Learning to Better Yourself with Martial Arts

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Children viewers watch Kung Fu Panda and love the choreographed fight scenes and incredible stunts. Leaving the movie gets fans pumped up to imitate the movie's hero without any understanding of the difficult training it takes to carry out even the most basic steps. Indeed what we see in Kung Fu movies is great, but there so much more Martial Arts provides to people then simply the ability to look cool and kick butt. Here are ten reasons to give Martial Arts a try. 

1. Improving Your Mind and Body

Through first hand training under life long masters I have learned to improve myself in ways that did not seem possible. Practicing kicks, forms, self-defense routines and other training pushes members past limits. Learning Tai Chi and proper meditation clears the mind allowing relaxation and relieves stress. (Take five minutes to sit down, close your eyes, and just focus on breathing each morning. The effect is amazing.) Doing the physical and mental exercises routinely, maximizes the results for mental and physical goals. Taking in the surroundings due to higher awareness and greater energy from increased stamina. A great way to improve all aspects of life.

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2. Builds Confidence One Brick at a Time

Consider all the ambitions in life worth working toward. Has there ever been an excuse keeping that goal out of reach or voice focused on the safe path? Martial Arts provides an opportunity to look past the excuses and push practitioners past obstacles. Every day you train, slowly building technique, focus, strength, speed, balance, and mental concentration. Through the right organization a trainer pushes students on what they need to work on and how to make it better. These little improvements provide little daily wins to help encourage confidence. One extra push up or the ability to go an extra inch on the splits shows that progress grows with each passing day.The increased confidence affects all walks of life from work to home. Makes waking up and rising to challenges exciting, knowing you can overcome them and win.

3. Teaches Discipline

Going through the paces does not garner results in anything. To improve, achieve, and win takes discipline and daily routines to get those goals achieved. Marital Arts instills great discipline in the people who want to improve in anything. Taking action and dedicating the time and effort to perfect technique and always pushing for that little extra power or lower stance provides habitual tendencies that lead to the discipline to push yourself harder. No excuses, there is a simple path from A to B and few are willing to push through the aches and pains to get there. Martial Arts provides the mindset to break limits and get results through training routines that develop the discipline to train and improve everyday.

4. Strength of Character

The world believes the stereotype that martial arts centers only around fighting. The movements and techniques within martial arts are a means to better the mind and body, achieving greater potential to better one's self.  Yes, each style provides self-defense tactics but only as a last resort when all other methods have failed.  Never attack in anger or vengeance only disable or subdue the assailant. My instructor never allowed students to utilize techniques for bullying and if a student did they were either punished or expelled. In my organization there were six training principles that were law and provided the backbone for our structure:

  1. Be Polite
  2. Be Patient
  3. Be Alert
  4. Be Brave 
  5. Do Your Best
  6. Respect Yourself and Other
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A proper martial artist does not seek conflict. They push to resolve a situation peacefully. That does not mean to cower or not defend yourself but recognize that fighting is a loose, loose scenario for both sides. Real life is not like Hollywood where the hero gets up and fights the other ten guys in the room without taking a scratch. Fighting turns into a tangled mess of people trying to vent anger on each other, ending with each aggressor beaten and bruised. Furthermore once the police arrive it does not matter who is at fault, everyone risks charges. Pride and anger are never the mindset to take into a fight. Patience and timing allow defense and appropriate response to handle any situation. Something martial arts aims to teach all students. It has given me wisdom to know when to apply my training and how to set an example to others to only fight when necessary.


5. Sense of Purpose purposeCredit: wikimedia.org

Taking the time to pursue passions and self-improvement build fulfillment. They give reason to wake up excited and motivated to make the most of each day. Martial Arts provides such fervor, students get to class excited to start training and seeing what they can do. People get lost in their own progression and witnessing limits shatter. Many students move up in the organization and participate in the training programs. Instructors learn through teaching, applying the perspective of the student, learning the joy of passing on knowledge to students and pride from their progression. The training combines the student's "eureka moments" with the trainer's experience aiding both in new ways of improving their technique together. A means to improve yourself, help others improve, belong to something larger, or setting the standard a martial artists upholds. There is purpose to find in any martial discipline.

