Ego and the Martial Arts
It can be argued that martial artists are egotistical and there’s plenty of examples where this is just the case. Think of other sports or hobbies such as football or basketball and we realise that these are team games. You succeed, the team succeeds, the team succeed, you succeed. This is not the case for martial arts however, and in many cases, martial arts are a completely solo journey where you focus on developing yourself and no-one else. Is this a bad thing? Potentially not, but it does beg the question as to whether professional, or high ranking martial artists aren’t just a little selfish and egotistical?
Let’s take a traditional art such as Aikido or Karate, the focus is on you. You develop yourself physically and mentally and compete in some instances to further your knowledge and skill. Martial arts are not a team sport, they do not rely on a team mindset or environment, they rely on you as an individual having the strength and determination to succeed and this in many ways can be a great thing – it can teach self sufficiency. Many draw their inspiration or energy from a team, feeding off the group dynamic and using that to achieve athletic performance or zone in on their task. Martial artists in many aspects don’t have this team environment. Sure you belong to a club, may have friends and family supporting you, but when you get up to fight, or compete, or grade, it’s you and only you in front of the judge or inside the cage. Only you can rely on you in martial arts. As said, this can be a great thing, but can it also lead to egotism? There are countless examples of egotistical instructors, teachers, sifus, grandmasters, shihans etc who think their style is the best style, or even worse, get their students believing what they teach is the one and only way and that no touch knockouts are a legitimate thing and something that can be achieved if enough time (and money) is invested.
There’s also plenty of fantastic high ranking instructors and teachers out there who give all their time to their students and are open and honest about their style, their limitations and other styles. Martial arts are what you make of it but the journey, especially at the start, is a very personal one in many instances. Is a certain level of egotism or narcissism okay in the martial arts – I think so! After all, it’s your training and your progression whether that be competitive martial arts, traditional martial arts or self defence training, either way its your development that comes first.