July 20, 2022, Israel
Many turn to martial arts to improve their lives. Let us look at the Karate Kid series, for example, to see what some of those reasons might be, and what went wrong.
Johnny Lawrence we later find out, came from a somewhat dysfunctional family. He was being raised by his mother and his unsympathetic step-father. His step-father saw him as a liability, something he had to put up with in order to be with his pretty mom. He saw Johnny as a loser, a bad investment, a kid who failed at everything he ever tried. In the Cobra Kai series we see the full truth; his step-father sees him as weak, lacking discipline, a pathetic kid with no future.
The Karate school offers him everything he was lacking; a true father figure, friends, a family.
Many of his friends joined for similar reasons, they became a gang.
Daniel LaRusso wants to join as well. His reasons are clear. He is new in town, he does not know "the rules", he is being beaten up and he too has no father. Johnny and Daniel become rivals but they have more in common then they will know until many years later.
And yet, this potential ideal world often fails, and the question we need to ask his why? Why do martial arts schools often fail to satisfy the need for which they were created? Why do many martial arts instructors disappoint?
I found a definition that I feel is useful, something we can learn from, it is the definition of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I feel if we look at what this is, we can learn what we should not be, and what we, as instructors should be, and what potential students should be looking for, and watching out for. So, let's take a look.
These are the most common symptoms of this disorder.
Being overly boastful, exaggerating one's own achievements - Simply put we must always remain humble. When seeking a teacher in life, always seek someone who is humble. For what are we after all? We are all flawed human beings. We are all weak, a little virus comes along, so tiny that we cannot even see it, and we became a helpless creature lying in bed required the assistance of others. So where does the arrogance fit it?
Yes, you have achieved something, you have earned a black belt, perhaps some association awarded you a plaque, perhaps you won a tournament. But what do we see? We see instructors acting as if they are superman, talking about imaginary street fights they they have won and making other exaggerated unsubstantiated claims. True heroes never brag.
Pretending to be superior to others - Look at your class, you find perhaps a doctor, a rabbi, a lawyer, an air-conditioning repair expert, an expert car mechanic, are you really superior to all these people? No, you are more experienced then them in one particular area. Imagine now that the tables are turned and you need help with you car, do you want the car repair expert to talk to you as if you are a child simply because you are not an expert in his field? Show respect to all.
Lack of empathy for others - Remember you too were once a beginner nervously stepping into the training hall, remember that moment and have empty for the most nervous beginner.
Looking down on others as inferior - No one is inferior to anyone else, we all have our strengths and weakness, show respect to all. Remember, when your car breaks down in the middle of no where that car mechanic will be like an angel of God to you. Non could be more important.
Monopolizing conversations - Everyone has something to contribute, and even if not, let them feel important.
Impatient, angry, unhappy, depressed or has mood swings when criticized - Respect should always be shown to a teacher and yet when criticized one should not lose all control and throw a tantrum. One should always be a picture of calm and modesty.
Easily disappointed when expected importance is not given - This is practically an axiom in the martial arts. I have heard so many stories of "great" instructors throwing a tantrum when not treated exactly as expected, i.e. being picked up in a cheap car, being taken to the wrong restaurant etc. false ego.
Always craves for "the best" in everything.
Has a very fragile self-esteem - If one's accomplishments are real, that should give on enough self-confidence to make it though the day without needing more praise or admiration. Accomplishments, in a normal person, leads to self-esteem and confidence. This in turn should lead to humility.
As instructors, we should be striving for these positive traits, and as prospective students, we should learn what to avoid and what to look for in an instructor.
Join us in Israel for an experience that will change your understanding of Self Defense, November 2022