Find beauty in nature… and Martial Arts

Beauty in nature

perceptioncatI read an article relating to this topic over a year ago and found it quite interesting. I sometimes reference it in my classes.

According to this research, the average American male over-estimates their fighting ability by 4000% (So here in Johannesburg it would be about 40000%, I guess). Wow! That is a really high over-estimation.

Apparently this type of thinking is due to a psychological phenomenon called illusory superiority. It relates to many things that a human might do in life, but generally not in such high percentages as with fighting. There are many theories as to why this occurs, but when it comes to fighting I would like to add to it.

overestimateHumans are animals at the end of the day, and over time we have lost many of our survival instincts. Thousands of years ago it would have been natural to go out hunting for survival and fighting with other clans. Very early in life reality would have taken a bite and a clear picture of where you stood in the world would have been quite evident. Today, we still have those genes that were built into us over thousands of years, so there is still an unquenchable thirst in most for some sort of primal activity or adventure. Like with other animals, males inherently want to be the alpha in the pack and the easiest way to establish this in the past would have been through physical combat – fighting.

movie heroIn today’s more “civilized” society many of our primal instincts have been suppressed. They have been replaced by other things to falsely satisfy many of our cravings and urges. We get a taste for adventure and fighting through other means, namely, television and video games. Both instill a false sense of self when it comes to fighting. In movies a single hero takes on twenty men, knocking them out, hospitalizing and killing them with a single blow to each. In video games people take on a first person role as the character and through constant imagination and vision re-inforcement begin to believe that they actually are that character. The difference, for many, between imagination and reality is lost.

I’m sure many Instructors out there would be able to relate. I have had countless people come through my doors saying that they want to do martial arts because they have “a natural fighting ability and great co-ord, so might as well take it to the next level”, or “I learn really fast – how soon until I can get my black belt?”. Most often I never see these people again after they take a beating from somebody, literally, half of their size.

OverestimationOn the flip side, many long term, experienced martial artists under-estimate themselves. Because they have integrated “fighting” into their daily lives and are constantly hitting and being hit by other martial artists. They tend to not want to fight and have a different perspective when it comes to fighting because the reality of it is different. They assume that because they train, can perform techniques and “fight” often, that everybody else does too. Because it is their daily routine, they begin to assume it is everybody’s. And so, you get people who can actually fight not wanting to.

nerd-fighterIt is the same as being dropped in the middle of the jungle with nothing and being told to survive. Most of us would like to think we would, but in reality we would soon die. Although it was a part of our nature for so long, we have lost the knowledge and ability to do it.

So, all of the keyboard warriors out there, BEWARE! The people you are so confident you could beat down on would likely smash your head in if you ever crossed paths in real life.

style vs styleThis is a question that I cannot stand. It is an age old question that has no answer and never will be answered. It is there to keep wannabe martial artists and keyboard warriors entertained in the wee hours of the night. There are just way to many factors to take into consideration – it is not as simple as taking people from different styles and pitting them against one another.

A better question would be: Which martial art is best for me?

Now you get people chiming in about height, stature and other physical attributes, and based on this you should take up a style that suits your body type. This is also rubbish in my opinion.

bruce vs chuckSo, what is my answer? It’s simple – the best martial art for you is the one you enjoy doing. You can take every factor into consideration and if you don’t enjoy it, it is all worthless to you. You will not excel in an art that you do not enjoy, no matter how “superior” it may be and no matter what your body type. You may find a person who, on paper, is perfectly suited to Judo, but he just hates being there. He takes up Taekwon-Do and loves it. Although he may never be the picture perfect practitioner, he will be better at it and get way more from it than the martial art he doesn’t find enjoyment in.

EnjoymentIf you want to get the most out of your martial art, no matter the style, find enjoyment in it. Everything else is just opinions and hearsay. Your martial art should motivate you to train and be the best that you can be in it, so find one that inspires you.

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