Training in Martial Arts is something millions of individuals do on a daily basis all across the world. Yet, to those that don’t train or take part, it is still seen as a relatively niche activity. In an ever increasingly digital world, why do people start training in Martial Arts? What allure do the Combat Sports continue to have in a modern world?
I asked over a thousand people why they started training through my website and social media. Some common themes of influence emerged from within their responses.
- Media - TV, Film, Comics, Sports and Gaming
- Family & Friends
- Mental Health
- Male Influence
- Self Development
- Fitness / Weight Loss
- Self Defence
- Help with Trauma
- Re-invention - Change their life
- Anger Control
- Addiction Recovery
- Random Chance
Media - TV, Film, Comics, Sports and Gaming
Jackie Chan movies - IG @iammattjane
Because of Chuck Norris in Force of One!! - IG @dtjanasiak
Because I liked WWE - IG @notoriousnewell
Anime lol!!! It was something I connected with as a kid! A lot of the fight scenes were really cool and I wanted to be like the guys on screen but realized that was impossible when I got into fist fights with the local kids.
So I started picking up some moves from ufc champions lol Chuck Liddell being a big name I used to follow lol overtime I became more and more obsessed with the moves and trying to pull them off perfectly without fail lol and now I'm stuck trying to be perfect even tho it is unattainable lol - IG @shaun3gt
Tekken 3 lol I wanted to be Hwoarang - IG @profoundpro
By far and away one of the most common influences on people starting training in Martial Arts is that of media.
Watching Martial Arts superstars such as Jean Claude Van Damme in movies.
Religiously tuning into children’s TV shows that have you mimicking Power Ranger or TMNT type fight scenes.
Following sports promotions such as the UFC.
Playing Streetfighter 2 on the super NES.
Even the reading of comics and watching anime can be the tipping point (Dragonball Z, I am looking at you)!!
Although some of these can often be seen as a frivolous example of what true Martial Arts is. There is no denying the impact any of them can have on those watching or reading. Especially the young!
I can so relate to this!! Growing up, I was hugely into all of the above! If I had to name some of my own influences from film in particular. Then I would have to go with JCVD, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Samo Hung, Yuen Biao and Jet Li.
Because, let’s be honest. Who did not grow up wanting to be a super hero, ninja, Karate kid or even super villain!!
In today’s modern world where media has never been so accessible.
The martial arts will continue to influence all those that come into contact with them.
The internet will no doubt bring role models, characters and influencers to a whole new generation.
Family & Friends
My mum wanted me out of the house for a few hours every week and Karate was the nearest activity to join - YT @king
My dad and I used to watch old Kung Fu & Bruce Lee movies together while I was little for bonding time & he would pay attention to how much I would love every second of tha martial arts so he signed me up and Ive been in love w/it ever since - IG @senpai_jv_
My father ..studied miyama Ryu for decades..almost had no choice lol - IG @foulmonday
Few mates started Muay Thai for fitness so I decided to join them. Realised I loved the sport so stuck it at and have kept training since. Regularly go train at various gyms around the U.K. and Ireland and hopefully getting back out to Thailand again soon - FB Matthew Hill
2 generations of family raised in martial arts, now i have 2 girls doing taekwando, my youngest is a green belt and she’s 6 - YT @SottoLwrence
Obviously, another huge influence in our lives when it comes to starting training in Martial Arts (or anything else for that matter) are our family and friends.
This ranges from the kids whose parent(s) have trained Martial Arts for a long time, and thus by default, now have to start doing it. Through to friends who start and then ask you to give a class a go with them.
Some parents don’t have any real interest or notion of what training in Martial Arts is, they just seek to get their kids in a positive activity that is both local and affordable.
Those that do have more experience will often go to great lengths to seek out the best that they can get their children into.
An important note from this to parents (and I am one myself) is that we can either make this a positive or negative introduction/experience, simply by the way we talk, engage and motivate with it.
Personally, I was never really influenced by my family or friends with this. I was the only one I knew that was even interested in Martial Arts when I started.
However, as a father, I have actively sought to get both my children actively training and developing the same passion I have for it.
I am one and one on the score board in that respect ha ha!
My daughter trains a lot but my son has since developed other interests.
Curse you god of Martial Arts!!!
They were both supposed to be my doubles on the mats ha ha.
I was bullied in school a lot! And i grew up in a rough part of the town. Wing Chun and Thai boxing/kickboxing with weight training gave me the respect. Even though i had a very few fight. I could avoid it most of the time - IG @matolcsirobert
Early 1981.I was a skinny kid, glasses, bullied. Friend introduced me to his school, mom's got together and I was enrolled. Started out with Okinawan Karate as a tool for self defense. Discovered the warrior path in high school and embraced Jujitsu, Judo and anything else I could find over the years.
