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The Selfs

The Selfs

Growing up in PA (that’s Pennsylvania for all you non east-coasters) I started martial arts in the 6th grade at a small karate school in the Lehigh Valley called American Karate Studio. The owner and head instructor was Sensei Tim Hoover, a demanding teacher who emphasized mental and physical fitness above all. One of his mantras was living The Self’s. 

  • Self-Discipline
  • Self-Respect
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Confidence
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Defense

With regularity, Sensei Hoover would lead the class in calisthenics while leading chants along the way in call and repeat fashion; like jodies for my military friends.  The Selfs were a staple.  To this day I can vividly remember the room and his voice calling out….and the complete exhaustion. 

It was very reminiscent of the Cobra Kai dojo from the Karate Kid.  Hokey?  Perhaps by today’s standards.  Effective?  To an impressionable 12-year-old kid…absolutely…and I am very happy for it.  I am of the opinion the world, especially kids, could use a little more discipline and structure.

Self-Discipline: The king and most important of the Selfs; the one that makes all the others possible.  Without it you’ll likely fall short everywhere else.  Doing what needs to be done when nobody is looking or when you don’t want to do it.  An inner drive that refuses to let excuses get in the way of what needs to be done.  It’s the little voice most of us need to listen to; the one telling us what we know but don’t necessarily want to admit to.

Self-Respect: Appreciating and accepting who you are as an individual.  Knowing you are a unique and precious human being who has the right to your own way of life, thinking, and feeling.  Someone who respects themself does the things to stay mentally healthy and physically fit.  There is argument we cannot respect others until we respect ourselves.

Self-Confidence/Esteem: Confidence and Esteem are closely related.  It’s believing in yourself and your abilities. While confidence can vary among situations esteem is enduring throughout.  We can feel good about ourselves knowing full well we such at something.  It’s when we start letting failures and lack of confidence creep in to our regard for ourselves that’s dangerous.

Self-Control: Keeping your emotions and thoughts in check; not letting them dictate your behavior in an impulsive, adverse way.  The ability to resist temptations, those desires that conflict with overarching goals or values.  Prioritizing wants over needs to avoid letting short term satisfactions get in the way of long term goals.

Self-Awareness: A deep reflection of who we really are, fully understanding your strengths, and more importantly, your weaknesses.  Also being aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and surroundings as we experience them; some will refer to this as mindfulness.  Living in the moment. Awareness helps us begin to change and realize the ideal version of ourselves.

Self-Defense: The reason many people begin their martial arts journey.  The ability to ensure the health and well-being of oneself from harm by another person; to protect ourselves, our families and our loved ones.  Having the skills and intuition to counter an immediate threat of violence.

Where do you stand with each of The Selfs? What role The Selfs play in your life is completely up to you.  My suggestion is to use them as a guide to help realize the best version of yourself; to find balance and happiness in your life. Think of them a pieces of a puzzle, each playing a role in the larger whole. Missing one creates an incomplete picture.

Treat them like any martial arts technique, pick one to focus on for a while and when you feel you have the hang of it move on to the next.  Soon they’ll all be an everyday practice and building blocks of your foundation. In spite of the current environment, perhaps now more than ever is a time when we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves.

Everyday Is Training Day – Reap What You Sow