Every moment in life presents choices – what to do with our time, what to put into our bodies, and with whom to associate. Taking martial arts is more than working out or learning self-defense; it is an all-encompassing journey to a better you. Your martial arts training will provide a framework for self-improvement which incorporates physical activity, fitness, self-defense, discipline, and awareness. Over time, these things will become part of you and your choices will become hardwired to your goals and vision for yourself. This is what self-discipline is all about – empowering you to make the best decision in the moment!
Self-discipline begins with respect for yourself, and respect is a fundamental principle of all martial arts training. We often think of respect for one’s elders, teachers, and peers, but what about respecting ourselves? One way to show respect is to give time and effort in support of a person. As much as it is important to show respect to others, it is important to respect yourself in the same way. By committing to a martial arts journey, you are assigning some of your week to focusing on yourself. You owe yourself this time and effort, and you will begin to feel the rewards very quickly.
Everything we can do – speaking, running, playing a sport – they are all skills. Skills are something that we learn through repetition and consistent effort. So it follows that everything we aspire to do in life can be learned. It is easier said than done, but self-discipline is the key. It is the voice inside your head that tells you to continue on the path of learning and achieving. It is the inner-mentor which will yoke you away from overindulgence and praise you for making healthy choices that keep you on the path.
The wonderful thing about self-discipline is that it continues to strengthen as you grow within your chosen martial art. Your desire to be able to successfully execute a block, choke, strike, or form are the mini-tests that you will set for yourself. As you train and see your ability to conquer these mini-tests, you will gain confidence and courage to face new challenges in life and complete goals that you set for yourself.
Taking martial arts is more than just an activity; more than something you do. Martial arts start as something external but become something internal, an extension of you. The values and principles that are taught and reinforced throughout your training become your own. In some ways, it is like a new vocabulary or language that you learn. This is an extremely powerful concept because it fundamentally changes your inner dialog to something that is empowering, encouraging, healthy, and accepting of new challenges.
If you ever wished that you had more self-discipline and a positive self-image, the martial arts are a tried and true path to attaining these positive traits that you can take with you throughout your life.