Why train in the martial arts? We all have our reasons. Some of us enjoy various aspects of our practice, self-defense, health benefits, or possibly something more... character, confidence, psychological poise. Relaxation... the list can go on and on. The reason I train in martial arts is because to me the martial arts are metaphors for life! A way to shift personal perception, to push past and grow beyond our hardships.
The practice runs deep! I say let every technique be a tool to break down your personal walls. Let every bead of sweat loosen your shackles of hardship. Let the burning of practice open doors so you may find the depths of your soul.
Take every aspect of the practice and let it be a symbol of strength building, of character building. In everything adopt this view. By this practice, we find relaxation in stressful situations. Stability amidst chaos.
So a martial art is much more than self-defense it is like my mentor always says 'the practice is one of self-disappearance'. Not diminishing of you as a person rather a disappearing of the false self. Erasing the unnecessary and filling it with correct action and attitude. To seek within you the ethics and morals that make your actions upright. Then under stress apply them.
Shift your view of combat. Not as a place akin to hell, but rather as a sort of conflict in which we have a chance to help others by doing what must be done. We fight with fervor to save the lives of our brothers in arms and the innocent.
Even with this change in perception it's important to note our minds and bodies can't stay in conflict forever. There must be balance in the practice. Temper your combative conditioning with health practices, ethical and moral foundations.
Even the Marine Corps keeps this in mind, as Lt. Gen. George Flynn said in regards to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) "There has to be not only the combative parts of it, but it's the values piece. As long as those two stay in balance, I think the program is staying in the way it was initially envisioned, If you focus on just the combative aspects of it, I think we're missing a key part that this was initially supposed to be a values part of our ethos, in terms of what we are teaching."
In closing, Regardless of the art you practice or reason you practice keep balance in your methods and they will do you far more good in all aspects of practicality.
Martial arts are phenomenal tools to find out everything about yourself and learn how to make the best of any situation.
Daniel R. Hyde