January 18

WINNING STRATEGY: Rayna Vallandingham Knows How to Say No on Her Terms

By fitness

January 18, 2023



Rayna Vallandingham started her journey in martial arts on the age of two. At 6, she earned her first black belt. And two years later, she gained her first world championship — her first of 13 world taekwondo titles.

Now 20, the Indian American taekwondo grasp has continued to mature each out and in of the dojo. Unfortunately, oftentimes the remainder of the world has but to evolve as shortly. “[Growing up,] you always had those ‘brave’ boys who would tease and say you kick like a girl,” she says. “And now that I’m 20, nothing’s really changed. As a black belt, you’re always taught that you’re only supposed to use your martial arts and self-defense. So I would just stand there. But it’s sad that people feel the need to do that.”

Vallandingham spends about two hours per day training martial arts; as well as, she logs a number of energy coaching periods. She’s additionally parlayed her success into a number of jobs: a martial arts teacher, struggle choreographer, and content material creator with a couple of million followers on TikTook. (If you haven’t seen her whip a pair of nunchucks or backflip in a swimsuit or night robe, you’re lacking out.)

Like anybody who ventures onto the web, with followers come trolls and anger, notably from old-school martial arts traditionalists who disapprove of her Gen. Z strategy.

Unsurprisingly, she’s unapologetic about the best way she expresses her artwork and makes use of her podcast, The A THREAT League, to vent frustrations and speak store with co-host and choreographer Samantha Long.

“I’m doing something that’s not really been done before, in the sense of taking martial arts and adapting into content creation,” Vallandingham says. “That’s where some the hate comes from. And I’ve just decided to commit to that and feed into it and be true to myself and who I want to be. Hopefully that can inspire a lot of people to be authentic to themselves as well and not care about what other people say.”

However, there's a effective line to Vallangham’s finesse with the spoken phrase, particularly as an envoy to the immortal icon of martial arts: Bruce Lee himself. She says she obtained the chance to work with the household representing the worldwide icon after they obtained a glimpse of a few of her viral martial arts social media exhibitions. Now representing her childhood idol, she is aware of the accountability of being of the feminine artists to be honored with this partnership.

“It was such a huge blessing, and just a cultivation of everything I have dreamt of, because I always saw that for myself— to make a similar impact that he’s had on the world ever since his career flourished, even it was for a short amount of time,” she says. “His impact is going to inspire generations and generations to come and, and he inspired me and so I would love to do that for all those little girls out there who are told that they’re not strong enough to dominate a sport like martial arts.”

Her mission assertion, she says, is to be the feminine Bruce Lee. Her Winning Strategy to realize that features staying true to that mission—even when means saying no to alternative, whereas persevering with to unfold out her skillset, studying losses, and nonetheless having enjoyable as a “beginner.”

Courtesy of NATHAN TECSON

1. FIND YOUR PURPOSE, THEN STAY TRUE TO IT

My recommendation to somebody who's introduced with a possibility that they don’t actually know tips on how to navigate is to sit down down and write precisely what you consider your functions and objectives are. Take this chance that you simply’ve been given and suppose, “Does this align with this and this and will it get me to where I’m going?” If it doesn’t , then I’m an enormous believer that all the pieces is supposed for you and can by no means move you by. That will all the time resonate with you.

So should you’re introduced a possibility, and you've got a nasty feeling in your intestine otherwise you really feel one thing unfavorable brewing inside you, I’d try to avoid that, even when it guarantees you fame, cash, something like that. In the tip, it’s simply not price it—consider me, all the pieces will work out for the higher. And quickly, you’ll see that you simply’ll begin attracting issues that actually align with who you're and what you need.

Once I used to be as soon as supplied to do a voiceover for a personality on a present, that it didn’t align with my values. To me it appeared like sort of a racist tackle a martial arts spin off. I used to be like, I could possibly be into rewriting the story of what it takes to be a feminine martial artist, however the unique will not be aligned with who I'm and who I wish to characterize. So although it had the potential to be enormous, I needed to flip it down.

I additionally obtained supplied a contract to be with WWE, and though it’s to not say that I'd by no means do it, it simply didn’t align with who I used to be on the time. I’m going to construct my profession.

First, I wish to be an motion movies. I’m going to proceed doing what I’m doing with content material creation and paving that path after which return and perhaps write my very own story there. So there’s been so many instances the place I’ve needed to reevaluate what’s essential to me and what I wish to characterize on this trade earlier than transferring ahead with these alternatives that clearly would catapult me.

Rayna Vallandingham performing a taekwondo stance in the desert
Courtesy of Alex Miller

2. RAYNA VALLANDINGHAM KNOWS HOW TO FIND VICTORY IN DEFEAT

I used to be conditioned to successful for a very very long time, as a result of as a 7-year-old black belt, no one was actually on my degree. But as I grew up, and I took a while from martial arts to give attention to college and determine what I wished.

When I went again [to taekwondo], I wasn’t on the high anymore. It was actually troublesome being in that atmosphere as a result of it was new to me and one thing I had by no means skilled. You don’t keep in mind having to work up from the underside. So that was one of the defining moments in my life, as a result of I may’ve mentioned, You know what, time handed, it’s simply not for me anymore and left it there.

