To many, martial arts may be seen as non conducive to the positive development of a child or an adult. By some, its practice can be viewed as barbaric and counterproductive to a civilized society. As you can probably guess, I disagree.
Martial Arts, under the proper guidance has the ability to teach individuals about physical fitness, goal setting, determination, team work, discipline, leadership, and the value of hard work. While I do not consider myself a scholar by any stretch of the means, I have utilized these values learned through my martial arts study to effectively complete academic certificates and degrees from 5 different colleges and Universities.
My point being, if I hadn’t have grown mentally through my martial arts practice I would have never have had the courage to complete my first college degree or have the courage to set other worthwhile goals in life. I learned on the Dojo floor that I can always do better than I think I can, I can set goals and accomplish them if I work hard enough, and that the amount of practice you put into developing your skills is directly proportional to the results you obtain.
What one may also gain through martial arts practice is pride and a different level of security than those who don’t practice martial arts. For example, most martial artist who have progressed far enough in their training would have a plan if someone came up behind them and put them in a chock hold. The reactive combative skills we obtain through are study help protect ourselves and our loved ones from the uncivilized.
Thankfully I have only had to use my training a couple of times to aid others, the one time that stands out in my mind is the time I reactively disarmed and disable a drunken, bottle yielding dude who just finished striking someone in the head with it (small circle wrist lock, and transitioning into an arm bar). With a little pain compliance the individual quickly became civilized.
I have trained and dined with many martial artists of the years and have found that nearly all of them are the nicest people I have ever met. They are caring individuals who spread good will and life skills to others. It is through the teaching and or practice of martial arts that society can change for the better and those who practice martial arts can make some great friends along the way and even eat some great food with other practitioners (Bahalana-BBQ Ribs).
I just felt like posting this because recently an older lady who saw me reading a black belt magazine on the train to work asked me why I wanted to learn how to fight, and that couldn’t I think of more positive things to do in life (followed by the work “Honey”). Through other comments she made I quickly deduced that she was a pacifist who believed that no harm could come to you through love and good will. At the time, the only response I could come up with was that I train to fight to protect my family, myself, and pacifists; I know it sounds corny like something out of a Batman movie but I was still shocked that someone would approach me and feel the need to spew their beliefs. Anyway, after hearing my comment and figuring I was a lost cause she moved to a different seat.
So, while I will always still pray for peace, I will continue to train for war if the unfortunate need should ever arrive.
Guro Mike Cardenas