Please don’t get me wrong. I have very deep relationships with all my fighters. I always have. But I must confess, as I grow older, as I spend more time in the martial arts, I have come to realize that I’d rather have black belts.
I’ve blogged about this before. Fighters are a special kind of animal. It takes a certain personality to be a fighter. Along with that comes a lot of issues. To be a figher, you HAVE to have some ego, you HAVE to think you are great. But along the way, that can create issues. And as anyone who has ever trained fighters can tell you, fighters are not the most loyal bunch…
Of course, I come from a traditional Chinese martial arts background. We never had formal “black belts”. In today’s MMA world, you don’t often have that belt ranking system either (only in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). Even to this day, my ranking system remains informal for the most part. But there is the idea of a “black belt”, and advanced student who has been with you a long time. In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather have a black belt.
I once heard one of my fighters bad mouth a long time student because he wasn’t a “fighter”. I reminded the figher that “JOE” (not his real name) had joined the school later in life. Not everyone is a 20-something. “Joe” had a job, a family, committments. He may have never stepped in a ring or a cage, but he worked his ass off in the school. He had certainly sparred, sweated, bled…. and in the end “Joe” was more loyal to the school than the original fighter ended up being.
When I was doing traditional martial arts, I always felt that the lessons on loyalty, friendship, responsibility etc were forced, they were staged, they were fake. In a nut shell, they tried to hard. I have always rejected what is not genuine. However, and this is a BIG “however” that doesn’t mean that those things were not real. I had great relationships with my teachers. I made life long friendships with many of my classmates. I’ve developed similar relationships with many of my students. These things NATURALLY happen. You don’t need to put them on the wall and make people recite them like zombies.
And in the end, those things last longer than any glory in the ring or cage…
NOW GO TRAIN