defeating the ego.....a rant

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by royalrd, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. royalrd

    royalrd New Member

    Show me a martial arts guru who claims you must destroy or overcome the ego and I'll show you a cult leader or a man who is in need of sectioning.
    After over 20 years of being involved with the world of martial arts, I'm amazed that there are still clowns out there getting away with peddling this pseudo-spiritual self help nonsense.

    I can understand why people want to buy into it, the idea of some form of illumination is a wonderfully comforting notion. I myself have spent much time training in temples as a youth, living like a monk looking for some kind of enlightenment. If people want to do that then fine. But spouting crap about overpowering the ego, I mean come on....does no one see the irony in that statement? That is by its very definition an act of ego.

    As the title suggests, this is a rant but before I go on, I should give you a little back ground on what inspired it. A friend from the uk just posted me this knowing full well the reaction it would get. Of the many ridiculous statements that this wannabe cult leader says, it was the ego bit that really got me. Listening to the first minute and you could be mistaken for thinking these people were being groomed for the al qaeda(someone actually wrote "Allahuakbar!" in the comment section). I'll not even start on the rest of the video or I'll be ranting all day.

    Now over the years I've been lucky enough to have many different martial arts teacher but every now and again one will pop up like him. They'll start off sounding reasonable enough, then before you realize it, they will be convincing you that they can impart some great secret to you, that all you need to do is get past the ego that's holding you back and listen to them. People really want to believe this and what makes it worse is that this style of garbage, like any good lie, will often has some nuggets of truth to it.

    I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who's had a run in with a crazy martial arts guru. Stories welcome:)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2009
  2. old palden

    old palden Valued Member

    Well, there was this one guy on the internet.

  3. callsignfuzzy

    callsignfuzzy Is not a number!

    "Allahu Akbar" means "God is great" and is a common expression in the Islamic world. It was around eons before al Qaeda was founded and as an expression, has nothing to do with them.

    Associating Allahu Akbar with terrorism is practically akin to associated "God bless you" with the Spanish Inquisition.

    Anyway, the message I got from the first minute of the video was, "there's no room for self-doubt in combat", which I wholeheartedly agree with. You second-guess yourself, you hesitate; you hesitate, and you're dead. So there's no room for self-doubt. Neither is there room for self-reflection at the moment you're being attacked. You have to have a decisive, though not immutable, goal in mind and commit to it.

    Now I'm not going to sit through the whole video, but looking through some parts of it, it looks like the guy starts going in directions I don't agree with. I prefer science over spiritualism. But regardless of the video, the idea of "no ego" has its place, though I prefer my understanding of the Japanese expression Mushin. I'm not a monk, but I don't need to be to react with clarity of purpose when I need to.
  4. old palden

    old palden Valued Member

    Anybody else find the OP's spiel reminiscent of Fire Quan?

  5. locust

    locust Like a biblical plague

    Not untill you mentioned it :evil:
  6. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    "Show me a martial arts guru who claims you must destroy or overcome the ego and I'll show you a cult leader or a man who is in need of sectioning"

    Yeeeaaahhhh, riiiiight.......:bang:

    i myself find the op's spiel reminiscent of bat crazy.

    a person with an ego the size of the jolly green giant has no place in a position of leadership. and being humble and showing humility is what ma instructorsa should be teaching. I myself regularly train with and hang out with a group off 7 or 8 black belts in my dojo and in fact the whole association is like that, who could all kick my butt if they wanted to. But desoite their black belts they're all so sweet, kind and gentle, like big cuddly teddy bears. and none of them show any macho-ness or arrogance or anything like ego.
  7. liero

    liero Valued Member

    I went to a kyokushin open sparring session once, the guy in charge told us to leave the egos at the door...would lead to less injuries, and less anger.

    I thought it was apt.

    There are those cult leaders out there that attempt to get you to follow them through abandoning the ego and other pseudo-spiritual "garbage" this is different.

