Close your eyes for a second and imagine a martial artist. Who came to mind? Bruce Lee? Chuck Norris? Jackie Chan? Conor McGregor? Ronda Rousey? Did you imagine yourself when I asked that? Unless you already do martial arts, probably not.
Why is that? The chances are you imagined someone who fits the stereotype of a martial artist. Someone who is athletic, accomplished, and… on TV. Isn’t it funny how TV and Film have skewed our perception of things? But that’s a topic for another day.
Now some of you may be thinking:
- “I have no desire to beat people up.”
- “I’m not an aggressive person.”
- “It’s not something I’m interested in.”
Martial arts is more than just about punching and kicking. It encompasses all aspects of a person’s well-being, not just the physical. By definition, martial arts is indeed an art. Not every one that practices martial arts is there for the self-defense skills. That can be a happy bonus. Art in any form is fulfilling and creative. The martial arts are no different.
Here are 5 reasons why I believe everyone should try a martial art.
Find your physical limits.
Unless you’re a Navy Seal or Royal Marine, the chances are, you’re not as fit as you think you are. When training in a martial art you become very aware, very early on, just what your limits are. In terms of cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, strength, and most notably, coordination. We all know the long term benefits of staying in shape, but many (myself included) struggle to keep the commitment to go to the gym regularly. Martial arts are a fun way of exercising to stay in shape, and they have the added benefit of simultaneously learning a new life skill. So if you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to form a gym habit, then martial arts may help you to stick to your new healthy lifestyle choice.
Learn how you’re likely to react in confrontation.
The fact is, confrontation is ugly and unpredictable. And 99% of the time, avoidable. But knowing how your would-be opponent is likely to react is just half of the battle. Knowing how YOU are likely to react is just as, if not more, important. Will you panic? Will you throw a wild punch when you could have run away? Will you drop to your knees and plead? None of these are good scenarios. Knowing what you are likely to do in a stressful situation, rather than what you THINK you would do, could save your life. Or at least save you from a trip to the emergency room.
You get to make new friends.
We all have strengths and weaknesses in life. The same is true for martial arts. All practitioners have things they find hard to do. And they won’t be the same for all. So when you finally get the hang of a particular technique or aspect of your art — that you previously found difficult — with the help of your fellow students, a bond is formed. With them seeing you in a vulnerable state (and vice-versa), seeing you come out the other side stronger and more capable, is an achievement for you both. Some fantastic friendships (and even marriages) have formed this way, as there will always be underlying mutual respect instilled in you — through your martial art — as your foundation to build upon.
Trying something new helps you become better than you were.
As I mentioned earlier, people start practicing martial arts for different reasons. Regardless of why they begin, they all have one thing in common… self-improvement.
Every single adult who takes up a martial art starts because they want to be better at something. Whether it’s to be fitter, stronger, lighter, or more capable in defending their self, they are there to improve.
Being better today than you were yesterday is a good philosophy to have in life. It’s one of mine, for sure. Martial arts help you achieve that organically, without judgment or prejudice.
If you’re looking for self-improvement, but don’t know how to achieve it, try a martial art.
Martial arts are more than just kicking and punching, it’s good for the mind, too.
A good teacher will provide a holistic approach to your training, encompassing the mind, body, and soul.
I challenge you to find one practicing martial artist that hasn’t gained more confidence as a direct result of their training. I’ll eat my hat if you find one.
Gaining confidence in your body, as well as your abilities, through self-realization is a wonderful thing. This new-found belief will not just help in the dojo but will spill over into your work and personal life, too.
Life is busy and stressful at times. Training in a martial art will not only help you learn to focus and improve your concentration but it will help you to learn to reduce your stress through meditation. Now meditation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But the dojo facilitates a healthy release of stress, in a safe environment. You have nothing to lose.
Want more confidence and less stress in your life? Then, yep, you’ve guessed it… try a martial art.
Which martial art should you try?
Short answer: it doesn’t matter. No one style is better than another. They all have different benefits — in addition to the ones mentioned above — so that will largely depend on what you want to get from it.
However, although I may believe no one style is superior to another. The same can’t be said for instructors. Just as with your teachers at school, there are good ones, and not so good ones. Finding an instructor that suits YOU is more important than which style to learn, in my opinion. But that’s a big topic and for another time, unfortunately. But maybe this will help for now.
If your reading this and already do a martial art, please let me know what you’d add to this list. What would you say to someone who you think would benefit from starting on a martial art journey?