Martial arts, not only offers a fantastic way to get fit and condition your body – but a brilliant way to condition your mind and sharpen your senses. All too often, we are focused on achieving external results, whether that’s losing weight through dieting or getting a six pack by committing to a particular fitness regime; and in the process we neglect to work on developing our inner self.
Just like how HICA helps build muscle, martial arts builds mental power, and in this article we’re going to look at how training within martial arts can be a metaphor for life.
- SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE
There are many people that “talk a good game” both in life, business, and martial arts! Indeed, we can be so focused on the outward appearance we project to the world that we forget to develop what’s on the inside. When you’re in the ring, everything is stripped from you – it doesn’t matter how much money you have, your job title, or any other indicator of status… and there’s something refreshing about having to rely on your substance over style.
Life Lesson: Work on developing the value you provide and developing your skills rather than dressing yourself up in a particular way.
- BE FLUID
Martial arts, as with life, requires that you go with the flow and work with what’s in front of you. If you’re as rigid as plastic you aren’t able to respond effectively — you therefore want to be more like the water that flows into the shape of the rigid glass rather than the glass itself. This fluidity in life can have huge benefits in terms of your personal and business relationships. When you are rigid, and anticipate your reaction in response to an expectation you can be left ‘stuck in the mud’ not quite knowing what just hit you if you live in such a regimented way. Life isn’t always going to deliver what you want, it has a funny way of knocking you down when you least expect it – but if you’re fluid and roll with the punches then you can remain standing.
Life Lesson: Don’t Be Too Rigid in Your Response to Life
- GROUND YOUR STANCE
Have you ever noticed those guys in the gym that focus almost exclusively on their upper body? They have a huge chest and arms but sparrow like legs. This is normally indicative that they are building their body to impress rather than to be authentically strong and powerful. In life, it’s easy to focus on the ‘fireworks’ that impress others – the fancy holidays, fast car, designer clothes and impressive haircut; but without a solid footing you’re heading for a fall. The power of the punch often comes from the legs and hip rotation; it’s less about the arms. Abraham Maslow explained the importance of building a solid base in order to live a fulfilled and stable life. Even though the arm movements and fancy kicks can be impressive, without a solid foundation to build on, the impact and power of these moves isn’t going to have the desired effect
Life Lesson: Build a Solid Base and Live a Stable Life
- SOOTHE THE TEMPERATURE
You want to endeavour to de-escalate situations; not add more fuel to the fire. If you’ve ever seen a bar brawl, it’s clear that both parties keep adding fuel to the fire with their ballsy rhetoric and confrontational stance. It’s always best to avoid fighting; that’s not to say one shouldn’t be confrontational as sometimes it’s necessary to assert healthy boundaries, but think of yourself as a fire extinguisher that takes heat out of the situation rather than the explosive effect of pouring petrol on the flames.
Life Lesson: When things start heating up, reach for the fire extinguisher rather than the petrol can!
- DON’T FIGHT: BUT IF FIGHT… WIN
The above were wise words once spoken by the master of martial arts ‘Mr Miyagi’. Essentially, he’s suggesting we always avoid a fight – but if we have to fight, then train hard to beat your opponent. In life, it’s always good to avoid fights, particularly with those we love or lengthy litigation processes. The best way to “win” a fight is to ensure a “win-win” situation for both sides; as this builds harmony… but for those times that you need to fight in order to protect your legitimate interests make sure you are strong in your course of action and defeat your opponent.
Life Lesson: Avoid Conflict but if you have to “fight” then endeavour to win!