But it turned motivation for me to work even tougher to get again to the place the place I used to be successful once more. But even then, I imply, after a few years of tirelessly working and realizing that I deserved that when politics nonetheless comes into play, errors do occur, I didn’t prepare exhausting sufficient.

And I went to World Championships. And the shape was nice. I used to be nailing all the pieces.

And then I went to do the final flip, I slipped and fell. Things like that occur. I obtained up. I used to be all the time instructed, and I all the time did lose with grace. It was by no means like a query for me is like, what, that’s, that’s completely effective. Just motivation to work tougher. But I obtained up, , I used to be like, okay, that occurred. Let’s simply make it possible for doesn’t occur once more. So simply getting again within the dojo working even tougher.

I wouldn’t be who I'm as we speak with out shedding as a result of by stored successful, it might have been too simple for me. By now I'd have slacked off and change into lazy. So I’m grateful for these moments, as a result of it’s on condition that starvation and actually reignited that spark inside me to maintain working exhausting. And it’s not as a result of I’m competing with anyone else. It’s as a result of I’m competing with myself. And I do know the usual I've for myself as nicely.

3. RAYNA VALLANDINGHAM DIVERSIFIES HER SKILLSET…

Some martial artists give attention to their craft a lot that they oftentimes neglect to increase themselves outdoors of martial arts. I’ve all the time been blessed with unimaginable mentors who’ve instructed me that I should be good in entrance of and behind the cameras.

You should be a price in each single room you stroll in. Even ranging from a younger age, I used to be all the time investing in these totally different elements and proceed to take action. I really like choreographing, educating, performing, doing stunts, and each single a type of falls underneath the umbrella of my ardour—martial arts. It’s enjoyable to have the ability to have all these totally different shops to go to. It’s additionally important now to increase your arsenal, particularly in such aggressive industries. And on the similar time, simply to really feel fulfilled for your self.

Before I may simply stroll right into a conference heart the place a match is occurring and really feel very assured. Now I really feel as if that I can stroll right into a room with producers and administrators and really feel simply as assured.

Meeting people who I’ve appeared as much as my complete life working with individuals I’ve appeared as much as my complete life doing issues which might be fulfilling for me having the ability to make my very own schedule, calling individuals having individuals come to me and little women come to me and ask me Rayna, how did you do that, or Reina you impressed me a lot, is it’s unimaginable, it’s, it’s, I don’t know tips on how to clarify it, when you could have a ardour for one thing and different individuals will start to acknowledge that inside you. It’s actually particular and it’s actually transferring. And I’m persevering with to have these little glimpses each day.

4. …BUT STILL HAS FUN BEING A ‘BEGINNER’

I thrive off of the adrenaline of attempting one thing new and changing into nice at it. But it’s additionally the belief of you don’t must be nice at all the pieces. You can have one factor that's your goal and fervour and motive for all times. But you possibly can produce other issues which might be simply your hobbies that you've got enjoyable with. You need to be in contact along with your inside youngster to have the ability to have enjoyable with various things.

And I’m actually studying that myself. I took dance up this yr to have that outlet of simply having enjoyable and to even be a newbie once more at one thing. To me it’s really an awesome ability to have to simply be a newbie at one thing and be taught from there. Whether you’re 30, 40 , 50, it doesn’t matter.

Enjoy not having the strain of getting to be good. I believe that should you’re an athlete, or no matter you could do should you’re nice at one thing, what that looks like of getting to be good on a regular basis. So I'd say that it’s extra essential than you suppose simply to have the ability to get on the market and take a look at one thing new. And simply be OK with no matter occurs. It may find yourself changing into one thing you’re nice at, or it'd simply find yourself being one thing such as you falling off a skateboard each 10 minutes. But it’s so enjoyable—it’s actually essential in life to to have the ability to snort at your self as nicely.

Rayna Vallandingham modeling in the desert
Courtesy of Alex Miller

5. RAYNA VALLANDINGHAM WANTS TO BRING OUT THE BADASS IN EVERY GIRL

There’s nothing extra womanly than simply being badass—that encapsulates all the pieces {that a} girl is.

But I fully perceive that it could possibly be troublesome to really feel whether or not health is for you in what actually nonetheless is a male dominated trade. It’s not all the time simple to go to a gymnasium for the primary time and have all these guys lifting heavy weights and going by their bro speak. Sometimes everybody trying and gazing you, particularly should you’re the one girl there. It might be actually exhausting.

If you want a spot to start out, I'd 100% suggest simply beginning out in your personal residence.

Put on some music and dance, attempt a Zumba class. Anything that you simply like and genuinely take pleasure in, give it a attempt.

It doesn’t must be weightlifting. There’s so many alternative avenues on the market. You can take self protection, jiujitsu, martial arts—I like to recommend these! Dance, run, stroll, even go to Disney and stroll to twenty totally different rides, that’s going to be a exercise. Anything you actually take pleasure in, it’s essential to capitalize on on your health. And be inventive too.

You may even purchase some nunchucks and swing them round. I used to be working with an MMA athlete, and he began taking part in with nunchucks, and was like, Oh, my God, that is gonna be my new exercise. Just getting within the gymnasium and combating can change into so monotonous at instances. There are so many alternative alternatives so that you can increase your self. You’re worthy of investing in your self and actually discovering that as a result of it’s price it.

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