More of the mental and philosophical side to martial arts training

There is a lot more to martial arts training than throws, fitness and getting to grips with the mechanics of your discipline. Alongside that comes the more mental element to martial arts training, and a certain attitude and philosophy. To understand the philosophy principle behind martial arts is to give greater success to the martial arts student.

With most martial arts training, there is a sense of irony. Most martial arts are quite violent, and use aggressive throws and manoeuvres to defeat an opponent (or opponents), both unarmed and armed. Krav maga is a good example; there is little finesse with krav maga, but a lot of controlled and targeted aggression and violence to neutralize a threat. The point to remember in martial arts training is that such aggression is rarely violence for violence’s sake; with the majority of martial arts, the point of using force is only to counter an initial act of aggression; very few martial arts encourage or use pre-emptive aggression.

Many martial arts, especially those with an oriental focus or origin, embrace the concept of harmony or balance (aikido is a good example here). Violence and aggression is used to counter violence, and thus to restore order and harmony to the situation. With such martial arts, promoting harmony, both externally and internally is a key part of their ethos; and using force is merely (and admittedly ironically) a method to promote peace and harmony.

Understanding the strange connection between violence and peace in martial arts training is to have a better understanding of your chosen discipline. Above all, the student has to understand that what they are learning is not merely a form of violence, but a very controlled system of aggressive manoeuvres.

Understanding that what they are learning in martial arts training is for peace and harmony as opposed to mere violence will encourage a sense of self discipline and focus in the student. Self discipline in the way that the moves taught are for a purpose, and are controlled and targeted. Indeed, understanding their martial art more by appreciating its philosophy will make the student keener, and more receptive. Combine a sense of calm self discipline, and a sense of focus- then the student will be on their way through the grading system very quickly!

Humbly and respectfully considering your martial art

Another key point for the student to learn early on in martial arts training is humility. Learn from your sensei or instructors, and treat them with great respect as they pass on their knowledge and experience to you in martial arts training.

Understand that you are learning a discipline that had been studied and practiced (in some instances) for hundreds of years; show some respect and humility to the fact that you are learning a old, and indeed tried and tested, physical routine and ritual in martial arts training. Treat your knowledge and skill with similar respect- and in the fullness of time pass that ancient knowledge down to others.

The student is part of something much older and significant than them. Additionally, show humility and respect to your opponents in martial arts training and in competitions. Whether you defeat them on the mats, or are defeated, show them respect and treat them as fellow sportsmen and women. Taking judo and karate as an example, marks of honour and respect (bowing, etc) are always shown to judges, instructors and competitors alike as standard; this goes to show the importance of showing respect and humility in those disciplines.

Do not be arrogant in martial arts training or on the mats in competitions. Martial arts (in another sense of irony) is not about showing what a strong, powerful and great martial artist you are. Rather, great martial artists show respect and humility towards their martial art, and those who practice it, and are always willing to learn from others, and to encourage others.

From that sense of humility comes the idea of respect. Respect your martial art, with its the traditions, philosophy and ethos. Show respect to your instructors- and indeed to your opponents on the mats. It is showing this respect that will make the student realise that they are merely a small part in a long tradition and martial arts system – but a tradition that that they should take pride, and that they should honour and respect by giving it their very best, and their full efforts. Putting in your best efforts will give the student the greatest rewards from martial arts.

Learning a martial art is more than learning throws and self defence moves. The philosophy and mindset needed and encouraged in the student will enrich them regardless of what grade they end up at. The philosophy gained by a keen student in martial arts training will make them realise that martial arts are not merely about grades and belts- but rather it is an ongoing journey, and a journey discovering both the world around you, and developing yourself as a person. However, along the journey, you will gain knowledge of a martial art, spent time with a great group of people, get fit, and have fun.

A good mental attitude and discipline in martial arts training will get students to this level
A good mental attitude and discipline in martial arts training will get students to this level

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