Although I began my martial arts training as a child, I rededicated myself to my training during my college years, and I found that while the benefits I reaped as a child were outstanding, the impact that the martial arts had on my life as an adult were even more profound.
At first I started training because I wanted to be able to defend myself, then I continued training because it was fun, and I began spending more and more time and effort practicing. As my skills grew, I realized I could improve in other areas of my life if I would invest the time and effort. It was really an empowering feeling. For much of my life, I had believed that success was largely a matter of luck or genetics. I believed that hard work certainly played a part, but it wasn’t until I really immersed myself in the martial arts lifestyle that I realized how important of a part. It was a very empowering feeling, to have some sense of control over my success in life.
The only possible downside, it could be argued, was the sense of regret I felt for not applying myself in other areas of life. I felt like if I had worked harder and practiced or studied more, I could have done better in sports or school (although my grades were fairly strong in college, if you’ll pardon my boasting). But even these feelings were quickly appeased, when I realized that now I had an activity in which I could dedicate myself, the martial arts! I couldn’t go back to high school and practice harder before trying out for the team, but I wouldn’t want to, because now I had an activity that I could still practice, regardless of my age or the opinion of any coaches.
As an adult, if I didn’t have the martial arts, I feel that there would be precious few moments to break the monotony of the routine of everyday life. Every time that I enter the dojo, I view it as a big event, a challenge, to see whether I can perform better than last time. Training helps us to stay physically and mentally fit. The techniques of the martial arts depend upon skill, not mere strength or athleticism, so students don’t simply get older, they get better.
This is why I feel like the martial arts provide the greatest activity and personal growth opportunity to both children and adults.