The ideal martial arts warrior. Never falters, fears, or doubts. Trains vigorously, pure-spiritedly, without fatigue or fail.

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We don’t want the flawed human, gored in battle or exhausted in the ring. We want the myth, the inspiration, and the spectacle.

When we compare ourselves to this impossible legend, we can’t possibly measure up. So we fill that gap between reality and myth with our ego. Either pumping ourselves up to feel more aligned with it, or tearing ourselves down for coming nowhere close.

But here’s the thing.

Not achieving the unrealistic ideal in no way takes away from our validity as martial artists. We are human. We screw up. We don’t always feel in control, make the right choices, or do our best. We don’t always act from a place of humility or respect. We do experience pride, embarrassment, jealousy, insecurity, and even rage.

We’re human. But that’s the beauty in it.

We can be inspiring even as we struggle. We can be worthwhile even as we mess up. We can be martial artists even as we doubt our very worth.

Perhaps true confidence in ourselves as martial artists doesn’t come from striving to be as awesome as some lofty ideal. Perhaps it comes from NOT trying to be those things.

Let’s take the shame out of being human. The shame out of experiencing normal emotions and common life struggles. The shame out of not always doing our best while trying to juggle training with our zillions of other adult responsibilities. The shame out of skipping workouts, ditching tournaments, or even taking years off from training entirely.

Because despite all those things, we STILL have that rank we achieved. We still have all that knowledge and experience. We still have that same martial artist’s outlook and that same deep longing in our hearts.

If we think we need to be perfect to be martial artists, then get this: no one in the history of humankind has ever been a martial artist. Not with those criteria.

Being a martial artist is ABOUT being human. It’s our capacity to fuck up… and then fix it. To hurt ourselves and heal. To lose our way and find it again. To make mistakes and learn and grow.

So. We can do one of two things:

We can tell ourselves we’re not good enough because we don’t fit that martial artist ideal.

Or we can pull our heads out of the ether and realize it’s far better right here where it’s real.

Recommended Resources

You’re reading Trying to be the Ideal Martial Artist? by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!