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It's Okay to be "Self"ish

Let’s get one thing straight, I’m not talking about being concerned excessively or exclusively with yourself; about seeking or concentrating on your own advantage, well-being, pleasure, or profit without consideration or regard for others. That, my friends, is being “selfish.” I’m talking about “self”ish as it has to do in terms of dealing with oneself – self-help, self-improvement, self-growth, self-knowledge, self-understanding, etc. I’m talking about self-guided improvement; bettering yourself in some way.

The word “autodidact” is used to refer to a person who is self-taught or self-educated. Autodidacts are self-motivated and self-sufficient. They prefer to educate themselves or teach themselves without the guidance of masters (such as teachers or professors), rather than be spoon-fed information or knowledge from external sources. Autodidacts prefer to learn on their own and become very adept at teaching themselves using any and all sources at their disposal.

Bruce Lee could definitely be considered an autodidact. While he did formally study Wing Chun Gung Fu for four years in Hong Kong, and did meet martial artists from other styles and even exchanged a few techniques with them on occasion, the vast majority of his development as a martial artist took place when he returned to the United States at age eighteen. In the U.S., Lee had to depend largely on himself to grow and mature as a martial artist, and from the time he arrived in the U.S. until the day he died, Lee was basically self-taught and self-trained. In the U.S., as in Hong Kong, he did develop associations and friendships with other notable martial artists who exposed him to numerous different styles of martial arts as well as different thoughts and opinions about arts, techniques, etc. However, his growth was all through the personal dint of effort that he put into his own self-education and personal development.

While formal education may be necessary at times, the thing about self-teaching and self-learning is that an individual can explore and investigate whatever they want to, and move at a pace that is of their own choosing. Their focus is on what they feel they need to work on or want to work or learn on at that time.

The term “self-help” doesn’t mean that everything we do, we have to do solely by ourselves without the assistance or aid of anyone else. If I hurt my arm in training and choose to visit the doctor to get their opinion and advice on how best to treat it, I am, in fact, helping myself. In the same way, if you ask someone else for their expertise with regard to a training method or to assist you in developing a physical technique, you are likewise helping yourself,

In the end, it’s all about personal cultivation. Self-teaching and self-learning are vehicles we can use to improve ourselves. Take full responsibility for your own growth. Use every available source and resource available to help yourself – reading books and publications, watching and studying videos, attending seminars and workshops, training in personal and/or group instruction – don’t limit yourself. And keep in mind that when it comes to your personal growth and development as a martial artist, it’s okay for you to be “self”ish.

Keep training well,

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