Martial life

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8 ways martial arts training has ruined my life


Discipline, self confidence and ability to defend oneself are often advertised as a benefit of joining a martial arts school. I personally don't think those aspects are anyTHING special, in fact, martial arts contributed to making me more miserable than ever. How? Here is how...


1- Always looking to better myself, to improve myself.

Because that's also what martial arts is all about: the improvement of one self. Even while growing old, the traditional martial artists skills- as opposed to the martial sports practitioner- should improve. Loss of youth may take away strengh and stamina but the honed precision, sense of timing and energy efficiency more than make up for it. Combined with the freedom to choose any technique (keep in mind traditional martial arts in its pure sense does not follow any rules.) the more experienced martial artist has the same chance of winning, if not more than his younger counterparts.

Watch out for these furious fighters in disguise, young grasshoppers...
Photograph By Rudolph.A.furtado, via Wikimedia Commons

How is that bad?

In order to improve yourself, you must do a lot of introspection in order to identify your weaknesses. Constantly focusing on weaknesses is in itself a depressing exercise and extremely is damaging to self esteem.

Luckily, there is a shop ready to repair damaged self esteem!
Photograph By Dave Hogg from Royal Oak, MI, USA , via Wikimedia Commons

This basically means a life of low profileness. No showing off or bragging around, not because there is nothing to show but rather because I don't think it's anything special. The politically correct term for this I believe is "humility".

Life would be so much better if...

I would just settle with being average (just like brother in laws and green belts). Life is happier when you don't introspect yourself and just live your life thinking you are an exceptional person.


And if people don't think I am anything special, then I can always brag and show off until they respect me. Bragging sure is easier than training...

Plus I would save precious time if I didn't train as much. In a society that discourages fighting, it is not very likely that I need honed skills anyway.


2- Martial arts became a big focus of my life

Buying clothes: How well can I move in this outfit . Will the fabric hinder my movements thus reducing my speed and power?

These are the only pants I own...

Appartment hunting: what martial arts school is around? How conveniant is it for me to go to the school I currently train at?

Job hunting: Will the work schedule be flexible enough to allow me to train regularity? Will I be able to take time off when I need it, for seminars and competitions?

Leasure and hobbies: Can this activity help improve any aspects of martial arts? Can anything I learned in training apply to this activity?

How is this a bad thing?

It isn't that bad really in the sense that my relashionship with martial arts is more of a passion than an obsession. The bad thing is that there is a stigma of violence surrounding martial arts. In an relatively peaceful society, People simply don't see the use of training hard in martial arts.

Movies, the media and many of the people involved in martial arts are not helping. So I am either perceived as a cold blooded killer or like a crazy person...

Life would be so much better if...

People would be more knowledgeable about martial arts. Because martial arts training is hard work and the average person is averted by it, I have more chance wishing I could be like the average person and enjoy hobbies such as watching television, surfing the net or playing video games. Those three activities can (falsely) teach me everything I need to know about martial arts, without even lifting a finger.

See? Martial arts mastery is easy!


3- Martial arts has made my body high maintenance

To most, martial arts are about training your body into a fighting machine. Unfortunately, the same people are only concerned about learning techniques and see physical fitness as a side effect of their training. But how can you fight if your body is not healthy enough to support you in times of conflict. So of course, any serious martial artist will want to take care of their body...

If only you knew how much maintenance my body needs?

How is this a bad thing

First of all, this means I need not only train techniques but also strengthen my body. This means twice as much physical labor. 

Life would be so much easier if...

... I was a kung fu robot!



4- Constant need for efficient fuel

Just like any other machine, our bodies need to be fueled to function properly. If you only intend on surviving, then any food may adequately nourish your body but if you expect high performance, then you must carefully choose what you eat...

Only feed with unleaded premium fuel...
Photograph By via Wikimedia Commons

How is this a bad thing?

It turns out that any food that tastes good - like hamburgers, hot dogs, cake or ice cream is not only bad for your health but also require more energy to digest. That means eating such food will impede in the physical perform once during the time it takes to digest the food.

This double bacon cheese burger sure looks tasty...

They also contribute to weight gain in the form of fat, which also impedes physical performance and at the same time, martial arts effectiveness.

Eating out at restaurants is also more expensive! For some reason, buying a salad at a fast food joint is more expensive than any other meat (and fat) related product.

Life would be so much better if...

I could just eat whatever I wanted with no consequences. Imagine if you could eat all the cake you wanted end still keep your expertly crafted body. Ideally, the food we ingest would actually increase our skills too!

Fast food that will give you the powers of Bruce Lee? 


5- Turned me into an overly cautious person

Life before martial arts was safe. Bad things would only happen to others who probably asked for it, in one way or another. Law enforcement was there to protect us and it was more than enough for me to feel safe. 

After years of martial arts training, the city I live in did not get more dangerous yet I do not feel as safe anymore. 

...that gang of midget hooligans are up to no good...
photograph taken from By lesley gouger, via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe training bursted my bubble of innocence, showing me the dark side of the human soul. Perhaps, all those imaginary opponents I had to fight during training are now turning  real in my subconcious mind.