Now 2022 and still going strong. Combat veteran, successful business, family and still teaching. Train hard, be safe and never quite! - YT @diane centeno
For me It all started one night after I’d been beaten up by a group of older lads, who’d seen me walking home, unprovoked attack just for the fun I guess. This was the epitome of a life of being bullied into that point, beginning with my father and continuing throughout school. I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself “look at you, no wonder you get bullied, you’re an obvious choice”.
That night I told myself my life either ends or I make sure it never happens again. So from the next morning at then age of 14 I trained like a mad man, lifting 2 hours a day every day so, I practiced for hours a day improving my posture, even down to consciously changing the way I walk In order to appear more intimidating. Then I took up Taekwondo, followed by kickboxing, Muay Thai and BJJ.
And today as a 31 year old I have a black belt in TKD, 10 years experience in kickboxing and around 5 years in Muay Thai and a very small amount of BJJ experience.
Unfortunately I started the BJJ just before covid came along. - YT @Tonkinese n chill
I was bullied as a kid, wanted to be like Bruce. I started with karate. Got into muay thai then 25 years in Can Ryu jiu jitsu among other styles to enhance my training. It became a huge part of my life not just because I was bullied anymore. That person was long gone many years ago. - IG @phillip.wiebe
Got bullied all through school and wanted to learn self defense. Then fell in love with it - IG @siimple_akhii
If there is one major reason why people recommend starting Martial Arts to others, it is to combat bullying.
Bullying can obviously occur at any age. But it is often with young children and teenagers that the feeling of helplessness can become most overwhelming.
Being able to fight and defend yourself is at the heart of what most people would view training in Martial Arts is for. The combat element of training however does vary a lot between the disciplines.
This makes some a better choice than others if physical encounters are what a student is primarily preparing for.
However, once they start training in Martial Arts, most people realise the best changes lie outside the purely physical.
For those that are being bullied, the positive improvements in self-confidence, self esteem and overall mental health can often be even more important than gaining the ability to fight.
I don’t think there are many people who can hand on heart say that they never experienced any bullying as a child.
Unfortunately though, some get it a whole lot worse than others.
Personally, I was bullied at times as a youngster.
My family did not have a lot of money. I would often wear a lot of hand-me-down clothes (some of which were even donated by friends).
Owning a non-market stall brand for me did not happen until I was a young teenager. I still remember my first Nike pair of trainers (at 12) and branded coat (at 16).
Combine this with the fact I was tall, ungainly and quite introverted, and you have a pretty sizeable target for bullies ha ha.
Thankfully, my size and amiable nature meant that physical incidents were avoided most of the time. I don’t think I started training as a result of being bullied per se. But, the experience definitely helped motivate me to not want to feel that way again.
Although a lot is said nowadays about the more modern occurrence of cyber bullying. The same issues lie at the heart of the issue, no matter whether the bullying occurs in person or online.
As such, training in Martial Arts can be helpful across the board.
Yes, of course in terms of physical self-defence.
And, I am a big proponent of this!
But, also more importantly, in helping the individual grow to such an extent with their self confidence, self-esteem and self worth, that they are more well equipped to deal with it should the need arise.
Training keeps my mind occupied instead of sitting around depressed all the time - YT @Caleb Dawson
Long story short, to fight depression - YT @brok3n
To help with my depression anxiety and anger. The moment I was going to kill myself due to all that..I knew I had to change something.. so mixed martial arts was it. - IG @richie_rich.92
To relieve stress and depression to change my blood chemistry without medication! - IG @tan.t.jina
I was fed up with myself...I was starting to be suicidal. Then I met my coach and started kickboxing. It saved my life - IG @kickboxing_girls_power
Times have changed over the past few decades. We have now started to understand the importance of looking after our mental health alongside that of our physical.
People who train in Martial Arts have long known the positive impact regular training brings to their own personal mental health.
The combination of;
Physical activity (exercise releases endorphins).
Learning of new skills (thus increasing self confidence/self esteem).
Feeling of deeper connection with people (those that they train with).
All come together to help promote hugely positive change.
Training in Martial Arts is akin to physical meditation.
You have to be in the moment!
And not have your mind focusing on anything other than what is in front of you. This in itself can often be a mental balm for anyone who faces stress in their everyday life.
I personally did not start training in Martial Arts because of mental health related issues when I was younger.
However, the positive impact training has on my own mental health as an adult is definitely one of my reasons for keeping going. I honestly cannot think of anything else that I could do that would come close in this respect.
