Saturday, May 16, 2015

Breaking the self-limit through martial arts

People often say that martial art is one of the best activities out there to develop self-confidence and self-discipline. A lot of parents send their children to the local dojo for the same reason. While it is true that martial art does teach you how to physically depend yourself from bullies, thus making you more confident around others. However, the real growth isn't about the fact that you learned how to fight. The real growth comes as a result of you continuing through the journey without permanently quitting.

There are a lot of people who train martial arts and are still weak inside. They become bullies with their new found martial art abilities, they maybe dangerous but they are weak inside. There are also a lot of martial arts practitioner with huge egos who can't afford to look bad or be wrong. These people are running dojos everywhere. That's why the martial arts community is always full of verbal warfare and online flaming because everybody wants to proof something, especially when it comes to style vs style.

In my opinion, the real personal growth that martial art can provide isn't about winning every fight, very competition. It is the about how you can push yourself to the new level through training and competing, how you shatter your previously held self-limiting believes as a result of your pushing through the limit. 

To be honest, martial art is hard, no matter what style you study, they are not easy. Brazilian Jiujitsu training is tough, the live rolling and drilling with partners is grueling; the chock holds and joint locks that I find myself in are painful and frustrating; the position you are stuck while having a 200 lb body smashing you from the top for 10 mins make you want to throw up. Worst of all, I don't seem to improve at all because BJJ has so much to learn.

Muay Thai training is tough. Getting punched in the face; kneed to the belly; kicks to the leg not only hurts, but also inflicts a lot of fear in me. The physical training of the art is grueling. There aren't that many techniques to learn, therefore it is the same technique that we do over and over again and make it better. It is boring, physically demanding and frustrating because there is no way I can tell whether I am getting it or not.

Chinese traditional martial arts are tough. I spend months and months if not years practicing the stance and forms. They are tiring and grinding exercise. Not only that, they are almost physically impossible to do well and they hurt a lot. 

The same goes to Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Wrestling and other styles. They can all make you quit and you have a lot of reasons and excuses to quit. 

However, when you are pushed to your edge, the real personal growth is about to happen. The real growth can only happen if you let go of the outcome and focus on challenge yourself from the inside. In your sparring or even, in your competition, did you give all you got and fought like a warrior? If you did, you would feel like a winner even if you got pounded on the whole time. Or did you retreat out of fear in the presence of adversity? If you did, you would feel like a crap even if you did win the match somehow. 

In every moment, have you thought of giving up, specially when you are so tired that you can't physically move? Did you push yourself in spite of wanting to give up because you 'know' you are at your limit? 

Only you know the answer because only you know how you feel afterwards. To be honest, everybody has quit in their journey. I have given up more than once in my sparring because I 'know' my partner was way out of my league especially when he was manhandling me left and right. However, I didn't quit permanently, i stuck with the training. And as I got better and better, I learned to push myself specially during those moments of despair, because I wanted to win the fight against my old limiting believes, my physical opponent is just giving me that opportunity to fight and conquer myself. 

The more you training, the more you compete, the more you do both even when you are most afraid, the more opportunities you are going to have to see yourself at the deeper level. You will have that opportunity to reflect on how you act when you are pushed to your limit, when you are taken to a place that you have not been to, when you are freaked out. At the end, what really matters isn't whether you win the fight against your physical opponent or that martial art styles or not, it is what did you choose to do at those moments when you reach your previously thought limits. If your opponent is too weak to take you there, then fight someone better, not someone you know you can beat.

In summary, in order to grow, we need to first find out where our limit is, both physical and mental. If you are focusing on personal growth, then any martial art style is great and there is no time nor desire to argue in the martial art communities about who can beat who. The only person that matters is ourselves.

Therefore, martial arts training is indeed one of the best journey for personal growth only if you can stick with the training no matter what. You will come out of it on the other end as a better person.

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