MAY 4, 2017
There are many different styles and many different reasons why people practice martial arts. If we were all the same, it would be boring and monotonous. Having the opportunity to meet others who engage in different styles, and participate in seminars or workshops that use different skill sets, is an exciting way to learn more about the immense world of martial arts. What you know can help me in my practice, and vice versa.
Let’s explore these truths a little further.
1. There Are Many Reasons for Practicing
There is no set reason why you should practice a martial art. Many learn to curb weight issues, get into better shape, and to keep active and fit. Some learn because they want a better chance to escape or defend if attacked. Still, others are motivated by the popular influence of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Cynthia Rothrock, Don Wilson, and the other amazing action actors they see in movies and on television.
Recently I received a message from a woman who described herself to me as “fat.” She wondered if she could learn a martial art. Unless you are a celebrity, it is unlikely that you have a perfect body. The truth is, martial arts don’t care how you look.
Every reason is worthwhile. Martial arts promote self-discovery, no matter the exact reasons for learning. In the end, everyone comes to a similar conclusion. Martial arts improve focus and strength, and empower the mind, body & spirit.
2. Traditional v. Modern Concepts
I practice traditional Korean martial arts. They are not, however, the only martial arts out there. We cannot act as if there is only one martial art in the world, or that certain ones are better than others. The truth is, other styles exist, whether we like it or not.
What is the real purpose of martial arts in today’s world? Are they a defense system, a fighting art, or an art form?
It all depends on the application, your perspective, and what you hope to learn. MMA, BJJ, and other grappling styles are more contemporary than Karate or TaeKwon-Do. In my classes we do some of the ground attacks and defenses because they are good to know. I can still be a traditional martial artist and explore different ideas in more modern styles.
The biggest truth here is that we can all learn from each other. That does not mean that we have to become proficient in every style, or understand every concept, but it does mean that learning concepts in other styles with which you are not familiar can help to improve your overall knowledge and experience in martial arts.
3. Men and Women
This topic is one of controversy and drama, at times. Is one gender better than the other? Each gender is different, but not necessarily better or worse. I think women are still trying to pave the way for their martial art practices, while men have been aligned in their systems for a while. Some women still struggle with being treated equally, whether that means sexism or lack of opportunities. Women are still fairly new to martial arts based on the history of martial arts over the course of time.
Skill-wise, I have seen women and men of incredible athleticism. I’ve seen both defend, fight, and perform. I do not think I ever use gender as the deciding factor on who is better or worse. Based on skill sets, you will find that both genders have areas of strengths and weaknesses.
The truth about this is that we have a passion and interest in something that we can all share together, and from which we can all build better life-long habits. We are all students in the arts, men or women, and nothing can ever diminish or change that. There is no men v. women, only men and women.
What are your truths about martial arts? I suppose you have a laundry list full. Do they make you feel happier? Do you feel more fit? More able to defend yourself? Do you enjoy the competition, the camaraderie, and the instruction? Do you like the continual self-improvement, the opportunities to advance in rank, or the ability to slow life down and decrease stress through your practice? These are your truths.
Why you practice is totally up to you. What style you like, and for how long you train, are also up to you. Respecting other martial artists and other styles, again, are up to you. Martial arts are whatever you choose to allow them to be in your life. They have many different applications, and that is okay, because we can all learn from each other. There is one truth that we all know for certain. It is awesome to be a martial artist!