In a world that is ever increasing in the speed that it moves and the difficulties faced at every age, training in Martial Arts has never been so relevant or needed when it comes to helping with mental health.
I had no replies mentioning this but I do want to raise it as a factor. I think it has been an often under appreciated issue for some time.
Although there are hugely increasing numbers of female fighters, practitioners and coaches across Martial Arts.
There is no getting away from it.
Most gyms, dojos and academies have more men in them than women.
In a society where parents often divorce and where there are more female teachers than male.
There are unfortunately many children who grow up without the influence of a positive male role model within their lives.
This impacts both sons and daughters equally.
It is not uncommon for children or teenagers to then seek this influence out from the wrong kind of people.
I am not going to say that every male Martial Arts coach, fighter or practitioner is a positive role model.
Because I am damn sure they are not.
However, there are a hell of a lot that are.
The very nature of Martial Arts being based around self development, physical challenge and positive growth fosters the kind of individual that is potentially a much needed male influence in a child or teenagers life.
There is a lot said in modern times about toxic masculinity.
One of the ways to fix this, is to celebrate what it means to be a man/male figure in society.
Find the right Martial Arts gym with the right Martial Arts coach. If you can do this then you will definitely be on the right path to helping address this imbalance.
For me looking back, I definitely think this played a huge part in my decision to train in Martial Arts.
My dad left home when I was 4 years old and my older brother not long after. As a result I grew up mainly with my mum and one of my sisters. As a single parent on a low wage, she had to work a lot. Thus, I would often have to find things for myself to do on my own.
Unfortunately, growing up on the estate that I did (council estate on the outskirts of Greater Manchester). I had plenty of access to less than desirable male role models. This had the combined effect of lowering my aspirations and leading me down a path towards trouble.
I was lucky though. I went onto find a great gym with an inspirational coach.
Times change but the needs of human beings don’t. If your son or daughter does not have the continued presence of positive male role models in their lives then finding a great Martial Arts gym and coach could be a game changer for them.
Do your research, show an interest and you could well be making one of the best investments into their future well being that you can.
Love movement and hard exercise. Also love to play rough and martial arts gave me a community that feels the same way. - IG @samwiselikeafox
Fun - IG @ernestosbeats
For the competition and because it’s fun - IG @mataimark
For me I just wanted a positive and good hobby which is both fun and positively impacts my health, started back in 2015 watching Conor's rise. - YT @Zig Zag
I just like it, just like people who enjoy playing chess, footbal, cycling or jogging - YT @Joni Irene
Ok, let’s get real here. No one does anything they don’t have to unless they can have some fun with it.
And, what is more fun than throwing ninja like moves, hitting like Rocky or pyjama cuddling with serious intent??
There are many different Martial Arts disciplines and Combat Sports. Each offers their own aspect of training style and system. However, what they should each have in common is that they are fun to do.
Not fun as in a easy pickup the ball and play keepy up for 5 mins fun.
But fun in the sense that is has the right element of challenge, skill, physicality and energy all rolled into one to keep you coming back for more.
Fun is individual but I personally love all types of Martial Arts training. I love being around like minded people who both challenge me and make me laugh.
I like hitting bags, grappling on the floor, wrestling, waving sticks threateningly at other people…. You name it, I will probably enjoy it ha ha!!
Of course there are many “fun” things to do in the modern world. But, I guarantee that not many have the depth of enjoyment available to those who stick with the many layers you find in Martial Arts.
Hitting your friend in the face with a well timed kick.
Getting the tap on the guy who just tapped you.
Avoiding the student who always kicks you in the groin.
Fun times indeed!!
Started T the age of 11 in Karate, Jim Jitsu and Judo. Began because I needed discipline. Still training today in Kick Boxing, Tae Kwon Do as I realized through my journey, growth in discipline never stops. - IG @takopercussion
I started learning because I thought it would be a great way to increase confidence, self-esteem, and help me learn to be more respectful and also self defense for whenever I might need it. I love it, and so far it’s taught be a lot - YT @TheWolfNinja
A large range of goals and reasons, but the core is probably to help my confidence massively - YT @Salvado Montgomery
I'd never exerted myself in anything ever, found school then work easy. Just decided I needed to get myself out of my depth. - IG @mark__lingard
because it was the thing i was most scared of - IG @mrgoup
I have mentioned it already in this post but self development is a common theme that connects all Martial Arts. The desire to be better today than you were yesterday.
This of course starts with the physical movements. Learning techniques and then through constant practice, perfecting their application. It does not end there though.
