Most of the Great Martial Artists were ISTPs

Clint Eastwood - ISTP…In my very, very humble theory.

I have a feeling that a lot of the “great” martial art masters – the one’s who created their own martial arts were ISTPs.

Here’s why; but before I continue, here is a portrait of what an ISTP is:

– (ISTP):

The nature of Crafters is most clearly seen in their masterful operation of tools, equipment, machines, and instruments of all kinds. Most use tools in some capacity, of course, but Crafters (as much as ten percent of the population) are the true masters of tool work, with an innate ability to command tools and to become expert at all the crafts requiring tool skills.

– Personality Desk (ISTP):

Logical and observant, ISTPs appreciate using their intellect to discover practical solutions to complicated problems. They thrive in swiftly changing environments, and are often calm in the face of a crisis. ISTPs are constantly scanning their environment, absorbing concrete details and facts and organizing them internally within a logical framework.

– Wikipedia (ISTP):

ISTPs may sometimes seem to act without regard for procedures, directions, protocol, or even their own safety. But while their approach may seem haphazard, it is in fact based on a broad store of knowledge developed over time through action and keen observation. ISTPs enjoy self-sufficiency and take pride in developing their own solutions to problems.

ISTPs are content to let others live according to their own rules and preferences, as long as the favor is reciprocated. ISTPs endure reasonable impositions without complaint — but if their “territory” is encroached upon, eroded, or violated, their quiet, easy-going nature is quickly abandoned in favor of stubborn and staunch defense of what they view as rightfully theirs. It has been observed that a slogan that best describes this ISTP attitude is “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Its seems like people who are very, very good with their hands – and at the larger scale their body – seem to have the largest potential when it comes to movement, in this case, martial arts.

I was thinking about this through my head and it seemed like there was a trend. Think about many of these martial artists had very, very good physical skills that were either apparent early in their lives or had these skills “awakened”.

  • They made great athletes. In sports, martial arts, both, or otherwise
  • They often had very little formal education (past high school level).
  • At some point in their lives, they were in incredible physical shape.
  • Although not all of them many of them developed an affinity for high stress, high intensity activities
  • Many of these individuals have their work cut out in high stress situations – street fights for example.
  • Many of these individuals practiced multiple martial arts before creating their own.
  • Many of these individuals seeked out situations that allowed them to practice their strengths and skills.

Now these are just the things that I have noticed among these individuals. There could be more, but so far I’m including in my list of martial artists that would most likely be ISTPs:

  • Bruce Lee – a confirmed ISTP.
  • Helio Gracie
  • Gichin Funakoshi
  • Jigoro Kano
  • Morihei Ueshiba
  • Mas Oyama
  • Ed Parker
  • Paul Vunak
  • Dan Inosanto

These were the guys who, in the course of me realizing that many great martial artists have ISTP tendencies.


Something unrelated to the MBTI system, but some other things that I’ve noticed about some martial artists who created their own art:

  • Many of them come from rich families, or well-to-do families. Basically, money was not an issue. Therefore, there was always a way for said individuals to pursue their martial adventures and training. For example, Morihei Ueshiba’s family had enough money to send him to sumo school and others where he had his experience cut out. It was in fact money that allowed them to pursue their interests to the furthest extend that they did – and often at the expense of
  • A lot of these masters had experience in the martial arts early in their lives – at least in their teens. Either they began their training early on and/or they were put in situations where they had to defend themselves. For example Bruce Lee was famous (or notorious) for getting in street fights as a teen in Hong Kong.
  • Speaking of experience, a lot of great masters had to use their martial skills in real-life altercations. I’ve come to the conclusion that these events led to them being able to accelerate the creation of their respective martial arts and back up their claims with real-life experience.

What I’m fielding now are only my opinions and observations. If you have any ideas proving me otherwise, I will be more than happy to have a civil discussion with you.


5 thoughts on “Most of the Great Martial Artists were ISTPs

  1. Lol MBTI…. it’s fun and all at first, but it kind of gets boring once in a while. It’s great for getting to know who you are at first but …

    One of the main reasons why they got so good was because they had the time and energy to practice martial arts everyday. Of course there has to be underlying talent, but if you practice anything for 10,000 hours, you’re going to get good at it. I mean, let’s look at BJ Penn. People are always calling him the “genius” but you know what? It’s because unlike most people, he comes from a well-to-do family so he has the opportunity to practice BJJ all day everyday, unlike some people who have to work 40+ hours a week to make ends meet.

    1. But? To every man his own. I find myself being obsessed over any new “discoveries” – MBTI for example. But after a while I get drawn back to reality.

      So it was this article that brought you our of hibernation? Lol, where have you been all this time?

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