Martial arts impact is weird. It’s not for everyone. Either you like it, or you don’t.If you’re drawn to it, it will undoubtedly leave a big impression on your life.
From the outside looking in, you’re seen as many things. Brave, violent, geeky, cool, angry and so many others. The only thing that matters is how you see yourself and the place that martial arts has taken in your life.
How are you different because of it? Here’s my attempt at answering that question.
The Martial Arts Impact On My Life
The first art I have ever joined in was karate. I want to kick ass in karate for two reasons:
- Because my father used to practice it. He had the blackbelt, the gi and everything. How cool is it being raised by your very own Chuck Norris. When you’re a kid you can’t help but think your dad is the best (mine was, and still is). Being like your parents is pretty much anybody’s first goal in life.
- BECAUSE KARATE IS AWESOME. Every eight year old knows that.
I did a lot of starting and stopping with karate. I was the best, not just in my little city, in the world. That’s how I thought of myself. I truly believed that there was no other kid who could perform the way I could. Ironically, I had never competed.
Having a head the size of a VW Beetle, I got annoyed that my sensei wasn’t recognizing my talent. All I was interested in was skipping and receiving belts as soon as possible.
God! I was an arrogant little guy.
By the time I was in my early twenties and in University I discovered something called san shou. San shou was the result of a consolidation, forced on martial arts practitioners in China by the government. It took the most common most practical elements, and combined them into a combat sport that could be used for defense.
Up until this point Wushu did not exist. I learned to do something that was far out of my world. Pick people up, and slam them to the ground! As if you’re a pro wrestler. Many times I failed to truly compute these techniques.
I did get to compete a little in san shou. Getting beaten up by Asians (with tree trunks for legs) was a valuable life experience I’d never give back.
What it did for me
Naturally, training in the martial arts did the obvious for me. It made me fall in love with and respect exercise. Not only to strengthen the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Once you’ve been kicked in the liver a few times you realize that nothing really matters.
You just lost your job? Still better than a kick in the liver.
Your house burnt down? Still better than a kick in the liver.
They cancelled Game of Thrones, Vikings or whatever your favorite TV series is… still better than a kick in the liver.
A Worthwhile Pastime
A strange truth about people is that we love to work. We also love dodging work and procrastinating. Yet without something to keep us occupied we lose part of our humanity.
“Idle hands are the devils workshop.”
Having a hobby is a great thing. Especially in the sort of society we live in today. When I think about all the times I was too tired to start a fight or too tired to go binge drinking, it puts a smile on my face.
Getting beat up for fun can keep you from doing a lot of stupid things. Having a solid hobby can help put the rest of your life in perspective. Mine just happened to involved kicking people in the head.
The People You Meet
One of the greatest privileges that training martial arts has brought me is connecting with others. You get to meet all types of people in gyms and at competitions.
I’ve met millionaire businessmen, artists, professional models, stay at home moms, web designers, journalists, crazy instructors and last but not least, professional fighters.
The gym is not just a place to train and learn how to fight. It’s the world. A world made up of individuals with their own stories, hopes and aspirations.
One of the older gentlemen I trained with was a decedent of Ip Man, the teacher to Bruce Lee. Another was a professional con-artist, who has scammed people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Like I said, it’s the world. Both the good and the bad.
Being Good At Something
The most meaningful thing martial arts gave me is twofold.
First, I get to be good at something in life. No one can take that away from me. Even if my body is old and broken, I can still instruct a strong young person in the method. Knowing what you’re doing, being a specialist, is a pleasing thing.
Secondly, and even more important, it helps put your mind at ease. Things don’t always go your way. Sometimes you’ll get upset and curse God and creation. Knowing that you’re valuable in some way grounds you. It gives you peace and it gives you hope.
That’s the most valuable thing that martial arts has given me. Hope.
We live in a world where people kill and die for hope. If they knew that you can achieve this, simply by grounding yourself in the study of a subject (like martial arts), maybe we’d all be better off. Hopefully in the future I can share my peace and hope with others like me.
Wrap it up
Martial arts is not just a sport, it’s a pedagogy. When used right it is a holistic teaching method, encompassing mind, body and spirit. I’d like to convince you that it’s so much more than kicking and punching, but its best you uncover that for yourself.
Find yourself a gym and try it out.
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Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?
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Robert Sterling // Author