Effective combat skill is essential for our students.
However, martial arts is more than a method of self-protection from an attacker. It’s self-protection from all those invisible enemies in life that can drag us down. Those enemies take the form of negative emotions and poor decisions that affect the quality of our lives. They may lead us to a sedentary or toxic lifestyle. They may drag us down with anger, stress, fear, worry, perfectionism, apathy, and discouragement.
Our reaction to those negatives can lead us to all the over-indulgences we use to distract ourselves from facing those invisible enemies. We practice defending against an attacker when in reality 7 of the 10 most likely things to kills are controlled by what we eat, how we exercise and how we handle stress. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s, respiratory disease, these deathstyles are influenced by your lifestyle.
We might fight sadness with food and then become more sad because we made our body and mind sick and now aren’t in the physical condition we want to be. We might withdraw socially to avoid facing our problems or self-medicate to avoid the pain of being in a place in life we don’t want to be. So often negative mental states are places where you feel like you have no control over your life.
In Martial Arts training, learning how to control an opponent in a self-defense situation is the context that used to concentrate our focus but the benefits extend far beyond basic self-defense. In learning how to control your opponent, you learn how to control yourself.
After experiencing an intense training session you’ve tested your skills and worked to out-think and outmaneuver your opponent. Sometimes you are successful and sometimes your opponent is. Martial Arts teaches us that there is no true defeat. With the attitude of a Warrior-Scholar, we realize that within every defeat lives the opportunity to learn and improve. Mistakes become just another way to improve. This attitude fosters fortitude and a strength of mind that cultivates harmony and emotional equilibrium. It’s a state of mind that fosters peace.
Eventually, a new student changes their focus from attempting to defeat their enemy to learning from their enemy, from aggression to understanding, from confusion to confidence. We know that the real challenges in life aren’t so easily defeated and require practice, patience, and perseverance to overcome.
For us, martial arts is more than a challenging, interesting, fun and enriching path to fitness that combines thousands of years of history, culture, and philosophy. It’s a way of facing challenges, a practice that seeks but never achieves perfection.
It’s not about achieving a single victory or earning a black-belt, although those experiences are extremely rewarding, the true value exists in the practice that becomes your journey through life.