    Not apt
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    The style in the video is Seni Silat, a predominantly Malaysian flavour of Pencak Silat. PS involves a great deal of spiritualism, particularly at village level; in Malaysia, a mostly Islamic country, the teachings of the Koran are embedded in the instructional methods of many teachers. So what? Isn't that the same as bowing and reciting Japanese or Korean in East Asian martial arts? I think the fact that the OP got so worked up over one video speaks volumes about his own ego.
  9. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Balance in everything.

    If your ego makes you arrogant,carless or think you know it all. Bin it.

    If it makes you train hard and sincerely to get better at your art..nurture it.

    I prefare feeling what a guy has to offer than listening.
  10. royalrd

    royalrd New Member

    Spot on with the ol'etymology callsignfuzzy:) Although you're quite correct on that, language evolves and meanings change. Whilst my observation was made in jest(apparently in poorer taste than intended), It must be acknowledged that "Allah Akbar" has, over that last few years, become synonymous with certain fundamentalist groups. The association is now one of popular convention, not one of my making. Though I'll concede that the writer most likely intended it to be read in the spirit of it's former meaning.
    Much in the same way, when I talk about ego, I am using it more in the Jungian sense. I appreciate that just like "Allah Akbar", "ego" means different things for different people. If I understand correctly, Blade96 suggests that ego is a bad thing and a lack of it makes a person humble. Though this pop-culture definition is certainly valid, I see it as something of an over simplification. Ego, as I understand it, is so intrinsic to all our drives and desires that any attempt to move beyond it is inevitably self defeating. Jung himself put it pretty well when he said "You always become the thing you fight the most". Anyway, this is just my opinion and you're all very welcome to disagree with it.

    Van Zandt, You're also spot on, it does speak volumes about my ego, but little more than your contribution says about you. I'm sorry if I came across in my op as having a problem with Islam or silat, I don't. Having devoted a great deal of time to the study of silat, my problem is not with the art itself but rather certain individuals who use the arts as a tool to manipulate others for personal gain.

    koyo, nice sentiment:)

    old palden, swing and a miss:) feel free to guess again though
  11. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    Maybe I should have said too much ego and arrogance is a bad thing. the wrong kind.

    some ego is obviously good. when you believe in yourself, you're good at something and you know you are good, but without lording it over people like you are gospel and your words are gospel. people need a healthy dose of it to be healthy. it builds self confidence and self esteem.
  12. snake_vs_crane

    snake_vs_crane Valued Member

    I haven't watched the video due to an awful connection, but I strongly agree with the OP in sentiment.

    I don't think anybody is suggesting the ego should be let run rampant, but that is the very danger you court when buying into the idea that it can be 'defeated' or 'transcended'. We are human. Our teachers, no matter how skilled, are also human. The struggle we face with our failings is an ongoing one, be they physical or personal.

    In an offer to teach people to 'overcome their ego', is it not implicit that the teacher believes they have achieved this themselves? How is this different to the McDojo master with a 1 inch dim mak punch that rips a hole in you? It's just another claim of superhuman abilities, made all the more insidious in this case by requiring no shred of physical ability to back it up.

    Students look to their teachers as an example. To this end, a teacher deciding he has the answers to all of the students personality flaws is displaying supreme arrogance, and while students may defer to him in the short term, their ultimate goal is to imitate him. Personally, I don't see how any good can come of it *shrug*
  13. Ace of Clubs

    Ace of Clubs Banned Banned

    I have a large ego and it has landed me in hot water a few times. For a while i was ashamed and tried to 'overcome' my ego when i realised that without ego you can't live naturally.

    Ego is as natural as anger or adrenalin and just as dangerous in large doses or at the wrong time or place. I believe the key to 'defeating' ego is to learn how to control it rather then suppressing or destroying it.

    Life is about balance and ego is only one side of the coin, acknowledge both and embrace harmony.

    I may have shifted a bit off topic :hat:
  14. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    pffft, athletes who know they are good and celebrated their accomplishments with antics that arent seen very often have been called arrogant and egotistical and it landed them in hot water a bunch of times.

    example: Alexander Ovechkin, champion hockey player, after scoring his 50th goal last year pretended he couldnt touch his stick because it 'was just a bit too hot' Did he get criticized. oh boy.

