At the end of our adult Krav Maga classes, I frequently talk about the dangers and benefits of comparison.
It's only human to compare yourself to others, and martial arts training is no different.
- "Why can't I hold a plank as long as John?"
- "How come Sara is so much more flexible than me?"
- "Jessica kicks ten times harder than I ever will."
- "Look at all these young kids. I'm too old for this."
- "I'm too fat for this."
- "I'm too __(insert excuse)__ for this."
Any comparison that leaves you feeling worse than you did before is not helpful to you in any way. No amount of self-criticism will result in you suddenly becoming younger, thinner, faster, or more flexible. The reality is that everyone in class is different. Different ages, sexes, body sizes, and goals. Often, the only thing we have in common is that we all want to improve ourselves. And comparing your weaknesses to the strengths of others does not accomplish that.
Unless you engage in an empowering form of comparison. If you glance over and your partner, same age as you, is working just a little harder, getting just a little thinner, and that creates just a little discomfort in you - now you might be able to make comparison work for you. If it motivates you to catch up to them, to work harder with more discipline, comparison can be positive.
The key is knowing the difference. Can you purposely engage in good comparison, yet block negative comparison out? Can you shift feelings of inadequacy into empowerment? If so, could you transfer this skill to other areas in your life, outside the dojo?
As we see, martial arts is a microcosm for life. Your trials on the mat aren't much different than those off of it.