We have had the opportunity this week to get a chance to work with two new students. One of them is very experienced in multiple martial arts, and the other is the opposite: someone who has always wanted to try martial arts and made the decision to pull the trigger and try it out. They actually both found our website and went through the trial enrollment. Their joining reminded me of an important question: Why martial arts?
We absolutely love working with new students, be they kids or adults. Every student brings something new to our school with their personality, experience, and goals. I am as an instructor very interested in a student’s experience and goals, since my job is to help students meet their goals and use the art to improve their lives outside of the dojo. There are many important lessons to be taught through this martial art, and we all know some of the obvious ones. Developing focus, practicing discipline, improving physical health… these are all things most people can get behind. Something deeper gets trained as well in a journey to black belt; self confidence (and efficacy) improve, we learn how to win when taking risks, and we finally get to that wonderful spot where we realize how much we don’t know; this infuses a real sense of beauty and wonder in training. The actual life skills and self awareness learned through martial arts training are vital to a positive life.
Now what I have written above is not true for every person, or every art. Learning how to strike and grapple while spending countless hours getting thrown and hit back helps everyone grow in different ways. There is a connection to something very primal and human in martial arts, and most people seemed tuned into that, even non practitioners. We joke that we have never heard someone say “Oh, martial arts? I’d never want to that,” or “I used to do martial arts, what a waste of time!” Our perception is that most people have a basic respect and admiration for training. That leads me to ask “why do so few people commit to training?”
If you have always wanted to train, but never actually “pulled the trigger”, why do you think that is the case? What barriers stand between you and an incredible learning experience? The reality is that you are not alone; a very small segment of the population (less than 5%, actually) will ever train in martial arts, and fewer still will stick with it long enough to earn a legitimate black belt. At Discovery, we want to see our students be successful in their goals. If you have a goal to train in martial arts, we want to help you be successful. That’s why we have focused on developing a supportive, encouraging community of practitioners of many different backgrounds and experiences to help ease you into training and provide helpful guidance to the new artist. It’s why we have a curriculum based around body movement that allows all people to train; We have worked with blind people, people in their 70’s, and I even remember demonstrating for my brown belt a few weeks out of shoulder surgery with one arm wrapped up in a giant rehab sling.
Martial arts teaches us how to cope with fear and our own very real emotions. On this journey, we learn to accept the role these emotions play, and learn to work with them and use them in fighting and life. Overcoming fear is always an accomplishment, and that is why we consider the white belt to be the most important belt. Think back to your personal roadblocks to training; when you overcome those and actually get into the dojo, you have accomplished something important. Your white belt demonstrates your ability to try something new despite any fear, doubt, and difficulty you have experienced. Your white belt represents new possibilities.
If you are reading this and thinking about training but still remain hesitant, I encourage you to take the small risk, and let us know what you’re looking for via our enrollment page. We can start a dialogue from there, and figure out how to make this work for you. It’s totally free, as are your first two weeks of classes. The worst that can happen is that you decide it’s not for you. That’s okay too! Martial arts isn’t for everyone, and sometimes our lives truly aren’t in a place to commit to training. I can tell you that earning my white belt, and recently beginning my daughter’s training (and getting to wrap the white belt on her!) are both proud and defining moments in my life.
So I’d to wrap this up by asking you “what are you going to do?” What barriers are you going to break to finally pursue or return to a terrific training experience?