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Self-Control: The Path to True Strength

Updated: May 16, 2022

Self-Control: The Path to True Strength

The way to become truly strong lies in self-control. Most of us are much stronger than we know. We are all born with our own unique strengths, but often we spend our lives not even knowing all that we are capable of. We are all guilty of getting in our own way at times. Self-control is essential to unlocking a person's potential and making them the best that they can be.

For the sake of simplicity I like to break self-control down into three main categories: mental, emotional, and physical.

Mental Control: All self-control begins with mental control. We have more power over ourselves and our actions than we realize. We like to say that this or that "made us angry". I try not to use this expression, because it is not a true statement and is often used as a way to avoid responsibility for our own actions and reactions. We all actually have the power to choose how we react to situations instead of being controlled by them. This also means we can exert mental control to deal with our own negative impulses as well. Negative impulses could be buying something at a store you don't actually need, or even using rude gestures at people that cut you off in traffic.

Emotional Control: Emotional control begins with mental control. When we find ourselves getting emotional, one can choose to allow the emotion to pass or to feed it with mental energy and let it grow out of control. Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, but left unchecked our emotions can destroy us. Unchecked emotions can cause us to become vulnerable to attack. Scammers and other bad guys use people's emotions all the time to impair their victim's judgement and then take advantage. We teach our martial arts students that when we allow someone to affect our emotions we are allowing them to control us. When we give over our own control, the battle is lost. This is true in all things. Anytime someone or something is evoking an emotional response, you are being controlled in some way. Make sure you are aware of this and control yourself accordingly.

Physical Control: True physical skill in martial arts is rooted in physical control. Sure some people are born more talented than others, but one's physical potential is severely limited without learning to be aware of all parts of your body and how to manipulate those parts. Most people think they understand their bodies, but in truth, it takes a lot of self-awareness and training to maximize one's physical abilities. Over time the martial artist will learn to be aware of their own bodies as well as their opponent's. One of the biggest divides between the beginner and someone is advanced is how well they control their own bodies. Functional strength is not measured just in how much weight you can lift, but how much of that raw horsepower can be applied to accomplish a task. Just because someone is big and strong does not mean that they have the physical control needed to actually throw a hard punch. I have seen large 300 pound men not be able to hit very hard and have small 115 pound kids hitting way harder than them! The big secret of developing applied power is to control every part of the kinetic chain throughout the body and recruit as many muscle groups as possible. This only comes through a lot of training and the development of intense physical control.

Learning to control yourself will open the door to your own potential. It makes you a much harder target for bad guys, it keeps you from doing things you will regret later, and allows you to fully take advantage of your own body. Many people have fallen from the road to success mainly due to a lack of self-control. There are many pieces to self-control and it can be hard to figure out how to get more of it. Self-control is learned through practice. I suggest starting out with something small that you may be having difficulty with such as not buying that pack of chewing gum you absolutely love when you want to. It may be hard to resist, but over time it will become easier as your self-control muscles get stronger. When this is easy, you can pick something harder such as being nice to someone even though you may be mad at them. Over time this gets easier and translates to every area of your life. You can even join a martial arts school. A huge benefit of being in a martial arts school is that it will give you plenty of chances to learn and practice self-control in all areas. A good martial arts school should be a safe place for one to develop these traits with a support group that will help you on your way. Good martial arts training should teach everyone how to succeed in all areas of life!

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