I know, you're probably thinking, WTF are you talking about Craig?! Well, let me clarify: I don't consider myself a "runner." I run to stay in shape, to help maintain my weight, help keep my cardio sharp and to help with my martial arts. So basically, I don't run for the sake of running and I don't plan on being the next winner of the Boston Marathon. I do "the thing" to help me do other things.
Many of you know that I take yoga. I take yoga to help me do other things, namely to be stronger and more flexible, to breath more fully, to open my heart and help my martial arts, to live better. I don't take yoga to be the next B.K. Iyengar, I take it for how it helps me to do OTHER things. That is not to say that I don't enjoy doing "the thing" in and of itself, because I do! So, with yoga, I began doing that "thing" to help me to do other "things" but now I do "the thing" for the sake of "the thing" as well. Meaning, I do yoga because I enjoy it in and of itself as well as the benefits that it provides. However I am still not looking to become the next Iyengar or found my own ashram. Get it?!
After an injury you may go to physical therapy and during therapy you may lift weights as a method to help you to recover from your injury or surgery. You are not lifting because you want to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, you still want to lift correctly, safely and effectively for what you are using that activity for as it helps you achieve your other goals. You are doing "the thing" to help you to do other "things."
We spar in some of our special Krav Maga classes, but we are not sparring for sparring sake as much as using sparring as a drill to help us develop other attributes. We do "the thing" to help with "other things." Sparring is not the be all, end all of proof that you can defend yourself, however it is an effective drill that can help you to be more effective at defending yourself. If approached and trained in the right way it can build a lot of good qualities that are necessary for being a protector, some of which include: Confidence, resilience, how to perform under pressure, emotional control, physical and mental conditioning, how to take and give a hit, assertiveness, a warrior spirit, etc.
That said, if the person is taking their sparring too seriously and thinking that "the thing" is "the thing," they are missing the point. I tell the folks who train w/me that we don't spar for the sake of sparring. Sparring isn't real life, only real life is real life, so don't lean so heavily on it. We want you to be as good as you can be, so if you do well, great! Be proud!We're all proud of you too, but don't get to cocky or over confident about it, because it is only a drill. By the same token, if you don't perform as well as you would like to, don't feel too bad, it doesn't mean that you are a failure or that you would be unable to defend yourself in a "real situation," because that is BS as well. Thousands of people every year defend themselves and the people they love without any training what so ever. (Now, if you are trying to be the next Ronda Rousey that is a different "thing" you're after than the "thing" I'm talking about)
I train for life... Meaning that my martial arts training is so I can be a better protector, be a better person and live a better life. I enjoy martial arts for the sake of the activity itself, but I keep it in perspective that I really am training for that bigger purpose. I want to be the best that I can be, however it's not about winning my next sparring match, or being the best on the mats, it's about being a better person and living a better life.
If it takes you being an asshole to think you're good on the mats, remember after you leave the mats you're still an asshole. Not a good trade off in my book! Is it worth what it costs to be doing what you do? Is what you do paying dividends worth more than the cost?
I realized a while back that I was training more for sustainment rather than peak performance. I was training for the long haul rather than short term gains. The marathon rather than the sprint. The difference of being healthy vs. fit. Not to say that there isn't an overlap there a bit, but they are different. There are many people out there killing themselves to be fit, so much so that they aren't healthy. The same thing happens in all things in life. You have that high stress, high paying job that you have to work a boat loads of hours at to buy your mansion and toys, but you don't have enough time to be in your house or play with your toys... not to mention you never see your family and are all stressed out!
...As I say, is the juice worth the squeeze?
Stay balanced and be clear about "the thing" that you are doing. Are you doing "the thing" for the sake of the thing, or for the things that the thing helps you to do? Hopefully you are enjoying the ride that is taking you where you want to go!
All the best,