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How martial arts teaches self confidence

May 24, 2023

Self confidence is knowing what you are capable of, and the courage of that conviction. And for many people it can seem as if it is a thing some people possess and others do not. It can seem like it’s a world away, an impossible thing to grasp or take part in.
For some people it can simply feel unobtainable, others have it, they just don’t.
But what we fail to realize here is that it is actually quite easy to obtain, to develop and to train, precisely because it is a thing you can train yourself into. It isn’t a thing you either have or don’t have. It isn’t something set in stone where others who are somehow better than you benefit from this thing, this quality you don’t possess.
It might be more accurately said that you do not possess it now rather than not at all.
The only thing that separates you from possessing it or not, is knowledge. That’s it.
Here’s a perfect example.
Take swimming for instance. It can be an utterly terrifying prospect that signals certain death for some people. They feel they just don’t have it, they don’t know how to swim, and others do.
And if thrown into that situation they may very well perish, because they flail around helplessly.
But what really is at work here?
It’s simply a lack of knowledge, because when they do learn to swim they develop a comfort in the knowledge of how to do it. In short, they develop confidence in it because they know how to do it. And then what happens is a complete and total about face, something totally amazing.
They approach the water from the polar opposite in perspective. People that know how to swim no longer act terrified when they approach the water, but indeed, many approach the water with JOY! They LOVE swimming, and they dive right in and have a grand time of it.
Some people even express the very opposite of terror, they express comfort, ease, and pleasure in the act of swimming. They take to the water, well, like a fish.
They approach the water with confidence because they know how to swim.
Naturally they approach also with a mature caution as well and understand there are limits to what they can do, but as long as they respect that caution, they’re generally fine.
They’ll swim in calm, smooth waters, but they won’t if it’s choppy, stormy, waters. They respect the caution, but otherwise engage with the act of swimming with complete and total confidence.
That’s how self confidence works with everything.
A beginner walks into a Karate school with trepidation, nervousness, anxiety. A lack of confidence because they don’t know what they are doing, or even how to do it.
But a black belt approaches the school like seeing an old friend, precisely because everything they’re doing is familiar, and known. And they have developed complete confidence in themselves. And what’s more, they take that confidence with them in life, outside the school. They aren’t afraid of being bullied because they know they can’t be bullied, they’re beyond that, they aren’t afraid, and all because they know how to fight. So they conduct themselves with confidence in everything they do.
They have trained themselves, they have tried themselves, challenged themselves and overcome those things. They have achieved success in those things. And that gives us the answer as to what self confidence is, and the source of it.
Success breeds confidence.
So then self confidence is rooted in knowledge.
Fear is rooted in a lack of knowledge.
Take the fear of the dark. It’s a very common thing for a lot of people. When the lights go out people begin to imagine all sorts of dangers lurking around them. But what is it really? It’s nothing more than a lack of sight. You are unable to see. That’s it. But because the mind doesn’t like a lack of something, it fills it up, and often and frequently with things more scary than what is really there. Take your own home for instance, you’re familiar with everything there. You know where every chair, every wall, every table is. When the lights go out a person can get frightened and they imagine this or that.
But a person who calms their mind, acknowledges that they can’t see, but they generally know where everything is, they navigate that space with a basic confidence.
That is self confidence. They can’t see, but it doesn’t matter because they still KNOW where they are at and what they are doing, and they know how to proceed, cautiously, but with purpose. So they master that fear that might possess others.
The martial arts teaches students what they can be capable of if they apply themselves diligently and honestly. The martial arts challenges students to overcome their own flaws, their own fears, and discover success. And they do it through the medium of teaching the student how to defend themselves, how to fight, and the philosophies that must necessarily balance perspective, attitude, and all the qualities and characteristics that go into fighting well. Thus the martial arts teaches the student how to be successful. And when they are successful, they understand what and how confidence is, and how it derives, how it is created. And how to apply it. Students learn how to fight. But more importantly they learn WHY they have to fight sometimes, and WHEN to fight, and how to approach and overcome that challenge through the knowledge of what they are capable of. And in the process of this they learn to study and adopt the characteristics needed to be the best at what they are doing. And that in itself creates a totality of learning they can apply to their lives as a whole. And that is how the martial arts teaches self confidence.

Article reposted with permission from