How is it that the study of violence can lead to peace? How can learning to punch and kick improve someone’s confidence? How can combat lead to kindness?
If you watch a great movie it will have a great story, great characters in a well realized world of fantasy or fact.
But for the characters to be great there must be dimensions to their personality and their character will need to evolve throughout the film, bad to good, good to bad, small to big.
In martial arts, people join for various reasons, they want fitness but they also want mental stimulation, they want a genuine sense of confidence, they want to learn to fight or they want to explore the esoteric and they want to grow.
There are many reasons people take their first step into a martial arts dojo, whatever the reason, your initial reason to train probably won’t be the reason you continue to train. How so? Because martial arts training will evolve with you and you evolve with training. Regardless of the club you choose or the style or the teacher you train with, your perspective will inevitably shift as you develop in your abilities.
I have students who are really enthused and energetic but commonly struggle with technical refinement, and I have students with great technique but struggle to enthuse their movements with spirit. I have people training who aren’t’ afraid of mixing it on the mat and love the physical but often lack artistry and subtlety.
My observation is that the values that the student holds are the attributes they will display and are both their strength and their limitation; so the journey in martial arts is to learn the thing that has the attributes outside of the your assumed set of values or to do the thing that you are not naturally gifted at.
You want to deal with a street fight? Fine learn the no nonsense approach we have to combative ability, learn the mindset required, however, I encourage you not to stop there; push yourself to explore the artistry of Kata, the flow of the softer aspects of martial arts and the wisdom martial arts has to offer.
You want to learn about breathwork and meditation? Fine, but don’t stop there either, keep your martial arts honest and your feet on the ground by learning how to deal with the harsher side of life head on and develop your street fighting capability. Street fighters have got spine, intelligent thinkers have perspective, artists have a type of awareness and expression and a warrior has all of these capabilities.
What I am saying is don’t limit your character by limiting your exploration of what martial arts can be. YOU are the writer of the movie, the director of the story and you can even craft your own character.
As you craft your character, there will be choices to make along the way; the choice is, do you want to make your martial arts training about punches or peace?