Using Martial Arts to Win the Battle Within
In martial arts every challenge you face whether it is a live flesh and blood opponent or even your newest challenge, you will also have to face yourself. Our very self often serves as the thorn in our side that causes us to sabotage ourselves. You must first face yourself before you ever step out onto the battlefield of life. Every time you train, you must cut down certain parts of yourself that are holding you back like an enemy samurai. Every great warrior had to first conquer whatever is holding them back on the inside before they could find their own potential.
Who are some of these enemies?
Self-Doubt: Self-doubt is one of the biggest thieves of success out there. In Chinese martial arts there is a saying, "Wherever the mind goes, chi follows". The word chi is widely misunderstood in the west. In this context chi refers to emotional energy and intent. Wherever your mind (intent or chi) is at, your body will follow. If you are always thinking and speaking thoughts that create doubt, you are fighting a losing battle that you will never win. Be mindful of not only what you are thinking and speaking, but also of what others are saying to you. Anything that is spoken to you that is not making you stronger is making you weaker if you listen to it. Don't give in to what you are hearing. Replace it with positive affirmations of your self-belief. No one has the right to tell you your limits. You are the only one who decides that.
Ego: This is such a common problem that many martial arts schools have signs saying stuff like "Leave Your Ego at the Door" or "Everybody taps". Martial arts is very hard on the ego and can be painful if you give in to it. It is very common for students to "get in their own way" due to their own arrogance. There is a big difference between self-confidence and arrogance. One is knowing your worth, and the other is an over-inflated view of self. One is empowering and the other steals your dreams from you. A broken ego is the most common martial arts injury of all. The ones that learn to let it go become stronger in doing so, while the ones that will not wind up dropping out.
Anger: Anger is probably the biggest liar of all the inner enemies we have discussed. Anger lies to you all the time. It makes you feel stronger. Maybe you even feel empowered by it. The truth of the matter is it is doing the exact opposite of that. Anger actually makes you weak. I'm not just talking about the chemical reaction your body has to an adrenaline dump. I am talking about the other physical and mental affects it has on you. Anger makes you stupid. It makes it way harder to read an enemy's movements and intentions. A clear mind sees everything, not an angry mind.
Anger gets you so over-stimulated that it further diminishes motor functions and mental acuity when it comes to selecting the proper strategies to use against an opponent. A good fighter knows how to control how pumped up they get. Athletes need adrenaline in order to perform at their best, but an angry fighter makes way too many mistakes and can be easily defeated by a calmer, trained opponent. Anger also affects you physically. Anger makes you stiff. Stiff muscles are slow muscles. Slow muscles make your strikes and techniques physically weaker. Anger steals your stamina as well. A good fighter knows when to sprint and also knows when to pace themselves. Anger takes away this choice and burns you out. You must use your training to strike down your own anger and find your calm and center.
Distraction: Distraction is another thief that steals victory from a warrior. A distracted warrior cannot notice the details they need to notice when reading an opponent. Distraction keeps a martial artist from focusing on the training they need to succeed. Many students eventually quit training due to too many distractions at home or work. A successful person learns to throw away any distracting thoughts when trying to accomplish a task. A fighter can't defeat a great opponent while also thinking about problems at home. A good warrior can zero in on their opponent with full focus despite whatever legitimate distractions they are exposed to. A martial artist that fights with only half focus only fights with half of their ability.
In your training try to visualize these enemies within yourself. Find them. Hunt them down. Defeat them. The process is not easy. It may even take years. It could possibly be the hardest battle you will ever face. On the other side of those enemies lies victory. Victory in conquering yourself is something humanity has been striving for since the dawn of civilization. A warrior in control of themselves is truly mighty and is fully empowered to make the right decisions against their external enemies. A warrior that is not in control of themselves is weak and is easily manipulated by their opponents. Get out of your way. Free yourself. Conquer what is on the inside so that you may find your potential!