Anyone who has spent any length of time training in Martial Arts will tell you that in order to improve their physical actions on the mats, they need to develop themselves across the board, this includes both mentally and spiritually.
Desirable physical attributes include strength, flexibility and speed.
However, Martial Arts training also asks that you develop characteristics such as focus, self discipline and perseverance. Through this we find that we become more self confident, develop our self esteem and greatly improve our self awareness.
Once we start to make these positive changes to our mind and body, we then seek to improve our spirit. Being a better human being is the ultimate goal for those wanting to be the best martial artist they can be.
I knew that I wanted to be stronger, fitter and more skilled when I first started training.
What I did not realise at that time though was just how much better my life would become as a result of developing some of the character traits and belief systems I mention above.
It takes me back to what I say to people all the time. “Training in Martial Arts will give you what you want, but more importantly, it will give you what you need!"
We don’t often know what we need until we get it.
The Western approach to education within schools and Colleges often lacks an emphasis on anything other than numbers based results. Self development such as mentioned above is equal to, if not more important, than the classical approach we currently use as both a measure and a guide to educate our children in school.
Change my mind!
Fitness / Weight Loss
I started to lose some weight (lost 200+lbs!) Now a decade on, it's an obsession and a lifestyle! - FB Alex Griffin
I started a little over a year ago when I was at a really low point in life, I needed to lose weight and I needed something to get me off my ass. Now I've made some good friends that I love to train with, I've lost 50+ pounds, I've gained a lot more self respect and respect for others, and I thoroughly enjoy everything about my gym.
Started in boxing, 6 months later started Muay Thai and now I am looking forward to joining jui jitsu. - YT @A Healthy Snack
Started in martial arts to improve my fitness! - IG @robbymoss_
I was introduced firstly to cardio kickboxing as a way to improve my cardio while not having to do running, spinning, etc. I liked it so much I started developing a taste for it and decided to sign up for MMA. So far, I’ve been loving it - IG @mr.sia10
More fun to me than picking things up and putting them down over and over again - IG @louiswilson9109
Fitness and weight loss as a reason to start are usually indicative of a later start to Martial Arts. More often than not, children get involved for other reasons (of course this is not always the case).
As such, this motivation to change themselves physically brings more and more adults through the doors of gyms up and down the country at a later time in their lives.
The choice of Martial Art or Combat Sport will obviously change how much emphasis there is on fitness.
However, any sedentary individual who starts moving around and exercising again will benefit from active participation in any of the disciplines.
The more dynamic the discipline (I am looking at you Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ, Boxing etc), the more fitness an individual will gain from regular training. I actually love fitness and weight loss as a reason for people to start. Having a specific goal in mind that can be measured and tracked is a great thing.
As with every reason for starting training, this will then often lead the individual down the path of finding all of the other amazing benefits to be gained from long term participation.
I wanted to be fitter and stronger when I first started training but I was not thinking in terms of weight loss. More in terms of being physically capable of doing all the kicks I had my heart set on achieving. I blame JCVD for that one!
Again, modern day life leaves more and more of us shackled to computers at work and beyond. An outlet that greatly increases your health through raising fitness, helping maintain (or lose) weight and all round physicality should not be underestimated!
Another important piece of Martial Arts life!!
Self defence. A fellow dog walker was attacked in the woods we walked in. I wanted to learn how to protect my dogs and I from similar attack. Four years on I just love punching and kicking. My only regret is not starting sooner. Oss! - IG @kirstymarkwell
I started training so I wouldn't feel powerless anymore. So I knew if anyone ever laid a hand on me again, I would be able to defend myself - IG @i_.s_.a_.b_.e_.l_.l_.e_
My reason was self defense and to learn a new skill. Little did I know I would find a new passion, I love my training! - YT @STI555
16 yrs old 5'10 90lbs my girlfriend at the time would occasionally get harassed. I felt helpless until I joined a Muay Thai gym, it gave me passion, sense of fulfilment and confidence. - YT @Miguel Delgado
reasons I grew up in a rough neighborhood and also I grew up in a house where my mom used to get beat on I wanted to do everything I could to make sure it stopped.. and it did - IG @ob_414
Similar to bullying, self defence is another of the key reasons why people get recommended to train in Martial Arts.
Whether this is as a result of a single incident in the past, bullying as a child or fear of attack in the modern day world, it boils down to not wanting to feel helpless and vulnerable.
It would not take long watching the news, reading the papers or trawling through social media to find some recent incident of violent crime in your local vicinity. As a result, this feeling of insecurity is never far away from our thoughts. This is especially true if we find ourselves continuously in certain environments, such as in our job etc.
