Nothing teaches you humility like learning a martial art. It is one of those things that is a byproduct of training consistently. No one walks into a martial arts gym with a black belt. Everyone needs to start from white belt regardless of how big, fast or athletic they are. This means for the first few months of your training, you will be one of the least experienced people in the martial arts gym.
It is not something you should let intimidate you. The point of learning a combat style in the first place is learning things from people who are more knowledgeable than you are. The more humble you are in your approach to martial arts training, the more productive your martial arts class will be. If you fail to humble yourself before stepping on the mat, you will be quickly humbled when training starts.
One way or another, you are going to learn the importance of humility.
Let’s take a closer look at how martial arts create humble people.
1) The basis of learning martial arts is humility
Simply walking into a martial arts gym is an act of humility itself. It is an acknowledgment that there are things you can learn there that you feel you will be helpful in the long-run. Keeping that energy will make your journey a lot easier.
Acting arrogant or being overconfident does not serve any purpose. If it was real confidence, you would not be in the martial arts gym in the first place. A bad attitude only makes a bad impression with your training partners and instructors. Act like a big enough jerk, and many martial arts gyms will refuse to let your train with them.
Treating your instructors and teammates with respect at all times is a major requirement at most martial arts gyms, and it is typically non-negotiable.
Besides, when you refuse to humble yourself, you will be more focused on looking cool and less focused on learning the techniques that are being taught during classes.
2) It gives you a good assessment of your current skills
Learning a martial art gives you an opportunity to see where you really are when it comes to your physical limitations and your ability to effectively defend yourself. We all think we are tougher than we are. There is no need to feel bad about it, it just means you have a healthy frame of mind.
The problem arises when we become delusional about our abilities. If you can’t execute fighting techniques for more than 30 seconds without getting tired, that is something you want to know. If the moves you learned while watching WWE don’t actually work in real life, you want to know that before you find yourself in a self-defense scenario.
When you step on the mat, you are pushed to your limits. You find out just how good your cardio is and how strong you are compared to people with different body frames.
For most people, the first few weeks of training typically reveals they are not as in shape as they thought they were. You might find yourself lagging behind during drills or gasping for breath after a sparring session, while your training partners look like they just went for a nice morning walk.
It’s all a very humbling experience and it ends up serving as a source of motivation. You will find yourself wanting to be as fit as your training partners, and as skilled as your instructors. Seeing how far you have to go to get there reminds you to stay humble when you train.
3) You’ll lose more sparring matches than you win
It’s the big day, you have been training for a few months and your instructor thinks you are ready for a sparring match. You have been lifting weights before you even started training, you run three miles each day, you have learned many moves since your first day and you look really cool when you do them in front of the mirror.
There’s just one problem…
Most of the people you will be training with are better than you. Your instructor might want to have the honors of being your opponent for your first sparring session or you might be handed over to one of the more advanced students.
One thing is for sure, you will lose more sessions that you win.
That’s a good thing. It means you are training with people who can make you better. It might hurt your ego a bit to find yourself getting outmaneuvered by others, but don’t focus on that. Each sparring session is an opportunity to improve your skills. It gives you lots of real experience testing your skills against someone who is actually fighting back.
Getting past this part of training would be very difficult if you have a huge ego. For example, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is known for its rolling heavy curriculum. Students are expected to roll (spar) after only a handful of classes. For most new BJJ students, it means getting submitted the vast majority of the time you roll with your sparring partners.
It can be very discouraging for some, but if you keep the proper perspective and realize that the people who are submitting you so easily have been trained by the same people who are training you, it is easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon enough, there will be newer faces in the gym and you will start to enjoy more success when you roll. You will begin to submit students that were once better than you and if you train long enough, you might even be better than everyone at your martial arts gym someday.
It is virtually impossible to find a great martial artist who is not humble. These arts imitate life in many ways. Everyone starts from the bottom, and everyone can become a black belt if they try. It teaches you to see the potential in others and yourself. It teaches you to respect those above and below you.
So if you’re looking for something that will challenge you, help you evolve into the best version of yourself, and keep you humble, try a martial arts class.
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