Personality and Martial Arts

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Shotokan Seishin, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Shotokan Seishin

    Shotokan Seishin Yellow Belt

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    I had an interesting talk with a friend the other day. I’ve been training for a few years now and I was just chatting with her on the latest goings on at the dojo. At one point she said she wasn’t surprised that I liked martial arts and that it “suited my personality”. I hadn’t really thought about it that way and always had it in my mind that martial arts could be for all personality types in the same sense that it suits all ages for both men and women. That started me to thinking…..does the martial arts attract certain personality types over others? Do all manner of personality types start out, but only a certain personalities stick with it? Would say a group of black belts have certain personality traits that you would not see so much in junior ranks, and are these traits learned through training or inherently a part of the person to begin with?

    I know some friends and I have joked around once in a while about type “A” personality black belts. Is there some truth to this do you think?

    Just thought this could be an interesting topic….thoughts?
     
  2. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Hey,

    First reply wooo!

    I've got a slightly different take on it, my personality within the martial arts context for example means I prefer bladed weapons than staff/flexible weapons. The way my Sensei approached it when I said so to him was that learning to use other weaponry and tactics is an expansion of existing personality rather than going against it.

    With regards to the actual art itself, yeah I think a lot of people do something because they saw it on TV or in the movies but it's a case of commitment and dedication which eliminates the serious artists from the fantasy seekers. Nothing against them, they're having fun but it's a different attitude. Not sure if that's as much personality as it is interest.

    With regards to only certain personality types being attracted to MA, IMO not true. I know people from all walks of lives with all different backgrounds and personalities who train or are interested in training. The specific art they choose could also go completely against their initial personality but it meets other needs/wants.

    What are your own thoughts? Do you thinking training in MA could shape someone's personality as their journey continues?
     
  3. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    My Chen taiji teacher is a former US Army Ranger. Granted... his apps work regardless, yet Chen taiji?? It's what rung his bell.
     
  4. Shotokan Seishin

    Shotokan Seishin Yellow Belt

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    I'm honestly not sure what I think of personality in the martial arts. Personality is such an individual thing that is shaped by our experiences and environment over the course of our lives that I think it would be impossible to answer the question except maybe in broad terms. Maybe for the benefit of this discussion we should stick with traditional martial arts where etiquette is an aspect of the dojo....it's also what I'm most familiar with :p

    I think from my own perspective I can break this down into three possibilities. Does martial arts attract a certain personality to it's dojos, does it shape the personality traits that are already inherent in an individual, or does it actually work to shift and change ones personality over time?

    I'm a bit in the middle road on this. I think martial arts probably attracts all sorts of personality types to the dojo initially, but by the very nature of the art it probably keeps those who have a certain level discipline already inherent in their personality....but only to a certain extent. I suspect regular training helps people burn off stress which probably aids them in maintaining balanced life by warding off negative emotions which could over time effect ones outlook and therefore their personality.

    Given that many people only find time to train after work, family and other obligations are met, does martial arts training even encompass enough of ones life to have any last effect on ones personality?
     
  5. Never_A_Reflection

    Never_A_Reflection Blue Belt

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    I don't believe that you need any particular type of personality to become involved in martial arts, or even to enjoy it. That said, I believe that the "arts" aspect comes from developing your chosen martial art to suit your personality and thought process. If you have a pacifistic demeanor but want to learn martial arts people may suspect you to train in Aikido to learn avoidance and redirection of your attacker's energy, but it's perfectly possible for someone of a pacifistic nature to train in some style of karate and adapt it to suit them. What you are taught in class is a blueprint for what you teach yourself, basically.
     
  6. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    I think mapping martial arts to personality is always problematic, because we do so based on thumbnail sketches of both the art in question and the person in question. Any martial art is broad enough to engage any personality, as far as I'm concerned. There may be certain arts that initially attract certain personality types. And certainly there are certain schools or teachers that attract certain personality types. But that's a superficial analysis.

