What do you think defines failure in martial arts? Is it getting beaten in a sparring match? Or not breaking the board in your belt test?
Or forgetting your patterns in a competition?
I don't think so.
When you are on the martial arts path of self-improvement none of these things are failures. They are just hurdles for you to overcome.
Getting beat in a sparring match is a hurdle.
It's an opportunity for you to learn to deal with getting beaten. To learn how to heal the physical and mental bruises of defeat in combat. To think about how you could do better. To swallow your pride and deal with your ego. Work on your game.... And to get out into the ring again stronger than ever.
And next time you get beat in the ring (or in life)... it's a bit easier to take.
Not breaking a board means you have hit a barrier.
It's a test for you to figure out. It might mean you need to work on your technique. It might mean you need to relax and let your strikes and kicks go. It might mean you have to tackle your mental preparation and have more faith in what you can do. It might be all of these things.
Either way... when you go away and figure it out... you come back stronger. And when you finally break the elusive board, the sense of achievement and empowerment is a massive boost to your self confidence and personal growth.
And when you forget the pattern in the competition?
And you go away and practice till your body knows it inside out. And bore your family to tears by using them as an audience to perform in front of. Then visualize it at night as you fall asleep.
Chances are you give the performance of a lifetime at the next competition. And your mental strength and self esteem grow just a little bit more.
The only time you fail is when you stop trying. You fail (for now at least) when you don't pick yourself up and have another go.

Author's Bio: 

Deborah Jeffreys is a martial artist and author.

This article is taken from the e book 'Staying on the Path - Your Guide to Martial Arts Success' by Deborah Jeffreys. Foreword by Geoff Thompson.

You can download the whole book here http://www.taekwondo-information.org/martial-art-book.html