Friday, August 14, 2009

Why Then & Why Now?

Question: Why did you start studying the martial arts? And if you have been studying for over three years...why do you study now?

For myself the answer is easy. My first reason was self-defense. Nothing more than that. At the age of 14 I was one of the skinniest and smallest kids in Junior High, easily intimidated and felt very insecure. I wanted to be able to take care of myself and never feel inadequate in the face of someone bigger than me.

It is still my belief that first and foremost, your art should be about defending yourself, quickly and easily. If it doesn't...then find another one if you can. My confidence soared after even a few months of Karate lessons...and almost by magic much of my fears dissipated. Self-defense, the knowledge you can defend yourself, leads to greater confidence...and for myself encouraged me to continue to practice...despite the pain.

And now...why do I still practice? Cause I am nuts! Well, only partially true. Now...and as most is an inner exploration of ourselves. It is dealing with a greater enemy than one we would face in a back alley behind a bar. It is facing ourselves and our own inner demons of anger, greed and delusion. The three poisons of which Buddha spoke of. For myself this is the real 'Three Battles' of Sanchin Kata.

I also study now because of the bond I feel with other martial artists. It is the sense of belonging to a neat group of people who are just as insane about being flown through the air and enduring the variety of vigorous physical rigors.

So, how about you? I am always curious as to why people wish to start the arts...and why they continue. Please share if you are inclined. I know other readers who are just starting would like to know why most of us old-timers keep doing this stuff.

In Gassho,


  1. I started out in Tae Kwon Do as part of an after school program when they closed the Soccer program.
    Then they closed the Tae Kwon Do program and I moved on to Karate, that was between the ages of 9-10.
    I stuck with it and now, about 18 years later, I am teaching a new generation of Karateka, including my son, and still studying deeply.

    Why did I start? At first it was curiosity and about whether or not it would help me to defend myself.
    As a teenager it became about the sport aspect, but once I hit Shodan I was no longer competing, it became about something much deeper.

    While first and foremost it is about self-defense for me, it is also about self-cultivation and gnosis, insight.
    It is a spiritual path.

  2. I started for exercise. I stay because I've found my teacher.

    As for self-defense being first and foremost, I don't pursue it at such. Worrying that I might not have the right mindset, or might not be learning a 'viable' MA, I've asked my teacher about it. He states, 'I've taught you how to defend yourself. Your problem is you don't have the confidence to use it.'

    Fact is, I don't want to go that 'that place' again.

  3. They say man/woman grows old from the extremities to the center, which would be right about the tanden, the core, the last burning ember.

    My karate training has taken that route, from outer to inner.

  4. Short: I started because I like them. I remain because I like them, but I now use self defense as a Litmus test: I believe it's dangerous to establish bad tecnique as a conditioned reflex.

    Longer: I started because I felt it was the kind of thing I could be good at, and it attracted me. Back then I knew of karate and judo, and something called "Korean karate". So I finally buggered enough to get put into a system that claimed they did jujutsu [nope: they did 30' karate and 30' judo] and grew up from there. Been in bad systems / assn. here and there for a while. I'm now at the first assn. where I picture myself growing up.

  5. Wow...thanks for all the comments so far. Anybody else?

  6. I wanted to do something cool that no one else in my school could. Really. That was the theory behind it. But I was ten. I don't think I could have been expected to have a deep or legit reason at that time. And that idea didn't wear off completely until about Green Belt. By that time it was about being able to defend myself, as well as keep in shape. And then by Brown belt was just a part of my life. Completely interwoven into my psyche and way of life. Now I practice for that reason, because of the people, because of the confidence that comes with being able to say 'I can defend myself', and a variety of reasons. Mostly, it's a part of me. To stop practicing martial arts, or weapons, would be like skipping out on a few breaths daily.