We know that the benefits of martial arts training can be powerful and lifelong. After all, there’s got to be a reason we constantly leave the house, dress in what probably looks like pajamas with an oversized belt or sash around our waist, and proceed to punch and kick the air. Thing is, not everybody milling about outside the dojo can understand that motivation.
Whether you are somebody who is trying to explain the reasons you’re doing what you’re doing or you are considering stepping into this weird-yet-worth-it world, this post is for you. Listed here are five ways — plus a bonus! — the martial arts can make you a better, well, you!
Whether you walk into the martial arts studio a meek person too shy to make friends or you feel like an anxious performer too afraid to reveal your amazing personality on the stage of life, the confidence gain that comes with training may be a medicine you need.
Just wrap your brain around the process you will go through. The martial arts studio is one of the few places where you can do uncomfortable things in a comfortable environment.
You get to pressure-test your spirit and see yourself become a stronger person — physically and mentally. Like a sculptor uncovering the hidden beauty lying underneath unmolded clay, martial arts training chips away the negative thoughts that are holding you back and keeping you from unleashing your personality.
2 Athletic Improvement
While martial arts practice is not about gaining a heartthrob-level physique, there are many physical improvements that come in varying levels according to the style in which you train. Improved coordination, increased explosive power, better flexibility and enhanced mobility — the list could go on.
The best part is, the athletic improvements don’t stop at the physical. Just like a basketball player before a big game, you learn to concentrate and block out all distractions in your head and in your environment. After all, as you perform a kata or work with a partner, you’ve got to keep your head in the game.
3 Community and Legacy
Something not often discussed as a desired result of martial arts training is the human connection. You don’t purchase a workout buddy when you sign up for a gym membership. However, learning martial arts means you are immediately surrounded by people, all of whom want to see you succeed in life.
Not least in this positive stream is your sensei. Success without a successor is a failure. Just as your teacher pours his or her knowledge and devotion into you, one day you’ll get the chance to help another person on this journey. Beyond the success, this is an opportunity to be more significant in the world.
4 Awareness of Self and Others
Life’s like a ...
Did you finish that line with “a box of chocolates”? I wouldn’t fault you if you did. The way I often finish is with “a snow globe.” Sometimes, we need to be shaken up a bit to see what remains settled at the bottom of our heart.
In training, you get to see what habits are ingrained in your daily life and your attitude toward the world. When faced with aggression, do you posture toward it with ego and consume the threat; do you remain steadfast and unfazed, striving to analyze every aspect of the encounter; or do you give space and deftly avoid the problem? When you struggle to master a movement, do you give up, watch how another person does it or continue to work on it by yourself?
You’ll find out soon enough.
5 Healthier Habits
It’s easy to quit a responsibility; it’s harder to quit a relationship. Though you may be able to stop going to the gym when it gets tough, it is motivating to have a sensei who’s dedicated to your personal accomplishments and healthier lifestyle. Like I touched on earlier, you are now a part of a community that wants to see you succeed in every aspect of life.
Just as important as the decision to work toward a better you is the relationship you have with yourself, regardless of the phase of life you’re in. Through training, you start to work toward a better you because of the parts of yourself that you appreciate and desire to maintain or refine. In many ways, this is better than drawing that motivation from a place of self-loathing or a perceived lack that’s easy to succumb to.
At the end of the day, it’s not just what you do. Why you do it also matters.
BONUS! Work Ethic and Career Options
I’ve met general managers who think highly of hiring martial artists because they know they’re willing to put in the work needed to achieve a goal. Aside from that, there are other opportunities that open up with formal training under your belt.
Working security, becoming a stunt performer or action-movie star, opening a martial arts studio or offering private lessons (digital or in-person), stepping into the combat-sports world, writing for martial arts publications — all these are paths a martial artist can walk.
Keep an open mind, and something amazing will pour in as an opportunity!