AerobicsThis is a discussion I have had many a time. My answer is pretty standard: Martial arts are for everyone, but not everybody is for the martial arts.

Many people have a misconception about what taking up martial arts means. It should not be like going to join a gym and taking part in aerobics classes (although many McDojangs/McDojos have turned it into that). Martial arts are not about getting into shape. It is a holistic approach to life, being fit just happens to be a part of it. It is far more than joining in on a class on the odd occasion and then bragging that you are a deadly weapon. Martial arts are about learning skills – skills that can have use and effect in all spheres of your life. It is a path you follow and a lifestyle you live. It is a humbling, yet empowering road.

If you are looking for a fun and friendly environment to bounce around aimlessly and lose weight, then martial arts is not for you. While we do have fun and friends can be made in a martial arts class, there is something a lot more serious and deep about the whole experience.

average personIf you don’t want to put yourself into, often, tough and uncomfortable situations, then martial arts is not for you. Sometimes the way to progression is through hardship. This is how we learn to adapt.

If you don’t want to take the odd beating and suffer disappointments, then martial arts is not for you. Egos are broken down and confidence is built up both mentally and physically in martial arts.

If you want to train only when you feel like it, then martial arts is not for you. The way we grow is through consistency, despite the ups and downs we go through.

If you are not willing to be better than average, then martial arts is not for you. You need to be willing to be special. You need to commit to becoming better than average. You need to be able to push and be pushed.

customer always rightIf you want to go somewhere where “the customer is always right”, then martial arts is not for you. The Instructor is always right, and too bad if you don’t like it. The modern “consumer” can never understand this. There are no “customers”, only students.

Practicing martial arts is about going after something that may prove difficult, but doing it anyway. It is about ups and downs, but never giving up. It is about commitment – something that the modern age doesn’t make much time or space for. It is about joining a brotherhood where bonds are formed on suffering, defeats and victories. It is not always a cup of tea, in fact, it hardly ever is. Being a martial artist is a calling and changes your outlook on life in many ways. Instead of merely “doing” martial arts, you become a martial artist.

If you don’t like what training in martial arts is about, then go join a class designed for your needs. That is the beauty of choice. Martial arts don’t need to bend to suit people. There are other things out there that are for that. If it was an easy path, everyone would be doing it and everyone would be a master. But it’s not.

tkd classMartial arts can be the most rewarding thing in the world, but it doesn’t come easy. It’s not merely about attending classes; it is about the lifestyle and everything else that goes with it.

Martial arts are for warriors! Not everyone has what it takes.

New Year 2015I often say, “Change doesn’t come with a date.” I find I say it to people a lot more at this time of year due to people reflecting on the year gone by and what they would like to accomplish in the year to come.

Many pull out the piece of paper where they wrote last year’s resolutions and find nothing but shattered hopes and dreams and disappointingly realize that their wishes have not come true. And therein lays the problem!

Firstly, making a change is not about a particular date. It is about having the resolve and fortitude to start immediately and not wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Be better now!

Genie LadySecondly, making a change is not about dreams. Dreams are far off figments of our imaginations. It is about having a vision. A vision is a reality not yet achieved. That vision becomes your goal.

Thirdly, making a change is not about wishing. Not to disappoint anyone out there, but there are no genies in magic bottles waiting to appear on New Year’s Eve. It is about implementing a plan.

So, implement your plan to achieve your goal (vision) immediately. No matter if it is 1 January, 27 May or 11 October – the date is of little consequence. The hardest part is having the perseverance to stick to your plan no matter what the world throws at you. It can often be a test of spirit, and hopefully you have an indomitable one.

Black BeltThat said, I encourage every martial artist to take a little bit of time to reflect on the year gone by – did you achieve what you set out to? If not, why? What can you do to correct what went wrong? Set new goals. Lay out a detailed plan (road map) to achieve these goals. Often we can defeat our opponents, but we find it difficult to defeat ourselves. Achieving goals is one way of elevating ourselves and destroying whatever inner demons we may have.

I wish you all the best for the New Year. Go forth and conquer!

Challenge1Another year has come and gone and there have been so many lessons learned in my martial arts journey. Every time I start to think I know something, I learn something else. This year has been no different. In many ways it was the most challenging year I’ve had to date in the martial arts, but also the most rewarding.

As far as my own training, it has been a really tough year. I have been riddled with injuries of all kinds and as much as I would not like to admit it, it took a physical toll on my training and personal development. But, as I tell my students, there is a lesson in everything; you just need to look at it from the right perspective. Where you may lack physically, you must make up mentally which can be a huge challenge in itself. Where many find an excuse to “take a break” or give up outright, you must persevere and show a little of that indomitable spirit a martial artist is made of. It is by coming through these challenges that make us better martial artists. A martial artist who has never been challenged cannot truly say that he has achieved anything. challengeA true martial artist comes out the other side, perhaps with a few more scars, but alive and kicking without having given up like the rest. He earns the right to wear the badge of honour. If it was an easy road, everyone would be a master. It cannot be smooth sailing all of the time which is why it is a road reserved for the few who are willing to walk it. This year has taught me a lot in this regard.

First and foremost, I consider myself to be an Instructor. In terms of instruction this has been a very rewarding year. I have seen many of my students achieve their goals, bear witness to new experiences and overcome many of their own challenges. Each student is like a child to me (yes, even the adults) and I love to see how they develop over time. I have seen students grow in all aspects this year – both physically and mentally. I am grateful to have been allowed to be a part of this stretch of their martial arts journey with them and I hope to be able to share in more of their experiences way into the future. In the end we all grow together, and I thank them for the lessons that they have taught me this past year.kicking santas

To all out there practicing martial arts, I wish you well done on the year past and a good journey on the year ahead. The martial arts ladder has rungs of fire and cloud, but with diligence we climb and will make it to the top.

Happy Holidays and best wishes over the Festive Season.

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