into safety despite something deep inside of you yearning for more.

The human spirit is indomitable and can recover from anything given enough time and perspective. View each day as a rebirth of sorts, using the lessons from the past to constantly shape and guide your future while still living and enjoy all the awesomeness that the present holds.

8. If you want to look good nekkid, it really is this simple

Simple DBZ Everything else is details.

9. There’s a Super Saiyan inside all of us

We can either passively let life dictate who we become, or say to hell with circumstances and create our own.

We can break under the heavy burden of life, or use our physical and emotional resources to rise and become more than we ever even thought we could.

We’re fully responsible for the direction of our lives. The choice is always ours.

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  1. Sean says

    Man, this post is awesome on so many levels. Vegeta is one of my training idols. Dead serious. Want to get pumped for a workout? Watch some clips of that guy training in the gravity chamber and tell me you don’t feel ready to take on the world afterwards. Obviously, he happens to be my favorite.

    Serious respect for choosing Krillin though, for the exact reasons that you mentioned. Krillin was the average guy. He didn’t have any inherent special abilities or exceptional genetics, but he had a great work ethic and unwavering determination. He may not have been the strongest fighter around, but when you look at him relative to the rest of the human race, he was pretty damn strong.

    • says

      Hey Sean,

      Sorry for the delay on this one – my spam filter has apparently gone haywire and all comments from Jan 1st on were being marked as “spam” – of which I have 2,000 comments of -_-

      Agreed on all points! Even when Vegeta had that silent moment of admittance to himself that Goku has always been stronger, he still kept using it as a reason to push himself far beyond what he would have otherwise done.

      <3 me some Krillin!

  2. Soji James says

    As an avid lover of all things saiyan and all things amazing, i just want to say this was a great article bro! I’m a firm believer in the fact that while you can’t determine the circumstances you inherit in life, you wake up with a choice each day: be an innocent bystander in your own existence or strive to be the best “you” that you can be. That is such a powerful message.

    Quests are pretty awesome! Unfortunately (or luckily depending on how you look at it) dragon balls aren’t real, so as a close second decision one of my own personal objectives going into 2013 is to seek out mentor and “embrace ignorance”. What are some of the most effective ways you have used to get in contact with some of the people who have inspired you?

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback!

      The most effective way I used was really simply: just be super interested in what they’re doing.

      All of the people that have influenced me have one thing in common – they’re doing things that I find really fascinating, cool, inspiring or a combination of all three, so my interactions with them are genuine and not “false”.

      For example, even if Kim Kardashian could in some way help further my career or life awesomeness, I have no interest in what she’s doing and therefore any attempt to try and link up with her would feel fake as all hell and would probably come off as such to her.

      Julien Smith on the other hand ( I’m a HUGE fan of. I read his stuff, share his work, and I simply reached out and let him know that I loved what he was doing.

      Long story short: be genuinely interested, don’t be afraid to be “uncool” (AKA being a raving madman and supporter of their work), and reach out to them – it gets much easier the more you do it.

  3. Alex says

    First time on this site and I have to say this is the best fitness post I have ever read!!!

    I Never ever comment on anything (youtube videos, instagram posts, blogs, forums etc.) but this is just awesome.

    The reason I started doing push ups when I was a kid and grew up to loving strength training and fitness was because of Dragon Ball Z. Every time someone asks me why I started training and I tell them DBZ they laugh or don’t get it. Glad to hear someone who does.

    Keep up the writing I will definitely keep reading this blog.

  4. says

    I like Gohan for the same reasons you like Krillin.

    Gohan was a punk that possessed enormous potential. It took him being pushed numerous times and plenty of thrashings from Piccolo and Goku, but eventually his potential was realized. I think everyone can relate to that and should strive to realize their own potential.

    At one point, Gohan was the strongest fighter in the world!!!

    Great things happen when we push ourselves over a lifetime.

    Good stuff buddy!

    P.S. Glad to see someone out there loves DBZ as much as I do!

    • says

      Hey Dewane,

      Yup, totally agree.

      I think it’s so important to have people on your team that believe in you, see your potential, and aren’t afraid to push you towards it. Sometimes that means some tough love, calling you out on your own bullshit, or just challenging you to be the version they know you can be. Piccolo was notorious for that and it paid off in a big bad way.

      …this could go on forever, so let me stop before I write a thesis haha. Thanks for stopping by!

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