Self defence is historically what training in Martial Arts is all about. Although you could argue that in the past, it was more about having a codified combat training system for war.
As the constant threat of death has diminished, the result has been that more and more Martial Arts disciplines now focus purely on sport, fitness and self development. There are now fewer arts seen as being effective to train in for applicable self defence.
As I mention in the section above on bullying, sometimes it is enough just to feel a bit more confident about yourself through the regular physical training than it is to go all out on a mission to become a hardened fighter.
However, it would be wrong of me to insinuate that any old practise will suffice.
If you want to be capable of defending yourself in a real life, aggressive situation then you will need to train in a live environment no matter what system you are studying.
I liken it to medical training. We can all learn basic first aid i.e. how to put a plaster on, how to ice inflammation etc. And that might be enough for us. Or, we can go as far as attending medical school and spend years training to become a world class surgeon.
It is the same with Martial Arts. We can train once or twice a week in a non live environment working mainly on fitness. Or we can push the boundaries, train multiple times a week in different aspects of the Martial Arts ranges/disciplines.
It all depends on what we want from it, how much time we are going to put into it and what we are willing to give up in return.
Self defence was definitely a big thing for me as to why I started training.
I hated the feeling of being afraid, confrontations, feeling vulnerable.
These were some of the reasons why I stuck through the harder aspects of training i.e. sparring, grappling etc. And then through competing. I wanted to be stronger so that I would not feel this way again.
Again, similar to what I wrote in the section above on Bullying, the need for training in Martial Arts to gain some knowledge of self defence has never been greater. For a number of reasons. One of them actually being that I think people don’t realise how difficult or dangerous fighting can be if they have never actually been in a fight.
This is why I don’t really like the term “self defence”. I just don’t think there is more recognisable word that describes this notion.
The word conjures up the thought that with training, a practitioner can withstand and counter any would be attacker, no matter what the environment or situation.
I blame the Media topic at the top of this post. Films and TV have a lot to answer for in this respect.
Those with substantial Martial Arts training do their best to avoid having to use it. Not because they are afraid. Although, there is no doubt they possibly are at times. But because they know there are never likely to be any winners in physical confrontation.
Training in Martial Arts increases our ability to defend ourselves. It also increases our humility and diminishes our ego. We know that a true fight should not be entered lightly. However, if we need to do so, we should go all in to both protect ourselves and those around us to the best of our abilities.
If we know how to fight, we are much better prepared when it comes to finding a way not to.
Help with Trauma
Started boxing to cope with a major loss, best decision of my life - IG @brianperryboxingcoach
I became blind and martial arts became my new biggest hobby at first and is now my biggest passion along with philosophy and much more - IG @thats.not.for.me
Domestic Violence recovery. - IG @kerrytidman_mhc
At 40 I was diagnosed with a serious chronic illness, the Doc told me I had to not give up and fight it, taking up Tae Kwon Do not only improved my physical fitness and strength but also helped me develop a mental resilience which has helped deal with my situation - FB Paul Land
TW sexual harassment Got really tired of the daily sexual harassment I go through. I'm often touched and I just freeze and do nothing. Been taking Muay Thai classes for the past 2 weeks and I feel better knowing I have some sort of way to defend myself among other ways I usually have i.e. pepper spray and my keys - YT @Ruby Locke
Trauma by its very definition is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma can be many things. These can include grief over the death of a loved one, physical abuse, domestic violence, medical problems and much more.
These traumatic events usually end up completely taking over an individuals life after they first occur (and for some unfortunate individuals, for a lot longer afterwards). It can be hard to see anything positive or focus on moving forwards when you are submerged under such negative feelings.
Individuals who have experienced this level of trauma do not want their lives to defined by them. This is where training in Martial Arts can come in.
As I have mentioned before in this post, training can likened to physical meditation. It is hard to focus on anything outside of the mats when you are having to work with a partner or if you are drilling set techniques or movements.
It is an amazing way to get your mind focused on something more positive.
Re-training the mind to think more about the positive and less about the negative does not come over night.
However, with the help of the right Martial Arts coach, gym and community, an individual is a lot more likely to eventually come through the other side should they continue to engage with regular training.
Of course, Martial Arts training on its own is not a one stop fix or standalone cure. That would be irresponsible of me to even suggest that. It is though a great way to help re-focus the mind away from the trauma. The other benefits that come from active participation also apply and the whole package then starts to make a difference across the board.
Personally, there was no traumatic experience that led me towards Martial Arts training but I have seen it countless times with others over the years. Each time, they have told me how it has helped them massively during their darkest hours.
