It’s tough being out of work. Some of you are unsure about when you will go back. That is why I am here to offer you a complimentary mobile yoga and/or meditation session to all of my students who are federal employees. Just show me your federal employee ID, and I will be flexible enough to arrange a complimentary session with you at your convenience.
Please email me at email@example.com, or check out my website…www.stamaste.com, for more information!read more
In short, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia
is a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the sole of the foot from the
heel to the base of the toes. With the calf muscle it creates a mechanism
around the back of the heel that helps maintain the arch of your foot.
It's been 6 months since I have been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. These are my thoughts and experiences 6 months on.
I will be uploading content on fitness and health tips, gym workout, lifestyle, motivation, and positive thinking to lead a fulfilling life and beat cancer... There will also be featured bodybuilding, strength and conditioning based training, wellbeing and diet tips for both men and women over 40...
Please support the Fitness 40 and Beyond movement as I document my journey back to recovery after my diagnosis with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, by subscribing, liking and sharing...
Like you, I have had tons of struggles with time issues, staying positive through challenges, raising a family, working, and multi-tasking just to keep up. I do not have a lot of “me” time and I sometimes compromise sleep or eating well. Where does success fit into the picture?
If this is also you, don’t worry! If you can carve a few moments out of your day, here and there, you can make small positive and lasting changes that will improve your life in a powerful way.
Taking baby steps can lead to big accomplishments. How I learned a martial art is a prime example. My fears in the beginning of my training were eased when I realized that I was not expected to perform every newly taught skill with agility and perfection right from the get-go. I could learn the simple things first, and then add on.
Once I recognized that mistakes were going to happen and that I was patiently allowed to correct them, I was less anxious about working toward the bigger goals by starting with the smaller ones. Each skill was added to a bigger set of skills and each bigger set of skills promised a new belt level and more challenge.
Learning the basics of a kick, or tackling balance issues in katas, was just the beginning. These were the stepping-stones on which I built my entire personal martial art repertoire, and how I earned not just a black belt, but a second degree, during building a family, a career, and pursuing an active role as a volunteer.
It was a step-by-step approach requiring patience and effort, with great rewards at the end. The key to it all was that one small achievement brought me bigger, better achievements. Each small step along the way created a pseudo staircase on which I could confidently climb to the next, higher level. You can apply these same concepts to step up the staircase in your life to bigger and better things, too.
My daily journey with martial arts gave me everything I needed to finally achieve two black belts even though my life was hectic. Because I accepted and mastered the small steps, I was able to move upward and onward.
What can you do to update your mindset and your perspective? What stepping-stones can you put in place right now that will lead you to personal success or bring you exactly where you want to be in life? Do not focus too far ahead, but rather on what you can do today. Small goals today lead to success tomorrow. Be patient.
The best part of this small-step to results approach is that you can continually grow and learn and become the master of your life. Whether you are seeking personal, financial, or other success, you can achieve it through a step by step approach. Let’s face it, most success takes work and effort. If you can break it down, you will eventually get there. Don’t give up, and keep pushing through.
You probably have a hectic schedule, like I do. If you are raising a family or building a dojo, working full-time, or teaching martial arts, life can be exciting, but draining.
Every morning you wake up with a list of “to-do” items that seems extremely long and you set your sights on accomplishing as many as possible. Still, at the end of the day, it is discouraging to notice how few of your items were completed, which causes your motivation to diminish.
How can you stay motivated and improve your self-discipline with life swirling so hectically around you? What if you are in a rut and cannot figure out how to keep moving in a positive direction?
Motivation and self-discipline do not get delivered to your life like mail to your inbox. The great thing, though, is that you have full control. Just when you feel like you cannot accomplish your dreams or become the successful person you have always wanted to be, the secret is revealed.
You can create self-discipline and surround yourself with the motivation that you need to reach every goal.
Goals are the pathway to success. They can be big or small, near or far, but they must exist if you wish to remain motivated. For example, in my youth, I had a desire to be a writer. It was a concept and an interest, but never memorialized as a goal. It never happened until I turned 50 years old. Why? I had no reason to pursue it. I had no internal motivation for success. It was a dream, not a goal.
At the prompting of a friend several years ago, I began writing a martial arts inspired blog. This time, I made goals. I wanted views and followers and to write posts that made a difference. I was motivated and empowered by each small success along the way which gave me the desire to continually strive for bigger and better goals surrounding the blog.
I applied self-discipline in the chaos of an already busy life and I enjoyed the small successes. They became so important to me that I decided to work on getting better at my craft. From that, others decided they liked what I had to say. They wanted me to write articles for them, a book, and other materials. My goals paid off because they erupted into self-motivation through self-discipline and a vision.
Goals cannot just float around in your head. A true goal, one that keeps you moving in the right direction, is written down, has a timeline and provides you with specific direction. Write down big, general goals to get started.
Examples would be, “I want to start my own martial art program within one year.” When you write it down it becomes a unique contract with yourself. Then, start to parcel out the smaller goals, the stepping-stones that lead to the bigger picture. You can consider things such as what training you will need and by when, what licenses you will need, what location you want, how you will market. This is a small business plan that will all work toward achievement of your goal.
Perhaps your goals are more personal. You need to lose weight. You want to earn more money. You want better health. Each of these large goals should be divided into smaller goals. The reason you stay motivated and that you infuse self-discipline in the process is simple. Success feels good.
When you feel good about your life and realize accomplishments that are meaningful, you have a reason to continue. Everyone wants to feel productive and to know that they have a purpose and can reach their goals no matter how big or small.
Goals are one sure way to build your confidence and to reap the rewards of hard work. Write them down, commit, and get started. You will see that you will spend more time productively.
