I’ve been training in martial arts nearly my entire life, and I absolutely love it. Sure, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, but I think taking up martial arts training is one of the healthiest, most rewarding activities an adult can do.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do teach martial arts in the Greater Portland area. I promise this is no sales pitch.
Martial Arts Aren’t Just For Kids
The demographics are clear, the majority of participants in martial arts programs in the US are kids. There seems to be a sweet spot around 9-11 years old, where parents want to impart some healthy self-control and self-esteem on their young ones.
This is great, and the psychological benefits of martial arts training for kids even outweigh the physical. Enrolling your kids in a martial arts program is really helping set them up for success.
So why don’t more adults train? Good question.
I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think there are a lot of reasons why more adults aren’t breaking boards and donning cool white pajamas.
You need some “me time.”
Like the old McDonald’s ad said, “you deserve a break today.”
There is the whole time and money commitment thing. I know that I’ll spend time and money on my kids before I spend it on myself. However, having a parent who is stressed out and out of shape isn’t really a benefit to the kiddos.
When I train, either solo or with a group, it’s an hour or two that I am spending working on myself. I dump my stress, breathe deep, and work on my focus. Honestly, I believe it makes me a better parent.
Even if you aren’t a parent, I bet you would enjoy lower stress levels. I bet increased mental focus might even help your career.
It’s a fun way to get fit.
Most of us need to move our bodies more. Obesity is an epidemic health-problem in the US. Many of us have sedentary jobs; many of us don’t make time for regular exercise.
Find a martial art school and teacher you love, and even strenuous training won’t feel like work. You’ll sweat, move your body through an increased range of motion, and get stronger and more coordinated.
Everybody should have self-defense training.
It may be a bit of a bold statement, but I believe everybody could benefit from self-defense training. The truth is that Maine is probably the safest state in the Union when it comes to violent crime per capita. However, one out of every three people in the US will be the victim of a violent crime at some point in their life.
My late Arnis teacher, Guro Grande George Brewster was an amazing man. He was a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was witness to the horror of German concentration camps. I love the following quote from him:
“If everyone were trained to defend themselves maybe some of the bullies of the world would think twice about aggression.”
You’ll meet great people.
There’s no denying that, for adults, there is a social aspect to taking up almost any new activity. Personally I’ve met a lot of my closest friends while training jujutsu.
If ninjas had attacked my wedding, I would have been all set, as I had a dozen or so highly skilled martial artists in attendance.
Over the years in martial arts I have met and trained with artists, rocket scientists, doctors, bouncers, computer scientists, research biologists, fitness trainers, federal and local law enforcement officers, US Special Forces operators, to name a few. To say that my training has expanded my social circle would be an understatement.
You can’t beat real confidence.
There is very real confidence to be gained from learning how to take care of yourself, from getting in better shape, from having stronger joints, and learning increased situational awareness. I’ve seen it in myself and in my students. It’s like magic.
And let’s not confuse real confidence with acting macho, aggressive, or being a braggart. Those things are the opposite of confidence.
When you are genuinely self-confident you carry yourself differently, speak differently, and project different body language. People respond to you differently, and they may not even know why.
There’s a paradox in self-defense, borne out by some research done by Model Mugging, that people who are trained are less likely to actually have to use their training.
One explanation may be that with increased awareness, a trained person knows how to avoid trouble. Another explanation I like is that people who have gained confidence from training carry themselves differently in a way that makes them a less attractive target for criminals.
Whatever the explanation, I can attest to this effect personally. Training is good.
If any of this has resonated with you, why not call up a local dojo or two and try out some classes? I promise we don’t bite … usually.