It was back around the time that Bruce Lee exploded onto the cinematic scene, that the first real martial arts craze took the world by storm, with karate, kung fu, judo, and taekwondo dojos opening all over the place.
These days, we seem to be in the midst of another massive “martial arts boom,” where kids MMA classes can be found operating in virtually every large city (and in many small towns, even), and where adults are racing in droves to learn arts like Brazilian jujitsu.
The clearest and most obvious benefit of training in martial arts is learning how to defend yourself more effectively. This makes you significantly less vulnerable in all sorts of situations, gives you a sense of situational awareness, and also makes you more useful to your loved ones, should you end up in a dangerous situation with them.
There are, however, also many benefits of training in martial arts beyond the self-defense element.
Here are a few amazing lessons you can learn from martial arts training.
Coming face-to-face with your fears and insecurities, and refusing to let them have the final say
Turning up to a martial arts class is often psychologically tough – and especially so when you are a beginner.
In the martial arts gym, you are in an environment where you will have to “leave yourself bare” in one of the most fundamental of ways – by showcasing your limitations to other people, and revealing just how capable you are (or more like how incapable you are) of physically defending yourself.
In everyday life, people will generally go to extreme lengths to avoid being in these kinds of situations, and to posture, and to hide their weaknesses – and for good reason, too. If you were to give a potential predator out in public the idea that you were an easy target, that wouldn’t be good for you.
Of course, in the context of a martial arts class, this level of “vulnerability” is a stepping stone towards becoming better, stronger, and more resilient.
In order to turn up to train, however, you will certainly need to come face-to-face with your fears and insecurities, and you will need to refuse to let them have the final say if you want to progress.
Suffice to say, this is an incredibly useful skill to develop in life, in general. There will always be things that intimidate you – and the better able you are to face your fears and overcome them in the pursuit of meaningful goals, the better and more empowered your life will be.
The importance of discipline and consistency, over a prolonged period of time
As a general rule, there is no such thing as “progressing fast” in martial arts – especially in martial arts that are more “raw” and which are integrated into contemporary fighting sports – for example, judo, BJJ, and kickboxing.
If you want to really become proficient in a given martial art, you need to stick with it consistently, over a prolonged period of time – and you need discipline and good personal organization skills in order to make that happen.
There are a lot of people out there who are quite good at “starting strong,” with a big burst of initial energy and enthusiasm. But for almost everything that counts in life, consistency and endurance are essential.
Learning to stick with something doggedly and consistently is extremely valuable.
How developing your skills and abilities can help to dissolve your insecurities and boost your confidence
There are, unfortunately, some people out there who are proficient in martial arts and are dangerous fighters, who are also aggressive and abusive people.
For the most part, though, you will tend to notice a seemingly paradoxical phenomenon when you start regularly going to martial arts classes and encountering high-level martial artists – that is, the people who are the most “dangerous” are also typically some of the most relaxed and positive.
When all is said and done, the idea of getting into a physical altercation is terrifying. A lot of people will live in a state of near-constant low-level fear whenever they go out because they know that they haven’t got the necessary skills to defend themselves if violence was used or threatened against them.
Training in martial arts and becoming proficient, though, can help to dissolve those insecurities to a significant degree, and to boost your confidence, too. And when you have less too fear and less to prove, why wouldn’t you feel better about yourself, and be more relaxed as a rule?
Of course, it’s important to always be vigilant and to never become complacent, no matter how well-trained you become. But martial arts classes can be a great reminder of your own ability to move beyond your limitations and hangups.