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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

4 Profound Life Lessons (Learned in the Martial Arts)

In the martial arts, you are basically learning how to apply violence to other people. 

Oh, sure, it 's more than that - you learn how to control your physical and mental state, for one - but at its core, that's what we're doing.

Learning how to be good at violence.

But there are lots of other things we learn via the hobby of acquiring bruises for fun.

Here's some of what I've learned:

There Will Always Be Someone Better Than I Am

No matter how hard I train, no matter how talented I am, no matter how good I can become, there will always, ALWAYS be someone better than me, stronger than me, more talented than me, works as hard or harder than I do... and will best me.

Don't believe me?  Ask Ronda Rousey. Remember when she was unbeatable?

Holly Holm does.

We often define the ultimate measure of success in the martial arts as the ability to "win" a physical conflict.  While I'd define "winning" as "surviving to walk away"... it's impossible to win every single conflict that might come along.  Eventually, you can and will lose, for whatever reason.

Training is the process by which we (hopefully) postpone that day from coming.

I Will Never Be a Master

That is, I will never know all I need to know.  Indeed, the longer I train, the more I learn, the more I realize how very much there is to learn, and that I won't ever get to all of it.

This is actually a good thing, as it shows that there's no end to what is to be learned - you'll never get bored.  Heck, I keep discovering new stuff for myself in our basics that I've been learning and teaching to others for a long time now.

But yeah, I'll never actually be a "master".  Most of us won't, I think, if we're honest with ourselves.  Using the term "Master" in the academic sense is fine, but we can't ever confuse that meaning of the word vs. having learned all there is to learn.

It Gets Harder As I Get Older (Physically)

As I started the martial arts later in life, this is even more clear to me.  Having been an athlete in my youth, I remember getting injuries all the time, and healing relatively quickly. I don't remember having to take days and days of to heal.

As I age, it takes longer to recover from injury. A lot longer.

Bruises hurt for days and days, minor strains and muscle pulls are more debilitating. I've had few serious injuries thus far, but when that day comes, I can see it will take a longer time to get back to "normal" again.

This is why, as an older martial artist, I need to take care to prevent true injury, as it can interrupt my training a lot longer than it might a younger person.  If you train with older people, keep this in mind also - training is supposed to help us learn and grow, and safety needs to be taken into consideration.

Me someday. Who am I kidding, me NOW. Click on the image to see the source.

Most People Aren't Impressed With What I Do

You'd think, given the popularity of action movies and TV shows, people would be impressed with the fact that I do the martial arts.

To most people it's one of two things.

It's just another hobby, like CrossFit or Model Railroading or what have you, and thus, aren't interested in the details that you and I can talk to death.

Or, they think I'm nuts for voluntarily exposing myself to pain and potential injury.  That's because most people don't like to actually risk themselves to injury or pain.

Sounds crazy, fellow martial artist, but it's true.

But that's true of most hobbies, friends.  Unless you're into it, it's not very interesting to those not in that hobby.  For most of us - it IS just a really risky version of crafting or yoga.

Here's the thing:  All of these life lessons apply to most aspects of my life.

It's true in my profession and in other hobbies and interests I have.

I'll never be a true "master" in anything, there will always be somebody better than me at everything I do, everything gets more difficult as I age, and most people don't give two flips about what I do.

All of that is okay.  Because it's true for all of us, in one way or another.  It doesn't make what we do not worth the time and effort we put into it.  On the contrary, putting in time and effort into what you love is always worthwhile!

But it helps to keep it all in perspective.

So what are some life lessons martial arts have taught YOU?  Let us know in the comments!

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