Why I Train in Martial Arts
What do the martial arts mean to me and what exactly am I getting from them?
These are my thoughts from my heart and not my head….
I practice martial arts because I really want to grow my business.
My life insurance brokerage has an enormous potential for success.
Yet, how can it reach this potential if I do not reach for my own potential?
I am the founder and driver of the enterprise.
This type of growth journey is a huge test of how one manages himself.
I know that I can be my own best friend or worst enemy. Are my thoughts helping me make progress, or are they getting me off track? Can I keep my mood up, or do I have too many highs and lows? Is my body up for the rigors of a long sustained effort, or are there infirmities that slow me down?
I practice martial arts because it gives me the mental and physical training needed to face the challenges of building a really successful business.
I practice martial arts because a person close to me was raped.
She was attacked when she was alone in a commercial laundromat at night. This trauma cast a harsh pale on the rest of her life that lasted until she passed away. As for her attacker: who knows if he was ever caught – she never even saw his face. I feel terrible for her, and am enraged at him. I would never wish this on anyone, but I am mindful of the circumstances: she was alone, at night, and in a public place; she put herself in a vulnerable position, and she had no skills for defending herself.
I could be a target as easily as anyone else in my family. What robber or mugger wouldn’t go for a businessman with a suitcase walking alone in a parking garage, or on a deserted street at night?
I practice martial arts because I need to make sure that I and the people close to me know how to avoid becoming a crime victim. At the same time, if circumstances work against us, we must have the skills required to neutralize the attacker.
I practice martial arts because I practiced yoga for 35 years.
When I first started doing yoga, I pursued it with zeal. I read self-instruction books. I attended classes. I practiced two hours/day. This momentum lasted about five years. Then, I coasted. No school, no teachers, no books. I stayed at the same basic level for the next three decades.
Now I am ready to learn again. I am a student at a superbly run school with an extremely well-organized curriculum of classes, supplemental readings, and personal growth exercises. The chief instructor is both a master martial artist and also a master teacher. His staff is tremendously dedicated and talented.
I practice martial arts because my martial arts school is helping me remember how to train the right way. I am learning how to work with my body and feel. I am learning how to relax and breathe through physical strain. Most importantly, I am learning how to keep my mind engaged in my work. In being mindful I stay in charge of what I am doing and get the most out of it.
I practice martial arts because I am religious.
My religion places a tremendous emphasis on self-development. Strengthening concentration and focus is integral to prayer. Maintaining self-control is the foundation of personal behavior. Keeping an attitude of gratitude is the essence of our spirituality. The greatest of our guides – the prophets – were masters in the art of consciousness raising. Our national leaders – called judges – constantly strove for both moral and martial excellence. They led us in war and they also led us in peace.
We are no longer led by prophets or judges, and we no longer place a premium on self-development. Perhaps there is a connection. We have literally the words of God in our texts and teachings, and yet most of us cannot fathom what they mean. We could not become enlightened if we wanted to because we have no idea how to do it.
I practice martial arts because I want to rekindle my religious spark. I want to master meditation so I can be greatly moved by liturgical texts and services. I want to get so mentally tough that for every challenge we face in this world, I will be able to thank God for thinking of us, and then deal with it. I want to get into such superb physical condition that the lines between by body and my soul become blurred and my whole being acts in concert with the rest of the universe. That would be a great praise of God indeed.
I practice martial arts because we are at war.
I grew up fighting kids who hated me just because I was Jewish. These were not fights I looked for, but had to deal with nonetheless. Eventually my family moved out of the city and into the supposedly peaceful suburbs. Within the first week of life in our new home we had a brush with anti-Semitic neighbors. I live now in similar suburbs – an alleged “model” community – and have learned that as recently as fifty years ago, Jews and Blacks were banned from the streets after sundown. Hatred runs very, very deep.
When that hatred rears its ugly head, attacks much worse than fistfights can take place. I know this from the history of my family, my people, and my country. I have relatives from Russia who were brutalized by Cossacks. I have close ones from Germany who escaped the Nazis. I have brethren in Israel who are constantly menaced by hate-driven neighbors. And for decades, America has been the target of people who hate “Big Satan” as much as “Little Satan”. With the 911 attack I have assumed a state of continual insecurity because the bad guys want to get weapons of mass destruction. They will use them.
I practice martial arts because a martial mindset is needed for a world in which hateful and violent people come after peaceful people for no good reason. Through my study of kung fu I will attain lethal combat skills and the wisdom required to use them. Will I have to do so to simply travel safely back and forth to work each day? I hope not – that certainly would not be a life I would choose. At the same time, I recognize that having that capability will make me much more effective in non-violent confrontations. My abilities to deter, discourage, negotiate and even reconcile conflict will be stronger. And I know that the same martial principles that will help me keep my own peace would help my people and my country do the same. Perhaps I can get the presidents of the nations of the free world to enroll at my martial arts school.