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What is self-discipline?

Self-discipline is the ability to control yourself. To keep temper from springing up in the face of frustration. The ability to keep your emotions from dictating your behavior. It’s the ability to evaluate the situation, look at options for your response, then choosing the best one for the time. It’s putting aside the desire for instant gratification when a longer-term goal that requires more work will bring you better results.

You may wonder how studying martial arts, learning how to defend yourself if needed by blocking, punching, and kicking, could possibly teach self-discipline. How could learning something with the potential for violence lead to calm and self-assured individuals? It can be done. And is being done daily across the world.

As with any other skill, self-discipline ultimately comes from within yourself. Any lasting change always does. Certainly, in the beginning, discipline must come from outside yourself. Most of us don’t naturally have the desire or ability to control ourselves as we must learn to in order to be our most productive, most responsible. Just as with children, we first learn to obey the rules of others in order to get something we want. This is external discipline. Our parents are the first to instill this in us. We follow their rules to get the rewards we want.

Over time, and often with many bumps in the road, we learn to do the right thing without being told, just because it’s the right thing to do. This is self-discipline.

In learning martial arts, the same process occurs. In the beginning, you learn to follow the rules of the dojo and the Master. You learn by doing. Over and over and over, with the Master guiding and correcting you. The techniques become part of you. When to use them becomes part of you, just as when not to use them becomes part of you.

This kind of structure, the continual practicing, the ceremony part of the dojo, are all necessary to develop discipline that will enable you to improve. You’re being exposed to a set of expectations, rules, and very clear goals that help you start learning to live a disciplined life. Leadership by example and being guided by a higher authority are important aspects of learning to live this disciplined life, as well. The Master is in charge. No questions. The charisma and calm radiating from the Master begin to infuse you as you continue learning the challenging techniques of the martial arts. Over time, you incorporate these characteristics of the Master into yourself. All of this, experienced in an environment both challenging and invigorating, where praise comes when praise is due, leads ultimately to growing self-discipline and self-control. You have committed yourself to something you desire. You learn to respect your Master, your fellow students, and yourself.

Be assured – this take work!

But it is a journey that brings great benefit to you and others around you. Your self-confidence will grow like the strongest oak tree. You will become more productive as you become more self-disciplined. Others will notice. No longer will frustrations and strong emotions govern your behavior. You will meet challenges without fear. As your self-discipline grows, your life will become more full, more fulfilling.

Learning self-discipline may be the best process you can undertake toward self-improvement. The martial arts can take you there. Shifu Ahles is highly trained and experienced in martial arts. He stands ready to help you reach the level of self-discipline you need in life. Call or contact him today.

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