10 Ways Martial Arts Help Build Character

Martial arts is not just a physical discipline, it’s a practice that hones the mind, spirit, and character. The training process in martial arts is methodically structured to instil various virtues such as discipline, respect, perseverance, and patience. Furthermore, it provides a platform for developing confidence, emotional control, and leadership skills. As a martial artist embarks on the path to mastering techniques, they simultaneously learn to master these integral character traits. Over time, the tenets of martial arts become deeply ingrained, guiding actions not just in the gym, but in all aspects of life, fostering individuals who are not only physically strong but also morally and mentally robust.

To add on, martial arts is also a profound discipline that embodies a philosophy that extends into all facets of life, offering a unique pathway for personal growth and character development. In this article, we will delve into ten characteristics that martial arts can help build.


1) Discipline

First and foremost, martial arts teach discipline. This is a cornerstone quality in any martial art form, whether it’s Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, or Wrestling. The rigorous training sessions, the need to master complex moves, and adherence to traditional protocols all require high self-discipline.  This discipline learned within the gym or training hall, can translate into other areas of life, providing the foundation for academic achievement, career success, and personal growth.

Many may think that being disciplined means being harsh on yourself and following a limited lifestyle, but that is further from the truth. Being disciplined allows an individual to be in control of themselves and their emotions. It is the ultimate sign of inner strength. 


2) Perseverance

bjj solo drills

It is unfortunate that quitting and giving up are commonplace now when things get difficult or challenging. Martial arts are no different, as Bruce Lee once said “I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.”. Practising 10,000 kicks is not easy, and you would have to persevere through the sweat, pain and tears to perfect your kick. 

And that is where martial arts demand perseverance. Progress is not linear, and at times it can be a painstakingly slow process. The journey to the next belt, mastering a new technique, or overcoming a formidable opponent can require countless hours of practice. In the face of such challenges, martial artists learn to persevere, developing an unyielding spirit that keeps them pushing forward, an invaluable quality in life’s other endeavours.


3) Respect

muay thai class

One of the most important core values of any martial art is respect. Respect is woven into the fabric of martial arts and it involves teaching and learning respect for yourself and those around you. To respect others, one must know what it is. In short, respect is showing positivity and compassion towards yourself and others, and always taking others into consideration. Students are taught to respect their instructors, their peers, their opponents, and the art itself. This instils a sense of humility and understanding of the value of others, irrespective of their rank or skill level. The practice of bowing, a common tradition in many martial arts, is a physical manifestation of this respect. 

And finally, one of the most important aspects of respect is the ability to value yourself as a person. As you go through your training, you learn to never underestimate yourself. Because of that, your own sense of self-worth grows. This ingrained reverence can help foster healthier relationships and a more empathetic outlook in life.


4) Confidence

Two female BJJ students training in class

When you start with martial arts training, it may feel daunting as you get exposed to the multitude of techniques and high skill levels of your peers. But the more you practise and persevere, you will soon come to realise that you are capable of high-level techniques, as well as matching the strength and speed of your peers and opponents. But being confident in your abilities is not all there is to it. While practising martial arts, you are burning up calories, leading up to perhaps the six-pack abs that you have longed for, or maybe wanting to fit into that pair of jeans that you have kept in your closet for the longest time. Looking great inevitably leads to greater confidence. 

The journey through martial arts is a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, which invariably leads to increased self-confidence. As you learn to defend yourself, as you progress through the ranks, and as you become more proficient in your chosen art, your confidence grows. This newfound self-assurance can seep into other facets of life, enhancing your interactions, decision-making abilities, and overall outlook.


5) Patience

amir khan punching heavy bag

Patience is a virtue that is invaluable in all stages of life, and it is one of the characteristics that can help you immensely when deciding in tough times. In the age of instant gratification, martial arts offer a refreshing lesson in patience. And in a fast-paced world, we frequently lose sight of important things. Martial arts can teach us invaluable lessons about patience, whether it is about finding a way to execute a kick technique, or trying to understand the process of learning a technique, patience as a virtue will be developed over a period of time. 

