By Brian Woodland
Photo: The photo was taken in a Tel Aviv, Israel dojo is as described below (left to right),
Craig Barker (New Zealand)
Shay Bendersky (Israel)
Philippo Mestichelli (Durbanville)
Rony Kluger (Israel)
Brian Jooste (Durbanville)
Brian Woodland (Durbanville)
It has long been known that a trained mind and body can contribute greatly to a sense of well-being, so it is not surprising that many people turn to the disciplines of the traditional martial arts as a way of alleviating the stress and tension that are endemic in today’s society. There are millions of martial arts practitioners all over the world. Through the disciplines these arts impose, men, women and children of all ages are actively involved in learning how to improve their awareness, health, fitness, confidence, and the ability to defend themselves.
Much harm has come from the popular perception – learned largely from movies and fictional TV dramas – that martial arts are concerned with violence and general mayhem. On the contrary, anyone who becomes involved soon learns that this aggressive perception that most people have could not be further from the truth. Inherent in martial arts teachings are the guiding principles of respect, courtesy and self-discipline. In reality, most skilled practitioners are less likely to initiate, or become involved in, physical aggression than non-practitioners, preferring instead to remove themselves from a potentially violent situation. Of course, in an unavoidable situation, the trained student will have a better chance to remain calm and effective. Occasionally, it is worth the time to take stock of the personal benefits that students may be obtaining from regular training, and set these off against the costs of the training. The costs would be money, time and sweat, probably in that order.
Money is the easiest. For less than the cost of a burger per lesson (approximately), there is no better way to get fit, learn a skill and enjoy personal attention. For such a small fee, a student of martial arts gets to learn about himself/herself in ways never imagined. Training is the best form of anger management around, as your instructor pushes you a little further each time and shows you how you can grow from personally stressful situations.
Time. The most elusive commodity for most, and yet the most controllable. Controlling time is achieved by a simple decision. No money required, no sweat needed – just a decision. Decide for yourself “I will train on those days, at these times and nothing will interfere”. Initially, the ‘time thieves’ will surround you. Other commitments at work or at home will continually harass you until they see that your commitment and resolve is firm. From then on, the time thieves will serve you and the ‘commitments’ will start to plan themselves around your schedule. They will respect your training time, and by extension, they will also respect you. Just be sure not to ignore them. Give them attention, but in a disciplined, managed manner.
The hard part.
It’s free and takes no additional time, and yet many try to avoid it. How many students arrive at training hoping for an ‘easy class’? An easy class wastes your time and your money. Even worse, if you decide to take it easy in class, then you alone are responsible for wasting your own time and your own money.
On the other hand, if you decide to go for the sweat every time, you will win hands down in getting full value for your time and money. Your sweat is your own. You will never run out of it. There is an endless supply. Irrespective of whether you are naturally athletic or not, your sweat is an indicator of the rewards of training. You cannot worry about your job, your finances, your relationships, your exams or anything else while you are training in a profuse sweat. There is no room for that in your mind – only making it through the class. You cannot gain weight while you are sweating. Your heart is exercised as your body detoxifies itself. The mind clears out all the rubbish. With a good sweat, the body is warmed right up, and is ready to absorb instruction and conditioning with much less chance of injury. After a good sweat, once the body has returned to normal, a feeling of achievement is left behind; enhancing moods and making life seem just that much more fun.
And yet some of us pay fees, attend classes and still avoid the sweat. If you are one of those, then you are not a student. You are just a spectator.