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Humility and Control in the Martial Arts

As we study this cycle’s tenant of Humility, I am reminded of a quote from a famous fighter who said: “If you are not humble in the fight game, you will BE humbled.”  That fighter was Mike Tyson.  Though his exploits in the ring are now stuff of legend, it was his inability to control his life outside the ring and an arrogance that went with it, that led to his eventual fall from grace in Tokyo against Buster Douglas. 

Mike Tyson is a perfect case study lesson on how a martial artist should NOT act (though he has since mellowed out in his later years and has a more peaceful outlook on life and his actions).  A martial artist should be the epitome of humility.  There should never be a time when the artist appears arrogant or “better” than someone else.  Being a former Marine, this is VERY hard for me to do sometimes! 

Instead, the artist should be able to take a good look in the mirror and with an honest look, take pride in certain strengths but at the same time take note of the weaknesses.  The artist should thank the competition whether it’s a win or a loss, for without them, the artist would not be able to improve. 

When you are not humble, you have the tendency to become angry very quickly when things don’t go your way.  This leads to a tightening of the fists, which leads to a tightening of the shoulders, which leads to inaccurate target selection and horrible punches, kicks, blocks, and head movement.  This is why we spar so often in our organization.  The more you do it, the more relaxed you will become.  Also, the more you do it, the better you will be at noting your strengths and weaknesses and thus, you will be better able to learn from them.  At NO TIME should the artist EVER spar while angry or upset.

And finally, if ANYONE can learn from what I’ve just said, it’s me.  This is my story: 

For three years, I have always performed very well in my age and belt category.  With the exception of one individual from the Olathe Kansas Tiger Rock, there hasn’t been anyone I have seen that I couldn’t beat at tournament.  I ALWAYS came home with at least two medals from the tournaments.

Then, at the 2013 World Championship, I decided I didn’t need to train this time around.  Being a new school owner, I put all of my time into training my students who were attending.  I did NOTHING for myself two cycles before the event.

At the tournament, I didn’t medal in forms, which I ALWAYS did in the past.  This frustration led to a lack of control in sparring.  Though I made it to the Bronze medal match, I lost by one point and came in fourth.

The same thing happened in ECAS where I was beaten in the first round by a gentlemen that I had beaten in THAT event for the past two years!

When it came to open sparring, I was already beaten in my head.  I was tired, cranky, and really didn’t want to be there but still, I managed to make it to the Bronze Medal match and was once again beaten by someone I had beaten in sparring before, once again, by one point!

I was arrogant.  I thought I could not be beaten and yet I was beaten soundly.  I hear the quote from Mike Tyson.  I was not humble, so I WAS humbled.


About Tiger-Rock Martial Arts International
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts s a National franchising company providing health, skills and fitness training through its franchisees’ Martial Arts programs for members of all ages. Our programs enrich their personal and professional lives in many ways. Tiger-Rock programs are a blend of modern sport science, the latest research, and hundreds of years of martial arts tradition to provide you with the most effective experience available.