Being able to physically defend oneself can lead to and maintain confidence.
One of my closest friends has always been a self-assured individual. We recently shared a meal, and I identified how comfortable he was in his own skin, even at 15 when we met (and began partnering on finding efficient ways to skip school). Interestingly, his comfort with himself didn’t come from the perfect upbringing or traditional family model. Indeed, Chris lost his father at 11 and went through a dangerously rough patch. He “turned to the streets, gangs and drugs” to cope. He didn’t have the outlets then he does now, though he thinks it would have made a difference in his recovery. “Most addicts remove drugs and turn to nicotine, caffeine and food. Would have been great to get high on physical exertion and exhilaration.” He was clean when we met because he’s a fighter in a less literal sense and because he responds to support. He’s among the most socially aware men I know.
The results cited in this usma.edu piece are fairly straightforward on martial arts as a training method.
Some practice martial arts to increase their psychological well-being. Martial arts can be a good form of physical exercise, and exercise has been proven to enhance mental and psychological feelings after a training session. Among people who train in martial arts for the sport or competition aspect, the better competitors have higher self esteem and sport confidence.
My workouts have been consistent for several years. Sprints, heavy compound lifts, you know the deal. That said, I respect the way loved ones choose to stay in strong physical condition. More specifically, I respect their devotion and consistency. I don’t religiously practice martial arts, although I’ve dabbled in the past. For years, however, Chris has been gritty as he pursues (and teaches) mastery of Krav Maga (and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) skills. If unfamiliar, Krav is a “self-defense system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that consists of a wide combination of techniques sourced from aikido, judo, boxing and wrestling, along with realistic fight training.”
I mentioned Chris’ confidence and grit. I believe this is more nature than nurture. However, I’ve seen him develop over the years and maintain focus, and this is in no small part based on his devotion to his training. From believeperform.com:
Evidence of the effectiveness of martial arts in producing affective, cognitive and behavioural benefits has come from a number of studies. Improvements in self-esteem (Fuller, 1988), a more positive response to physical challenge (Richard and Rehberg, 1986; Trulson, 1986), greater autonomy (Duthie, 1978), emotional stability and assertiveness (Konzak and Boudreau, 1984) and reductions in anxiety and depression (Cai, 2000) have all been associated with martial arts training. Konzak and Boudreau (1984) have also drawn attention to the social benefits of such behavioural change – in particular the relationship between martial arts practice and reduced aggression.
A study investigating the effects of grappling training on mood and general well being found that people who trained regularly in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym were shown to have higher energy levels, were more agreeable, clear minded, composed and confident when compared to a group of non-grapplers who trained regularly at a health gym and another group of light exercisers (McCafferty, 2014).
Chris believes that recovery and development is “all about the people.” Martial arts training is dependent on the quality and intensity of the people you surround yourself with and the environment you work in. Chris has created a masculine elegance in his Woodland Hills studio to reflect the intensity of the training. Creating a powerful, inspirational training environment matters. Mine may be a beach or steep hills; others want to be surrounded by steel. Regardless of the physical particulars, the environment has a significant impact on the quality of our work. Krav Maga Woodland Hills nails this, conceptually.
Perhaps one of the most interesting training environments I’ve seen is the work being done at Driveline Baseball in Seattle. Competition permeates every aspect of their facility, and it is designed to encourage max effort training. As athletes, we can benefit from “loud” and “aggressive” when we train. This sums it up nicely.
At Driveline Athletics I’m surrounded by people who work hard and understand what training is and help you reach those goals. No one uses a pillow on squats or does bicep curls or stares at you like you are crazy. We play music we like; we’re not looked down upon when we throw bumper plates down: We understand what training is at Driveline Athletics. I did not realize or understood how important these people at Driveline Athletics and environment were to my training. If you are struggling with form they will help you if you have a heavy squat set they will motivate you through it. It has been harder than I thought to train in Maine and I will always take this into account. I will always try to be with people who want to train and work hard. I will always be grateful for what I have at Driveline Athletics. Remember to always train with people who want to train and work hard. It will make a huge difference in the long run.
Increased confidence, stronger body and mind and surrounded by a thoughtful space and intensely driven competitors? That’s a powerful package to aim for in baseball, martial arts, business and life.