Goals are just one way to stay motivated and to increase your self-discipline. When you have accomplishments, you are more likely to stay committed.
Another way to find motivation is to apply a “martial art mindset” to your life. I’ve had to apply it to several personal obstacles that could have been devastating had I not, such as troubled pregnancies, fires at my house, etc. These stories motivate others to work through their issues, too, and to have faith in themselves.
What motivated me to continue, to fight through, and to persevere? The reminder was that if I could achieve a black belt, and a second degree, that I could do just about anything. Others’ inspirational stories and the beautiful black belt that I gracefully drape around my waist week after week, year after year, are wonderful reminders of the benefits and usefulness of applying self-discipline, focus, and motivation into my life. I do what I do because I love it.
Love or passion for something is another great motivator. How do I keep motivated to write article after article while working a full-time job, teaching martial arts part-time, and being a mother and wife? What prompts me to reach for personal excellence, to not give up, or to be a meaningful teacher?
It is passion for martial arts and of martial arts wisdom and grace that keeps me going. When you have a passion for something you will automatically find motivation in that passion. But even passion needs to be driven by success and success means different things to each person. That is why tailoring goals to your specific success factors is so important and will keep you motivated to continue.
Along with setting goals, there is another concept that you should set in motion. It is your personal mission. There is a reason that you feel passionate about learning or teaching a martial art. There is a reason you want to share your stories, your lineage, and what your style is all about.
In the end, you want to help someone else feel the same way. You want them to experience what you have learned and how to apply it to their lives. A good way to define your mission can be through the impact it has upon others.
My main mission in my writing is to show others how to live better, happier lives by applying a martial art mindset and positive outlook to their lives. Everything else I do, all my other goals, revolve around that. My mission keeps me motivated because when I help someone else, I feel rewarded. Your mission can be whatever feels right for you and you will know it’s right because you continue to move forward in a positive and fulfilling direction.
These are all great ways to keep motivated and to use self-discipline to keep you on track. My goals, my mission, and all the other steps I take around these factors make me feel productive, worthy, and helpful. They are great, positive steps toward all the personal achievements I want in my life.
Other positive steps that will keep you inspired are striving for personal excellence and finding balance. Personal excellence means not complaining about others or being complacent. It is easy to equate hard work with forward momentum, and it normally is, but balance is important, too.
Make sure that you infuse rest and relaxation into your life. Hard work and effort are good and pay off but should not diminish your physical or mental health. To keep motivated, you need mental and physical breaks that offer you respite from the daily grind. Maybe a vacation is in order, or just a day off, an evening watching a movie or an afternoon with the family. Then, you can return refreshed and ready to continue to pursue your goals.
There are a couple of other things to consider when it comes to motivation and self-discipline. Do not allow any negative reactions from others about what you are doing affect you, and do not compare yourself to others in a negative way. Both of these can defuse your well-intended, well-directed efforts.
You are you, unique and rare. If you remember anything about finding personal success or capturing your own motivation through self-discipline and confidence, it is that it must be success of your own choosing. Basing your life’s focus on the ill-directed criticisms or judgmental words of others will break your concentration immediately.
Being a blogger, I had to endure a brief period of cyber-hate over a post that I wrote that was misinterpreted. There was no way of cleaning up the mess as the hate traveled across the Internet. At first I was really concerned. What if this “hate” infiltrated my blog, what if other people got caught up in it, believed it, or stopped reading my words?
Then, it all made sense. It really doesn’t matter. I’m not getting paid to write. I am doing it as an outreach. If people stop reading, then so be it. It’s not what the cyber haters think about me that matters, it is about the one person who finds something positive in reading it. One person. That’s it. That is my motivation. The moment I released what others thought, I was able to move on.
Along the same lines, do not compare yourself to others, unless you are looking at a role model who inspires you. The minute you compare yourself to someone else in a negative light, you are setting yourself up for failure and your motivation will drop.
“I’ll never be that good,” “I’ll never figure that out,” “I’ll never be like her,” and the list goes on. You will never break free of this continuous chain of negative comparisons. Those with whom you are comparing yourself have different personalities, trait, and limits than you. As martial artists, one may kick super high while the other can punch with lightning speed. Even two black belts who have trained together have different strengths and weaknesses. There is simply no such thing as a true comparison.
Once you have your goals and your mission, and you are following them toward personal success, it does not matter what anyone else thinks or what anyone else does. You may need to toughen your skin, but the good news is that no one can ever take your mission, your goals, or your mindset away from you. You may start to compare yourself to others, but once you focus on your own talents, you will be empowered and motivated to continue in your pursuits.
What motivates me? People like you who seek personal success, positivity, and empowerment. I blog several times a week and have other writing deadlines. I love to write but I must also abide by some goals and standards that I keep for myself. That way, I feel as if I am progressing and learning and doing what I love at the same time.
What motivates you? What self-discipline do you need to put in action to continue reaching your goals? Now that you understand how to stay motivated, I have just one last question.
https://goo.gl/Yco5GF – Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone – This book is a series of reflections to read at your leisure in topics ranging from uniqueness, negativity, mindset, struggles, new beginnings, personal power, beliefs,instincts, and more.
Imagine if you could take your physical strength and kick it up a notch by adding in a few other ingredients to the mix. Wouldn’t that be an awesome combination? That’s exactly what I did and I’m about to share the secret behind this explosive life-power that I’ve discovered from my martial art.
When you think about martial art strength, it is often physical strength that comes to mind. Pick any martial art movie and you see it. Look at any martial art poster or motivational picture and you notice it. The physical empowerment of the martial artist is often depicted in media as a physically strong person.
