Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Self Respect does Not Depend on Others

One of the biggest problems in any art or endeavor is the inevitable comparison between on person and another.  This is not only a good thing, but if you live in the real world, a necessary thing.

However, how to compare yourself to someone else is a skill like any other, and if done well, will lead to sharper and better skills.  If done poorly, we teach our students and ourselves how to destroy their own self respect.

The way we teach martial arts takes this into account.  Students are taught to respect seniority, rank, from the first day they enter the school, so that they are not discouraged when they are comparing themselves to others who have been their months to decades longer.

In continues when we teach them friendly competition, where they have nothing to lose, and they compare the good and the bad in their performances and in other peoples performances, to fine tune their own ability.

Finally, at the end, we teach them that the only measure that matters is to compare the ability and performance today with before today.  In that way, they compare to others so they see where their skills and talents lie, and where they can learn and improve, and their look at their own improvement so they don't lose sight of the journey they are on.

When I started training there were very few black belts, and it was hard to see improvement or compare myself to the few; but as I developed skill I could see the improvement over time.  I actually have video of me over time, so that I might see the journey from outside of my own perspective.

Self-Respect should never be balanced on competition, for if it is, then when you lose, and everybody does, you have to change your image of yourself, and that is the opposite of what we strive for in martial arts.

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