Martial arts of any kind are really considered a niche kind of ‘sport’. So we can assume that… not everyone likes it. Here are some reasons why.
1. You don’t learn how to fight.
You don’t. Face it, whatever martial art you are practicing, when you let yourself in an MMA cage fight or a Kickboxing match: you’re most likely screwed. And I put it nicely there. You can’t fight, it doesn’t work.
(… even in martial arts movies we’re portrayed as losers)
2. There’s a huge imbalance when it comes to diversity.
Now this might be local of course, but mostly the amount of male participants is (way) higher than females’. In my own dojo I’m one of the two (!) adult women. The demography is mostly better with the children, but it’s rarely 50/50.
3. You don’t earn any respect.
You thought getting into martial arts would finally land you some real respect and people would start treating you like a human being that is, in fact, awesome? Think again.
If they have even HEARD of your martial art and you don’t have to spend ten minutes explaining it, then you still get smacked in the face with the fact that people think martial arts are only for nerds who need help sticking up for themselves.
You might think: “Oh but you do Karate, that’s easy, everyone knows that.”
Not even close. I always have to explain that Karate isn’t Judo and explaining that my style of Karate has Jiu Jitsu in it makes the whole thing even more complicated..
4. It leaves you bruised and beaten.
I remember having to run back and forth to the coffee corner at my work to get another batch of wet towels to cool my extremely bruised finger, 4 days before my black belt exam. A bit awkward to say the least, especially since your sweet co-workers will ask what’s up.
Also, I came into school one day with a black eye. Everyone in school thought I had gotten into a fight. I just went along with it because… well because I didn’t want to admit I actually failed to deflect one of the many Frisbee discs that were thrown at me by two black belts.
5. It’s a real commitment.
There are people who just come in once a week to do their thing and that’s it. That’s fine, but if you really want to get somewhere and earn that black belt you have to invest. I trained 4 to 5 times a week for before I earned my black belt. I saw my training partner more than my actual partner. Naturally that took a lot of understanding from my partner, not everyone can do that.
Well that sounds like a royal drag, why would I even start?
1. You learn something more than just fighting.
You might not be a cage fighter, but you do learn how to defend yourself. You learn the of the ways of budo. You strengthen your soul, your mind, your body, everything. A true budoka is mostly not just a good fighter, but also a good person.
2. Men everywhere
Okay so the girls aren’t as represented yet as the guys are. And yes there are an overwhelming amount of Caucasian males that run the show…
Welcome to the world. If you mind the lack of women in your dojo, invite them! Encourage them to try out, encourage others to bring women in! Make sure that diversity is happening, in every way possible.
Until my brown belt, I never even met a female sensei.
I never had a female sensei teach me. Now, I AM ONE.
Lead, by example.
3. You don’t earn any respect?
Well, I might’ve lied a little. Look in your school years, you don’t get any respect (sorry). They’ll just sneer at you and ask you to ‘give ‘em a little show’. What I hope is that you have earned your own respect and are able to say no to those losers who make your life miserable.
In the corporate world however, it is respected if you are (still) doing something you love as a hobby and actually acclaimed some sort of title in it (like a black belt or a teacher’s license). Also, martial arts mostly mean that people are calm, collected, good listeners and disciplined people. All good traits if you ask me!
4. You’ll get beat up.
Only a little at times…? Look, if you didn’t like it a little at the very least, you probably quit already. But you know what? I’m just going to put it out there: getting a punch or a kick will toughen you up. Now I’m not saying beating children is okay (never). But getting hit the first time is huge shock and you’ll cry, the second time you’ll have a scare and a sniffle, the third time you might already be able to suck it up and continue. Not because you’ve been yelled at to do so, but because you are training yourself mentally.
One of my sensei-in-life (a.k.a. mother’s) sayings is: there is always a choice. You might not feel like it, but there is always a choice.
And she is right. If you cannot fit that extensive training program in your busy life, then don’t. If you are mentally not ready to commit even though someone might ask it, you can perhaps try it, but if it really doesn’t go that well, then don’t.
The reason you are doing this is because it is FUN.
You are committing your whole life to trying imitate what some (mostly) Japanese deceased men invented.
By the way: you’ll never get it perfectly right, ever.
But you know what?
It brings you: joy, friends, a healthier body, a peaceful mind, a longer lifespan, inner strength, laughter, perseverance, discipline, this ‘amazing’ blog, a feel of home in the dojo, some great stories to tell and most of all: FUN. That’s all I need.