Why train in Martial arts?
People begin their martial arts training for many different reasons ranging from a wish to learn self-defence and improve self-confidence to gaining fitness and better body co-ordination. Other physical activities can help aid a person in increasing their fitness, strength and motor skills, of course, but the fact that martial arts offer the idea of feeling safer and more comfortable in both physical and verbal confrontations make them very appealing in what can be an aggressive and hectic world. This fact perhaps helps to explain the continued popularity of the martial arts in an environment which is very different in many ways to that in which many of the arts evolved. True confidence and inner strength are two things most people would like to develop and the martial arts have the potential to provide this.
Why continue to train in martial arts?
Obviously a large number of people stop their martial arts training for one reason or another, but many become very dedicated and involved in their particular art. The reasons for this dedication vary from person to person, but there are several that are more common than the others:
Firstly, a person’s progress in the martial arts is always reliant to a large extent on other people, from their fellow students with whom they practise in class, to their training partner outside of classes, to their instructor and to those that inspire them in other ways. This produces a sense of camaraderie and bonding which is heightened by the fact that often a student is directly or subconsciously confronting or learning to deal with their own insecurities along with others.
Secondly, many martial arts have a very well-structured sense of progression in the form of a grading syllabus and, very often, through the wearing of a uniform which denotes rank e.g. coloured belts. When a student’s progress is so clearly defined it becomes easier to remain motivated and to create goals.
Another significant aspect of martial arts training is that it takes effort, application and dedication to achieve an above-average standard in any martial art, and this, in a culture which sometimes seems solely dedicated to quick-fixes and superficial appearances, is actually what many people are attracted to. The gradual and simultaneous development of physical skills and self-esteem is surely a huge plus that the martial arts offer as people are (on the whole!) not superficial. Taking time to analyze and improve oneself along with like-minded people is of great value. There is absolutely nothing wrong with, for example, nice clothes and top-of-the range possessions, but how long does the feeling of satisfaction last? When does your ‘new car’ become just your ‘car’, and then your ‘old car’ which you want to replace? In martial arts training there are always new levels to aspire to, but they are not transitory like fashion or technology-they build upon each other, not replace each other. These new levels can also take various forms from the mastering of a new technique, or an increase in co-ordination, to very personal or emotional aspects such as overcoming fear or anger or ego. How inspiring it can be to know you have conquered something personal and can continue further and deeper into the realms of philosophy, psychology, physiology and you can apply it all to yourself!
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour.” Henry David Thoreau