Martial arts nowadays are not really studied compared to the past. There’s no more physical battle on battle field anymore. Today the battle is in the mind. So people think that martial arts have no place in daily day lives. Those who learn martial arts today, they learn it as sports or to win medals. On the contrary, people in the past learn martial arts as a way to understand the meaning of life. Perhaps we need to reframe the way we look at this art.
I’m a practitioner of Aikido, a martial art from Japan. My opinion is that people need to learn at least one martial art. It’s not with the intention to fight or defeat others. But as a mean to build our inner character to make us a better person.
No matter what kind of martial art you learn, all of them lead to the benefits that can be applied in our daily day lives. We should not learn to compare one martial art with the other because that would only set us apart. But we should join together and unite for the purpose of fighting the evil within us. Here are six benefits of learning martial arts that can be applied in our daily day lives.
#1 Disciplining oneself
Through martial art training a person can develop a sense of proper timing. Speed without correct timing is useless. But a practitioner cannot attain correct timing in his moves if he cannot come to training on time. So by training to come early to class, he will develop within himself sensitivity towards proper timing. As Muslims, we are taught to train ourselves to pray five times a day on time. This is actually like martial art training.
#2 Manners and Respect
In martial arts especially the Japanese ones like Aikido, Karate, and Iaido, manners are the number one lesson. The shoes need to be neat and organized. This neatness is then transformed into the techniques. Every step is précised. We learn to respect our teachers and friends as well.
Before practicing any technique with our partner we respect them by bowing a little before them. Our training partner is like a mirror. He will show us our limitations and weaknesses so that we can improve ourselves. The same with the people we meet in everyday lives. Each of them is showing us our limitations and thus is teaching us some important lessons. For example, a person who is making us angry is actually teaching us the meaning of patience.
#3 Increased focus and calm the mind
In martial training there’s a principle of ‘No Mind’. It means not to think about things that are not supposed to. It also means to leave all of the problems faced in life outside of the ring. In other words, to be in the moment. The aim of training with a partner is not to worry about his attack, but to focus on the attacker. By training this way it helps to improve the focus power in the mind and develops calmness of the mind. This ‘no mind’ principle can be applied in our lives as well.
When we are facing challenges we tend to worry about the burden of the challenges. But we Muslims should focus on the source of the challenge, which is God. He is the one that gives us challenges, so that we give our attention to Him alone to face our challenges. Through the focus power developed in martial art training, Muslims can gain ‘khushu’ or focus in their five times prayers.
#4 Lighten the body
Like any physical exercise martial arts can lighten and make our bodies feel more energetic throughout the day. The body is designed to move, not to sit still. With today’s technology we tend to relax our bodies too much until we easily get hurt. The people in the past had strong bodies because they move a lot. Through martial art training, one can explore the hidden potential of his physical body. Combined with mind focus and discipline, the body can be a powerful transportation that let us move efficiently in this world.
#5 Polish the spirit to face challenges
Facing the opponent in training is similar to facing the challenges in life. Most often beginners of martial arts start with fear in their heart when facing their opponents. Slowly when they progress, they would be able to overcome the fear and channel it to become a source of strength, thus making them courageous to face their opponents. This courage obtained in training can be applied when facing challenges in life as well.
#6 Victory over the self
There’s a hadith of Prophet Muhammad that goes “The strong are not the best wrestlers. Verily, the strong are only those who control themselves when they are angry.” This means that true victory is victory of the self and desires. In training we tend to become angry because we cannot do the techniques correctly.
So the purpose of training is to be patient. It is okay if we mistakenly do the technique. As long as we are patient and control our anger, then we will progress. That is why we always see martial art masters they are always controlling their emotions to be patient and calm.