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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