The Aware Martial Artist

We often say that martial arts takes 10 minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. Learning the physical moves is easy. Anybody can throw a few kicks and punches and call themselves martial artists. But we do not just train you to be physical martial artists. We try to teach you something a lot deeper, so that you have a mental and emotional framework to deal with the needs of any situation.

As martial artists, you learn to physically defend your personal space (if you need to). However, are you as conscious of other people and their personal space? True martial artists…no, true leaders…know how to respond correctly to situations, as well as how others may respond. When you are aware of others at all times, you can deal with the needs of any situation in a number of ways, as you are learning the right response via your training. That is a tremendous gift, i.e. being able to handle any situation with calmness, clarity and peace.

“Awareness of you” also helps

You do not need to be a Jedi to have an awareness of others. Awareness is not something that you are born with or not born with. It is something that can be developed and improved over time. I am not saying that having a constant awareness of others is easy. It is not! If it was, there would never be any conflicts. Practicing awareness takes diligence, self-reflection, and constant behaviour change. 

As a first step, have an awareness of your “awareness to others”. Next time you walk in the street, just focus on people and situations. When in the office, before responding, take a step back and think about how the other person may be feeling, or why they are acting that way. Then choose your response from a position of awareness, calmness and clarity.

How does martial arts help with awareness?

Martial arts helps with your awareness to others in a number of ways:

  • You recognise your strengths and limits. This is why we do the hard physical work in the dojo, as well as maintain the discipline needed to continue on over many years / decades. You slowly get to know the real you, which is an important first step. When you know you, you start to understand how you may respond to others;
  • Self-confidence  – martial arts helps you know what you can achieve. Martial arts helps with that “can do” attitude, as you regularly achieve goals. This is what develops self-confidence. And when you have that self-confidence, you are not approaching situations from a position of self-doubt, but rather confidence. This will help with your awareness of others;
  • Self-control  – martial arts provides many great benefits here, especially for children. As parents, we are always trying to teach our children right from wrong, how to control tempers, etc. However, sometimes children just need it reinforced, which is where the dojo helps. In addition to the physical skills we teach, children learn to deal with other students in class. They become more socially accepting, which is great for children to then control their actions and behaviours. As adults, who helps you with your self-control? Do you have a community to help support you with your “awareness to others”? If not, martial arts is a great start, as it provides many valuable life lessons;
  • Service to others – if you want to improve your “awareness to others”, start providing service to others. You see this in many martial arts classes, where the senior belts (for both children and adults) volunteer their time to help the more junior belts. If you can provide service to others in the dojo, you can do it outside the dojo as well;
  • Developing others – everybody wants to feel a sense of accomplishment. That is why the grading system in martial arts is so important, as people are developing themselves and achieving goals. As instructors, this is our training on “awareness to others”. We are practicing the right way to respond to you with your training, so you can then use that training to benefit others;
  • Leadership – as we said before, if you are aware of yourself and aware of others, and you know the right response to any situation, you are effectively a good leader. Leadership is a quality we try to embed in all students, as this will help them so much in life (including being aware of others);
  • Teamwork – when you are aware of others and deal with situations in the right way, it builds trust between you and that other person. There is a bond there. This can be seen as teamwork. I look on our community as one big happy team. We share in each other’s wins and losses…we have some ups and downs…but at the end of the day we are a strong team. In fact, I would say we are more like family. And who doesn’t want to be part of a strong family? If you do, start by understanding yourself and being aware of others.

We hope you enjoyed the above blog. We love for you to share it with family, friends and colleagues. This could be your first step towards “awareness of others”.

See you in the dojo. Daz

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