I am no doctor but I know that some medical professionals recommend people who suffer from trauma try training in Martial Arts as part of their road to recovery.
Re-invention - Change your life
To reinvent myself - IG @sarahmawi
Nearly went to jail after a fight in a nightclub went wrong, took myself off the club scene and started training Muay Thai.
Forward 20 years I’ve travelled the world with fighters, gained friends for life and trained/cornered 3 current UFC fighters and trained another ones early Muay Thai Career before he moved to MMA and the UFC. I’d say Muay Thai saved my life 100% - IG @thai_coach_si
When I became a dad I wanted to become the best version of myself - IG @ac3simon5
I was getting into fights on the street constantly be absent of where I lived . I met a guy in 1993 in Raleigh NC that was a Gracie black belt that said that I was gonna get killed fight on the streets .he had me come in for a class and I was hooked.
Never stopped training and haven't been in a street fight since then. I needed it and its never let me down. So I came to bjj because I was broken - YT @OG Pops
As a young child my home life was poor, physically abusive, and I was constantly getting into fights at school. I wasn’t afraid, I just wanted to fit in. I desperately wanted to do Karate, to be good at something and fit in with my peers, to be part of something special.
I’m now a Shihan, teaching my own children, and I can honestly say that Karate saved my life. - IG @darren.ninja
Inspiration and desperation are often described as the two main reasons behind major change in an individuals life. As with trauma, sometimes there is a moment within all of our lives where we think, I don’t want to continue on this path or I want to make my life better.
For some, the latter might be hitting milestones such as turning 40 or the birth of a child. With the former, we may make the decision after one too many arguments with a spouse or feeling stuck in a dead end job.
No matter what the reason, when we focus our mind on what we want (or what we don’t want), we can use this as a catalyst for change.
However, we may feel that we need to change ourselves (for the better) before we can have success changing our lives.
This is where training in Martial Arts comes in. As I have mentioned throughout this post, training brings with it countless benefits for the individual who commits to regular participation.
These benefits, including that of increased self confidence, raised self esteem etc may just well be what is needed for someone to move forward with their life in a completely different fashion.
I can empathise with this a lot. As I have already mentioned, prior to my finding Martial Arts I had been mixing with the wrong crowd. A big part of me choosing to start training in Martial Arts was me wanting to change my life and leave this toxic environment behind.
A new me from a new start!
The need for change in modern society is just as relevant as it has always been. Now possibly more than ever. The fast paced world we live in means that we need to be adaptable and ready to make changes should we need to.
Having the strength of mind and spirit to do this can be difficult. Especially if the change is great and/or the stakes are high.
It is hard to make significant changes if you are not feeling capable of seeing them through though. Thus, developing ourselves through training can then bolster our will to get them done.
Because my kids started and while I was watching them I loved it! And of course it helps for self defense, self control and fitness - IG @bjjalexia
Originally self defense. Then saw kickboxing as an exercise outlet. Being a small woman I always had this fear someone can pick me up/attack me but after doing self defense and Muay Thai/kickboxing it helped build confidence and getting rid of doubt and fear. Love that no one will know what hit em - IG @winsterpooh
Training martial arts is one of the best stress relievers, confidence booster, and most importantly it will humble you. - IG @_wonderboy_wesley.12
I wanted to show what hitting like a girl really meant. - FB Inge Ponocny
I recently started Muay Thai about 2 weeks ago. The reason is cus I was tired of being called skinny and weak and I tend to get made fun of because of it. I am having loads of fun learning Muay Thai and I just mainly want to prove those people wrong. - YT @Zerntal
I like the word empowerment. It is an umbrella term but I think it is a great way of defining what I believe is at the heart of Martial Arts training. To become empowered means to become stronger, more capable and more in control of life.
We seek to become empowered when we want to change aspects of ourself in order to better face the difficulties of life and the world. For some this may mean training to become less fearful. For others, training may mean that they no longer feel unconfident or belittled in certain situations.
Historically, people who were disempowered were those who had no rights or control over what happened to them.
Just as in the Re-invention point above, empowerment is about change. But the change is not necessarily about changing direction as much as it is about gaining more control over the path you are on or the life that you lead.
It is about making yourself stronger so that you are more capable to handle what life throws at you.
The same benefits that have been mentioned countless times now in this post apply here. A disconnected approach does not help. The physical training of Martial Arts helps both the mental and spiritual when it comes to becoming the person you are capable of becoming.
When I look back I don’t even think I would have given this much thought when I first started training. However, I see that in hindsight, it definitely does form a part of what I wanted from my own life. To feel stronger and more capable.