    Personally, I'm fascinated with muay thai (though I haven't gotten the chance to properly study it yet). This despite not being especially athletic, competitive, or aggressive. But the part of my personality that it appeals to is my sense of self-evidence. I don't like hypotheticals much. I like to know that something does what it claims on the box. Muay thai does. And I like that, despite the fact that, in most muay thai gyms, I'd be surrounded by people with a different personality type than my own.


    Stuart
     
  7. Shotokan Seishin

    Shotokan Seishin Yellow Belt

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    How about this.....maybe one personality trait that does encompass all martial arts whether it is traditional or not is the desire to learn. Now that's not the same as wanting to better oneself, it's simply a desire to broaden ones knowledge and learn something new. For some people that may be the desire to learn through athleticism, competition, self defense, spirituality, meditation or any other aspect that a martial art can encompass. Without at least this one personality trait (or desire) I don't think one can be involved in a martial art.

    Thoughts?
     
  8. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I've seen all types of personalities in my dojo. The people who stick with it all seem to be different to me. None are the same. Not even any core basic types. I wish I could say there is some attribute that I've noticed that all the karateka in my dojo have, but I haven't noticed it. Perhaps only in the sense that we're all dedicated, polite to each other, and friendly. Other than that, nothing I can put my finger on.
     
  9. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    You beat me to this thread! :bangahead:I was going to post a link to the kiersey temperment sorter quiz and ask people to take the quiz and then report their results, with a mention of what art they practice and how long they have been practicing.

    My theory: Guardian personalities are attracted to martial arts that heavily emphasize formal tradition, structured curriculum, and hierarchy. So that would be arts like TKD and Karate, among others.

    Artisan personalities would excel in any martial art if interested enough, but probably are more attracted to those MAs with less formality--they tend to chafe against formality. Muay Thai, Boxing, Krav Maga, and EPAK come to mind.

    Idealists would lean heavily toward the internal martial arts, but overall, I do not expect to find either Idealists or Rationals well-represented in the Martial arts. For one thing, they are a relative minority of the population to begin with, but also, not known for physicality as a whole.

    If anybody is aware of their temperment type, please do chime in!
     
  10. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    At that point, I think you're butting up against the opposite problem. Before, we had too much specificity. "Style X lends itself to Personality Y." Now, instead, we've got a trait that doesn't really distinguish itself from any other new activity. "Wanting to learn new things" is a personality trait that runs across virtually all hobbies. And what's more, I wonder whether it's really true that all martial artists love the act of learning. If you polled a substantial cross section and asked them whether they'd do it if they could just download skill in martial arts (as in The Matrix), how many would say "yes." Versus actually going through the learning process. I'm not even sure which group I'd belong to myself.
     
  11. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    Meh. Haven't done Kiersey in a long time. But I'm a counselor, and I've spent a fair amount of my time doing assessments. I've taken all of them myself as well. So I'm fairly familiar with the basic gist of my personality "types."

    I'd definitely describe myself as a guardian personality. Older brother, father, counselor, advisor, etc. I'm aptly named (Stuart: "Caretaker"). But I gravitate toward less formal training. And while I'm perfectly comfortable in a hierarchical structure, I don't use much of one when I teach. I'd also describe myself as a "rational" and "idealist." But internal arts hold very little fascination for me indeed. In fact, it's my rational leanings that have pulled me increasingly toward the competitive arts, because of the sheer wealth of evidence to their effect. This despite not having a competitive bone in my body.

    I think most people can find something within most styles on which to latch if they're inclined to do so.
     
  12. Never_A_Reflection

    Never_A_Reflection Blue Belt

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    I just finished the quiz, and according to it I am a Rational Temperament--that might have something to do with me always trying to find a physiological explanation behind the concepts of chi/ki, meridians and chakaras :p
     
  13. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm an INTP. I keep taking tests, and since childhood, they always come back the same. No idea why. Not sure I agree with it, but it keeps coming back that way. In Keirsey mode, that's Rational / Architect. Not really an expected MA type, eh?
     
  14. Shifu Steve

    Shifu Steve Green Belt

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    As my teacher once put it, Martial Arts are "an outer expression of the inner self."
     
