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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

My Martial Arts Refuge

When life gets busy or chaotic or hard, it's easy to justify skipping martial arts training. "I'll just take a break until things settle down", we tell ourselves.

Take what it was like when I was getting ready for my big move from Texas to Kansas City. This is what I wrote on the old blog, and re-reading it makes me stressed out all over again, and doubly-glad I didn't take a break.


My life is pretty chaotic right now.

I'm in the middle of packing my home for a long-distance move and wrapping up my job before I leave it.

At my day job, I am writing procedures and training documents, and I've started the process of training people to do key functions that I do today.  The routine I had there is disrupted and my work flow is all discombobulated.

Routine at home is not even a thing, really. I am living with bins and boxes and piles of this and that waiting to be packed, and I have a list of chores to do before the move that seems a mile long. 

I have to go through everything we own and decide what goes and what stays.

I have to carefully plan what I buy in terms of food because I want to make sure most of what we have is eaten up by the time we get to move day (this is a non-trivial problem because freezer/fridge items must be used up before the move).

I have to figure out how to get rid of the things we're not taking with us. Some of them are huge or valuable and I have to arrange moving them or selling them or donating them or freecycling them.

That's just a taste of the hundreds of things I'm having to keep track of right now.

As a result, the normal demands and stresses of life are amplified and much, much harder to cope with that they used to be.

I'm tired, I'm stressed, and mentally, I'm as fried as I've ever been.  By 9 pm at night I am ready to collapse and I usually do.

This would seem like a reasonable time to throttle back on going to Arnis class, going to seminars, and martial arts practice. After all, I have a lot to do and a very hard deadline to meet, and nobody would think that's the wrong thing to do.

Instead, I drag myself to everything on my martial arts calendar.  Except if I'm sick or something, I'm not slowing down on that one bit.

If I don't keep training, I'll completely lose my mind.

In Arnis class, I don't have to manage a thousand little details because my teacher does that.  While the content varies, I have a relatively consistent experience in each class, so it's basically the only normal, regular thing in my going on right now.

I get physical and mental exercise without being driven to utter exhaustion (like I am while I'm cleaning and packing at home).

You know what the best thing about going to martial arts training?  It's clean.  It's organized It is not done amidst stacks of boxes and bags and trash waiting to go out to the curb because your bin's too full right now.

Training is the place where my brain can relax and I can just let go of everything for a couple of hours.  

It's my happy place while the rest of my life undergoes the necessary devolution into chaos a big change like we're making requires.

I don't know how I'd do all this without having my martial arts refuge, I really don't.


I'm never moving again. Really.

How does martial arts training help you cope with the stresses in your life?  Is the mat or dojo YOUR refuge?  What positive effects did you see from your training during the hard times? Is there a point where you just have to take a complete break?  Let us know in the comments!

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