While physical strength is an excellent byproduct of martial arts and a great personal goal, there are a couple of other strengths that produce martial art power. What are these amazing strengths? What more can you possibly strengthen if not the physical self?
How about the mind and soul? The mental and spiritual? If you allow it, these creative and personal strengths can infiltrate your life through your mastery of martial arts.
Physical strength can wane. It all depends on how many times you practice per week and if you supplement your practices with weight training. What if suddenly you cannot practice due to illness or issues or commitments? The physical strength can diminish until you continue physical training again.
Mental and spiritual strength in the martial arts are completely different from physical strength. You may call them a lifestyle or a mindset. You can always keep strong in these areas, no matter your physical health. They do not fluctuate depending on training times or how many days you spend on the mat or the gym. Once cultivated they are there to stay. Combine them with physical strength and you have an explosive combination.
When you combine your martial art mental power and your spiritual growth with your physical strength, it is a trio of power. Even if the physical falls behind, the two remaining strengths offer you all the defense you will need against life’s daily struggles, or even the biggest personal battles and challenges that you might face.
I’ve experienced many personal obstacles and battles. I know that while I pushed through and persevered, most would have given up. They would have walked away, or said to themselves, “That is too big an obstacle for me to fight.”
Whatever dire situations you face and whatever destruction has funneled its way into your life, never forget that you have choices. The first decision to make is how you are going to face the obstacles. Will you use your spiritual and mental strength?
I often remind myself that if I can achieve a black belt, then later a second degree (while pregnant), then I can persevere through anything. If these strengths could relentlessly guide my path in martial arts, then they can lead me in life, too. The mental and spiritual strengths are difficult to develop, but as you achieve proficiency in martial arts, you recognize that you are reaching higher ground.
Think about each martial art struggle you have faced. There was a day when you could not perform a certain skill or didn’t understand a concept. But, you didn’t give up. Over time you figured it out or practiced it enough that it finally made sense. That perseverance and stick-to-it attitude is mental strength.
When you are totally focused, thinking of nothing but your technique, and when the world is quietly swirling around you as you practice your martial art, you are experiencing a spiritual strength. It is a part of you that exists somewhere beneath the surface and as it emerges you see yourself in a new light. Competent. Proficient. True.
From one belt to the next you are more confident, self-assured, and you start to believe in your own power. Your martial art spiritual side grows as you start to accept that you are just as good as any other martial artist. You notice that each practitioner has his own weaknesses and no one is perfect, and there is a sense of relief in that. What a revelation! Your mind is now free from the temptation to be like everyone else.
You learn to be yourself, work diligently, and never allow yourself to give up. Your spiritual and mental strength starts to deepen.
As you age, or if you suffer from an illness or setback, physical strength may be difficult to maintain. The spiritual and mental strength, however, will not let you down. While strengthening your body is of upmost importance, working out the mental and spiritual muscles will bring life-long results.
It’s up to you. Will you flex your mental and spiritual muscles? You may not be in the next martial arts movie or on a martial arts poster, but there is one thing is for sure. These strengths are definitely a part of your personal star power and worth exploring.
https://goo.gl/Yco5GF – Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone – This book is a series of reflections to read at your leisure in topics ranging from uniqueness, negativity, mindset, struggles, new beginnings, personal power, beliefs,instincts, and more.
Please, please don’t walk into any martial art school thinking you already know it all. If you’ve had other training, that is fantastic! Anyone who already has the basic concepts is well ahead of the game. But, guess what? Every school and program is different. What took you two months to earn a yellow belt there, might take you a year here, or vice versa. That kick? It might have a slight variation in this school. The way you bow, the commands, and the overall philosophy may be completely different. No teacher wants to hear “I already know that.” “I learned it this way.” “My Sensei said….”
And, if you are a new martial artist, just be humble. Just be honest. You don’t know anything yet and you’ve got nothing to prove.
2. Making Assumptions
You know what they say about assuming things. Let’s just say, it’s not a good idea.
If you really want to know what a program or school offers, ask them right up front. If it’s a black belt in two years that you want, don’t get angry while going through the program if you are more than two years in and still have a long way to go and you never asked.
Don’t assume you are guaranteed a black belt. Just putting in hours doesn’t cut it. There is skill, technique, dedication and performance involved.
Don’t assume your school is the best, your style is the most comprehensive, or that other martial artists are any different from you. Discussed in some of my other blogs, this borders on disrespect.
3. Not Practicing
You call yourself a martial artist. You go to class. Do you practice?
I’ve heard excuses ranging from “there is not enough room in my house” to “I’m too tired” to “I can just practice in class.” I understand, really I do. I’m right there with you and agree with all of these excuses. I still take action, though. On any given day, I might be practicing a kata in my living room or in the driveway or before or after class or during break. I know that I have a long way to go to be where I want to be in my art.
Not practicing is going to set you behind. You will come to class still struggling with the skills that have already been taught. Your proficiency level will lag. If you don’t get to test when you want, this might be the reason why. I can tell if you practice when you come to class. No practice, no improvement.
4. Hitting Full Force in Practice
Some styles wear a lot of fighting protection and go full force. In my program we use head-gear and punches and maybe foot gear and while contact can be made it must be controlled. That is why we wait until green belt level. It gives students the opportunity to learn the control and precision they need to spar in this manner.
For me, “practice” is about honing those strong sparring skills by repetition and you can only gain repetition by having opportunities to spar and practice all your skills. Hitting full force in practice is not allowed and if done, the student is pulled. We are not a competition school so we focus on the skills to fight and point sparring.
I understand that each school has a different philosophy. When I see our seasoned students fighting in class, I know that they have what they need to defend or fight back and that is what is important to me. Other styles have other methods and they are all acceptable, if monitored and coached well.