    Usain Bolt, champion runner, doing his happy dance at the summer olympics in china after winning 2 gold medals got criticized for his antics by the commitee.

    even though I dont think neither of them are egotistical. They're just unconventional, bring a flair to the sport and do things that arent seen very often (but maybe should be, its nice to see people love what they do and show it)

    I think its good though to get people talking about walking that fine line between being proud of your accomplishments and having the 'healthy ego' , and being a jerk about it and treating others like crap.
  15. Happy Feet Cotton Tail

    Happy Feet Cotton Tail Valued Member

    I think the difference is one persons celebrates victory becuase thier hard work has payed of and they have accomplished something at a very high level. The main source of happiness is winning. This is someone who is confident and proud of their achievements.

    The other celebrates their dominance over other people and it is just essential to their happiness that the other person loses; this is typically the sign of someone who's self esteem relies on having other people made inferior to them.
  16. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Seeking to overcome or transcend the ego is a guidepost. I don't think that absolute success is required in order to espouse the virtues of it to other people. To whatever degree you can achieve that goal, from moment to moment, it's a worthy exercise.

    I think it's a massive overstatement to say that anyone who touts transcending the ego is a cult leader. Unless, of course, you consider Buddhism and Hinduism to be cults. By the same token, I think it's folly to object to the idea using one definition of ego when the idea was posited using another. Terms like ego are shorthand for bigger, more complex ideas. And it's the complex idea you need to address in any worthwhile debate.

    Now, you're certainly welcome to dispute the notion, even taking into account the definition of ego they're actually using. But that doesn't make anyone a cult leader.

    Now, I'm no religious scholar, but I spent a fair amount of time studying Buddhism and Hinduism in school. And the idea, as I understand it, holds some merit within a martial arts training philosophy. Things like fear, pride, anger, resentment, etc. are all wrapped up in that notion. Ego is what has us worrying in a sparring session about how we're going to look to our classmates if our opponent pegs us, all the while detracting from our actual efforts to prevent it. It's what makes bad feelings linger after an accidental hit. It's what keeps us from pursuing training opportunities that might make us feel like we're not good at something. It's what makes us go easy on friends and overboard on "enemies."

    Avoiding those pitfalls doesn't require absolute, Buddha-like transcendance. They're small battles. And it takes a modest transcendence to win them.

    I don't see the problem in that.

  17. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    IMO. ego is not a bad thing. Why do we want to train so hard if we don't want to be better than others? If we just want self-development (we are better today than yesterday), we don't need to train MA, running or weight lifting will be just fine.
  18. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Through hard sincere training we can get better TOGETHER.
  19. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    People run and weight lift to be better than the bloke next to them too. Anything can be ego driven. And, to my mind, most things can be practiced in an effort to diminish it as well.

    This is why I always laugh at the idea that competitive martial artists like the UFC fighters are all completely ego driven. They consistently put themselves on a world stage, knowing full well that it's just a matter of time before they get beaten, and then come back for more.

    That takes some measure ego transcendance as well. Just as it can be awfully gratifying to the ego to sit around safely ensconced in your own dojo basking in the admiration of your adoring students.

    Devil's in the details.
  20. Blade96

    Blade96 shotokan karateka

    There ya go. Exactly. You got it, homie. :)

    That's what I say to the 2 other white belts who are in my shotokan class. We are all good; I tell them we will all pass our grading and be yellow belts. we will improve together. and even though one of the white belts is the guy I beat in competition/tournament, I never talk about it. Besides we both got top marks, its just mine was like about 2 marks higher. not a big deal.

    well as for me talking to the black belt I nearly took out on Friday, thats different. He just say 'ya have to bring that up dont ya' I teased him Well ya knows, a little white belt almost took you out I just told him he needs to get a second black belt. :p That's not ego though, that's just playful bantering.

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