“That bastard!  How is he doing that?  Man, I hate when he hits me!  If he’s going to hit me, then I’m going to hit him.  Only harder!”  How many people have said this to themselves?  I have.  I’m glad to say that I don’t anymore, but at one point I did.  My ego was controlling me.  My ego was holding me back from becoming better in Gung-Fu, and in life.

Having a big ego can be the barrier to any martial artist.  Why is this?  Having a big ego will do nothing but hinder one’s progress.  If you have a big ego you are going to be creating a glass ceiling for yourself.  They are not going to be willing to listen and learn from others.  Whether those others are people will significantly more skill than them or someone who has only a little more skill than they do.  Or perhaps someone who even has less skill.  The end goal is always a sense of balance when it comes to your ego.  The ego is a useful tool to push but at the same time, if you let it out of control, you won’t be able to use it properly.

If someone has more skill than you, and they try to help you, if your ego is to big you are not going to be open minded enough to think about what they said and take honest criticism.   On the other hand, if you are practicing with someone who has less skill than you and they hit you, you are going to feel like you have to prove something to them and to yourself.  Instead, you should be analyzing why you were hit. You’ll be out to prove to yourself that you are better.  Whether a person has more or less skill, there is always something that can be learned.   

While being a student and now a teacher, I’ve seen how having a big ego can impede the progress of a Martial Artist.  When I was a new student, some of the older students would take advantage of my inexperience.  Now there’s nothing wrong with practicing advanced moves on someone, but there is something wrong when those moves end up hurting people intentionally. As my skill grew and I closed the gap, and in some cases even surpassed these people, and they would get mad because they couldn’t take advantage of me anymore.  They also ended up only hindering their progress because they wouldn’t learn from their mistakes.  Instead of trying to help me counter their attack and in turn learn a counter for that new attack they were still trying the same attacks.  They always wanted to have some type of edge.  But eventually that edge disappeared.   Remember, school is for development and not application, and the goal is ton constantly grow and learn from what your doing.  Its almost like having an unlimited amount of quarters when you hit an arcade, if you make a mistake you can still keep going.  So, keep that in mind the next time you make a mistake and leave yourself open.  You can still play again, and there’s no need to let the ego go buck wild.

I’ve also seen the ego problem with teachers as well.  I’m not sure what to call it, other then the beating on the students syndrome.  Skillful teachers can dominate a student without even laying a hand on them, bullies on the other hand pound on the student and don’t allow the student to learn.  Strangely, I’ve seen students actually appreciate this process and feel that if my teacher didn’t care he wouldn’t be doing this to me.  Yeah, its screwed up, but I’ve witnessed this first hand, and this is not rare, but pretty common.  In the end, if you believe this to be correct, then there’s nothing I can say that would change your way of thinking.  But, remember a teacher is there to help you learn, and not so your there to be his punching bag.

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