5. Not drinking enough water
Taking a strenuous martial art class without drinking enough water is a no-no. You are probably going to sweat, work your muscles, stretch and strengthen, use different body parts, and exert energy. Drink water to nourish what you lose in the work-out. Even a few sips of water on a break can make a huge difference in how you feel during your training. If you are in a high aerobic type martial art training, you must drink water to stay focused and strong.
Feeling sluggish? This may be why.
6. Working with the same partner all the time
We do a lot of partner drills. Students want to partner with the same people over and over. It becomes comfortable for them. They know what to expect with this partner. This partner is the same size, has the same skill set, has been training just as long.
This is a martial art mistake because life is not comfortable. If someone attacks you or gets in your face, chances are he is not going to be the same size or have anything in common with you. Working with people who are more or less trained than you, bigger or smaller, or the opposite sex will not only push you to train harder because these new partners are going to test you as they learn themselves.
In some cases, that common partner is a great idea, but not every time. See what the unexpected feels like.
7. Not stretching or warming up
I start each class with a warm up and a stretch. After stretching we do some sit ups or push ups, then general skills drills. All this warming up gets the body ready for the more demanding technique work.
Whatever martial art you practice or teach, a stretch or warm up gets the juices flowing. It is the transition between just walking in the door of the school a little tired to giving 100%. It brings you from stillness to activity in a matter of minutes and gives your muscles a chance to prepare. Hopefully, it will eliminate potential injuries, too.
8. Not getting enough sleep
Try, try, try to get enough sleep. Learning a martial art can zap your energy at times. Struggling with fatigue is a sure way to forget what you’ve learned, have difficulty paying attention in class, and diminish the power you need for your skills. Not just for your martial art, but for your everyday activities and commitments, try to get the amount of sleep that is right for you.
I just perused Jamie Clubb’s book, “Mordred’s Victory & Other Martial Mutterings.”
If you want to read a book that causes you to ponder, question, and investigate the broad variables of martial arts, then Jamie Clubb’s book fits the bill. Don’t expect to agree with everything Jamie says. He is going to shake up some of your core martial art beliefs.
Jamie begins his book with a reference to the epic medieval poem, Le Morte d’Arthurv, where King Arthur battles his treacherous son, Mordred, who has tried to usurp his throne; a tale he uses as a comparison to the two types of fighters in our modern world today.
In my opinion, however, the more relevant tale is that of the very studious and curious martial arts enthusiast, Jamie Clubb.
Jamie began his life in a traveling circus and grew up in a business that trained and supplied animals to the media industry. Later, in his exploration of his martial art interest, he created the UK’s first extreme professional wrestling production using martial arts as its theme.
Jamie’s circus life, along with his lifelong robust martial arts study and practice, give him an unwavering voice. For instance, he started to recognize self-protection ideas as a specialized approach to martial arts, as he transitioned from circus life into martial artist and writer. His thoughts on training children, though criticized by martial arts communities, were approved by anti-bullying experts.
His opinions are steadfast and worthy of consideration.
The book is separated into four sections that explore Jamie’s belief system: martial mutterings; self-protection; reality training for children; and training: fit for a purpose. Each section explores Jamie’s fascination with martial arts history, culture, and diversity, and reveals his opinions on such topics as combat sports, competition, street-fighting techniques, handling opponents, and using voice as a weapon. He integrates many lessons from his experiences with the animal kingdom such as the defensive warning sounds, like a kiai, and taking cover as a natural response, which is a perspective not readily seen elsewhere.
Jamie’s reflections on grappling and MMA are a bit contentious in today’s world and anything contentious usually draws the reader to contemplate his own values and opinions. I’d say Jamie Clubb provides you with that opportunity, and more.
To pull his final thoughts together, Jamie explores the core martial arts beliefs and values of respect, awareness, courage, discipline, and open-mindedness. His biggest strength is the blend of his life experiences with his martial art training, and that is how he defines his beliefs and theories.
I want to thank Jamie for allowing me the opportunity to reflect on some of his musings. Digging deep into his life-long lessons and sharing a strong, opinionated basis for martial arts conjecture, is Jamie’s excellent purpose. I assure you, you will have a lot to think about when you are done reading “Mordred’s Victory & Other Martial Mutterings.”
I was going to start by writing how martial arts are not for everyone, but that would be sarcasm. I think there are enough different martial art styles in the world for everyone to find something that is meaningful and purposeful. I know all the standard reasons why most choose to not practice. Time, responsibilities, commitments, fear, worry, and lack of self-confidence come to mind.
I understand it all. I battle the same on a daily basis. Can I fit practice in today? What else do I have to finish? Can I really do this? These are all the questions that capture the thoughts of the martial art non-believer.
My sarcasm can easily roll into a jaunt about how martial arts are only for those who wish to pursue personal excellence, inner peace, confidence, potential, defense, and fitness. Sarcasm aside, I’m not sure anyone can deny the practical and creative benefits mentioned in this list. So, I say to the person who is interested in learning a martial art, but allows excuses to diminish his desire, stop waiting. If you are a believer in the benefits, it’s time to hop on board.
From a woman’s perspective, there can be fear based on lack of awareness or understanding. Martial arts sound like something difficult, unattainable, and perhaps even manly. What woman, unless some kind of professional fighter, wants to be seen as aggressive, physical, or potentially violent in a defensive situation? What woman wants to compromise femininity for the sake of a fighting art? What woman wants to bellow loud noises, crack a board, or stand up against an aggressor? I have a simple answer. Martial arts are for every woman. None of what is mentioned here captures what martial arts really offer.
