You've heard it many times before, leave your ego out of training or that the martial way requires you to exercise humility. We all should continually strive in this regard to perfect ourselves. Now martial arts will naturally build up self esteem and confidence but catering to the ego is a different story. Keeping the ego in check is something that demands continued effort no matter how far along the martial path one may be. We all have our own unique challenges in this regard.
However, today I would like to talk to you about a peculiar character I call the ego stoker. This is a person who goes that extra mile to make sure that not only is their ego uplifted but is never brought down even an inch. Unfortunately, this attitude can be detrimental to not only the progress of the ego stoker but to those they come in contact with.
In my time I've seen many an ego stoker come and go. Most do not last unless they attempt to humble themselves and submit to the martial way. You see, age and injury will eventually bring us all low. This is when your true inner strength will uplift you and the fleeting satisfaction of the ego will fail you.
Warning: I am about to shamelessly imitate the "you might by a redneck if..." comedy shtick by Jeff Foxworthy. However, it is done to humorlessly help you identify the symptoms and avoid the pitfalls of the ego stoker.
Here are the top ten signs you might be an ego stoker.
YOU might be an ego stoker if...
1. You only come to class when you fell like you can beat the world.
2. You only roll with lightweights or middleweights and you weigh 300 pounds.
3. You fully resist when doing cooperative work like learning new techniques, drills, or practicing throws. (an ego stoker will never let you throw them...and they might suffer from another condition I will cover in a future blog)
4. When everyone else is engaged in sparring, rolling, randori, etc. and all you do the entire time is coach and you're not a coach.
5. When its your turn to work with Mongo the Man Mountain and you just have to step off the mat for 10 minutes to tape up that paper cut.
6. During sparring, rolling, randori, etc. you attack all partners regardless of age, gender, size, or ability like they tried to take your lunch money.
7. You get mad when you can't beat that advanced student in class despite your weeks of training experience.
8. You get mad when you can't beat your sensei or coach in class despite your months of training experience.
9. You cuss, slap, punch, and kick the mat like a toddler throwing a tantrum when you can't be the advanced student, coach, or sensei in class.
10. As a coach or sensei if your afraid of your students excelling and surpassing you as a martial artist then you too might be an ego stoker!
Remember, be martial artist not an ego stoker!
Yours in Budo,
Iron Forged Martial Arts
2025 E. Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80909