Martial arts have and always will be a huge part of my life. From my early training in Krav Maga (not a martial art as such) to my competitive training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and being thrown around by the Scottish Freestyle Wrestling team, nothing else teaches you humility quite like fighting. Learning how to fight and how to defend yourself, your family and your friends is one of the most important things you can do. Martial arts give you a purpose. They will teach you a subtle confidence which you will carry with you wherever you go. Here are some lessons you will learn from fighting:
1. Humility – “For me, the martial arts is a search for something inside. It’s not just a physical discipline.” Brandon Lee“
All that muscle that you have spent building in a gym environment? Yeah it will only get you so far when fighting somebody with superb technique. This will be your first lesson in training for performance over aesthetics. If you train in martial arts you will likely possess the aesthetics, the same cannot be said the other way around. Fighting teaches you to leave your ego elsewhere, to realise the only way to learn is to open your mind and absorb the raw art.
2. Toughness – “I swear it upon Zeus an outstanding runner cannot be the equal of an average wrestler.” – Socrates
There is a certain type of strength and pain endurance you develop from intense training in the martial arts. It is not the strength from curling a barbell; rather it is the strength from using your bodyweight in a certain way. Your strong grip is forged from training against resistance with a gi, grabbing limbs to hyperextend or to set up brutal takedowns and squeezing your fists tight as you release a cross to the face of your opponent.
3. Lifestyle – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu, Chinese Philospher (604 BC – 531 BC)
Martial arts are a lifetime journey. Some choose to compete, some do not. What matters is that you constantly strive to improve; be it gradually going through the grading system, winning medals or simply beating an opponent who you have previously been unable to better. Life is tough; there is no getting around that. You have to work hard and deal with a lot of shit you do not like. You will do things you love, things you hate and you will meet assholes as well as amazing people. Life is about the journey.
4. Failure – “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
In life you will fail. But failing is all part of the learning process. You will learn more from losing than you ever will from winning. It is not about the loss but about how you respond to it. This leads me to another quote I would like to share which sums this point up nicely:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get it what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you!…until you start believing in yourself, ya ain’t gonna have a life.” Rocky Balboa
5. Dedication – “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Vince Lombardi
Things come in and out of your life constantly, people, friends, relationships. But there is always one or two things that are constant and those things you will make phenomenal progress in due to your perseverance and dedication. Be it your academics, your martial arts, other sports, or anything else, dedicating yourself to something will only yield positivity. We all know what it is like to be a beginner and if you look at the difference between when you started something and your current level the change can be astonishing. Don’t look at how far you have to go, rather look at how far you have come.