This 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.
If 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.
If 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.
Martial 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.