If you talk with any long time martial arts practitioners, you’ll quickly notice that many of them often place an emphasis on how the martial arts have changed or enhanced their lives, not just physically, but in many other ways as well. What is it that makes the martial arts so life changing for so many?
Martial arts, at the outset, are explicitly concerned with more than just acquiring physical skills. The arts have an embedded philosophy that connects the arts to the outside world. Different systems define or express these values in different ways, but many of the concepts are universal. At Integrated Martial Arts, we express them in our core values (Family,Helping Others, Perseverance, Fun, Excellence, and Integrity).
The imbedded philosophical approach means there is a direct connection between the physical practice inside the gym and life outside it. Students are encouraged to see how the lessons learned through the martial arts can be applied to other areas of their lives. It’s easy to see how ideas like perseverance and integrity can apply to much more than just training on the mat or in the ring.
What is not harder to see is for many students, the martial arts becomes the first place where they experience the power of those ideas in a direct, physical form (what CMD Founder Rodney King refers to as an embodied experience). Talking about the importance of perseverance is easy, but when a student finally applies a technique or completes a workout after months or years of struggling, they experience the power of perseverance on a primal level. You will often hear long-time martial artists make comments like “after preparing for a grappling tournament, preparing for a job interview is pretty easy.” The experience of struggling and succeeding can create a profound shift in a person’s understanding of their potential, and their ability to fulfill it.
Is it possible have these kinds of life changing experiences through other activities? Of course. There are plenty of people in the world who undergo transformative experiences without ever setting foot in a martial arts school. But the martial arts offer a unique place to experience those transformations– a place where mind, body, and spirit are all challenged equally.