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Martial Arts, Confidence, & Happiness

I teach martial arts. Specifically, I teach traditional and sport Tae Kwon Do and Combat Hapkido for self-defense training. Students learn blocks, kicks, punches, sparring, and how to respond to assaults.  They earn belts as their skills improve and they advance through ranks. Like any discipline, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. But what is it that makes martial arts so valuable? What distinguishes it from the range of other activities in which people can participate?

What is it worth for you (or for your child if you are a parent) to be able to do the following:

  • Go anywhere that other people regularly go, without fear that you don't belong there
  • Know that you can stand in front of a group of people to give a presentation when necessary for school or work
  • See your differences as strengths and opportunities, or at least challenges, and not weaknesses
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Be happy

Human beings do EVERYTHING with the end goal of seeking happiness. Our entire life comes down to avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. Our desire to be successful, to earn money, to be loved . . . all comes down to that simple concept. And the fact is, once our basic needs are met, we all have the potential to find that where we are right now.  More money does not equate to more happiness. (It doesn't hurt, but there are a lot of miserable wealthy people out there). Martial arts is a mirror in which we can see our best selves.

I am a martial artist not just because of the techniques I have learned, but because of the way I live my life. When I put on my belt, I am a role model for my students. You may remember years ago when Charles Barkley said he was not a role model. He was a basketball player. If Charles' intention was to encourage young people to admire doctors, police officers, teachers, etc., as opposed to athletes, I get it. But the fact is, Charles was a role model. He was paid endorsement money by brands that knew people would buy their products because of Charles Barkley. That he was a role model was not his decision. It was thrusted upon him. Acknowledging that, and choosing to live up to it, was Charles' choice to make. 

My job is to teach martial arts, just as his was to play ball. There are any number of people with similar skills. My unique opportunity is to take full advantage of the fact that I can influence people to become the best version of themselves. I can't do the work for them, but I can hold up the mirror, and provide them with the tools they need. When a student tells me that they got the job or the raise, or nailed the presentation, or met the person of their dreams, because of the leadership skills and confidence they learned in martial arts, that is success! 

Black Belt is not the ultimate goal. It's a step along the way. The end-game is about happiness. I am not talking about good and bad days. We all have those.  I am referring to a state of mind that tells us life is good right where we are. This is what I want my students to learn. People can choose from hundreds of sports and activities. The right martial arts program will teach you confidence, leadership, inner strength, and a desire to live every day to the fullest  - and be happy. That is my approach to teaching martial arts. I'd love to hear your thoughts. See you in the dojang!




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