Monday, November 3, 2014


Many martial arts promote the benefits of martial arts training as including the acquisition of self-discipline. This got me thinking, what does self-discipline mean?

I'm researching an article on self-discipline that I hope to have published in Blitz. I won't go through the entire discussion because posts on the Internet are suppose to be short to cater for the average reader's attention span of a brick.

Cambridge Dictionary defines self-disciple as forcing yourself to do something even though you don't want to.

If that is the case, I've never exhibit self-discipline in my martial arts training, nor has my martial arts training taught me self-discipline.

I started out training by attending two classes a day, six days a week, and supplemented that with additional training. The attending classes changed from student to teacher but that regime continued for 20+ years. Many would remark on my self-discipline based on that training and teaching regime. They were wrong based on the above definition of self-discipline.

I never had to force myself to train or teach. Nobody had to force me to train or teach. I enjoyed it and wanted to do it, therefore, by definition that is not self-discipline.

Following this analysis, it is paradoxical that those martial artists who suggest that martial arts training teaches self-discipline must first find students who do not want to train in order to receive the benefits of learning self-discipline.


  1. I think the definition is limited and flawed. People go to university because they want to, however it is self discipline that makes them study in order excel rather than just scrape through.
    People are rarely pushed through the front door of an MA school because they do not want to be there. There are however plenty of people just turning up and filling the ranks who will never achieve a black belt grade. It is self disciple that we use to set and achieve the personal challenges to excel in our arts.
    Even for those of us who are dedicated, self disciple has been necessary to continue while exhausted, push on with a painful injury or keep teaching that new student that just doesn't try.

    1. Too true Stu. The definition is simplistic, however, from such definitions intelligent discussion emerges, such as yours. I have, unfortunately through what is now destructive experience, have a different perspective of 'pushing through.' Many people complimented me on my self-discipline - they were sadly mistaken. Obsession was my motivating factor. It was the reason for my achievements and the cause of my problems. In fact, I now need self-discipline in order to manage the problems caused by my obsession. It is both ironic and paradoxical.

    2. And there lies one of the other great lessons that martial arts have to teach us...balance. You would think that an MA such as Jujutsu, that is primarily the study of controlling balance, would teach more of its practitioners about maintaining balance in training and personal lives.


Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.