Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 5 • Yin ☯ Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups

Entering a new dojo or training facility requires humility and respect. Maybe the instructor is young or small in stature – don’t judge a book by its cover. You are a guest in their gym. Respecting a new gym requires courage and confidence. You are admitting to everyone that you don’t know something, but are willing to spend the time and effort to listen and learn.

Learning is about checking your ego at the door.
What kind of student are you?

There are three types of students:

  • Empty-Cups • These are students who have the complete courage to enter a new facility and learn a new craft. They want to learn new techniques and new degrees of freedom. They ware willing to have the instructor fill their cup with knowledge and experience. These students are the easiest to teach because they absorb information like a sponge. Techniques they learn are not only be adopted for that session but will be treated as their personal “laws” to be adopted as part of their training repertoire  – from that point onward.
  • Full-Cups • At the opposite end of the spectrum are students who enter a new gym with big egos, or their personality is overshadowed by insecurity. They don’t have the courage or willingness to lower their guard and learn something new. Their cup may be full from another discipline or gym. So what is their motivation? Maybe they want to “fight-out” their daily frustrations on unsuspecting students, or prove their toughness in a new gym. Maybe they have low self-esteem and don’t have the confidence to lower their guard and admit they don’t know something. These students are the most challenging to teach because the artificial barriers they have created must be broken down first before teaching can begin.
  • Cups-with-Holes • These are students who listen to the instructor for a brief moment and forget or discount what you told them, once you leave. They don’t have the patience or interest to adopt a new technique for longer than the teacher is giving them attention. They treat the instructor’s guidance as temporary. This may be due to a lack of respect for the gym or instructor. Other times it may be due to not realizing that what they are being told is “law” that needs to be adopted from that day forward.

The best students are Empty-Cups – it is enough to tell them once, and the instructor’s mission is accomplished.

As an instructor, I try to understand the type of student standing across from me. If they are a Full-Cup student, my time is ill spent. If they are a Cup-with-Holes then I try to explain that what I am teaching is not temporary – it’s “law”. They should adopt that law from that point onward – at least until something better comes along. Cup-with-Holes students require a lot of patience because they need to be told repetitively what is correct before they finally realize the importance of what you are teaching them.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones


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Gabriel is a seasoned sales and marketing expert with over 25 years in senior positions at Motorola, VeriSign (acquired by Symantec in 2010 for 1.25 billion US$), SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011 for 612 million US$), and Cognitive Security (acquired by Cisco in 2013 for 25 million US$). He is a blockchain entrepreneur, with strengths in international business strategy.

Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and expert knowledge in crypto incubation, cloud computing, IT security, and digital video technology. Gabriel also runs his own company, Euro Tech Startups s.r.o.

Hobbies include photography, video production, motion graphics, digital graphics, photo restoration, carpentry, martial arts, traveling, blogging, and trying to be better than yesterday.

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