Meet Elaine. Elaine earned her black belt at Freestyle Martial Arts waaaay back in 2015. Part of her test included a personal essay on the topic, “What Martial Arts Means to Me.” You can read her complete essay over on her site, but it’s such a thought-provoking piece that we’re sharing bit and pieces of it with you here today.
From her essay:
“This idea of martial arts as a journey towards perfection or a path towards personal betterment is a common thread between martial arts disciplines. The names of many specific styles reflect this idea. The term kung fu is a general phrase for a study or practice that requires long-term dedication. The “do” in aikido and judo means “way.” The “do” in tang soo do and tae kwon do means “way of life,” or “art” — much like our own English term, martial arts.
And what is art, but the artist’s journey to uncover perfection, beauty and meaning, and their dedication to share it with others? No matter what the medium, it’s not art if it doesn’t spark a conversation, influence people to interact with it, with each other, or influence the way they experience life. Great art might even change people’s lives.
That’s closer to the core of what martial arts means to me.
While many of the subtler benefits I’ve experienced through my martial arts practice aren’t “perfection” in a competitive sense, they are all stepping stones on the path to a life well lived, which may be as close to perfection as I’m bound to get.
Martial arts, to me, is about community. True martial artists are good people. Good people support each other, make each other better, celebrate each other’s victories and troubleshoot or commiserate when we struggle.
We just get to do all that while punching, kicking and choking each other.”
Whew. Good stuff, right?
We could write post after post explaining the benefits of martial arts. We could preach from on high about improvements in flexibility, focus, determination and strength. We could explain until we’re blue in the face that you’ll grow physically, mentally and emotionally as a martial artist. But the real value of training as a martial artist is personal. It’s unique to every student in our school. This isn’t a sport in the same realm as soccer or figure skating or gymnastics. And unless you embrace it for yourself, we just can’t explain how. Elaine explains what martial arts means for her. What will it mean to you?
Start here, and find out.