I guess I can always pretend that martial arts opened my eyes to reality and helped my ensure my own safety with my new awareness.

How is this a bad thing?

It really isn't a bad thing to raise awareness to one's surrounding, and being able to self defend certainly is an asset.

So what could be so bad about it?

Everyone knows Spiderman got his spider senses from his (secret) KungFu training...
Picture taken from

Being on the lookout at all times is stressful. Even if I was well trained, it would only make me feel somewhat safer.

For one thing, I have seen, in some classes, people of shady morals. If my paranoid preconception are correct, then I risk getting mugged by a six foot seven man, weighting 250  pounds in muscle with fighting skills superior to mine.

Life would be so much better

If we could just all peacefully coexist... Even then, I probably still would be over caucious. Perhaps  I would be happier not knowing about the lurking dangers of living in a big city...

...or if I lived in Gotham city

6- Made me a less dangerous fighter

Ironically, I think learning martial arts may have turned me into a worse fighter. Now, mind you, I definitely am a better karate, tae Kwon do or simply a better sport fighter but I'm not convinced I would fare better in a brawl.

Whereas brawls are messy, often unfair and devoid of rules, sports fights are structured and keep fighters safety in high  priority.

...they even give you a stick just in case you don't feel safe enough... 

Whenever the fighters are at risk of getting seriously hurt, a referee is always there to stop the fight. Fight are also regulated with many environmental constants that do not exist in real life.

There is no denying that a sports oriented athlete will have an advantage over untrained opponents, but their odds quickly diminishes as the opponents street fighting experience goes up. I may get surprised and freeze at the sight of weapons, guns, multiple attackers, etc.

...whatcha gonna do when the duckface crew comes for you!
photograph taken from

A fighter that trains hard within those rules may get accustomed to the relative safety of sports fights, and may be in for a painful surpnse should he be involved in a brawl, while a untrained fighter may either go berserk (thus surprising and scarring the attackers) or run like crazy

How is this a bad thing

It's not a bad thing since I don't get into brawls anyways. The problem is that instructors, even those who teach a clearly sport oriented martial art, keep telling their students how their techniques would work "on the street". This gives the student a sense of confidence without the actual training that accompanies it.

Life would be so much better if...

We could all live in harmony. Short of world peace happening, instructors could be more honest about their art being really a sport. At least, that would reduce the amount or people with over inflated confidence in their fighting abilities.


7- Made me a defender of the weak!

Imagine walking on the street with a group of friends (both male and female friends) and at the other side of the street, a bunch of hooligans harasses the fair ladies of your group. Who do you think will be voluntered to go and defend them? Well of course, it will be the martial artist, as he is after all, a killing machine. 

...just like this guy, minus the costume...

Even if they don't volunteer you, they may reply and even fight back, as they know they have a secret weapon of mass destruction on their side!

How is this a problem ?

Before my martial arts training, all my conceptions of fighting were from movies . In the movie world, life is filled with situations where a good beating is a perfectly acceptable solution. People could beat each other for fifteen minutes resulting in minor wounds, usually  cool looking cuts and bruises.

...getting hit like that only tickles a little...
photograph taken from

Unfortunately, real life is different, in a scary way.

Fighting opens up the risk of getting seriously injured, especially if the adversaries are armed, better skilled or more numerous. Even if victorious, there is still the possibility of retribution from the vanquished. And by retribution, we included future ambushes, attacks with weapons, firearms, explosives etc. Not to mention police officers and lawyers.

...if I was not so scared, I would probably joke on how the man on this picture got injured while messing around with lawyers...
(Of course that's not what happenned! The lawyers are there to help this injured man get justice! The are the real defenders of the weak!)
Free publicity for (Cause I would never just take a photograph from google image...)

Life would be so much better

If it was written by a movie writer.


8- Morals and ethics are now the first thing that comes to my mind...

But then, what is the point of practicing leathal techniques if we never are going to use it? Might as well practice a martial sport or a martial dance.

Martial dance...No need to think about morals and ethics, just esthetics...

And what if someone's life is in danger, how much force should  we apply, if any at all. This is where higher morals come to play (read: come to pester my life). Ever since I understood the like of higher ethics and morals, I have been to following a  life of virtue. This road is a harsh one, as it seems at times that I am alone on that road. All around me people are impolite, selfish, unrespectful of rules and other people. Being virtuous and being a sucker sometimes feels the same.

Life would be so much better

If everyone lived in peace and harmony with such other. If everyone had morals and ethic, it probably would be easier to act thet way ourselves and together, that might propagate and make for a world that is truly beautiful.

Because that is not likely going to happen in my lifetime, the next best thing to wish for is for me to become the selfish average citizen.  Ignorance is bliss. Without morals and a (conscience for that matter), I could just go around and pick fights with anyone, ladies and elderlies included, and I could do it for the stupidest reasons too, like they were staring at me for too long or simply for being in my way.


Alas it is too late for me. Martial arts have already seeped too deeply into the fabric of my being. Some may say i am evolving into a better person but no one can say for sure. The only way to find out (if martial arts will make me a better person ) is to press on and keep training...

We'll re-evaluate in 10 years...



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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 20:00  

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