I was recently talking with fellow martial artist David Gallo of CT Wing Chun Academy about how we teach our classes. We both agreed that tradition and structure are important, but so is being friendly and approachable. He mentioned that some of his past instructors were very heavy on the “YES, SIR!!!” shouting, really hard discipline, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T.–but a little light on fun. Even worse, some instructors are full of boasting and bravado. Kinda like this guy . . .
I’ve been lucky: my instructors have always been very humble. I’ve always just called my senseis at the Okinawan Karate School “Ed and Jean”. Even the name of their school is direct and to the point as opposed to “Joe Blow’s Invincible Academy of Super Self-Defense” or “Rexkwondo”. Despite serving the community for over 38 years, Ed and Jean are always welcoming to newcomers and ready to teach martial artists of all levels. Their humility is truly a gift that I always try to emulate and to share.
Joe Carta from Greater Farmington Valley Fitness is another great example. He is an extremely humble and down-to-earth guy. After he helped me by improving my form on exercises like squats and pushups, he provided encouragement and further instruction. When I asked him about his greatest accomplishments in fitness, he answered with a few stories about the workouts that made him puke and that left him super sore. No talk about one-rep max. No boasts about 5K times.
If you ask me, humilty despite great achievement is the true mark greatness.
Every day we meet people who are humble and people who are boastful. Listen to UFC champions like Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva. Are they truly humble, or are they masters at marketing? No one can dispute their greatness. Both have classified themselves as martial artists rather than simply fighters.
Compare GSP and Josh Koscheck. Who is the better fighter? Who is the better martial artist? Who would you rather learn martial arts from? It seems humility is a deciding factor. Would you agree?