Violence is a useful tool is the catch cry for many in the self defence /combatives industry and rightfully so. You’ve seen the inspirational memes posted everywhere.
Violence is often ugly but on the odd occasion its a beautiful thing when used in the right context, such as a kid fighting off a bully, a woman fighting off a would be rapist etc. There’s a term that I would put on equal stead however it is always regarded in a negative light in this industry and that is ego.
Ego is defined as ‘a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance’ and that’s pretty damn important if you ask me. How many times have you heard the phrase leave your ego at the door? I say bring your ego with you because its pretty important, if you have no ego then you will be eaten alive in the gym and in life. Just like violence you need to be able to distinguish when and how it’s appropriate. Sure its wrong to come into a training environment and act like a douche trying to beat up everyone, but in a competitive drill I want people to compete, not lay down without putting up a fight. I love to see people in my classes put in effort & strive to be better than the next person, especially kids. Half the kids that are training with me are doing so because their parents feel they need more ego, they need to feel that are worthy of defending and that they shouldn't allow people to treat them like a door mat. Thats a lack of ego right there.
I first started training because my ego motivated me to want to be able to fight if I needed to. Growing up in the environment I did lacking in ego would be detrimental. Throughout my training life my ego made me work harder than the next man, I would stay in the gym longer, practice everything at home & strive to improve. At 45 years of age I still do a minimum 8 training sessions a week, I hold my self to a higher standard than the average, its my ego that prevents me from getting out of shape and becoming one of those overweight, out of shape instructors who rely on their reputations rather than ability. My ego makes me ignore my minor injuries that are always there and continue to strive to be the best, I’ve had a number of pretty major surgeries and even if it may be a valid excuse my ego reemphasises its an excuse and to get back on it. Its my ego that has and will continue to help me in combat – be it combat sports or even self defence, it is my ego that makes me want to win & continue to so despite adversity, despite wanting to quit or choosing the simple path. My ego has picked me off the floor in a boxing ring and powered me on to victory after it looked like defeat was certain. My ego didn’t allow me to lose or look incapable in front of the large crowd cheering for the other guy My ego made me want to climb the rankings of fighters eventually making me a champion. My ego makes me stand up for myself, not allowing myself become a victim wherever my world shall take me. My ego makes me strive to have my self defence school rated as one of the best worldwide. My ego makes me want my students to be the best they can be and be able to dismantle anyone who may threaten them. My ego makes my quality control measures more stringent than my competition thus achieving the aforementioned. . It’s my ego that makes me actually strive to find the best methods of training and not taking short cuts because they are easier.
One thing that all professional fighters and successful athletes have is a big ego, some outwardly so that they seem conceited ie McGregor, Mayweather, Mundine yet others such as GGG, Roy Jones jnr etc have the same they just appear quietly confident.
On the flip side ego has caused many problems for both myself and others. I should’ve walked away from a number of the fights and challenges I have been presented in my time but my ego stopped me, that was absolutely not the best course of action in some of those instances. My ego doesn’t allow me to network in the martial arts industry as it will prevent me from partnering with people who I am not philosophy aligned with even if it means a better pay day.
The struggle is you need to know when to switch it on and when it needs to take a back seat, I’ve become better at this with time, the older I get the more control I have but it isn't as bad as advertised, in many instances its a necessity.
I’m not shocked anymore from anything I see in the Self Defence/Martial Arts Industry. There is all sorts of crazy in it that it’s tiresome trying to change or amend it. One thing I’d like to address or challenge is the phenomena that I like to call the Milli Vanilli Instructors.
If you don’t know who Milli Vanilli was, they were a band who had two guys with all the superficial assets needed to succeed, they were good looking, in shape, could dance, had all the charisma in the world. Problem is they couldn’t sing or play any music. They were discovered to be frauds that mimed their songs. Is the music really important anyway? In the Self Defence industry it obviously is not. You see there are a multitude of instructors out there who may look the part yet the material and training they present is lacking and we are ignoring the important part…….the music ie the training.
It hurts me to see instructors held in high esteem & quite frankly when you see their training and it has no substance, if you look at it with a hint of common sense you can clearly see they are snake oil salesman. Who says you can’t polish a turd? I hear podcasts with guests with a sycophantic following & then I see what they do & its just so disappointing! Just before I heard you say all the right things & you give a backstory that should have taught you something, yet this is your training? This is what you pass off as reality?
It happens all the time, I recently heard someone talk the talk – 'I’m an ex crim who turned my life around and teach from my lessons from a life of violence'. Problem is you are more of a criminal now if you take money from people for that nonsense you consider training! I suspect you survived your time inside by other means than being a tough guy. But its ok because what happened behind bars there is no proof of, its’ your word (you’ve earnt our trust!) and the gullible public hear the word gaol (jail) & they believe! This is not religion, you can ask for proof! Its not about blind faith!
There’s probably about 3 or 4 backstories that are identical in this industry for those who have success. Military, Police, Security, Gaol I guess if you want to be successful follow the business model! Problem is I have worked security & currently in gaols and maybe I’m doing it wrong but if you treat people like people its not that violent a profession. In fact I’d go so far to say that the workplace made it less likely for me to use my training, It was very, very restrictive. I saw way more violence working as a school teacher & if I really wanted to be accurate the uniform below is what we should be most impressed with. Statistics show that worldwide, nurses are far more likely to be attacked than police officers and prison guards. Maybe some of the industry ‘pundits’ need to update their cosplay wardrobes and get a nursing costume! Perhaps do a TAFE course to bolster their resume! I can see it at seminars now ‘I loved martial arts growing up & I wanted a testing ground so I did 10 years in ER at Nepean Hospital’ That’s way more accurate than what I’m hearing.
In this industry in general, there are a lot of people held in high esteem that really shouldn’t be if training, knowledge & ability are valued. It’s more about perception. Some adopt a WWE flavour. That is they are overly theatrical by stomping their feet and snarling as they hit pads/bags. Some actually hit people hard in demos whilst they are standing still and not providing any resistance. That’s a dick move for mine as a 10 year old could hurt someone doing that.
To be ultra successful many lie through their teeth about their ability & conquests. People seem to appreciate ‘war stories’ as I have witnessed a well known instructor tell the same story with a different ending three times catering for the technique he was teaching at the time. He also went on to tell a story from a film as if it happened to him! The majority of attendees all lapped it up. Another ‘icon’ that has given himself a nickname & talks all kind of nonsense about how much of a bad ass he is yet looks like he should be searching for snow white with his other 6 buddies! Looking at him and some of his film he is or never was in any shape or ability to have been able to perform the feats he claims. His videos, which I’m sure he chose the best takes, looks like a blooper reel of poor athleticism and awkwardness. I usually don’t like to demean someone due to their physical characteristics/abilities but when you put YOURSELF on a pedestal built from lies you are fair game. He talks like he is Jorge Masvidal yet looks and moves like Danny Devito and yes, he has a cult following.
So should we focus less on actual results and more on building a persona? Maybe perfect your 1000 yard stare? Develop an alpha portfolio of excessively masculine pics holding knives & guns? Maybe blur out the faces in group training pics to give off the impression that it’s a top secret gig with people so damn dangerous you cannot show their identity. Or maybe they are dentists? Joke explanation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF2opel339U
So what is it that people value? What are they key words that draw people in? You know what, on second thoughts I don’t really care, I for one wish to remain ethical. Coaching is about improving your athletes not your reputation. I put integrity first.