The availability of so many choices in martial arts study – Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Judo, Taekwondo, and Karate to name a few – has made it easy for almost anyone to sign up for classes, and as a result, many have. Each style is slightly different to its approach of teaching, but they all have one general overriding philosophy. No matter which of the martial arts you choose to practice, you will find that they all focus on concentration, focus, discipline, self-defense, and spirituality. So not only do they provide a good exercise routine and teach a new life skill, they require the student to master other critical life skills in order to obtain knowledge of the whole practice.
The ultimate irony in martial arts, if there is one, is that once you’ve spent years of training and studying and mastering techniques, you can never use the fighting skills you’ve learned; unless of course, you have no other choice. This is where the acquired skill of mental and physical discipline pays off. Because once you’ve learned a martial art, the hardest thing to do will be to exercise restraint to not use it at every opportunity, and that requires discipline. Intense discipline. And then it suddenly becomes clear to you why spirituality, concentration, focus, and discipline were such a vital part of the teachings. You have to be aware of what’s all around you when you get in a situation, use your intellect to avoid a conflict if you can, and only then, when all other avenues have been exhausted, can you use your art to defend yourself.
As important as all of these mental attributes are to one’s training in martial art program, they often get overlooked or neglected to focus on the more obvious, tangible benefits of the program, like increased strength, improved flexibility, or weight loss. But these attributes are actually the core of a martial arts program, and ignoring them is self-defeating. Anyone can get stronger, or more flexible, or lose weight if they want to, but the rigors of mental discipline, focus, concentration, spirituality, and serenity must be taught. And that’s the real benefit of martial arts.
Grand Master John W. Rankin