We are always hearing from relatives, friends or colleagues that practice martial arts how helpful it is for self-discipline, but on the other spectrum we see the media showing famous superstars such as those from WWE or the UFC doing crazy things on social media that really contradict to what those close to us are saying. This might make you skeptical whether these claims are true and distance you from taking your kids or yourself in fear to not become like this or even be associated with these people.
I’m here to assure you that all these high profile fighters are in fact really disciplined, they would not have achieved their social authority if they were slacking off instead of putting there 100% into training and staying as healthy as possible. Sadly how much X fighter donated to charity does not attract the masses, what the people want to see is a fighter dissing another fighter, fighters doing crazy things and other nuisances that build up hype. You have to keep in mind that fighter’s are ‘assigned’ with a character they must play to stay in the business, if there is no hype there will be a lot less sales. Look at the WWE ask anyone you want even if they have no interest in any sort of martial art, they know what it is even if they never watched a single fight it’s cos it’s build primarily on these foundations. With that misconception about the media and discipline let’s start discussing how martial arts improve discipline.
I have studied four martial arts in my lifetime which were Karate, BJJ, MMA and HEMA and have been in various different dojo’s of the same style, what’s in common between all these dojo’s is that on your first lesson you will receive a set a rules. Disobeying these rules will get you send home, or even permanently banned from the school. This alone starts to implement self discipline within yourself, without you even being aware as to not get dismissed from class. This just scratches the surface of how discipline you will have to become in order to succeed in martial arts, but for now let’s breakdown the standard rules dojo’s have and see how they improve discipline.
Treat your superiors and colleagues with respect
This type of discipline is slowly decaying with each new generation. I personally blame it on the parents and the mentally that you need to be best friends with your children which later in life leads to the now adult that do not understand authority figures. Like don’t you think being best friends with your child is a tad bit weird, sure I don’t agree with the older generation’s that the sound of their parents coming in struck terror in the hearts of the children but there must be a balance. I’ll talk more about this issue another day as we are getting sidetracked.
Martial arts strictly enforces that you respect everyone in the dojo and outside the dojo, with acts that develop discipline such as :
Bowing is when you close your legs together and pivot 45 degrees forward. The act of bowing represents that you care and respect that person, it is one of the most important etiquette’s in martial arts. It is used upon meeting with the sensei of the dojo, with your colleagues prior to entering and leaving the dojo, Katey Wallace wrote an amazing article explaining the meaning of bowing.
Kneeling is when you sit on your shins. This gesture is used before the start and at the end of the lesson, with the sole purpose of increasing discipline within the students. The kneel before the start of the lesson represents that everyone is willing to do what they can to help each other grow stronger, while the kneel in the end represents that you are grateful to everyone that participated within the lesson.
Always be on time
This improves what’s referred to as ‘Time Discipline‘ in sociology and anthropology. In this modern world being prepared and on time is crucial for your success, martial arts mentally wires you to always prepare your necessities for the class beforehand so that when time comes to go you’re all set and ready. This stays with you when you’re attending your first interview, normal day to day work, business meetings, immagine arriving late for any of these you’re going to be giving a really bad impression of yourself which might lead to losing your employment or loss of sales.
In this modern age grooming has become increasingly more important, where before only women and rich men used to groom nowadays males have it as hard as women to keep their look looking great. Martial arts enforces that you practice grooming daily if you want to attend lessons, not only does it increase safety among the students with acts such as cutting your nails but it keeps the place looking professional.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be disciplined in the arts of grooming, psychologically it builds self esteem for the user not only because the user is seeing himself in the mirror looking great, it makes the user more approachable. More people will be willing to come up and befriend you this builds an upward cycle to improve your self esteem. like in class no one wants to practice with a smelly homeless looking guy/girl outside class the same rules still apply.
Martial arts has a zero tolerance policy for bullying a student who has been proven to be caught bullying of any sort will first have a discussion with the instructor where the instructor will explain how bad bullying is and try to change the student’s mentality this applies to both adult and young students if the student does not change his ways he will be banned from entering the school as this goes against the principles of martial arts.
Advanced Martial Arts Discipline
The rules we have discussed till now cover the most basic disciplinary skills a martials artists has to learn in order to surpass the beginner stage of his martial arts carrier. The higher you rank up the more responsibility will be trusted upon you, with more responsibility and higher performance standards the more disciplined you must become to surpass your next level, let’s discuss more in depth what’s to be expected from a higher level martial artist and how disciple plays a key role in his success.
Harder Techniques / Standards
As with everything in life, the more you progress the harder it is to reach that next level. Eventually lessons will not be sufficient enough for you to keep progressing and you will have to start practising on your own free time, resulting in increased responsibility.
This is where your discipline levels are tested, having to do something everyday to improve yourself is very hard. Most people blame ‘motivation’ but motivation has nothing to do with it. No one is going to stay motivated doing the same thing over and over again, what keeps top end athletes going is how discipled they are.
As you advance further in your training, you will be taught how to teach. Teaching requires a lot of responsibility and self discipline because now it’s time for you to represent the community and implement your teachings in the new generation so the legacy of your martial art can continue to live on.
Higher level martial arts training teaches you how to control your power both for within the dojo and outside the dojo, this is the skill that truly expresses self-defence. Having the ability to evaluate the power necessary to defend yourself without crippling your attacker requires huge amounts of self discipline. I’ll explain two scenarios where self-control is necessary, so that you understand me better i’ll give one example for outside the dojo and one for inside the dojo.
Outside The Dojo Self Discipline
Your at whatever place you like to go to and some skinny guy oozing with ‘coolness’ decides to attack you to prove how macho he is. You will want to throw him on the ground and proceed to breaking all his bones, but this is where control comes in play. Instead of breaking his bones after the throw you will help him to get up and try to befriend him maybe even try to change his ways.
Inside The Dojo Self Discipline
Your sparring with a beginner. You can proceed to kicking his ass to inflate your ego, for the loss of both of you from learning anything useful. Or you can purposely let the beginner catch you in a submission and practise your escape from that situation resulting in a happier beginner as he managed to catch a more advanced student in that particular lock that he is now more confident in using. While you have improved your ability to escape from that situation which will help you win more advanced fights with higher level students.
That pretty much sums up how martial arts can improve discipline. I would recommend anyone to try martial arts at least once and see how it goes, there are many other benefits besides discipline in learning martial arts. For parents I think sending your kid to a martial arts school can really help them develop into becoming a great respectable member of society. Not to mention having an advantage over other kids from becoming a target for bullying.
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.