A wise martial arts instructor once taught me, “Huff, if you are just going through the motions, mastering just the physical part of the arts, not paying attention to the principles behind the moves and how you can use them in your life, you may as well be learning ballet.”

When he said this to me, I was working on footwork drills designed to take me from right on the edge of my opponent’s attacking range to the inside, where my shorter stature and tools that I use well could overcome his height and reach.

I stopped and thought about it and said to myself, “Self, I think Sensei has lost it; how does a footwork drill apply to life?  How could I possibly use this?”

That question started a journey – a way of thinking – that has been passed down from teacher to student since that day.  That question opened my eyes to the hidden value in personalized martial arts training and the real value of the martial arts.

The martial arts are a tool for every student to use to tackle their everyday challenges – it is not just punching and kicking.

You can learn punching and kicking anywhere.  If you want to learn how to be a tough guy, you could go to one of the zillions of mixed martial arts schools that are popping up on every corner.  Boxing – if you can find a true, “Old School” boxing club – could teach you the “Sweet Science”.

There are martial arts styles out there that excel in kicking, like tae kwon do or muy thai.  If you want to learn how to fight or wrestle on the ground, you could choose submission wrestling or jiu-jitsu.  Still other styles say they are “reality based” self defense systems, although I have never heard of a “Un-reality” based system.

While all of those styles could teach you “moves”, it is the principles behind the moves that are most valuable – and that is where many students miss out.  They miss out because while their instructor may break down the “how” to do what it is you are doing, many times they do not break down the “why”.

On top of that, many times the instructor won’t go the next step further and share how the technique could be applied in their lives.  For example, in the video below, Shihan Paul Taylor is teaching how to use little steps – small movements – to not only protect yourself, but to move in, closer to your opponent so you can deliver your counterattack.

Think about this in the context of getting a point across to a co-worker or boss at work;  If your boss is set or bullish on one way of doing something and your idea is radically different from his.  Is the best way to charge into his office, tell him his idea is never going to work and he needs to do it your way?

Or, would a better strategy be to slowly “plant seeds”, one at a time, each one moving him closer to the target (decision) that you want, which is to go with your idea?

That is an example of how to use martial arts principles and apply them to your life.  But, in order to begin using these principles in your life, you want to be able to understand and use the technique first.

Check out the video as Shihan Paul Taylor explains how to do just that in a martial arts training session from the Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios high-ranking Black Belt training session.

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One Comment

  1. Rich
    Feb 10, 2015 @ 10:13:07

    I would just point out that many martial arts studios are not reality-based as they practice with one partner willingly assisting the other by slowly throwing a strike or helplessly falling to the ground. The reality on the street is far different, attacks come quick and hard, usually by surprise. We all should train that way…


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