The Stoic Warrior: 6 Lessons From Seneca To Supercharge Your Martial Arts Game
1. “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
Obstacles are built into the very fabric of success. Rather than seeing an obstacle as a stumbling block or a failure, see it as an opportunity to discover your best game. Success requires difficulties, not a smooth road.
2. “The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden.”
― Seneca, Natural Questions
Success isn’t over night. Those who succeed at their martial arts training are not those who are those most enthusiastic, the most talented, or even the toughest — rather it those among us, who are consistent, patient, and tenacious. The beautiful thing about a performance based martial art game, is that you cannot speed up time. It takes time to become good, it takes time to fully realise the nuances of the game. Those who seek to rush success here, are always the ones that fail. Practice patience, manage your expectations, don’t be ruled by emotion.
3. “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”
― Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters
It is not getting tapped out, or buzzed by a jab that is the problem. The problem is really how you interpret it. The human body is resilient. It can endure unimaginable pain and suffering — the untrained mind however, is easily unsettled. You have to train your mind to accept where you are. To see every position as workable. To not judge your experience as good or bad. In this way, you train your mind to be unconquerable, because even defeat is then unmoving.
4. “Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”
The most important person on the mat isn’t you. The most important person on the mat is your training partners. Associate with those training partners who don’t seek to dominate you, but rather, challenge you to be your best. Your future game, will only be as good as the people you train with. Steer clear of the Ego driven, Alpha Males, who seek only to win, but not to teach and have no interest in your growth.
5. “The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.”
If there is one thing that is painfully obvious about the live game of sparring or rolling is that prediction doesn’t exist. You have no idea prior to someone executing a technique, if that will be a jab or a cross, an arm-bar or a choke. Trying to predict what will happen, only makes you more anxious. Anxiety leads to mistakes. It is only in the present that you can respond to chaos. Being more present in your game, not only will make you less anxious, but allow you to respond to the unfolding experience in front of you not only with more clarity, but more choice.
6. “The best ideas are common property”
Fancy doesn’t mean better. Often, the best practices, the most functional techniques, and the best strategies to deal with a problem in your game are in plain site. Look around you, look to those that you admire for their skill, watch what they do, look for patterns, and copy that into your own game.