What is the Real value of Martial Arts Training?

I saw this little video this morning in my newsfeed and it started me thinking about not just why people start in Martial arts but, just as importantly, why they stay. A student of mine was struggling recently as to why he needed to keep coming to classes as "Nobody's trying to beat me up". Well, to this 10 year old student, that made perfect sense. A long time ago his argument would have made sense to me too. Like a lot of people I wanted to be better at defending myself and so I chose to train in Taekwon-Do and guess what? A year or two later, I could defend myself.

So why am I still practicing Martial Arts 36 years later? Well you see I , and many like me, realized that the benefits of Martial Arts training went way beyond being able to fight. Taekwon-Do gave me an appreciation of exercise as a lifelong habit. Through the trials of testing, training and tournaments I developed confidence and a sense of self worth. I became part of a community, a support network that values Discipline, Respect, Courtesy and Integrity. The cultivation of these values lead ultimately to Self Respect, for me the ultimate Self-Defence tool. The skill to defend oneself physically is one thing, the will to do so is another thing entirely. The cultivation of the Self Esteem Martial Arts training develops gives us a reason to defend ourselves, we believe that no one has the power to hurt or degrade us and we are willing to fight to uphold that belief.

There are many tragic cases of people who have stayed in dysfunctional and abusive relationships with spouses, partners, bosses and I believe that ultimately this comes down to low or non existent Self Esteem. When we place a high value on our own worth, we cannot tolerate abuse or injury from anyone. This is where real Self -Defence starts. 

Now, I know the Martial Arts Keyboard warriors out there may jump on this and talk about, Pre-Emption, Adrenal Dump, Pressure testing etc and some of these arguments are valid up to a point. The fact, however, remains that if you do not value yourself highly enough, you will always be at peril from those that would seek to do you harm.




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