Why Martial Arts Have Made Me Better at Life

I've always wanted to do martial arts, but I've been unable to afford it until last year. I started doing a martial art that was a combination of Karate, Hapkido, MMA, and Taekwondo, and I've loved the exercise! Everything about the martial art has been good, but doing martial arts has given me the skills I need to tackle life:

Respect

There are times when the last thing I want to do is accept that the Sensei is right, but it's his Dojo. I'm going there to learn from him, so I have to respect that what he says is what goes. I may hate it - and I often do - but it's my job to show him - and others with authority over me - the respect they deserve.

Control

I'm a big, strong guy, so I've hard to work hard to control my strength all my life. Now that I'm actually punching and kicking, it's still a challenge to control. One time - and thankfully one time only - I lost control, got angry, and nearly knocked out a friend in a friendly sparring match. Martial arts are about the knowledge to harm others, and the control not to do so. That control is something we all need in every area of our lives.

Sizing Up Opponents

The minute you step into the ring for your sparring match, you're sizing up your opponents to find out their weaknesses, openings, etc. You get used to evaluating the obstacles in front of you, and figuring out how hard it is to overcome them. Thankfully, that's a skill that I've been able to use in my everyday life, and it's enabled me to take on some pretty scary, daunting new challenges.

Focus

I have problems paying attention to work, conversations, and the task at hand, but the training I've been through has helped to improve my concentration and focus. The Katas (forms) are all about the details, including where your eyes are pointed, the angle of your kicks and punches, and so on. Seeing as I have to get those details right, it requires more focus.

A "Can-Do" Attitude

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Weighing 275+ pounds means that doing any jumping or leaping is far tougher for me than it is for my 150-pound Sensei. But, amazingly, I can do it. It started out with the Tornado Kick, a challenge I never thought I'd overcome. Now that I can do it easily, it's on to the 540 Kick - another challenge that's taking me months of hard work to get right. But, I know I can do it with enough time and hard work!

Humility

I'm not a proud guy, but I'm proud to say that I'm surprisingly good at many aspects of fighting. I fight smart, I hit hard, and I can take a punch. Imagine how humbling it is to fight someone that's faster, smarter, and better trained than I am - and fight them on a regular basis. It's humbling to accept that I'm not the best, but it's helped me to become a better fighter - and a better person overall. Of course, you can always look at the fitness aspect of it (I've lost about 30 pounds in the last year of training), as well as the fighting side of things (I took on a black belt last week in a friendly sparring match and held my own). But is the physical all that counts? I can honestly say that these benefits here are what make martial arts my workout of choice!

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