Short, concise lessons and concepts helpful to students
Attitude Determines Success
By Terry Bryan
Most martial arts instructors recognize that when a student trains in
a classical martial art, many positive benefits are experienced including
improved grades, higher self-esteem, an increase in self-confidence and
a more positive attitude on life in general. Up until now, many people
have not understood how this occurs; only that it does.
A lot of study has gone into sport psychology in the last few years
in an effort to determine how to obtain peak performance from our athletes.
The great thing about the knowledge acquired from these studies is that
it can have a tremendous impact on each of our lives as we try and become
more successful in our personal goals. What is truly remarkable is that
every time they come up with a “new” idea, it can be linked
to what has been taught in the martial arts for over 1000 years.
One modern way of looking at human performance is outlined in the following
IA + AA x A = IHP
”IA” stands for inborn attributes and “AA” stands
for acquired attributes, while “A” stands for attitude and “IHP” stands
for individual human performance.
From this formula we can see that while inborn attributes and acquired
attributes are important, it is the attitude of the person that has the
most overall impact. This means that an average person with average abilities
can be very successful if he or she possesses the right attitude.
Attitude is sometimes defined as how one reacts when things go wrong
or how one reacts to adversity. While the person with a negative attitude
always sees the bad in a situation and the final outcome as being negative,
the person with high self-esteem and perceived abilities has a positive
outlook on the situation and the final outcome.
In the martial arts, strategy and tactics of how to overcome adversity
is a daily activity. Within a short time, losing or experiencing defeat
is no longer tolerated in the student’s mind, only which technique
is best suited to respond to a specific attack. Constant repetition of
successful defenses against a variety of situations creates the belief
of being able to handle adversity. This belief increases self-confidence,
which in turn, actually increases the ability to respond to adversity.
When faced with a crisis, the warrior sees many options with which to
respond with confidence, while the civilian many times freezes, focusing
instead on the negative aspects of ths situation.
I once heard that having a college degree doesn’t mean that you
know everything, only that you now know where to find the answers. I
think the same can be said about black belt excellence. Earning a black
belt may not mean that you can defeat all opponents all the time, only
that you understand the proper attitude necessary for victory in any
About the Author:
Terry Bryan is the former General Secretary for the USA-NKF (National
Karate Federation), the official governing body for the sport of karate
with the US Olympic Committee. He currently is the Executive Director
for the American Black Belt Academy, a 501c3 non-profit organization
located in Colorado Springs. His column, Simple Lessons, regularly appears