The inclination to reflect upon oneself as if gazing into a mirror is a narcissistic quotient. Martial arts training seems to take a everything in a very different direction, in terms of self-conditioning. Developing one’s positive self-image is not precisely where this training leads. Rather than conscious changes brought about by conscious self-reflection, the changes wrought by martial arts are much more on the level of a visceral training. For instance, it enables you to qualify and handle interpersonal aggression.
Part of what I have learned via my martial arts training — a spiritual byproduct of this training, — is to allow someone to fight their own match. To explain this: Somebody may have an image of you as being this or that person. This image will, in turn, feed into their strategy regarding how to relate to you. If their image doesn’t match the reality of who you really are, in terms of how you actually behave, then the gap between their perceptions (their image of you) and the reality (how you actually are) will be scored as a disadvantage to them. It’s as if they have decided on their own that your punches have no force or your defences are shoddy. Perhaps they are — in which case the other will be able to take full advantage of that insight. But just incase they’re not, and the other judges you as having far less merit than you do — the gap between what they’re supposing and what is actually true should work to the advantage of the one misjudged.
So, there is no need to correct the false image. The experiences of life itself should be enough to do this job for you. And if not, it’s still okay to let the other fight his or her own fight.
Since experiencing things in this way, I have lost a lot of interest in the narcissistic quotient, as well as in its superficial cultural importance. In so much of society, image still holds sway over reality. Yet thinking in these terms, and intellectually sparring in these terms has no appeal for me. It seems like nothing greater than a waste of time, employed by the kinds of people whom Nietzsche pejoratively would consider “feminine”.