Is martial arts just about self-defense?
When most people think of martial arts, be it kung fu or karate, they think of funny looking uniforms and kids punching and kicking and yelling. And in part or on the surface that is what it looks like from the outside in. But if you were to really take a deep look at the history and the philosophy of most traditional martial arts you will see a much deeper purpose than what is on the surface.
When the ancient masters developed the art of kung fu, they were not just developing a way to fight. Far from it. They were developing a method to stay healthy and a way to improve every aspect of their life. Most martial arts and kung Fu instruction can trace their origin to the Chinese martial arts in some way. Developed in the temples the art was designed to help keep the monks healthy. But that was just one reason.
It was designed to help them with their posture, and their ability to focus during long hours of meditation. It was of course a physical exercise that improved everything from flexibility and mobility to strength and endurance.
But it also contained a mental aspect as well. Learning the complicated techniques required practice and practice taught discipline and perseverance.
And since they were learning a martial art, they wanted to make sure the students understood respect. Respect for life and themselves. Respect for the environment.
There was also a deep spiritual aspect of the art. An inner search for purpose and meaning. Disciplining the mind and being fully present in the moment. Knowing yourself and how to improve yourself so you can best help others.
When one took up a martial arts in the past it was not for a hobby or just something to do. It was a way of life. It was about bettering themselves and perfecting their mind, body and spirit. Which includes every aspect of one’s life.
So, the next time you think about martial arts, think about the reason it was practiced in the ancient temples and what those ancient masters were trying to teach their disciples. Kicking and punching and yelling was definitely not the purpose. That was just a way to keep them focused and trained while they learned all the other benefits of their art.
Learning a martial art can be one of the best ways to get into shape, learn self-defense, and practice self-mastery. Not too many other sports will offer you a method that will lead to self-mastery and become a way of life.