Empty your cup…..

29 Jan

“Empty your cup”, the title of today’s blog, has become a cliche. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t also true! In practicing martial arts, we learn important life lessons, if we are just willing to pay attention to them.


In martial arts, as in life, people simply don’t want to leave their comfort zone. It’s completely understandable, but leaving your comfort zone is exactly what people need to do. A person who was a very high level striker with many fights, I’m tempted to even say they were a “natural”, wanted to train to do Mixed Martial Arts and so off to Brazilian Jiu JItsu class he went.


Needless to say, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, he was not the rock star. He was, in fact, a no one. In striking, he could dominate anyone. In Jiu Jitsu class he was tapping out right and left. He did what most people in this situation would do, he quit. He never did MMA and he never went back to any form of grappling. The reverse has also been frequently true. A masterful wrestler has come home from the gym with a black eye, bruised ribs and sore legs and never returned to stand up training.


I mentioned once that being promoted to instructor level in a martial art and opening a school can be one of the most damaging things to happen to a martial artist. The martial arts community has built up a false image of instructors, as god-like figures who can do no wrong and can never be defeated. An instructor may want, may in fact NEED additional training, but all too often is afraid to “show weakness.”


If you’ve read this blog, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve sought out additional training well after I was established as an instructor under the late Chan Tai-San and well after I had my own school. I like to joke that I’ve been beaten up by some of the best. I’ve been tapped out more than my fair share of times. I’ve also been out wrestled, kicked around, and punched by people who as fighters were much better than me.

In fact, I have frequently taken my own students with me to seminars. I”ve never told them I was a super man, I’ve never claimed I am undefeated. Also, I don’t fear them seeing what others have to offer. I’ve taught them the best material I have, which I know to be pretty good stuff. Never once have I lost a student when they’ve seen another instructor’s material. In fact, most of the time my students not only felt more motivated after the training, but also said the experience gave them more confidence in what we do at our school.

So my advice to anyone is, put on that white belt….



One Response to “Empty your cup…..”

  1. Angelika January 29, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

    I understand the “fear” of teachers to go to workshops with their students. However, from a student’s persepctive, I always found it to be really helpful. This is why:

    As a student I learned something at the workshop. And afterwards I would train alone and try to figure out what it was all about. If my teacher was at the workshop as well, I could talk to him again because he was there, too! So even long after “the master” left town, I could still get really good input from someone who is more advanced and was there, too.

    So I really recommend for teachers and students to go to the same workshops!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: