I believe there are many character traits that jiu jitsu helps develop. Of those many, the most important trait (right up there with perseverance), in my opinion, is humility.
Yesterday one of our kids in our Minjas program asked me, "What is humility?" Great question. Theologians and philosophers have discussed this since the beginning. And you will find varying definitions of the word between religous and secular folks.
In the short time I had to answer the question I explained to her and the class, "Humility is the opposite of pride. Humility is having a heart that is open to learn. Humility is not afraid to try hard things and fail. Humility has no fear of man but an appropriate fear of God. Humility is not concerned about what others think of us but more concerned about doing what is right. Humility is having a willingness to lose in order to learn. Humility is to care about others as much or more than ourselves. Humility does not elevate ourselves above others. Humility is to come to practice with an "empty cup" looking to have it filled. Humility is the opposite of being a "know it all". Humility is understanding that you can learn from everyone around you.
I have seen many people over the years try jiu jitsu once and walk away because they do not like the feeling of being dominated by another person. Or they are too adverse to feeling uncoordinated in front of others. They are so out of their normal element they run away from it. Or they do not like the feeling of not knowing what is going on. Or they just can't handle losing especially losing to that smaller person who has been training for a while and can submit them over and over with little effort. They want to be successful immediately without suffering repeated "failures". Jiu Jitsu training is a sift of prideful people for sure. If one is prideful, one will learn humility or quit.
To quit because of pride is not good for many reasons. One reason it isn't good is that chances are if in jiu jitsu our pride is getting in the way, and we behave such as to avoid the challenge, then probably in other parts of our life we are doing the same or will do the same. Pride is something that will hinder us all in our efforts in life especially and most importantly in our spiritual health and relationship with God.
Humility is not a false form of self-deprecation. A talented person who receives a compliment is not humble to deny their talents and skills. They can acknowledge that they have been blessed as a human being to have such skills and understand that is makes them no more valuabe than anyone else. Humility recognizes that each human being is valuable and precious in the sight of God equally. So it isn't having an inappropriately low view of self. It is balanced and rests on the truth of who each of us is.
For our kids program, I think this is one of the best lessons for them to learn early in life. Try hard things. Do not fear what other people think of you. Focus on doing your best and not on impressing people. Fall down and get back up. Fear God not man. Enjoy the process of learning without the anxiousness or excessive concern of winning or losing. Work hard, stay humble and you will bear good fruit.
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." Proverbs 3
This is an excerpt from Shihan Warren Lamb's paper "
Maranatha-Ryū Bujutsu" on martial arts and Christianity:
An honest and modest sense of oneself, completely lacking in self-pride, self-righteousness, egotism, arrogance and selfishness. Putting the welfare of others before the welfare of self. One must be humble in order to receive salvation.
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
"Blessed are the gentle (meek), for they shall inherit the earth.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Maranatha-Ryū Bujutsu Shihan Warren Lamb, Chief Instructor
I believe that development of our character is an ongoing daily activity. It never ends. And that one of the best things to teach our kids early on is to always be growing in our character. Recognizing not just in our minds this truth is good but no sufficient. I think for our kids to actually test this and practice this with their parents is critical. And I do believe that jiu jitsu is a great platform for our kids to do this. There is nothing like the challenges jiu jitsu brings to this front more than any other sport or art in my opinion.
I continue to have to push away pride and put on humility everyday as a student and a coach. There is the temptation to avoid situations that will show my weaknesses. There is a temptation to feel like I must have all the answers to my students when in reality only God has all the answers. I believe with God's help I will always have to work on growing in humility.
Humility will serve our children well all their lives. Humility will serve each of us well. Keep growing and learning.