If this were my perfect world, all people would be like me. They would think the way I do and see the world through my eyes. They would find a martial art that they like and learn it. Yes, I think my way is perfect. But, they are not me, and there are reasons why they will not even try a martial art. It looks cool, but come on, they are too old, right? Or, they are too young. Wait, they are too shy, too skinny, too fat, too dumb, or too smart. These don’t seem like valid reasons to me!
You might think that I am being a little sensitive, and maybe even a little pushy. That is only because I know the power of a martial art. I have realized that martial arts are not about fancy moves. I do not need to kick the clouds. I just need to be good at what I know and I need to keep learning.
Let’s check out a few awful reasons you may use to avoid learning a martial art.
1. FEAR: Most martial artists are ordinary people who overcame their very first martial art fear by walking through the door of a dojo to find a surprisingly fun and interesting place inside. It is a place where they will be pushed to be better. It is a space when they can overcome their vulnerabilities. It is, most of all, a place where fear is embraced because it is worth overcoming.
You can live life quietly, trying to avoid personal challenge, but that will never bring out the best in you. It will not cultivate hope, power, or internal strength. Like learning a language, training in a martial art starts slowly with simple skills and continually builds upon the basics. It is an exercise with a purpose, a self-defense, and an empowerment tool.
2. AGE: Does age matter? That depends on what your goals are. If you want to win tournaments and you are 70 years old and never practiced a martial art before, that could be difficult. If you are 5 years old and want to learn an advanced kata, that could be a problem. If you want to “try” a martial art, age never needs to be a concern if your goal is simply a better you. That is where everyone should start, age 4 or age 70. After you get past the “better you” part, you can train for whatever you want.
As an instructor, I would never turn away an older student or a younger one. Both deserve the chance to learn all the great benefits that martial arts have to offer.
3. FIGHTING: Not every martial art school is about fighting, so do not worry. Ask before you join any dojo what kind of sparring they practice. You may want something that is aggressive and gives you a realistic feel, or you may want to know you can kick and punch hard if you really must. No one is going to make you become some violent fighter. Martial arts, in fact, are a great way to learn not to fight.
A parent asked me recently if his four-year old would come home from class and punch or kick his siblings. It is a common misconception that kids of any age are going to use their fighting skills randomly when they should not. I have rarely seen that happen in all of my years teaching. I believe the self-discipline and self-respect that the children learn in class far overshadow any desire to be aggressive just for the sake of fighting.
4. THE UNKNOWN: Who isn’t afraid of the unknown?
When my husband and I teach self-defense for women classes, a lot of women typically do not sign up. Why not, when learning self-defense is so important? It helps women protect themselves against terrible things. Why would they not readily sign up for a self-defense class?
I began to understand the fear one day when a woman attending our seminar asked, “Is someone going to jump out and grab me?” It is a good question to ask because if that is part of a self-defense class, the attendees should know ahead of time.
Another asked “Am I going to kick the bag?” I picked up right away that some of these women had no clue what to expect from the seminar. To alleviate the unknown, I always provide an agenda at the beginning of class, or before. By the time they start practicing the hands on skills, they are warmed up, feel comfortable, and are ready to try a few simple moves.
Martial arts classes are the same. Walking in the door, you may have no clue what to expect and that very big unknown factor plays into whether or not you will ever try it. There comes a point when you need to trust and have faith in the unknown because you just cannot know everything.
5. IMAGE: If you use any of the social networks you might confuse glamour or amazing athletic ability with an ability to learn the martial arts. Some women who practice are amazingly beautiful and their femininity shines through. Some men are full of muscles and extremely fit. More power to them! If that is your vision of who a martial artist is, well, I would keep away from martial arts, too. There is no way the everyday people like us can look, be, act, or practice the same way as these extreme gurus.
I teach ages 4 through 60-somethings. There is a hero and a warrior and a champion in each and every one of my students. Very few martial artists will ever grace the cover of a magazine, but they are beautiful in their own way.
The general population of martial artists are just like you. They work day jobs, go to school, or have a family. They are not always thin, strong, or flexible. They have some strengths and some weaknesses. Do not ever think that martial arts are not for you. A martial art can shape you into the person you have always wanted to be, and neither beauty nor brawn has anything to do with it.
6. YELLING and BREAKING: I often mention how when I started martial arts I was not particularly fond of yelling or breaking things. Being in a situation where it was actually encouraged was a big change for me. Suddenly, being a “lady” was out of the question if I wanted to learn and advance and I had to learn how to manifest power from within.
You may be asked to yell when executing moves, but most likely you won’t be asked to break any cement blocks with your head, so that fear you can extinguish right now! Do not be afraid to try a martial art because you have to yell, or break a board on occasion. Most learn to love both. It becomes something many students truly enjoy.
MYSTERY SOLVED: Well, there you have it, six real reasons why you will never try a martial art class. You tell me. Are these reasons valid? Do not let fear block you from pursuing your dreams. So, if not a martial art, then what? What will get you moving, on your toes, up and at ’em so you can make the best of every moment? Life is meant to be lived to its fullest potential. Find what is right for you and engage!
So, on you go. Knock on the door of the next dojo you see or welcome the next opportunity that presents itself and find out what it is all about. Ask yourself this: Do you really have a valid reason for not trying a martial art?