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Martial Arts: A Way to Grow

Which one is right for you?While self-building is arguably the main goal of practicing a martial art, there are many other positive effects associated with it, such as keeping in good shape, being able to learn and think on your feet, having a sense of camaraderie with your fellow students, and being able to protect yourself and others should a dangerous situation arrive.

Which one is right for you?When most people think about martial arts, the mind conjures up images of Bruce Lee disposing of enemies with his nunchaku or Jet Li flying through the air taking down enemies with the greatest of ease. While these high flying antics are fun to watch, they do not even come close to representing what martial arts is all about. Here we would just like to give a brief overview of the benefits of martial arts and how one can go about finding one to practice.

Martial arts have many benefits beyond being able to take down multiple enemies at the same time. In fact, many martial arts practitioners will argue that taking someone down is not even a goal of martial arts. Rather, finding the best way to avoid conflict and neutralizing it quickly if it does occur is preferred. The major goal of any martial art is actually building the self, as it demonstrates that with training and proper technique, even the clumsiest of people can be graceful fighters. In the same way, it shows us that no matter what stage we are in life, we can always improve with the right teacher and training.

While self-building is arguably the main goal of practicing a martial art, there are many other positive effects associated with it, such as keeping in good shape, being able to learn and think on your feet, having a sense of camaraderie with your fellow students, and being able to protect yourself and others should a dangerous situation arrive.

Many people are interested in watching and talking about martial arts, but very few actually take the plunge in trying to learn one. There are many reasons, such as lack of time, money, location, etc. Many times, however, these can become excuses due to lack of real interest or will to consistently practice a martial art. Once we get over these hurdles, the time comes to actually pick a specific art, or arts, to practice.

There are many arts out there, such as Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Jujitsu, Aikido, and Kung Fu, just to name a few. Most people are inclined to a particular art, such as Tae Kwon Do, because they enjoy watching it or know someone who does it. This can be a good reason to start your journey in a particular art, but one can come to realize they actually do not enjoy it. For this reason, it is important to try your hand at different arts and decided which you like best. Many major arts are well represented in large metropolitan areas, and most of them have some sort of a free trial. So give one a try, not just once but multiple times if possible, to get a good feel on what you do or don’t like. It is possible that the search for the right martial art could take a few months.

There are many other factors that can contribute in your search to find the right school. One of the main factors, if not the main one, is finding the right teacher. Many people assume that all teachers should be old Asian men who are terribly strict. While there are some teachers like this, most teachers hardly fit this mold. Teachers come from many different backgrounds and have different methods. Some are very strict with traditional practices, while others are more laidback. Some have a very tight and specific curriculum, while others just play it by ear. Another reason to take many trial classes is to make sure you can mesh well with the teacher. One thing to definitely watch out for is if a teacher demands a large sum of money up front or can guarantee you a black belt in a certain amount of time. Like in any profession, there are crooks, and these are a couple of red flags to watch out for. But other than that, finding the right teacher and letting them lead you will usually help you reach your goals.

Other factors which can contribute are cost, location, and class size. Location especially played a part in my decision of choosing a school, as my school is very close to where I live, which makes it easier to spend time on other obligations.

While this is just a very rough beginning primer on finding a school, it is a good starting point. Studying and practicing a martial art is a lifelong journey, but as with all journeys, it begins with one step. The major thing to remember with martial arts is that you get what you put in. If you are lazy with practice and not very attentive to detail, you will be a poor martial artist. But if you practice hard and apply the teacher’s instruction to your weaknesses, you will be a great martial artist and also grow as a person, because this applies to being a great Muslim as well. The more thought and effort we put into improving ourselves each day will bring us ever closer to our goal. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says it best, “The value of each man depends on the art and skill which he has attained.” (Nahjul Balagha)

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One comment

  1. Salam,

    Very good read. May Allah (swt) reward you for writing this article.

    If you wish to excel in strength, rely on God. – Imam Ridha (as)

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