Large, small, outgoing, shy, young, old, or anywhere in between, martial arts offers every woman opportunities, survival skills, betterment, and most importantly, a new vision of herself. Everyone starts at the beginning and builds upon the basics. Martial arts and self-defense both offer women something they never had before, the tools to defend. Defense, in real life, may not be pretty, but without the tools to defend, her chance of escape, or even survival, are minimized. That sounds like a good reason to learn to me. She may outwardly seem like a non-believer, when in reality, all she needs is a little coaxing to get her over the hump and into class.
What about guys? What do they gain from martial arts? They are already strong, burly, or masculine. Martial arts will help them discover who they really are inside, and allow them to push themselves, Yes, they will learn how to fight better, and become internally abundant and prosperous. Martial arts are physical, but they teach the best lesson that calms the male ego, learning to fight so you don’t have to fight.
This means that guys will learn how to fight and how to defend, but more importantly, how to avoid the attack or remove himself from it, as the first course of action. They teach humility and decision making that relies not on emotion, but on deflecting an impending crisis.
Years ago, a male friend of mine asked our instructor a question. He asked what he should do if he was in his car, and someone pulled a gun on him through an open window. He was expecting some great defense, maybe something that involved taking the gun from the assailant and then punching him through the window, or something a television drama would show. The instructor just looked at him and said, “Don’t ever put yourself in that situation.” Sometimes, the male ego and imagination are more powerful than they need to be. Martial arts help control where, and when, a martial art should ever be used.
Kids are the best believers of all! They are open-minded, and believe unless they are told not to, or until they prove it wrong. One story in my upcoming book, The Martial Arts Woman, mentions how young girls are able to do knuckle push ups as a warm up to a martial art class, because they were never told they couldn’t do them. In later years, if they never did a knuckle push up before, they physically have a difficult time doing one because they never trained their mind, or body, to realize that it was possible. The younger set of girls, who naturally believed, just followed along in class and did them without any trepidation.
Kids who practice in my pre-skills classes, ages 4 to 6, perform their version of martial arts, and believe me, I’m always excited and amazed when they pay attention and execute a command with a smile. The key to these young believers is making it fun through learning. They are accepting and believing. They see Ninja Turtles and other symbols of youthful, playful martial artists, and want to be the same.
Then there are the rest of us, aren’t there? We are the true believers, and those who have put in a few years. We practice diligently, both physically or mentally, and have joined the unspoken, unwritten, lifelong martial art club, no holds barred. We continually try to find ways to kick it up a notch. We teach, train, write, compete, or a combination thereof. There is, in fact, no other comparable activity we would rather do.
That is not to say we are believers all of the time. Sometimes, we must face the fact that our martial art situation needs adjusting, or we need to be flexible in our approach, but we always strive to find a way to continue. That’s the believer in us.
The martial art non-believer has a lot to learn. What martial arts teaches is not so much about technique and skill, although those are necessary and important. Rather, martial arts provide a plan on how to live. They teach perseverance, and how to apply patience and humility to our lives. They remind us that we are powerful and have unlimited and untapped potential. They help us focus and funnel energy.
The most important, highly sought after reason why martial arts are so important, though (drum roll please!), is that they help you believe in a much more important topic than fighting, defense, skills, or any other martial art technique. They help you believe…in you.
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My book, The Martial Arts Woman, will be launched soon! .
Life coaching based on black belt concepts and martial art principles, is available.read more
There are many different styles and many different reasons why people practice martial arts. If we were all the same, it would be boring and monotonous. Having the opportunity to meet others who engage in different styles, and participate in seminars or workshops that use different skill sets, is an exciting way to learn more about the immense world of martial arts. What you know can help me in my practice, and vice versa.
Let’s explore these truths a little further.
1. There Are Many Reasons for Practicing
There is no set reason why you should practice a martial art. Many learn to curb weight issues, get into better shape, and to keep active and fit. Some learn because they want a better chance to escape or defend if attacked. Still, others are motivated by the popular influence of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Cynthia Rothrock, Don Wilson, and the other amazing action actors they see in movies and on television.
Recently I received a message from a woman who described herself to me as “fat.” She wondered if she could learn a martial art. Unless you are a celebrity, it is unlikely that you have a perfect body. The truth is, martial arts don’t care how you look.
Every reason is worthwhile. Martial arts promote self-discovery, no matter the exact reasons for learning. In the end, everyone comes to a similar conclusion. Martial arts improve focus and strength, and empower the mind, body & spirit.
2. Traditional v. Modern Concepts
I practice traditional Korean martial arts. They are not, however, the only martial arts out there. We cannot act as if there is only one martial art in the world, or that certain ones are better than others. The truth is, other styles exist, whether we like it or not.
What is the real purpose of martial arts in today’s world? Are they a defense system, a fighting art, or an art form?
It all depends on the application, your perspective, and what you hope to learn. MMA, BJJ, and other grappling styles are more contemporary than Karate or TaeKwon-Do. In my classes we do some of the ground attacks and defenses because they are good to know. I can still be a traditional martial artist and explore different ideas in more modern styles.
The biggest truth here is that we can all learn from each other. That does not mean that we have to become proficient in every style, or understand every concept, but it does mean that learning concepts in other styles with which you are not familiar can help to improve your overall knowledge and experience in martial arts.
3. Men and Women
This topic is one of controversy and drama, at times. Is one gender better than the other? Each gender is different, but not necessarily better or worse. I think women are still trying to pave the way for their martial art practices, while men have been aligned in their systems for a while. Some women still struggle with being treated equally, whether that means sexism or lack of opportunities. Women are still fairly new to martial arts based on the history of martial arts over the course of time.
