Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8

How my martial arts skills helped me build an app against impossible odds

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Me during my Ninjutsu Shodan test (first level black belt) at Studio City Martial Arts in Los Angeles, CA, 2006 | photo by Stanley Appleman

And then my dad died.

Is there such a thing as Strike 4? Or are we in knock-out rounds now?

My dad’s death was not a surprise as he had been engaged in a swiftly losing battle with cancer since the year before. But it all happened so fast, and so devastatingly, that there was just not way to prepare for such a profound loss. He was my second parent to die, and now, with no parents and no family of my own, I felt completely untethered to anything at all.

Definitely a knock-out round: Number 4.

Our next step was to try the crowdfunding after all, even though none of us had the time or capacity to run a crowdfunding campaign. We ran it anyway, and… raised 1% of our total amount needed. What we didn’t know is that most crowdfunding campaigns start offline a month early to seed their campaign with an opening nest egg to entice new funders. It looks like a campaign raises $10k in the first few hours, but that money is usually already there.

Knock-out number 5.

Not a lot of people were believing in us at this point, which was understandable. But we did have one strong supporter behind us: GoDaddy Germany. GoDaddy had reached out to us earlier that year; they were interested in supporting local businesses that use the GoDaddy platform as they grow across Europe. GoDaddy learned about our app, and connected us with Felix Koehler Film, another GoDaddy Germany customer they thought would be great partners for shooting our app videos.

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From our Pretty Deadly Presents: Calligraphy workshop, part of a series of workshops we host showcasing the talents of our amazing participants (because empowered women empower women :).
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Felix Koehler & crew arriving in Berlin for our first day of shooting.
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Me & our video team: the crew from Felix Koehler Film, stuntman Marco Albrecht, and our wonderful Deadlies

Round 6.

The next developers we found seemed like a great match. A female-run company that specialized in adding chat functions to apps (something the previous developers told us was not possible). We worked with them for months, mostly in a tug of war over design, and parted ways after the missed deadlines became too many to ignore.

And then Corona hit.

Knock-out Number 7.

One of the other important lessons I’ve learned from martial arts is the art of being able to adapt — that nothing is ever static, but always in motion, and we are in motion too. It means while you may hold on to your vision, the route you take to get there may need to change, adapt, evolve.

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Video shoot for Pretty Deadly Mobile App, feat. stuntman Alois Knapp, in Berlin 2019
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Me & my teacher, Sensei Chadwick Minge at his school, The Dojo in Covington, Louisiana 2019

Fall down 7 times, get up 8.

Our Pretty Deadly Mobile App is now in the Google Play store and available for free download. You can learn techniques, get little jolts of empowerment, reach out to other users, and even find open training sessions (app parties) or courses near you, and register directly from the app. There’s even a suggestion box to send us your feedback and let us know how and what to do better for the next version.

Written by

Producer and host of the bi-monthly podcast, Artipoeus: Art You Can Hear, and founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense. www.artipoeus.com / www.prettydeadly.org

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