Blog Martial Arts

Commitment in the Martial Arts

Many people start new hobbies or habits with the goal of improving some part of their life. Unfortunately, it is often the case that these new changes do not stick. The reasons for this are numerous: I’m too busy at work or school; I have to take care of my kid(s); I don’t have time; I’m too tired; the activity is difficult. While they are all valid obstacles, they all surround a common theme — misplaced priorities. 

If you truly want your new hobby or habit to become a permanent fixture in your life, it has to become a priority. The new practice has to matter more than the things that are easy to do so those easy things don’t overpower your desire to do the harder ones. The same applies to martial arts. 

Martial arts has many benefits: fitness, flexibility, balance, stress relief, and perhaps most important among them, commitment and mental and physical discipline. Discipline is something that you cultivate over time and while it may be difficult when first starting out in the martial arts, it quickly turns into an attribute you can rely on and see the benefits of in both the short and long term. If you stick with martial arts for years and make it a part of your life you will reap many intangible rewards. 

Speaking again about misplaced priorities, let’s think about different activities. There are high value and low value activities. High value activities are things that lead to physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Such activities include various forms of exercise, eating whole foods, reading books, watching documentaries, or having face to face conversations with other people. Low value activities exhibit the opposite effect when done for extended periods of time. Such activities include sitting, watching entertainment tv, eating junk food, or playing video games. That’s not to say that low value activities need to be avoided entirely. They can provide a much needed break from the positive stress (eustress) you place on your body with healthy habits.

Martial arts is a high value activity. It includes physical activity to help you become stronger both physically and mentally. It includes competition and rank testing to give you goals to push yourself towards. It involves other people so you can support each other and have someone to share in your experiences together. Martial arts itself can break you down and show you parts of yourself you didn’t know you had in you. It can also be the thing that enables you to pick yourself back up when someone or something else tries to break you down. These are all aspects of martial arts that make it great and they are also the same reasons why someone might not stick with it. Martial arts are challenging, but everything in life worth doing is that way. In the end, it comes down to commitment — prioritize what you actually want for your life over what feels good and easy at the time. Have you ever known someone who regretted doing something good for themselves after they did it or were they just hesitant before they started?

When you commit to a life of martial arts, regardless of style, it repays you in ways you can’t imagine in the beginning and in ways you can reflect upon years down the road when you’ve become an entirely different person because of that commitment. 

—Sensei Brandon Benenati