My Journey Into Martial Arts

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post on this blog.

That’s because some major life changes have been happening.

Apart from my business taking off rapidly and providing me with more work than I can reasonably manage, I’ve been battling insane government beauracracy to try and get something fixed which needs fixed legally.

Amidst all this, I started to notice my stress levels creeping up a couple of months back.

I was not worried about it, and I know it’s a natural thing in high pressure situations. So, instead of wallow in self pity, I decided to do something about it. I started studying martial arts.

Since then, I have absolutely fallen in love with the art of fighting. Although I’m still a complete beginner compared to the high-level masters I see around me in class, I already know that martial arts is something I will continue for the rest of my life.

Martial Arts –  More Than You Think

martial arts

When you first think of martial arts you will probably invisage Bruce Lee kicking ass or a UFC cage warrior coming close to removing someone’s head with a flying kick in the Octagon.

You would be right. Martial arts does involve both those things. Yet it is so much more than that.

Martial arts is a journey, and it is, dare I say, a spiritual one.

You don’t have to believe in religion to enjoy the spirituality of martial arts. That’s not what I mean by the word spiritual. What I mean is that this is not just a way to learn how to fight, it is a way of life and a journey into the deepest, darkest recesses of your soul.

I haven’t been there yet, but someday I will have to stand face to face with another trained warrior, locked in a cage, to do combat until one of us is either knocked unconscious or taps out.

‘Knockout or tapout’ the coach always tells us. ‘Those are the only two ways you get out once that door slams shut’.

What this scenario will do to me will reveal my character, and teach me about my weaknesses. In fact, I will have to overcome many weaknesses such as self discipline, fear of death, and focus, to even get close to entering a cage in the first place.

That is what martial arts truly is – a fight with your own weaknesses. While age and physical limitations play some role, the only thing standing between you and the black belt or the glory of a victory is your own terrified little ego and the weaknesses you have allowed to overtake your mind.

Martial arts is war, yet you find peace in it. It’s strange that way.

Five Ways Martial Arts Can Improve Your Life

1. Martial Arts Will Improve Your Fitness – This is an obvious one, but martial arts will get you incredibly fit. It will work your cardio, your strength, and your speed all at once. Your body will be taken to its limits in sparring and training. The weakest will drop out quickly, and those who stay with it and walk through the pain and suffering will be rewarded with fit, healthy bodies that will carry them a long way through this life for their efforts.

2. Martial Arts Will Improve Your Focus – Focus is one of the key mindsets which leads to success in any area of life. If you are really honest with yourself, the things you never were much good at were the things you didn’t focus on. Likewise, focusing on too many things at once will bring whatever it is you are doing crashing down around you.

Martial arts will develop your focus until it is laser sharp. When in combat, one moment of wandering off in your head will lead to a few moments asleep on the floor as your opponent capitalizes on your lack of focus.

This do or die focus puts you in the fast lane to improved and increased focus.

3. Martial Arts Will Develop Your Self Discipline – I noticed something about my class already. It’s getting harder and harder each week.

At the beginning, the coach babied us a little bit, probably seeing straight through every one of us to the fact we were all afraid deep down the first night we walked into class as total beginners.

Yet slowly, gradually, over the weeks and months, he has been reeling us in. He has been developing us and letting us know that if we aren’t cut out for this, we know where the door is. The combos and exercises have been getting harder, coming at a faster pace, and the training has definitely been cranked up a notch. This has been done in a masterfully subtle way, so it is barely noticeable, but it is there.

It takes an increasing amount of self discipline to keep up with this. As it gets harder, so do you, mentally and physically. It will also develop your discipline.

4. Martial Arts Will Give You Confidence – Again, tell yourself the truth. You would be a different guy if you feared no man. This is not to say you would be a cocky asshole necessarily, but if you knew you could put a man to sleep in a few split seconds, you would take a lot less shit from the world, wouldn’t you?

Martial arts will give you this quiet confidence. I am only a beginner, but I feel it already. When I see shadows lurking on the street corners when I walk now, I don’t cross the road or try to distract myself. I walk with confidence past them, knowing that even if I lose a fight, I will make whoever it is never want to try me again in the process. The best fight is the one you avoid, true, but you can’t let your fears rule you, either.

Even after a couple of months of training, you will be able to destroy 90% of the population around you. Hopefully martial arts will also teach you the respect and compassion to never use what you have been taught (this is a huge part of the journey), but the confidence that comes from knowing you could is going to carry over into many areas of your life.

People will soon notice. Wait and see.

5. Martial Arts Will Help You Succeed in Anything – Life is martial arts. We don’t normally notice it, but that’s what it is. It is a constant battle, testing our will, our metal, our sense of humour, our resilience, our humility, and our determination to go on and succeed.

You will learn all of those things on a martial arts journey. Everything will transfer into other areas of your life. The discipline you develop on the mat will carry over into the office. The determination to go on after taking a shin bone to the chin will carry over into chip, chip, chipping away at that website until the money starts rolling in. The confidence and humility combined will change your relations with the people in your life for the positive, including members of the opposite sex.

All of this will come from martial arts. It is a whole life system. You just don’t realize that when you first walk in with the desire to learn how to fight.

Some Phenomenal Martial Arts Quotes

bruce lee quotes

To further illustrate the wisdom inherent in the martial arts and the journey-like nature they take you on, I would like to leave you with some of the most inspiring quotes I have so far encountered while studying the philosophy of martial arts from the great ones. It will probably come as no surprise that many of them are from Bruce Lee, a true warrior & master of the arts.

Take some of these away with you into whatever challenges you face today and in the days ahead:

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee

“A black belt is just a white belt that got dirty over time” – My coach

“Defeat is a state of mind. No man is never defeated until he has accepted defeat as a reality” – Bruce Lee

“Become a champion in life by conquering the enemy within” – Master Jin Kwon

“True victory is victory over oneself” – Morihei Ueshiba

“At the moment when you feel you have reached the point of absolute exhaustion, inspire yourself to take one last step. That is when you reach the next level” – Master Jin Kwon

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong” – Roger Gracie

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do” – Bruce Lee

I’m in this for the long game. I hope you enjoy your journey into martial arts, should you choose to pursue it.

Until next time,
G

2 Comments

  1. Great post Gav. I’ve done a couple cage fights and also saved myself from probably being killed when it was me vs 3 guys in Las Vegas. I still got hurt, but hurt the main guy in their group bad enough to disrupt the pack-mentality. Definitely the kind of people that would have jumped on your head until you were dead if they got the upper-hand.

    Just don’t spar too much man. Brain injuries are real and I regret how hard we used to bang in practice.

    • Thanks, Joe!

      Yeah, I take it easy in sparring as I also got battered about when I was in my early twenties. I used to box, and we just went hell for leather – big mistake. Luckily we have a great coach now and he has us live by the mantras ‘power is for the pads’ and ‘preserve your partner’.

      That sounds like a hairy situation in Vegas, man, and I’m glad martial arts allowed you to handle it. There’s definitely something to be said for taking the leader out – usually the beta males in the group scatter when they see that. Personally, although I love fighting as a sport, I have NO inclination towards violence and don’t get people who do!

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