Nowadays, as a coach, I hear this desire a lot when people first walk though the door of the gym. When modern life starts to feel like it lays heavy, who would not want to be more successful at dealing with it?
To control my anger - IG @kianoosh.mohamadikian
Bad temper when I was Young. Belive my martial arts kept me from prison or worse. Harmony and self control in mix with push your self to your best YOU made me who I am today - IG @freddy_danell
Cause it help control my impulsiveness, and makes me calm - IG @voldemar.kk
Anger management, self defence and it runs in the family! - IG @josephfoster02
My mother thought that I might have been having some anger issue at age 10 (I was probably just a being a normal kid!) I started at a local kickboxing class and I took to it straight away, absolutely loved it. - IG @kickboxingfundamentals
For some people, anger and their inability to control it can cause them huge problems in life. Often, this can be indicative of other issues they may have faced in the past or currently have going on in their lives.
However, no matter what the crux of the problem is, regaining control of this negative emotion can be something a lot of people need in order to move their life forward in a more positive direction.
As the nature of Martial Arts is physical and often both contact related and combat based (although again this does depend massively on the art form being practised), training can help massively with reducing stress.
Having a physical outlet and positive environment to release this build up of negative energy is something much needed by individuals who may struggle in this area.
Combine this with some of key the traits needed for furthering Martial Arts skill i.e. control, focus, composure etc, and you have a multi faceted approach to tackling anger problems.
For some people, they will want as much physicality as possible.
As a result they will often choose art forms such as Muay Thai, BJJ and MMA. These allow them more contact in the form of sparring, grappling and potentially competing.
Some might need their training to be more focused on calming the mind and internalising their actions.
Other art forms such as Karate, Tai Chi or Kung Fu might then be more appropriate. Kata, forms and repetitive movements, which make up a good chunk of these disciplines can be very therapeutic to work on in training.
As a teenager, I had a fairly quick temper. I blame the hormones ha ha!
But, I never felt that it was an issue. And, it certainly was not one of my own reasons for starting training. However, after starting training, I did notice that I became a lot calmer and more composed when dealing with issues outside the gym.
In modern times, the disconnection (both physical and emotional) that has grown as a result of the increased use of digital interaction i.e. the internet, social media etc, is something that can leave people with a decreased ability to regulate their anger in an appropriate way.
Again, I think anger management is something that a lot of medical professionals recommend Martial Arts training for in order to help tackle the problem.
Staying clean from alcohol and drugs - helped me through recovery as well - IG @alexandernilsson89
To stop taking drugs - IG @scallimotxo
Rehab of alcoholism - IG @urroth33
I left rehab after years of addiction and wanted to get really strong and really smart, I started with studying and lifting weights, one day I walked into a kickboxing gym and was taught the strongest and smartest lesson I’d ever learnt humility and I’ve been training ever since nearly 10 years now - YT @Free Kek Honkler
Wanted a safer and less self destructive way to get my head kicked in than getting drunk and antagonising people to hit me. Turned out i enjoyed it and stopped wanting to punish myself and get battered by strangers somewhere along the way.
Martial arts from boxing to mma to bjj; Helped me massively to get through heartbreak and alcoholism. Now it's just what i need to do to be sane and content. The fitness, self defense, and personal acomplishments are all great too. Nothing else has come close so far.
Could bang on about how great it is like a motivational speech but will just say that I'm grateful i found it when i did. As it was before i probably would of been put in hospital, jail, or a coffin without it. I'm sure of it. - FB Craig Smith
We all have our addictions. For some of us, they are small and do not impact negatively on our life (coffee I am looking at you!). For others, they are so out of control, they completely wreck and consume everything.
If you look at any addiction treatment, no matter whether if it is for drugs, alcohol, food or anything else. You will see that there needs to be a retraining of the brain in some respect. Obviously, it is far beyond the scope of this post to go into detail about this subject matter (and far beyond my own experience and qualifications as well).
However, part of it is trying to replace the negative cycle and addiction with a more positive one.
You can see it with people who are trying to lose weight. They replace one type of food with another or change the time that is spent eating on a completely different activity. Smokers use gum to keep their mouth busy and their nicotine withdrawal regulated.
Training in Martial Arts then is something that can be used both as a replacement activity and as a way to help learn new ways to focus the mind. All the positive traits and benefits mentioned above all come to the fore here for the recovering addict.
Endorphins released from physical activity.
Being around positive people in a controlled environment.
Developing self confidence and raising self-esteem.
In fact, there is often very little that is negative for someone wanting to use Martial Arts as a way to help deal with addiction.
