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How is character developed in martial art training and what are the stages of a student of martial arts?

Posted: April 26, 2019

How is character developed in martial art training and what are the stages of a student of martial arts?

Everyone’s path in martial arts is a little different but there are stages that EVERYONE encounters along the way. We will detail these things and how they relate to character development as well as habits that lead to success in life. I will also do my best to make connection of these stages to other aspects of our life to compare.

The first stage – Curiosity.

This is usually where interest is shown and also during this stage people often do research to make sure they make a sound decision. People’s minds are usually full of misconceptions about martial arts at this time and they often ask questions that will not yield the information they need. The most common questions are things dealing with what everyone understands, money and schedules. The subjects that are often neglected at this time are is it beneficial for me (or my child) and do you feel comfortable with the staff? Price alone usually leads to a regrettable choice.

The next stage – Getting Started!

Now this is a super exciting time! Everything is new and you just cannot get enough. This stage is similar to a new relationship where you want to spend every second together and cannot get enough of one another. Well we have to pace ourselves as we do not want to burn out before the flame even gets burning! Take your time at this stage and remember that wanting to come to class everyday but only making it in a few times leaves desire, where if you feed the urge to come every day you will satisfy that desire quickly and your mind will start looking for other desires. We have to also remember that this euphoric feeling is not permanent, just like that new relationship the dopamine being pumped into your brain giving that extreme pleasure will fade over time.

Up next – The middle of the road.

This is the less euphoric part of the journey full of a roller coaster of feelings feed by emotion and circumstance. During this time EVERY STUDENT will have times of low motivation and desires to quit! If you name anyone who has accomplished anything in martial arts I will guarantee this is the case with them also. We all know the benefits of martial art training are HUGE but let’s face it, it’s not an easy path! A martial artist must put in hard work, they have to find time when there may be little, they must fight the urge to be lazy and the constant urge we all have as humans to quit anything that is not easy and convenient. Again EVERY person ever participating in martial arts will have to deal with this and how we deal with it builds our character. When you have an emotional urge to stop training your character takes a hit. But on the other hand when you are faced with the same situation and you stick it out and work past it your character goes way up and we begin to practice a vital skill in adult life, not being led by emotion of the moment and looking at the bigger picture. This happens in other parts of our lives also like going to school or work. Although not the most exciting part of training it is the most crucial to the end result of growing our character, goal setting and learning to stick with things.

The last part of the journey -  (the part most miss out on) Achieving

This is the elite section here, where only the dedicated end up. Let’s not misunderstand the eliteness in this group though; this is not the best practitioners, the strongest punchers or the best kickers! These are the character development kings, the goal setting masters, the self-motivating gurus and the people who have learned the importance of sticking it out. To get here is not easy as by now you have wanted to quit many times but kept going, you have been overwhelmed, you have been bored, you have had issues getting to class but you found a way to PERSEVERE. When one enters this group, this is the time when most of the benefits of martial arts start to materialize and you stop being a person doing martial arts and become a martial artist! ANYONE can make it here but most will take the easy way out long before this time unfortunately.

In Closing

Almost everyone is brought to or comes to a martial art facility for specific reasons. The sad fact is only a small percentage stay long enough to address those concerns. We have seen kids tormented by bullies quit training after a few short months because the parents were tired of fighting to get them to class, pulling them out for the very reason that started the problem that inspire them to enroll them in the first place. Parent’s never give up on the reasons you brought your children to martial art classes, no matter the fight they give it WILL BE WORTH overcoming the reasons that caused you to bring them in! The classes will also instill discipline in them which is imperative for success in life but will also help your child respond better to your parenting. Adults the benefits are there for you too! I am living proof of that as I was an undisciplined youth who could not handle authority; it was such a problem it made it hard for me to keep a job. Sticking with martial arts helped me in all aspects of my life. It helped me control my temper, help my relationships with my fiancé (now my wife), my family and gave me the tools to start a business, something I never thought I could do! If I had quit back in the early days of my training like I wanted to I would have never know what great things my training would have elevated me too! When you (or your child) wants to quit I suggest that being the beginning of a conversation on why they feel that way, why they started and if you accomplished what you set out to accomplish and see where the conversation leads you. Great things take great effort and easy things are seldom great!


Master Michael Wilson

Cartersville Martial Art