Why Study the Martial Arts?
Why study the martial arts when there are so many other sports available?
Firstly, It is important to acknowledge that all physical activity is a good thing. Too much time is spent glaring at an electronic device these days so anything that gets people outside and interacting socially is a good thing. It’s also important to realise that social media has very little to do with socialising.
Secondly, The defining quality that elevates martial arts beyond standard, and I choose not to use the term traditional because martial arts is more traditional than any other sport, sports is that martial studies focusses on internal development which then permeates the physical. Traditional sports work in the opposite way, technical skills preceded internal development. Obviously there are exceptions on a personal level, but generally speaking a martial discipline requires the artist must master themselves internally first before the physical manifestation ever gets close to a semblance of mastery whilst standard sporting activities start with physical development which leads to internal development. Ironically, top sporting scouts look for exceptional internal qualities before physical prowess. A naturally talented football player will definitely catch the eye but if they are lazy, unfocused, self centred or undisciplined they won’t be picked because these behavioural qualities is what elevates a participant to the ranks of the exceptional. It is exactly these behavioural traits that martial arts looks to develop and hone as a critical function of the martial sojourn; the physical exercises are methodology’s for the development of these traits. If you want to learn self defence, develop a strong mind and will, these are far better weapons than hands and feet, or knives and swords. A strong mind will yield a strong body, a weak mind will produce a weak one.
Thirdly, Often undervalued or even completely omitted, is the social aspect of martial arts. Whilst your local tennis club is social but isolated, the fraternity of martial arts spans the globe. If you mention to another martial artist that you study martial arts, they want to know everything about your style, club, even lineage. It is this brotherhood that creates a network of information, companionship and solidarity unlike any other sporting endeavour. If you are looking to expand your social circles then martial arts will provide a diverse and engaging field of topics and interests.
Finally, martial styles are as varied and diverse as the cultures they hail from. There is literally a martial art akin to every culture on Earth. That means a huge variety to choose from across a wide range of applications. Some martial styles are predominantly for health and well-being whilst others are very aggressive. There are styles that use soft techniques and hard techniques, some that are very militant while others are relaxed and fluid and even weapons only styles. Each style reflects an ideological perspective; regular sports simply cannot offer that kind of variety.
The great thing about martial arts is a person knows it’s for them from their first exposure. They may not know which style to learn but they know whether or not they’ll still be studying in 12 months time. For those students, martial arts will become a life-choice, a way of approaching life’s challenges and a path of excellence to pursue.