Skill-wise, I have seen women and men of incredible athleticism. I’ve seen both defend, fight, and perform. I do not think I ever use gender as the deciding factor on who is better or worse. Based on skill sets, you will find that both genders have areas of strengths and weaknesses.
The truth about this is that we have a passion and interest in something that we can all share together, and from which we can all build better life-long habits. We are all students in the arts, men or women, and nothing can ever diminish or change that. There is no men v. women, only men and women.
What are your truths about martial arts? I suppose you have a laundry list full. Do they make you feel happier? Do you feel more fit? More able to defend yourself? Do you enjoy the competition, the camaraderie, and the instruction? Do you like the continual self-improvement, the opportunities to advance in rank, or the ability to slow life down and decrease stress through your practice? These are your truths.
Why you practice is totally up to you. What style you like, and for how long you train, are also up to you. Respecting other martial artists and other styles, again, are up to you. Martial arts are whatever you choose to allow them to be in your life. They have many different applications, and that is okay, because we can all learn from each other. There is one truth that we all know for certain. It is awesome to be a martial artist!
The Martial Arts Woman book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.
Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available atthemartialartswoman.storenvy.com.read more
I hate the fact that a martial art is often thought of as a “last resort sport” for kids. Parents walk into a martial art school for the first time and state, “Well, he didn’t excel in team sports very well, so I figured I would let him try a martial art or karate.”
What? Really? Martial arts is your last resort before you give up on your kid’s athleticism?
I understand. Parents like to have their children participate in sports where they can sit in the stands and cheer and yell. “That’s my Johnny!” they exclaim, screaming at the top of their lungs the first time Johnny hits a home run, scores a goal or a touchdown, or makes a three-point shot.
Martial arts have no grandstands, no burgers grilled on the corner of the field, and no cheerleaders. There is no homecoming where star athletes are highlighted, and no real recognition for being an athlete at all, for that matter.
I wish I could dispel the myth that a martial art is not a team sport or is not for real athletes or that it should only be considered when all else fails. Every time one of my younger students enters into our class he is immediately a part of a team environment. He is in a place where he is respected by his peers and where he can practice new techniques in a well-defined group. They high-five each other and welcome new kids to class with a quick hello before they jump in for more learning.
As one of the instructors, I am a trained, experienced, caring coach who teaches, encourages, and shares in a way that is fun and enjoyable, yet strict and disciplined. That is rare to find in youth sports. We earn a small amount of money from the program, which in fact makes us, “professionals.”
I’m not going to bash other sports. My sons were basketball and football players. I love these sports because they love them. But, I should mention that my oldest tore his ACL twice and broke his arm once playing these sports. And along with worries about concussions and strains and sprains, football is really less than ideal for staying healthy. In every day martial art class, I simply don’t see these kinds of injuries taking place. Maybe they happen, but not consistently.
Finally, martial arts are sport-like and require skill and endurance along with discipline, confidence, strength. But above and beyond all that, they are a journey that lasts a life time. They can be practiced through all of your years, young through old. No other sport seems to offer that outstanding benefit. Start young and grow old with a martial art. When you live to an old age you will thank me for that advice.
Last resort? I think not.
2. It’s not utilized enough by other athletes
Thinking about the athletic aspects of martial arts, I hate the fact that martial arts are not used as a form of training more often for athletes who participate in other sports. Having taught my sons some skills, I can see how it has benefited them in other sports. All sports require a commitment and dedication in order to become proficient. The basic stances and use of the body, the push and pull and momentum of movements learned in martial arts, help other athletes excel in whatever sport they are playing.
In basketball, with the ball in your hands and elbows edged out to the side, you must pivot to turn. With a good low center of gravity, you can move around your opponent without him grabbing the ball. In football, the low stances the linemen have to take can all be strengthened through the martial art stances used in forms. The focus and determination of punching a target or kicking an X on the bag helps the mind learn patience and timing, all of which is incredibly important in all sports.
The stretching and calisthenic exercises in a martial art warm up are sometimes the exact same as what I see on the football field during practice, but just are called something different. The bowing out of class is like a huddle that brings the team together and solidifies a winning mindset.
I have heard of some professional athletes learning some martial arts or yoga and how it has helped them. If you’re looking for a way for a child to excel in all sports, I’m claiming right now that martial arts can help.
3. Not enough women try it
I hate that not more women get involved in the martial arts. I’m okay with it being a male dominated activity, but it would be awesome to see some more women give it a go. I know all the fears. I’ve discussed them all before in blogs and podcasts before. All I know is if a woman can go to an aerobics class, take a golf lesson, or try yoga without a prior experience, she can certainly try this, too.
I hate that there are just a few of us ladies who have to carry the weight of promoting the benefits of martial arts to other women. You know my motto, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” It’s not about performing unbelievable stunts. I could never do that! I’m like many other women, a mom, a wife, an aunt, and a daughter. I bet you know others who fit into those categories, and yes, they can learn a martial art.
I’ve been asked a few times what I think about women in the UFC. I admire any woman who is willing to use her competitive edge and endurance, but realistically, we are not all willing to do THAT! Some good, basic martial arts training, however, should do the trick to keep you in shape, give you confidence, up your endurance, give you purpose, help you defend, and make you, well….pretty darn cool.
4. When people quit
Darn it, I just hate when people quit anything, especially a martial art! I know there comes a time for kids when they choose between martial arts and another sport, (see #1 above) and they decide to quit the martial art. I know often adults reach mid-level belt ranks, and they are not interested in pushing through the stuff that warrants practice of more difficult skills. Come on! You’ve made it this far and you are going to quit?
