10 Things Martial Arts Will Teach You About Life
Martial arts is about more than physical activity. It is about more than honing self-defense skills. It is about more than competition.
Each martial art is a microcosm of life itself. The lessons martial arts students learn go well beyond the dojo.
What do well-timed kicks and punches have to do with patience, perseverance, and humility? We are glad you asked. Once you dive deep into the philosophy behind the martial arts, you begin to understand just how far-reaching they are.
We have collected some of the greatest hidden lessons the martial arts teach students. We present them to you below. Read on to discover how studying these ancient physical art forms can revolutionize the way a child thinks.
10 Martial Arts Lessons to Blow Your Mind and Change Your Life
Traditional schooling can only teach kids so much. But there is more to life than book reports and common core standards.
It is likely you already know that the martial arts teach discipline, so we haven’t even included that in our list below. Consider it a given.
What you will find are facts about martial arts philosophy that you may never have considered. Discover them for yourself below.
1. You Can Learn Something from Everyone
When students begin learning martial arts, they sometimes believe their sensei will be their only teacher. This is not the case. In fact, every student in your class has something to teach you if you let them.
Learning in a group teaches a student to learn from the group. And there are many lessons your peers can teach you.
These lessons often come in the form of observation. Different students have different struggles that depend on their physical attributes, their mental abilities, and their backgrounds. When you see your peers overcoming these challenges in real time, you find resources to face your own challenges.
2. Choose Your Teachers Wisely
This might seem like it undermines the first item on our list, but it is simply an extension of it. You may be able to learn something from everyone, but that does not mean you have to pay attention to everyone at once.
There are many martial arts. There are many dojos, and there are many teachers. They each have their strengths and their weaknesses.
Your goal in choosing a teacher should be to find one who complements your personality and your abilities. Try them out, and when you find one who gels with your learning style, stick with them.
3. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Helps You Grow
You may take martial arts to learn safety skills, but you do not take martial arts to be safe. Your self-defense should not teach you to hide from the world.
One thing martial arts is great at teaching is the ability to step outside your comfort zone.
Not every opponent is one you want to face. Not every move comes easily. You may have to step up and spar when every bone in your body is telling you to stay seated and safe.
Another thing you learn in martial arts is that your comfort zone can grow. When you step outside your comfort zone, the boundaries of your comfort zone stretch to accommodate you.
That doesn’t mean learning ever gets comfortable, but you do develop a habit of stepping up when facing fear. And that is a valuable skill for anyone.
4. Comparison Is the Thief of Joy
We will admit that this is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, but it could not be better if it came from the most experience kung fu master.
Remember how we mentioned all of those different types of bodies and experiences that make up the students in a martial arts class? Well, they translate to various levels and speeds of learning to coexist in the same space at the same time. This makes it quite easy for students to compare themselves simply by turning left or right to look at their peers.
Martial arts discourages students from making these comparisons. Students learn to focus on their own journeys and apply their learning to honing their strengths and improving on their own weaknesses. It is only by being self-directed that real growth occurs.
5. There Are No Shortcuts
This lesson goes against the tide of our current culture. We live in an age of smartphones and social media. We have the entire history of music available to us at all times.
We want to get everything right away. Martial arts teaches us to redirect those desires. Students learn that if they are just working for the next belt, they will not enjoy their journey.
Students of martial arts face winding paths paved with difficulty and self-doubt. In the process of taking these journeys, they learn to face these difficulties. In martial arts, students learn there are no shortcuts and that the long way has its own rewards.
6. You Can Choose Not to Play the Game
When students start learning martial arts, there are a couple of external motivators they face. One is the belt system, and the other is fighting in competitions.
These competitions can be a great way to sharpen skills and test your progress against the progress of your peers. However, they are not the end-all, be-all when it comes to learning martial arts.
In martial arts, students learn to practice for themselves. Sometimes, this means not competing at all. If a student’s values do not align with entering competitions, they learn to trust their guts over their drive to compete at all costs.
One of the most powerful lessons of adulthood is the power of saying “no.” When students learn martial arts, they get a head start on learning this lesson by choosing whether or not to enter each competition as it comes up.
7. You Must Fail
“Failure” can seem like a dirty word, especially in American culture. But failure is often the start of something great. You can’t know your limits unless you test them, and learning those limits means failing and assessing that failure afterward.
Business expert and writer Seth Godin says tons of failure is the key to success. That’s because people who fail more are putting themselves out there more. That high volume of trying is the real success.
8. You Must Persevere
As important as failure is, you will never learn from it if you do not pick yourself back up after you fail. When students take martial arts, they learn that perseverance is the key to real growth.
Perseverance also teaches students the inner strength they need to keep persevering. It may seem strange, but perseverance breeds perseverance. This is just one of the many mysteries students learn when they study martial arts.
9. Commitment Is More Important Than Passion
We talk to our children a lot about passion. When we ask them what they want to be when they grow up, we ask, “Well, what are you passionate about?”
We may be thinking about our pursuits all wrong. Author and creativity expert Elizabeth Gilbert thinks passion is overrated. Instead, she suggests we focus on curiosity.
When we focus on curiosity, we see a whole world open up to us. We do not put pressure on our pursuits to be passionate right away. We can learn things with ease and natural inclination.
Curiosity is not the only piece of the learning puzzle, though. Commitment is another factor. When you pair curiosity with commitment, your potential becomes nearly unlimited.
Commitment is the thing that brings students back to the dojo. Commitment keeps them practicing the other lessons on this list. Commitment can exist even when passion fades, and it can be there when passion inevitably returns.
10. There Is No Such Thing as Mastery
Even though we just called Elizabeth Gilbert an expert, we are now going to practice another lesson martial arts teach us. That lesson? No one is an expert.
All of our wisest teachers throughout history have pointed out their own deficiencies. The more you learn, the more you realize you do not know. It is a simple fact of life.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the martial arts.
It is one of the reasons there are so many levels of black belt. You never become the best. You just gain certain skills.
There Is No Better Time Than the Present
Even though you may not be able to achieve mastery, you can learn and grow in a plethora of unexpected ways by studying the martial arts. You can get stronger physically and mentally. You can become a better you.
We hope this guide through the life lessons you can learn from martial arts has inspired you. It is only the tip of the iceberg.
If you want to keep exploring martial arts philosophy and practice, take a look at our martial arts classes. You won’t regret it.