Some Ärt” With Your Martial Arts

QMA - Archibald

By Darren Higgs

I was recently at the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize exhibition. Not only do I like viewing the exhibitions, but I also enjoy the descriptions that they put next to each painting. I am a “mindset” type of person. I find it interesting to get a glimpse into what a person is feeling when they achieve something wonderful. This not only applies to art, but to every endeavour where people step outside of their comfort zones.  The following pieces of “inspiration” (in no particular order) jumped out at me when reading the descriptions.

Young Archie’s

This was the prize for children who painted some terrific portraits. With children, it is obvious that they looking at the positive attributes of their subjects. They believe their subjects are wonderful and can achieve anything. There is rarely negativity in a child’s thinking, as they just want to live life. As we get older, we lose that sense of wonderment with the world. Therefore, when it comes time to chasing your martial arts dreams, get in touch with your inner child.


A few artists did self-portraits. These artists feel they understand their character better than another person’s character. However, this does not always apply to everybody. Before people start martial arts, they often do not know their own character. This is because understanding yourself is really hard. We feel so much pressure to conform to society that we sometimes lose that inner spark that makes us tick. If you were to do a self-portrait, how would you paint yourself? Do you get the same thrill out of life as you do while doing martial arts? If not, how can you apply the lessons you experience in martial arts towards school, work or anything else in life? If you could apply that same level of excellence you learn in martial arts towards every aspect of your life, would you then paint your self-portrait differently? If so, get cracking on achieving your goals.

Powerful images are right in front of us

We see amazing things everyday. However, we often “too busy” to notice, or “too hard-wired” to look at things from different angles. When you walk into the dojo, you can choose to see dull mats, off white walls and a whole lot of “hard work”, or you can choose to see to some fantastic people who have a real impact on people’s lives (and you are one of those people). The choice is yours on how you view the world.

Art is really a personal dialogue

I believe the same philosophy applies with each person’s martial arts ambitions. When I first meet students and ask them what they want to achieve, they will often say ‘self defence’ and ‘fitness’. While this may well be the reason, it is not what drives somebody to really excel. Personal values are different and private to each of us. Martial arts will help you discover that drive that will enable you to succeed in all aspects of life.


The Wynne Prize winner…and my personal favourite…was titled ‘Biophilia’. This means “love of life”. It references scientific study that suggests affiliation with nature is integral to our psychological and physical development. For me, while cheekily twisting the theme a little, this is going back to focussing on what humans naturally desire. Our natural instincts make us crave personal security, health and well-being, friendship and being part of a community. Martial arts provides all of this in bucket loads. So do not fight instinct, but embrace it.

Restore extraordinary back to the ordinary

Put some “wow” factor back into your life and your goals. The factor that separates extraordinary from ordinary is your spirit and energy. If you are excited about your goals, you will likely achieve them. You will also get other people excited about your goals, such as your martial arts instructors. When you achieve your goals, it will be a celebration rather than simply ticking a box.

A subject is never in the same place. It has own secret life.

Life is not meant to be static. Life is meant to be lived. So get out there and enjoy it. Martial arts has provided me with the confidence to chase…and achieve…all the things in life that are important to me. Even though I have been doing martial arts for 13 years, it was only two years ago I seriously started thinking about running schools. This is despite having carved out a successful career in finance. The lessons learned in martial arts allowed me to quickly adapt my life plan to embrace these opportunities. It can do the same for you, irrespective of what your aims are.

What next?

As an exercise, picture what your perfect life would like, with no constraints and the freedom to do what you want to do. Feel the energy and happiness you would experience if you were living that lifestyle. Jot down exactly what you would be doing in this perfect lifestyle. Then, apply the lessons you have learned in martial arts to make your perfect lifestyle happen.