Martial arts taught me that quitters learn nothing, win nothing, and lose everything. If I quit every time I had to face an obstacle, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Divorced? Broke? Unemployed? Starving? I wouldn’t be writing. I wouldn’t be teaching. I wouldn’t have a black belt.
Some people just give up. They give up on their health, they give up on their dreams, and they give up on bettering themselves. This is how you get nowhere in life. This is how you face depression or anxiety or unrest in your life. When you quit once, it snowballs. You quit over and over and end up nowhere near where you thought you’d find yourself. I hear it all the time. This isn’t what I expected in retirement. This isn’t how I thought my life would turn out. This isn’t where I expected to be. I have one question to ask. Did you stay steadfast in your journey? Did you face your obstacles and overcome? Or, did you quit?
Please don’t disappointment me by giving up or quitting anything because it is too difficult or too much trouble; especially if quitting means you are limiting yourself to less than who you should be.
5. Fakes, Frauds, and McDojo’s
I find it hard to believe that there are actually people out there who pose as Masters in the martial arts. I suppose in every profession you can encounter some wacko who takes a good thing and brings it to some unintended extreme. I hate to even give them the courtesy of being addressed in my blog, but I feel it is important that others know that like anything, you should check out your instructors, get references, and if you ever feel uncomfortable, or that something is not quite right, move along. There are plenty of good ones out there.
McDojo’s, if you don’t know, are martial arts schools are concerned primarily with making money, rather than putting their students’ learning first. This infuriates martial arts instructors because it gives martial arts a bad name. A good instructor can make money teaching, in my book, as long as the students come first. If you see students being awarded black belts in the speed of light, something is not right. And for the rest of the instructors who award them after a suitable amount of training, it almost makes us look bad for making our students wait to earn every single inch of the thick black cloth that gets wrapped around their waist.
Fake, fraud, or McDojo, check it out before you get started. If you get promised a black belt, test frequently, pay large amounts of money to test, or sign up for some crazy contract to learn, beware. If your instructor seems strange in any way whatsoever, then go no further.
No Hate Here
Look, I don’t hate the martial arts at all. I hate that they are labeled a “last resort sport” by parents. I hate that athletes fail to use martial arts as a great basis for training and physical improvement in their sport of choice. I hate that there are not more women of all ages practicing. I hate that when students get to a certain level they would rather give up then finish their dream. Finally, I hate that there are actually frauds out there, and people who use the martial arts in an evil and conniving way.
Martial arts are awesome on many levels, and I hate that they are still not fully recognized for all the benefits that they offer on so many levels, including mind, body, and spirit.
Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone contains martial art reflections, anecdotes, and inspirations that relate to everyday life. It covers topics such as effort, focus, purpose, positivity, betterment, ambition, and more. You can overcome, persevere, and find success in your own life. Read Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone, and be encouraged.
The Martial Arts Woman shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives. Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!
Power grows during the difficult moments that consume you, big and small. For all the pain, grief, and lonely times, for all the moments you have questioned yourself or your worth, and for all the times you have worried that you were not good enough, there is, unequivocally and convincingly, power.
Your power is revealed through times of healing. If internal power were easy to achieve, it would mean nothing. Like anything good, it comes in time, and it happens after you are forced to deal with unexpected decisions, unforeseen situations, and abrupt endings.
Like the martial artist who tries repeatedly to perfect a skill, you will find yourself feeling inadequate. You will want these tender moments to pass as soon as possible, yet they take time. Similar to the martial artist who wants perfection in his skills first time around, disappointment and discouragement will prevent achieving success in one fail swoop.
You have to feel it. You have to live it. This is life.
But, power takes time to develop, especially when it emanates from the difficult times, the obstacles, and the fears. It builds momentum as you move through the situations in your life. You realize that you must be resilient. You cannot back down or give up. Some days are more challenging than others, but you begin to put a system into place to attack negativity in your life:
I believe that through martial arts and positivity, we can make the world a better place. As a martial art instructor you make a huge impact in the lives of your students. These options will positively impact your teaching or training.
1. Listen with your heart
To really understand your students, try listening with your heart. You can hear their words and you can hear their breath and their yells. But, can you hear who they are and what they want they want to accomplish? Can you hear the kind of thoughts they have about bravery, fear, accomplishment, or hope?
Students of all ages practice martial arts for different reasons. When you understand the reasons, when you really listen to what their practice is saying about them, you can help them excel and reach their personal success and goals.
Not all students want a black belt. Instead, they desire to defend themselves. They may not want a practical application of martial arts as much as they want personal empowerment. Each has a reason uniquely their own and their reasons deserve to be heard.
One way to listen with your heart, is to provide your students with a new student survey which asks what they desire to learn in class. This does not mean that you will skip any criteria pertinent to your program, but simply that you understand their motives and their participation.
What if a student says he is bullied? What if he is shy? What if he was pushed into taking the class because of his parents? What is a woman feels inadequate? What if she is afraid of everything? What if a guy does not know how to fight? What if he has been abused along the way? Some want to try something new, overcome an obstacle, or learn because it has always looked interesting. Isn’t it worth listening to their reasons?
To understand what your students want from their training is listening with your heart. Do not change your teaching style, your instruction, or your way of doing things. Just know that the students learning from you believe that some kind of magic can happen from their training.
And, it can.
2. The Greatest Change
The greatest change that can take place in a martial art class is often to the student who has little coordination, confidence, or stamina. This is the awkward, shy student who keeps to himself, has no self-confidence, and stares at his feet all the time.
While you may initially believe that this student is not suited for martial arts, or is the most challenging to teach, the opposite is generally true. Often, they become the best students because they want nothing more than to change.
