(The following italicized text is an excerpt from the AKKA Gold Belt Manual by Mr. Rick Gibbins.)
Why do people study Kenpo…or any martial art for that matter? We hear many reasons from the students who come to train with us…
“I want to get in shape.”
“I want to meditate.”
“I want to get into competition…go to tournaments.”
“I need a creative outlet.”
We were taught that EVERYONE comes to the martial arts because of a need to increase their Self-Confidence regardless of the other “real” reasons they give us. If they wanted to just get in shape there are gyms and personal trainers galore that can, very professionally and effectively, address that need. If they want to meditate there’s TM (trancendental meditation) or any number of other spiritual traditions available to the average American that can adequately fit that bill. Leagues and games abound, in our culture, for people who have a competitive urge. Creativity can be nurtured and cultivated in a myriad of ways.
…now that is a very SPECIFIC choice.
Though all of the reasons we hear for training are legitimate, and probably true; the martial arts are very much about empowering individuals to feel safe and free in their own skin. With that in mind we can move forward and help any student to have that aspiration of personal confidence realized…and give them all of those other peripheral goals as well.
But HOW does martial arts do this???
Well, first of all I want to say that martial arts does not give you anything!
“But, Mr. Burt, what about all the benefits like, self discipline, self confidence, better physical fitness…etc?” I am glad you asked.
You already have them…all of them…really, you do!!!
Because if you didn’t then that would mean that you are defective, incomplete…”broken.” And this is simply NOT TRUE!
“But Mr. Burt, I NEED ________________” (insert whatever value you are going for)
No…you do not NEED it…you ALREADY HAVE IT.
You just need to make it STRONGER!!!
For example…no one goes to the gym to get muscle. Everyone is already born with all of the muscles they need. They go to they gym to make the muscles they already have stronger.
Same with the martial arts. You already have self discipline, self confidence, self esteem AND the tools you need for self defense (hands, feet, elbows, knees…the natural weapons of the body)
You come to the martial arts to make these things STRONGER.
So, how does it work???
Let’s look at each one…
SELF DISCIPLINE….Doing what you are supposed to do even if you don’t feel like doing it. Coming to class on a consistently regular basis. Practicing at home to improve your skills and remember your material. In the beginning it is easy to want to do these things. But where the rubber meets the road and where the real building of those self discipline “muscles” happens is doing them when you don’t feel like it; when you are too busy but you make time anyway to get to class; when you have reached a point in your training where you feel like quitting but you stick it out and work through the challenges to achieve your goal. This is HOW you develop self discipline.
SELF CONFIDENCE…this is feeling good about what you can do. It is a natural outgrowth of self discipline because when you are disciplined enough to master a skill then you become confident in your ability to perform that skill. Whether it be getting good grades in school, learning a musical instrument or polishing your techniques or katas; they key to self confidence is having the self discipline to DO IT…A LOT! The more you do it the better you get. Repetition is the mother of skill. Self Discipline is the mother of Self Confidence.
SELF ESTEEM…This is feeling good about who you are. It is the natural result of self confidence. Often the “voice” inside our head that we use to talk to our self about our self is not a very nice voice. Two things…
1. Don’t believe this voice…he or she is a bully!
2. Use the voice to remind you to say something GOOD about your self!
AND…work on getting stronger with self discipline so you can have high self confidence. When we work at a skill and get good at it…we FEEL good inside…we feel good about who we are because of what we can do.
There you have it. There is not secret formula for this stuff. The kicks, punches, blocks, techniques and katas are not the magic wand. They are tools. The magic is already INSIDE of us! We just have to use the tools to make it stronger.
BUT…WE HAVE TO DO THE WORK.
We cannot buy a gym membership and not use it and expect to get stronger.
We cannot join a dojo to learn martial arts and not come to class and practice and expect to gain self confidence. It just won’t work.
Nike had it right…”Just DO IT!”
So, are you “exercising” your “self discipline” muscles?
Are you making your Self Confidence “stronger”?
Do you feel good about your self because of what you can do?
Take care and see you in class…