Saturday, January 31, 2009

Life Lesson

Earlier today I had my match and we ended in a draw. It was three rounds of the most brutal fighting ever seen on Earth. Ok, maybe not, but it was good fun. I would say we were even in the first round, he won the second, and I won the third. He came out aggressive in the second and tried to stay close to me and even though I landed a few punches, he scored a few more good points in the second with his punches. His punches felt like bricks when they landed. Not sure what he thought about my punches. In the third I used my strength, which is my legs. When he tried to come in close again I caught him off guard with a well-timed kick, which kept him at a distance the rest of the round. That allowed me to score some well-placed kicks and gave me the advantage in the round.

Throughout the day, every match was declared a draw. Some of us started looking at each other and wondering how that could be when one was clearly better than the other? I quickly realized that as long as you met your competition, it didn't matter how good or bad you did, you would be rated a draw for your efforts. But I didn't realize the deeper meaning until the teachers began to speak after all the matches ended. As we found out today, from those wiser than us, today was not about determining winners or losers.

How many of us have watched others practice their techniques and thought "I can do that form better than he can" or "my running front kick is better than hers"? The problem is that this thinking is based on the idea that training is a competition between students to be the "best". It is not surprising that many people feel this way, because society places so much emphasis on "winning", as opposed to the personal self-enrichment of the activity. This idea that winning is the most important thing and that the winner takes all may have a place in professional sports, because a professional sport is not a game; it is a business.

The attitude of being the "best" or even "better" than others has no place. Other schools foster this attitude because they teach martial arts as a sport with competitions and tournaments. There is no philosophy behind this manner of teaching except "winning". In these schools, the ego of the "winner" grows and he or she becomes more aggressive with each win, while the "loser" becomes more discouraged and looses self-esteem. When a martial art is properly taught, the goal is to increase the skills and self-esteem of each student and to teach the student to be humble and calm. This can only happen in a school where a student is not ridiculed for his mistakes, but accepts them and learns from them, and ego is balanced by a humble attitude that comes from understanding that there is always infinite room for improvement in your skills.

It doesn't really matter whether one person is "better" than another. For one thing, that would imply that there is a definition we can all agree on for the term "better". For another, no matter how "good" a person is, sooner or later someone "better" will come along.

So, if we shouldn't strive to be the "best", what are we training for? What they are trying to teach us is that each of us should strive to be as good as he or she can be and that the more we train sincerely, the better we can be. We are not competing with anyone else; what others do is irrelevant. What really matters is that we train sincerely and never become completely satisfied with our level of achievement. Once that happens, sincere training will cease.

There is another aspect of this idea that they explored. People who feel good about themselves when they think they are "better" than someone else have a serious problem with their self-esteem. If a person must feel "better" than someone else in order to feel good about himself, that person is going to be unhappy most of his life; in other words, if you allow your self-esteem to depend on what others think of you, you will never be truly happy.

Only when your self-esteem comes from a strong inner belief that you are a valuable person can you have a chance to be truly happy. This type of self-esteem can't come from compliments from others; it can't come from anything you don't have to earn with your own hard effort. The only way you can get it is by doing something that is difficult for you to do and doing it until you do it well in your own mind. You may receive compliments from others for this achievement, but those compliments won't sustain you. What will sustain you is your own effort and achievement. There is no better place to invest your effort than in improving yourself.


Seamus said...

Great post! It's a fantastic sunny day here. After reading this I feel highly motivated to go out and accomplish something today. I think I'll play some frisbee with my dog, she's been bugging me to do something with her and get off my bum.

Proud East Coast Liberal said...

Well said and it holds true for all aspects of your life. If more people had this mentality the world would be a better place. Sebbe

Anonymous said...

I agree with you; I mean about the fact that evry effort should be devoted to improve ouselves.
I like the way you get to the point.

WranglerMan said...

It's also like getting up every morning and looking in the mirror. Do you like the guy staring back at you? Are you going to make the world a little better by making yourself better this day? And at the end of the day, did you go out there and give it your best shot? If you answer yes to these, then you have self-respect!

Sounds as if you have good teachers!

Garden Man said...

WOW, congratulations! Isn't it nice to know we can always learn something new that will help us be better people and view the world as a less competitive and friendlier place. Kudos to your teachers for showing their pupils that you don't have to beat somebody up to be a happy and well adjusted person. Glad you lived through the experience!

Anonymous said...

I've been searching blogs all morning and came across this one. I had to write and tell you what an amazing blog you have and this post is just amazing in itself. You have a great attitude on life and great taste in men. This is now my favorite blog and I've book marked you and will be reading you daily. Cheers.

molepunch said...

A great post. Truly inspiring. You swing from being a total himbo with your man-pic-posts to such awesome writing such as this.

You are weird. That is all.

All the best to ya, Amerish.

David said...

Great post. It just go to show that you have some very wise instructors. Words to live by. I'm glad that your match went well and your didn't get too battered.

American Irish said...

Lol, I'm not a himbo!

I just figure men are visual people. If all this blog was about was reading, you men would be bored. Just think of it as Playboy. There are some good articles, but its the pictures you know you come here for. lol

American Irish said...

And me wierd? If I had a dollar for everytime I heard that one in my life. lol Gareth used to call me that, now he just rolls his eyes. lol

Proud East Coast Liberal said...

I don't think your a himbo, just a proud confident gay man. The best kind. What if we come for the articles and stay for the pictures instead? haha LOL

And btw - how f*in boring if we were all the same. Everyone is weird to someone. That's what makes the world interesting to live in.

Cheers - Sebbe

Ing said...

Huhmmm..just wanted to point out that you have girl fans! And I like the himbo thing Molepunch gonna have to add that to my vocab!

Glad you survived and great post.

molepunch said...

Sebbe, just checking: you do realize that I was entirely being facetious and just kidding with Amerish, right? :)

I think Amerish is a great guy, and I enjoy teasing people I like. "Amerish, you are a weird himbo!" See, he can't kick my ass in cyberspace.

Ing, I don't claim credit for it, haha. Glad you liked though.

American Irish said...

Yeah, no offense taken on my part. I get called lots of names by my friends. My friends suck. lol

apollo said...

Wow, that's deep dude. Thank you.

Lesson learned. Now back to the fight. I TOLD you, girlfriend (ya know, the screaming girl comment) that even girls can fight. lol. You did awesome. I expected no less from a confident, self-assured martial artist like you... not to mention the gay himbo part. hehe. But that's why we all love you; the good bad and ugly, all in one package. LOL

Peace dude. :D

Ing said...

Don't act like you didn't deserve those names! Smartass!

Molepunch I got to use "himbo" alot this week. Even when it wasn't appropriate but it was fun for me to get the WTF look from people when I said it.hehehe!