Over the last twenty-nine years I’ve met a great number of people and families who, after investing themselves or their children in a self-defense or martial art school, decided to abandon their training. Their reasons for abandoning their training range in reasoning, including but not necessarily limited to the following:
- They completed the program, and got their black-belt. They do not perceive any further training available or necessary. Those that fall into this category include those who bought into a three or five year program, completed the program, and are unaware of systems or instructors that can build them up from there and/or have an instructor incapable of providing them more than the program, itself. (A lot of belt-systems are structured in such a way. Traditionally, for most martial art systems, there were no belts. These systems were engineered by communities seeking to defend themselves from invaders and the daily activities that could compromise their ability to survive – not for money or some form of recognition.)
They perceive the program is good for teaching children the meaning of courage, discipline, respect and other moral principles, but not empowering in self-defense situations. Those that fall into this category include those who find martial arts training juvenile, weak, out-dated, fall short of modern weapons or sports-orientated fighting, fall short of street tactics used, etc. While this may be true of some schools out there, it is not true of the martial art systems. Nearly every true martial art system that I’ve been exposed to originated from a need to defend a community from war-time invaders. What changed? Over time people found that they could make money off of fighting, so they dumbed it down to some sports-fighting or program in order to gain praise from the community and receive money from them. These types of schools are self-serving, leaving their students resourced rather than empowered. (You may want to check my other blog that gives some pointers on how to avoid these types of schools.)
- They never learn to do more than fight as taught; and when their body ages and they are no longer able to do the physically demanding moves, the system (learned) loses its value. Many of the original cultures that developed the martial arts (e.g., the Chinese) embraced the principles of their system in everyday life. For example, they would find ways to apply those principles to the activities they did every day. This preserved their mind and body and spirit in the case invaders attacked, and they had to defend themselves. If you’re at a school that doesn’t help you find ways to do this, you may lose interest in learning (falsely believing you’re getting nothing out of an art you’ll never have to use), or you may find that (over time) your body changes keeping you from being able to learn credible self-defense techniques, or you may fall into the next category . . . . .
- They do not believe that they have the time to train anymore. This ties into the previous bullet, and some points I made in an earlier blog concerning adult considerations for learning a self-defense. If you’re learning to use the principles (of the system you’re training) in your everyday life, you will be training. You won’t have to block-off as much time for formal training. You can spend what time you do have set aside for formal training to gain further instruction from a capable mentor, utilizing the rest of your life in the mastery of those principles. This is true self-defense: The preservation of self from those things that seek to do us harm.
In my life, my friends and I experienced some very harsh things. Those things drove me to learn martial art systems that could be used fully in my life. I understood that the consequences of inability could mean something very disabling or worse. And, along these same lines, I understood my responsibility to incorporate these principles into my everyday life for the preservation of myself. No one was going to do it for me. They couldn’t. I had to. This is why I could never understand giving up.
In my own life, I had one teacher leave America to go back to China; I had moved from home to learn (6 years) in another state; I had to use what I learned several times; . . . . . the list goes on. My point is:
How could I have stopped, just quit, and been responsible for myself?
How can you?
When you change your mind about what martial arts are, what to expect from it, and your responsibilities, you will open the door to self-empowering life. Not just self-empowering, but an empowering state of being that will be able of the responsibilities to others (e.g., children, wife, husband, etc.). (By the way: Ability is being able to do what you intend to do the moment you intend to do it. Period emphasized.) What are you holding onto that is holding you back? If you’re in the Tallahassee area and would like to learn wing chun, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Empower yourself to life! ™
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