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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

3 Annoying Realities of Being a Martial Artist

Being a martial artist is awesome.  Learning how to fight or cope with violence (both receiving it, and giving it), and all of the attendant benefits to our health and our minds ROCKS HARD.

Plus, on the whole, the average martial artist is the nicest person you'll ever meet and I would hang out with most of these people even if I didn't acquire bruises for fun.

But there are a few annoying little realities to cope with.


When non-martial artists find out what we do, inevitably, you get one or more of the following:

Chop Socky Hands.  It does not matter what art you do.  Non-martial artists will make this gesture when talking about you in the martial arts.

Any bruise or injury you may receive must come from martial arts.  I once walked into a car door - don't ask - and I had a huge bruise/cut on my upper lip everybody at work assumed I got from martial arts.  To be honest, though, maybe that's not a bad thing, as everybody assumed I'd gotten it from being a badass, and not from being incredibly clumsy. Which I am - I am very clumsy, and it's thanks to years in dance plus martial arts training that have prevented me from doing something really silly to hurt myself seriously.

"Oh, he/she will beat you up!"  Yes, that's what I'll do if you keep saying that. It can get more annoying as a female martial artist because some males around us are intimidated by this thought, and will be jerks about it.


One day I was leaving a productive kobudo class when I realized I'd strained my right ankle.  I mean, I strained it enough that I was limping when I got to my car.  It was a mild strain, and very little swelling, but it was enough to have me stay off it for a day to let it heal.

I do not know how or when I hurt my ankle.  Probably some time in kobudo, but I have zero idea how.  You'd think I'd remember a thing like that, but I didn't.  These sorts of strains - to an ankle or a wrist - happen ALL THE TIME and I don't feel it when it actually happens (because I'm busy!).

I am often covered in bruises - I bruise easily, mind you - but I'll get a really painful one where I've been hitting myself with my weapon or I took a nice shot and I honestly have to think hard to when it happened.

Yep, that's my arm the day after some training. Didn't realize I was this bruised up until the next day, and wow, that's fun to explain at work.

Not only is annoying to not quite know when it happened, it's sounds kinda dumb to other people.

Friend: "So, how'd you get that really huge, obviously painful bruise?"

Me: "I have no idea."

Friend: "..."


Nearly every martial art has some sort of uniform.  Be it a full formal Japanese-style gi or hakama or just a sturdy pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

If you study martial arts with any regularity - several times a week - you quickly end up realizing you spend a lot of time in wardrobe management. Here's some of the issues you struggle with:

You need more than one uniform.  Unless you really are good about washing that bad boy after every class (and that gets impractical really quickly for many of us), you will find yourself trying to get ready to go to class and realize that you don't have anything to wear.

Especially if you roll or grapple - wearing a dirty uniform SUCKS, for you and for your training partners.

When you have more than one uniform, you will have your favorite.  I have a pair of gi pants that are super comfy but they are losing their color and are wearing out.  But I just gotta wear 'em if they're clean, even though I have two other new pairs I am rotating in.  Being comfortable while you do martial arts is really super important, after all.  You end up wearing out your favorites and the nice new ones that are perfectly serviceable will hang there looking pretty, and you'll wear those only when you really have to.

Some kinds of uniforms require very special handling.  This varies based on the art.  For example, heavy weight gis in arts that get super-sweaty have issues fighting sweat staining or getting a musty smell embedded in the fabric.  I don't know about, and I'm not sure I want to know about, how much work has to go into caring for a hakama or those silk uniforms Wushu folks wear. Good luck to y'all.

If you wear mat shoes, you'll find a pair you like but they'll wear out SUDDENLY. You can't get too attached to mat shoes because they'll be fine one day, and the sole or the toe or something will blow out while training.  You won't be able to find the style you like when this happens and it's time to replace them, because that's what fate does to us whenever we like ANY given pair of shoes (you'll never find the same pair again).

Cleaning and maintaining sparring gear.  Wiping everything down - and what cleans well does not always smell great - and repairing damage when you find it is a necessary chore.

Martial Arts T-Shirts will quickly become your #1 wardrobe item. I have more t-shirts from various martial arts activities than I do pairs of underwear. When I moved, martial arts tees were the #2 category of things I packed (books are #1).

Martial Artists, what are some other annoying realities about being a martial artist?  I want to hear fromYOU!

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