Many adults wonder if the practice of a martial art is for them. They often struggle to see how they could benefit from an activity that appears to be focused on kids. Adults question the idea that martial arts, which appear on the surface to be a sporting event, could have significant impact on their lives. Even those who understand that there is a good reason to practice found in the ability protect themselves when traveling will often miss the larger opportunities inherent in the martial arts.
Here is just one story of how the martial arts can change adult lives. This story is best told in the words of the man living the change and enjoying the benefits of his martial arts experience. Let’s have Kevin Blum, 2nd Degree Black Belt, enlighten us on his personal journey in the martial arts and in life.
Taekwondo for me has not just been about self defense and the physicality associated with martial arts. For me, the mental aspect has been equal, if not more important. I would not be in the position I am today had I not learned about discipline, perseverance, honor, courage, integrity, and most importantly-self respect/self confidence.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, yeah, I have heard this line before. How can he say that for certain? “ This is a common response to hearing anyone claim to have been “inspired” on towards a better way of life, no matter what the source of “inspiration”. In today’s society we all need proof, concrete evidence, specific examples of the changes and reasons behind their occurrence. Mr. Blum once again comes through, helping us see deeper into the possibilities offered in training in the martial arts.
Self confidence gave me the ability to take the leap and go back to college to earn a “work in progress” BS in Health Informatics. In past I learned better in the comfort of a “brick and mortar class room environment.” Through perseverance and discipline I took myself outside my comfort zone into the reality of “online” education.
Mr. Blum learned that there was more to who he was as he stepped onto the practice floor many years ago. Taking that first step set him on a path that would eventually change his life. He learned that he could take on any challenge and succeed. Self confidence is a powerful force in our lives, one that many either lack completely or have too little of to be truly successful in life. As he learned and progressed in his study of the arts Mr. Blum also discovered a deep and yet untapped well of self discipline and perseverance within himself. Through the challenges he faced on the mat he learned that the surest way to succeed was to stay disciplined and move outside of his “comfort zone”.
Through honor and integrity, I was able to confidently change colleges after almost completing three quarters of my degree because I was not being challenged enough mentally. In addition to my continued Taekwondo training, working toward a new college degree, I earned my Continuous Improvement Practitioners (CIP) award through my employer. I am one of two hundred associates, from a pool of 39,000 Associates Company wide, to be chosen to take this 18 week program and graduate. This is a new responsibility, to apply what I have learned, to help others in my company find ways to improve the “way we do business.”
Honor and Integrity. These two life skills are often quoted as “benefits” for those who practice an art. But how many times has anyone been able to point to specific examples of how the development of these two personal qualities has impacted their life? Mr. Blum shows us the way. It would certainly have been easier for him to simply complete his degree at the school that failed to provide challenge and real growth. His degree would have looked the same to employers; the benefits of having earned the degree would have likely been the same either way. This idea, however, did not settle well with Mr. Blum. From his martial arts training he knew that real growth only comes through challenge. His understanding of this fact and his senses of Honor and Integrity led him to take a bold step. That step has made all the difference in his education and his life. Not only has he proven to himself that he could do it; he showed his employer what he is capable of when challenged. This is likely one of the major reasons he was chosen to pursue the Continuous Improvement Practitioners (CIP) training. His employer saw in him real value, real ability, and trusted that he would not fail in this new challenge.
I no longer fear life challenges that I would not have considered doing years ago. To quote my oldest daughter (and second degree black belt) “I can do anything I put my mind too!” I could not have put it any better!
No matter where you are in life the practice of a martial art has something to offer you. We all face challenges in our lives. To be able to face those challenges with courage, having the self-confidence that nothing is impossible is priceless. Having others believe in you, trusting in your honor and integrity is worth every drop of sweat and “rough night” on the mat. The life change offered by the martial arts isn’t just for kids, and it certainly isn’t just a game.