I guess the only caveats are;
You need to find the right gym/coach for you and you need to be careful not to make Martial Arts a crutch i.e. you quickly spiral if you can’t get to training one day.
I was young when I first started training so this was something I personally did not need. I have seen it being used by others over the years though to help in this manner. And, it has always been of massive help to them (along with the other support frameworks they have put in place).
Changes in society mean that addictions sometimes change, but they never go away. Again, as I mention in the Anger Control section above, our increasingly disconnected lives mean that some addictions are on the rise. Couple this with the rising costs of living and you have the perfect storm for an unfortunately ongoing downward spiral for some.
It was a school course and I had double booked one of my other classes + one of my friends did it - IG @sirsertile
PE teacher choked out one of the trouble maker in my class. It was AWESOME ? I approached him after school and start learning Judo from him. - IG @yuen_oh_hu
My grades in high school were horrible so I couldn’t continue wrestling and there weren’t any grade requirements for Jiu Jitsu and then it lead to MMA and Boxing and other martial arts to improve in MMA - YT @Brandon Kunkel
Cus i was offered a free month of training and fell in love with it - IG @m0ney.machine
When I hit 10 years old my mom threatened to send me away to summer camp every year because I had no hobbies. The next day I started boxing and shortly after started kick boxing. 20 years later and although I don’t compete anymore I still train. - YT @Sammy Dean
It’s funny how life sometimes throws us a curveball. What can seem like a fairly innocuous moment in our life can end up changing it massively.
Random chance is the x factor of human life. If you are religious, you may see it as god’s will. You may see it as fate.
Whichever way you view it, there are turning points we can look back on in our lives that led us down a path we did not see coming. In terms of starting training in Martial Arts, I definitely don’t view that as a bad thing at all.
Although there were many reasons why I wanted to start when I was younger, the catalyst moment was simply getting a leaflet through the door advertising the local Martial Arts school.
One the front of it, there was a picture of the coach doing the same jumping kick JCVD does in a lot of his films.
That sold it for me on the spot. I told you I loved Jean Claude!!
Had that leaflet not come through, or had there been a different photo used, would I have started? Who knows?
I am glad it did though. There was no internet back then so finding out about it may have taken a whole lot longer.
It does not matter what time we live in. Random occurrences like this can be just the tipping point you need to take you in a direction you will be glad you took later on in life.
A lot of people made me laugh as to what they replied with. I will share some of them with you here
I got into an actual fight with my cousin as teenagers at Thanksgiving and he was a wrestler , so I started Judo because no one was gonna take me down without a fight again ? we still laugh about it - IG @dojojanitor
To make myself harder to kill - IG @big_papa_fight
My brother was bigger than me and I wanted to kick his ass. Mission accomplished. Peace and love tho? - IG @ironman_vann
Honestly because I wanted to be a Cobra Kai but then fell in love with it ?❤️ - IG @stylesjaycee
I tried to steal a sword from a elderly Japanese gentleman. He caught me and decided to train me along side his son. Years later after my shodoshis son died I fought for him in a underground global fighting competition. - YT @Sherzy Jr
From as little as age 5 I always imagined a team of agents would bust in when I was in the shower. I have always been ready. They know not to try it. But I still stay ready. - YT @Zach theDiver
Yeah, no, I'm definitely not taking Muay Thai classes entirely because of Street Fighter II.....definitely not.....maybe… - YT @Dan Chovanes
Kicks get chicks. - YT @jack
Why should YOU start training in Martial Arts?
If you are already a convert and actively training in the amazing world of Martial Arts, kudos to you!! We are brothers and sisters on a similar path in life.
I am sure we have plenty in common and could talk forever about how much we love training! Hopefully we may cross paths in the future and get to have this introduction and exchange in person!
However, if you are reading this and wondering why you should start training in Martial Arts for the first time. Then, I hope I have given you some food for thought.
Everyone starts their journey for their own reason. There is no right or wrong. No perfect age or time to begin. No one ideal Martial Art discipline, premier gym or perfect coach.
Often there is not just one overriding thing motivating someone to think about starting. Typically, there are a cumulation of different aspects that all start to point an individual in the direction of taking part.
All I can do is share with you my own personal experience and the little insights offered by those individuals I quote above.
I love training in Martial Arts. They have gifted me in so many different ways that it would be insanely difficult for me to write them all down.
If I had any advice though, it would be to give Martial Arts a try. You have absolutely nothing to lose and a whole new world to which you could gain.
If you enjoy this article then you may well love Pad Work in Martial Arts and Combat Sports: A Complete Guide or 10 of the Best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms you should visit in 2023 as already featured on this site.
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