4 comments on “Ego in Martial Arts Training.

  1. Your piece is interesting but totally focussed on the ego of the student. Sure, there’ll always be students that will let their egos get in the way of learning. However, the most serious problem is where instructors (often accompanied by a cadre of more experienced students) are themselves the source of any ego problems.

    I can think of at least one martial arts club in Dublin, Ireland where the ego of the instructor and downright bullying from more experienced students have pushed away students who simply wanted to learn.

    Where the source of ego issues is the trainer, the example set for others is not only incorrect but potentially dangerous.

  2. Tom, you are absolutely right. Some instructors place themselves on a pedestal and won’t allow anyone to approach them. They are the law and always want the last word. Whether right or wrong, they will impose their will. I have never seen bullying, but I can imagine it. Nothing but wrong is to be learned from these people. Where there is only one martial art school withing reasonable distance, that s a big problem. Self training would be better, though not easy.
    I also stay clear of internet forums because they are full of these ego-centric practitioners who are very “cultish” about their style and criticize others.
    Anyway, I have been lucky to have found a great instructor, and an great bunch of people to train with. Now I know what martial arts isn’t supposed to be.. I want to learn and have fun without worrying about rank, status, or getting injured because of a pissing contest mentality. I hope you have found your martial art niche too, I have found mine 🙂

  3. Agree with the article, and also with the first poster regarding the scope of the article, but one thing struck me as off: “They’ll try to fight you when you show them something, resist take-downs, put a lot of tension in their work.”

    I have a problem with this because in a training class for life or death conflict, you should train as though you would fight. If a technique cannot stand up to resistance, why would you teach it to someone?

    It goes back to ego. If someone knows a technique that works 10% of the time, they’ll still feel secure…God forbid they ever have to use it.

    Sure teaching that to advance students is dandy, but people should be able to defend themselves right away so I say it’s good to resist. If it’s a good technique and the person does it right, the resistance won’t make a difference.

  4. You are right, anything taught should stand up to resistance, especially as you mention, in a life and death situation. What I mean is that there is no need for a competitive mindset when first explaining, showing or trying to demonstrate something. Demonstrating some principles or body mechanics doesn’t mean it’s going to work as shown in a real situation, and it needs to be explained that way. If I’m trying to show how tilting one’s head back and pressing down will take someone to the ground, and the student resists, guess what? I can’t show it.. Because if I have to force it, injury might occur.

    Techniques only take you so far. Exploring the principles behind them is what matters more IMHO. In Systema, principles are more important than techniques, and moves are often created “on the fly.”

    I think it is very important to practice very slowly at first, and let speed build up as the principles start to make sense and the students relax and learn to see and use the opportunities created by movement and chaos.

    “train as though you would fight.” Sure, there has to be enough reality in training to make it efficient and psychologically prepare for violence. That’s when a good dose of aggression and force from the attacker is necessary. However, there has to be a progression to that point.

    I would also argue that you don’t have to go to 100% force/speed for good practice. If you can do it properly at reasonable speed, you will also do it right faster if need be. You only need to match your opponent’s speed, not necessarily exceed it. Also keep in mind that in no-rules martial arts, many movements could cause grave injury. So “train as though you would fight” is not always possible or desirable.

    My other point is that you can be efficient and strike very heavily without using unnecessary tension. Tension will get you hurt. Drunk drivers don’t get hurt so often in car accidents because they are relaxed. The same applies for getting punched…

    I hope this will clarify my opinion… Thanks for posting 🙂

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