6. Clear Progression

In established styles of martial arts there is a set standard for moving in the ranks. Applying weeks, months, and years of training to get to the higher levels and learn the most advanced techniques. Trainers are human and have to eat to, charging for a service is understandable but buying a black belt and earning one are completely different. My organization did charge money for each testing but the minimum requirement was two months of training for the lower belts and longer gaps met with higher performance standards for higher ranking. Instructors will know when students should test and will help you improve to meet the standard they expect a student to have for that level. There is an incredible pride from getting that final belt and witnessing the reward for all that training. Each belt or stripe provides an obstacle to work toward giving focus to keep training. It shows how far into martial arts a student has come and how much more they can improve.

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7. Learning to Defend Yourself

Despite every goal to avoid conflict it still exists and martial arts prepares people for it. I have been in bars and bonfires with several occurrences where I needed to defend myself. Every time I felt confident in my ability to not just defend myself but to reduce injury to either party and handle the situation calmly and seek to resolve the issues peacefully.  Taking pride out of a situation and adding true consideration turns enemies to allies and makes the night better. Having the confidence to defend myself is wonderful, I do not take unnecessary risks and know when the proper time to apply my training. Learning self-defense is more than a cool throw or powerful kick, the mindset to stay aware and understand the world around you provides perspective. The goal to never fight but accept the possibility and prepare for such occurrences with grace and discipline.

8. Variety in Style and in Student

Many, many styles of martial arts exist. I went through custom style of Tae Kwon Doe which incorporated the best of several other styles based on what our founder preferred. That does not make it the best style, I am proud of what I learned but embracing other styles expands understanding Martial Arts as a whole. Judo, Kung Fu, Brazilian Jujitsu, Tai Chi, Yoga, and many others share the same goal of mental and physical balance and improvement. To act only when necessary and strive each day to improve. The beauty in such variety is they compliment whatever form of physical exercise or defense style may interest people. A wrestler from high school will see similarities with Judo while mom may want simply learn the meditative influence of Tai Chi or Yoga. Each has advantages, take your time in your choice and commit to the system and witness the blessings that follow the effort.  

Martial Arts consists of a large variety of styles and students. No matter race, age, gender, culture, belief, or philosophy everyone can participate. Martial Arts does not discriminate, everyone has the right to learn and improve themselves. Furthermore training together, sharing swept and bruises bring people together through adversity. Unconventional maybe, but one thing everyone has in common is the ability to swept, bruise, and overcome. 

9. Guide Through the Entire JourneyHelping handCredit: us.gov

Martial Arts provides teachings and techniques to better the human mind and body through diligent training and strict principles. However the concept of passing those teachings down from Master to student is at the core of what martial discipline is about. Building a foundation and through that foundation building with each new generation discovering new ways to make the system better and continue to improve ourselves. Instructors will aid you when there is difficulty and push you to limits never realized. They will not hold hands, the idea is to earn martial discipline. Nonetheless questions, ideas, and obstacles will all be provided by an instructor. No need to go the path alone. They are there to help.

 10. Backup in Everything! This Will Change Your Life!

The friends, instructors, family, and  community shared within martial arts provided a wonderful sense of belonging. When you fall down there is always someone to help you get back up. Constructive criticism over unconstructive insults and support from cheering to hands on training. Going to class and sharing the burden of training with others helps push through hardships difficult to face alone. Dedication is hard but with allies it is easier because you share the burden together. I shared martial arts with my sister and mother at the start providing a family activity for each other. Later after a long time spent without training I went back and shared training with two of my absolute best friends. The moments shared, memories made, and experiences felt will stay with me for the rest of my life. I encourage anyone wanting something more in their life, a chance to improve, place to start, or something to share with friends and family, to give martial arts a shot. It will change your life if you dedicate the time and effort. Just take the first step and talk to an instructor. Do a little research and see what style may interest you then find reputable trainers. Try it out see friendships made, confidence grow, and limits shatter. 


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