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  • Do martial arts teach humility?

Most definitely. Of all the sports martial arts training teaches you to be humble. Why? Because martial arts and other combat sports have one thing in common, when you lose a match, there is no one to blame but yourself.


We all know that losing is inevitable.

We all will eventually lose to someone better. I am sure that if you are like me you do not enjoy the taste of defeat. 

Losing a match can teach you humility very quickly. However, you must actively choose to learn this lesson. You can react to your loss with either anger and excuses or you can embrace this loss as a learning experience and try to improve.

The one thing you will never see in someone who has learned humility is "being a sore loser" A mature person will give credit where credit is due and give respect to the winner. Because matches where there is a winner and a loser occurs daily at a martial arts school, people who are sore losers don't last long at all.

One of my mentors would always say be humble don't brag.

When I was 14 years old I joined a Karate class in Pearl City, HI. This Karate class was located about three blocks from the house that I grew up in.

The master instructor at the school was named Martin Buell.

In brief, Martin Buell is a sincere, dedicated and true mentor to thousands of people, including myself. He was the head of the Universal Kempo Karate Organization which as of today, has over 500 locations worldwide. The sheer number of students and branches he owns is a testament to the exceptional character of this particular instructor.

I didn't get very far with Kempo. I think I got my blue belt. Also, I don't remember much Kempo technique, but there is one thing that I will always remember. I will remember Professor Buell approached humility in the martial arts, He made a lasting impression  that has stuck with me to this day.

The lesson?

Always stay humble.

Always stay humble, never be arrogant

Humility in martial arts is not the same as being humiliated. Being humble is the exact opposite of being arrogant.

Why am I talking about this?

Because knowing the subtle way in which arrogance can manifest itself and the right attitude when learning martial arts is going to help you to become the best martial artist you can be.

Over the many years, we have been in business we have had some great coaches and teachers come in through this school.

In particular, about 10 years ago, an Escrima instructor walked in through the door of my school and we began talking.

I invited him to teach his style of Escrima at my school. I started actually doing the classes and learning Escrima. However, he himself did not make the effort to learn the Shaolin Style of Kung Fu that I was teaching. Fast forward 10 years and now I know Serrada Escrima but if you asked him to perform a Shaolin set or form. He cannot.

SO let me ask you who is better off?

Who gained more from that initial meeting?

It was all because I remained humble and decide to accept other ways of doing things, other ways of blocking and striking and other philosophies of fighting. The exact same thing happened with my Judo Sensei. I could rewrite that entire last paragraph replacing the word Escrima with Judo.

What is the correct way to block a punch?

I have been training my son in various styles of martial arts now for 10 years. (He is 10 years old). Of Course, I want him to learn humility in the martial arts. In an effort to keep him humble, I have taught him multiple martial arts styles.

For example, if I were to tell him I am going to throw a punch I want you to block it. I have no idea what block is going to come out. It could be a block from the Shaolin style. Or it could be a boxing style cover. HE has his favorites of course, but in reality, he knows multiple ways from Escrima, Boxing, Boketor, and Shaolin.

Incidentally, What is correct according to one style is incorrect in other styles. What is the correct stance for Shaolin would be considered awkward and wrong in Escrima.

Furthermore, the truth is,  there is no correct way there is only certain peoples interpretation of what is correct.

So who actually created these different ways of blocking?

It could be a master kung fu practitioner from 1602 A.D, Or it could be Angel Cabales the founder of Serrada Escrima, or perhaps Jigoro Kano the founder of modern Judo.

Either way, the truth is that one day someone very talented in the martial arts found a technique that worked for him. This very talented martial artist may have then combined it with other techniques passed down or other techniques that he found worked equally well and combined them to create a system of fighting.

By the way, This is how styles start.

How not to have humility in the martial arts

Recently, I was talking to someone who is connected to my school as a semi instructor. It was a similar circumstance in which this instructor approached us to be a part of the school and teach his style.

For the most part, he was saying that his way is the correct way and that my way was the incorrect way. But as we know there is no correct way. There is only your way. This same instructor will not deign to learn another style. He will not humble himself enough to accept new knowledge.

As a rule, this is a mental trap that must be avoided at all costs if your goal is to improve and grow as a martial artist. Your goal is to be as opened minded as possible. Never be too arrogant to learn from others.

Arrogance Not Humility In The Martial Arts

Likewise, even the lowly white belt can have something to offer. Always keep a curious and questioning mindset, and never know it all frame. For some Type-A personalities this can be challenging, but if you always remain humble you will go far.

Humility in the martial arts

In conclusion, humility in martial arts is all about keeping an open mind. The instant you believe that you know it all is when you cross over the line from being humble to being arrogant.