Most practitioners of the martial arts reach “plateaus” at which their forward progression seems to cease. Some feel that training harder, or training different, will help them break through this “barrier” and allow further progression. Other fighters, usually high caliber, feel like they are at the top of their game, and hence cease to progress further.
Both groups are usually stopped by the same issue; their Cups are Full.
When fighters train and compete they achieve merit, gaining skill and knowledge. This serves to bolster the confidence, pride and sense of self. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose perspective, let the ego take over and to feel that you have attained some higher level. When a fighter becomes “Full of Himself” then he ceases to learn. This is what is meant by a “Full Cup” as it can hold no more and any excess just runs off.
The Fighter’s ego is like the Cup. It is healthy to be confident, but when the ego becomes filled by success and achievement over time the practitioner ceases to be the bottomless vessel into which knowledge can be continually poured.
This is why you must “Empty Your Cup” when training in the Martial Arts. You must always be open to learning, growing and progressing as a warrior. Devoid yourself of Ego, empty your cup before every practice and be ready to accept what the Way will teach you next.
We all get full from time to time so whether it’s simply a mental reminder or an actual physical demonstration one should empty their cup every now and then to make sure they return to being the student and can be filled again.
In this way you can enter the field, unfettered by pretending to be greater than you are and becoming completely open to learning. This is why they say that true Masters are always Students and it is how Students become Masters.