Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How do the martial arts work? Part IV

A good friend and mentor of mine, Nicklaus Suino, says that the martial arts school is a “laboratory for life.” We talked about the martial arts school as being a place to stretch your comfort zone. This is a similar idea, let me explain.

Martial arts has a fantastic way of exposing your weaknesses. The physical ones are easy to see. One day the teacher says, kick up here, and holds the target near your face. If you are inflexible, that weakness is quickly exposed.

Your mental and character flaws are also exposed, though perhaps not as obviously. For instance, if you are easily frustrated and brought to anger, this is going to rear it’s ugly head in the School sooner or later, isn’t it? Probably about the time your instructor is asking you to kick that high target - and you can’t.

This “laboratory for life” concept means that we are working on our exposed weaknesses all the time. This is a powerful life strategy. A successful martial artist seeks to expose, confront, and overcome his weaknesses. Indeed, he is hungry for it!

If you are angry by nature, or if you are fearful, or if you lack self confidence, these personal weaknesses will become exposed while training. The successful martial artist will overcome them first while on the mat, and then over a period of years learn to master them in the outside world as well.