Enjoy these quotes from masters old and new. They're guaranteed to add value to your martial arts training.

We know you love the martial arts. We also know that your time is valuable. And we realize that you don't always have time to work your way through a 5,000-word piece on fighting philosophy.


For this reason, the Black Belt staff collected some of the most inspirational and enlightening quotes we've come across from masters old and new, then matched them with suitable photos. We hope you find them as memorable as we do.

^Joe Lewis^ (1944-2012)

More from Joe Lewis:

"Scores of martial artists have asked me the same question: 'What is the most important characteristic of those champions who are called the best of the best?'

"If you observed 100 matches, you would see that probably nine out of 10 are won by the person in better shape. Only when both fighters are in roughly the same physical condition do tactics and techniques matter."

^Jhoon Rhee^ (1932-2018)

More from taekwondo master Jhoon Rhee:

"Power is knowledge. If you have knowledge, you won’t make mistakes that can get you hit, like dropping your hands, getting distracted or allowing someone to lure you into a trap."

^Kelly S. Worden^

More from Kelly S. Worden:

"If you choose to be a leader, do not become anyone's boy. A little harsh, but a bottom-line truth. Seek associates who can guide or counsel you, not control your direction or destiny. In that regard, one principle will always stand true: Don't violate trust and always give credit where credit is due."

^Tsutomu Ohshima^

More from shotokan master Tsutomu Ohshima:

"I’ve learned that there’s no such country where everybody is bad and no such country where everybody is good. Every country has good people and bad people. If people from all walks of life come to practice martial arts seriously with us, together we can learn to face ourselves strictly.

"We can learn how we all have shortcomings, ugliness, stupidity, blindness and hypocrisy. So, through good, hard, honest practice, we try to face these things and overcome them. To recognize and face our shortcomings is to become stronger human beings. If we try this way, this is the first step to making peace on earth. For us, there’s no borderline on nationality, race or religion. Here we all come together to practice martial arts in unity."

^Greg Jackson^

More from MMA coach Greg Jackson:

"Champions always have to stay on the cutting edge. You can’t fight the war of yesterday as they say; you have to fight the war of tomorrow. You always have to improve.

"The real important thing for champions is not getting burned out and not getting complacent. Success can make you lazy. It can make you start to believe your own hype, and that’s very important to avoid. A champion’s already got technique—he knows what to do. Keeping himself mentally balanced is the real challenge."

Lao Tzu (6th century BC)

^Ed Parker^ (1931-1990)

More from kenpo master Ed Parker:

"Going on the mat and facing your opponent — really trying to figure him out, outguess him — that’s the beauty of [competition]."

David C.K. Lin

More from shuai chiao master David C.K. Lin (RIP):

"Challenges aren’t always pretty. That’s why it’s always better not to get into those kinds of situations. People get hurt.”

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Kenneth Baillie: TKD has changed over the years. WTF changed to traditional TKD at our school because our chief instructor didn't like the Olympic status. He said the sport detracts from the tradition. We had a certain rivalry even back then with ITF. The two can merge, I believe. There are differences but anything can be achieved. Positives are easy to find here!

Boston George Legaria: I'm not a TKD practitioner but I've been in martial arts for 26 years (kyokushin, muay Thai and krav maga), and from what I can see, a solution is for those two organizations to come together and reform the art so it can stay relevant. In combat sports, a lot of people leave TKD in favor of BJJ or muay Thai, while in self-defense people leave TKD for styles like Russian sambo, krav maga or Keysi Method. As for a business model, they need to leave the black belt mill because even though that gets parents interested so they can show their little one's "progress" on FB, in the long run, TKD loses its credibility when people see a 6 year old "master."

Michael Watson: Follow grandmaster Hee Il Cho's lead — he does both styles and without the negative of the Olympic sport aspect. I studied ITF growing up, but I also researched a lot on grandmaster Cho and I love his way.

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