That is, after all, why they are there. The very reason they join martial arts is to become the version of themselves that they have always wanted to be. They are tired of being ridiculed and bullied, tired of suffering at the hands of others, and tired of not liking who they see when the look in the mirror.
They were brave enough to come to class. Do not let them down. Your most difficult job is to make sure they are not overlooked and that they do not fall through the cracks.
Take note of those who need training the most. They are vulnerable and they are easy targets outside the martial art school. Within the walls of the school, you can help them learn what they need to know. With help they will find inner strength and a personal conviction to self-betterment.
Being an instructor has many rewards when it comes to your students. Those who need it the most need you the most. They are the ones in whom you will always see the greatest change.
3. Practice What You Preach
It is one thing to motivate your students through clear martial art instructions and commands, and quite another to motivate them by practicing alongside them on the training floor. If you want to be a great instructor, practice what you preach. Step out in front of the class and warm up with them. Stretch with them and work the drills and techniques with them.
Show them that the instructor is always the student.
The rewards are not surprising. You will stay in shape. How many times have you seen martial art instructors who have lost their stamina and shape over the years? Teaching takes a lot of time and a lot of preparation, for some. It is easy to get caught up in the role of instructor and all the other demands that come with it.
But, we are not lecturers, we are doers. We are fighters against our own demons. We are champions of our own causes. We have broken through our own barriers.
Show the human side of martial arts. When you train with your students, you remind them that everyone has vulnerabilities, even wise instructors. You are not infallible, so on occasion, you may lose your balance or your timing, or forget the next move in a series or pattern. You know what? That is perfectly fine, because no one can be perfect all of the time. What a great lesson.
You will also cultivate sincere and lasting relationships with your students. They will look up to you as someone who never gives up. They will see that effort, determination, and perseverance actually mean something. In a world where it is so easy to give up, be negative, or fall prey to unhappiness, you will be the reminder that hard work and effort still mean something.
You are the guide, often from the beginning to the end of their martial art journey, but certainly you are the mentor in every single class. So, practice what you preach, and be a part of the class. Be the reminder that everyone is capable of achieving at any age, and at any stage of life.
Life. It is a big blank canvas. We do not know what each moment will bring. We do not know for sure where we will be tomorrow. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to create a path that is right for you.
Among daily chores, regular commitments, work, study, or martial art practice, there are moments ready to be filled with your hopes and dreams. There are hours to be consumed with passionate dedication, days to be drenched in joy, and months and years to reflect your unique spirit and personality.
You can look at life in two different ways. In one way, it is predictable. It is reality. Your responsibilities demand that you be at different places at certain times. You have habits, schedules, demands and rituals. You wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, and head out the door.
The other way to look at life is a blank canvas. Although we have responsibilities, we also have opportunities to live life to its fullest, and to create moments that really mean something. If you talk to a cancer survivor, many come through the experience with a new sense about life. It is short and it is delicate. If you want to really live it you must stretch yourself and make each moment count. Wasted time is not an option for those who understand that life is a gift meant to be cherished.
Moving away from the martial art program that I taught for eight years was a difficult experience because I had watched many of the children grow up. Those hours of teaching were special.
I will not lie, though. Many times I was tired or wished to have a night off because of a long work day beforehand. It never failed, though. Every time I entered the dojang, and every time I saw the faces, I knew the moment was right and I was exactly where I was meant to be. It was as if the blank canvas was filling me, and not vice versa.
Today, I am creating a martial arts concepts program for a corporation to pique the interest of others in the martial art mind, body, spirit balance. Will the program be a success? I do not know. But, I am going to find out.
The blank canvas allows us to see each moment for its beautiful and powerful message. Sitting here writing a blog post is not a drudgery. Sometimes I think I will run out of things to say. Yet, when I begin, the words always flow. That is because I am filling the blank slate with something personal, powerful and meaningful to me – words that can touch and affect the lives of others.
However you decide to paint your blank canvas and bring your life to creative fulfillment is personal, but not predictable. I would not be The Martial Arts Woman if I had not pushed outside of my comfort zone to write for magazines, create a blog, and write books. Ten years ago none of that existed.
The day I stepped forward beyond my fears of rejection was the day, perhaps even the very moment, when I learned more about myself than ever before. The big blank canvas was coming alive and I was the artist making it happen. I knew there was more work to do, and more to learn about how I can change the world for the better. Writing catapulted me into something far bigger than I ever imagined.
I believe most of us have predictability in our daily lives, but we do not always have the fortitude to make every moment count. Daily life can be tiring. It can push us to complacency. Personal greatness, however, requires you to push through what you find boring and trite, to something more.
This does not mean to you have to do something extraordinary every moment of the day. Rather, it is a reminder to make your moments count. Between the daily chores and responsibilities are wedged colorful opportunities, people, and experiences.
Life is not a perfect space. There are ups and downs throughout. Good and bad experiences come your way. Life hands you nothing. Take control of your blank slate. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new, or bring that one dream to fruition. Forge ahead. Everyone is different. No blank canvas will ever be filled the exact same way.
Tomorrow is not as important as this moment, right now. In one single moment, you can love, smile, dream, sing, dance, kiss, hug, encourage, believe, and give. These simple moments may even grow bigger and expand into hours, days, months and years of personal growth, achievement, and fulfillment. Your happiness and fulfillment can create ripples of positivity to those around you. The colors of your slate will expand and explode with these simple but very significant moments.
I cannot wait to see who you become. Your blank canvas is more and more valuable as it is filled. If you were to buy a one of a kind piece of amazing art by an incredible artist, it could cost millions. Your slate, your life art, is worth no less. You are capable and worthy of transforming a blank canvas into a breathtaking, ever-changing, colorful and true vision of you.