  15. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    Could be. Rationals want to "make sense" of things.
     
  16. searcher

    searcher Senior Master

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    Even though I can't say that I have seen one specific personality that is more dominant in my school or any of the school I have been in, I will say that there tends to be a large number of jackwagons that hang around in the MMA world. I am not saying everyone in or around MMA are jerks, just 99.9999% of them are. Shoot, I think guys like GSP, Randy Couture, and a few others are pretty good guys. It is just the turds that think they are bad mamma-jammas and have never trained or have trained very little that make me want to rip my eyeballs out.
     
  17. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    Hmmm, you're the second rational to respond. Maybe my theory about rationals in the martial arts is flawed.

    A quote from personality desk:

    Interesting facts about the INTP:
    • On personality trait measures, score as Candid, Ingenious, Complicated, Independent, and Rebellious
    • More likely than other types to study a foreign language
    • Most frequent type among college students committing alcohol and drug policy violations
    • Have lowest level of coping resources of all the types (with ISTPs)
    • One of types least likely to believe in a higher spiritual power
    • Highest of all types in career dissatisfaction (with INFPs)
    • In school, have lower grades than would be predicted from aptitude scores
    • More likely than average to complete engineering programs
    • Personal values include Autonomy, Freedom, and Independence
    • Overrepresented among working MBA students
    • Commonly found in science and technical occupations
    Does that sound like you Bill?
     
  18. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience.
     
  19. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Make that 3 girlbug2, just took the test, I'm a rational apparently. Yet I train in a traditional art, am drawn to hierarchy, formal traditions etc. Could also be my upbringing which influences that of course.

    With regards to what the OP, Urban Coyote was saying, I was coming at it from a TMA point of view as well as that's all I've really had exposure to. I studied Goju Ryu Karate for a while when younger and am now in Ninjutsu - 3 years/5th Kyu. With our art, a lot of people do tend to be attracted to it purely because they've seen ninjers on TV and Movies do awesomely impossible things and they want to do those things as well. During chats with my Sensei about the different types of people that come in and train, he mentioned that it's easy to see who's there for the fantasy aspect and who's there to seriously train. Funny thing, the ones that are serious about the art are generally the ones who stick it out from what I've seen. There have been numerous people turn up for a class or 2 and then never return because they didn't get to wear the cool uniform and throw ninja stars from trees.

    In the OP it was also asked if Black Belts had different personalities. IMO it's not that only an elite group of students with the right personalities can become black belts. I personally like to think that over time, with training the mindset required of a black belt will develop in each practitioner and their personality will broaden to suit that as they mature and internalize the art more.
     
  20. sgtmac_46

    sgtmac_46 Senior Master

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    ENTP

    and as an ENTP, similar to Artisans, we are attracted to arts based on practical considerations with an emphasis on lack of formality and superfluity......rather than Artisan love of action, however, Rationals tend to be driven by competency. You'll actually find Rationals overly represented in martial arts as a result of a drive toward individual competency.

    As an ENTP, I use my dominant function of Ne and auxilliary function of Ti to evaluate techniques and concepts to determine if they are practical, and eliminate and disregard any that I don't believe are personally applicable to me or my goals.

    ENTP's are iconoclasts, so we don't have a bit of problem proclaiming a technique or system useless for our purposes.......and we'll borrow whatever we feel is useful. I suspect NT's are strongly attracted to the open-ended thinking of JKD Concepts and the FMA's, and from the folks i've met in those circles, that suspicion has only been reinforced. I met Marc 'Crafty Dog' Denny at a seminar recently, and he struck me as a strong NT, likely an ENTP.

    Likewise, Bruce Lee was probably NT as well, owing to his obsession with concepts, ideas and theories, which is an NT hallmark trait. I'm not sure about Guro Inosanto, but it's possible.

    ENTP's like to talk about concepts more than specific techniques, and then fit the techniques in to the concepts. They tend to try to develop 'systems' of thought, especially ENTP's, to whom systems are an overwhelming obsession.123
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010

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