Mastery doesn’t come overnight. It takes time to perfect a technique, advance in rank, and see tangible progress. This consistent, incremental growth teaches martial artists the value of patience, an essential quality in our fast-paced world.


6) Emotional Control

fitness myths hiroki knee

Martial arts are not merely about physical prowess; they also offer lessons in emotional control. In the heat of a match or during a challenging training session, martial artists must learn to manage their emotions, maintaining a calm, focused demeanour despite the pressure. Many people use martial arts as a means to release their emotions, perhaps a bad situation happened at work, or maybe you got angry at a person. Martial arts is a perfect way to take control of those emotions and release them. To add on, hitting a heavy bag or interacting with your trainer while training lets you have control of your emotional release and many times, it lets you get creative and artistic in how you release these emotions physically. Perhaps by creating a new combination during Muay Thai, or flow roll in a sport like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the creativity is never-ending. 

Whatever your choice of martial art may be, there are many ways to take control of your emotions as you creatively express yourself and channel your emotions into a positive, artistic outlet. This emotional resilience can be a powerful tool in managing stress and navigating emotional challenges in everyday life.


7) Mindfulness

bjj fundamental escapes

In the whirlwind of our digital age, mindfulness – the ability to be fully present and engaged in the moment – is a character trait that many of us struggle to cultivate. Whether you are worrying about the uncertainty of the future, or affected by an action you did in the past, it truly does not matter. Reminding ourselves to be mindful allows us to live in the present moment, and to focus on what is important right now. 

Martial arts training offers an avenue to develop this vital trait. The intense focus required to master techniques, the awareness of one’s body and its movement, and the need to read and respond to an opponent’s actions all promote a state of mindfulness. This sense of being “in the moment” that martial arts foster can help individuals enhance their focus, reduce stress, and improve their overall quality of life.


8) Adaptability

Alex Heavy Bag Boxing

Adaptability – the ability to adjust quickly and efficiently to new situations – is another critical character trait that martial arts help develop. Having the capacity to accept change is an important aspect in life. You may be placed in a scenario where things have changed, and the need to adapt quickly arises, being prepared and understanding what to do is an example of adaptability. 

In a martial arts setting, you’re constantly challenged with new techniques, changing sparring partners, and evolving strategies. This compels practitioners to be flexible and adaptable. They learn to think on their feet, adjust their tactics as situations change, and remain resilient in the face of adversity. This ability to adapt is not only useful within the martial arts realm but is also an essential life skill in an ever-changing world.


9) Leadership

BJJ open guard

As martial artists progress, they often find themselves in leadership roles, guiding newer students and sometimes leading classes. This fosters essential leadership skills such as responsibility, effective communication, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. It is an inevitable process as you continue training, you will get better at performing techniques and new students will join in. It is then and there that your trainer may task you with assisting and helping the new students with their techniques and understanding the culture within the training gym. And as time goes on, these leadership experiences within the martial arts setting can translate into improved performance in professional roles and a greater ability to positively influence those around them.


10) Integrity

bjj students shaking hands in gi

Lastly, but certainly not least, martial arts instil a sense of integrity. The practice of martial arts is bound by a code of ethics that promotes honesty, fairness, and responsibility. Integrity represents honesty and strong moral principles. Martial artists learn to apply these principles in and out of the gym, understanding that the respect they earn depends not only on their skill but also on their character. For example, we bow to our instructors and fellow students before training, subsequently, we must have the integrity to mean what we have done with the bow – to show respect. This emphasis on moral conduct fosters an internal compass that guides us through life’s ethical decisions.


Build Your Character Through Martial Arts Today!

In conclusion, the benefits of martial arts extend far beyond the physical realm. They offer a holistic approach to character development, fostering traits such as discipline, perseverance, respect, confidence, patience, emotional control, mindfulness, adaptability, leadership, and integrity. These qualities, ingrained in the fabric of martial arts, provide invaluable life lessons that can significantly contribute to personal growth and success in all aspects of life. 

Whether you are an aspiring martial artist or a seasoned practitioner, remember that the journey through martial arts is as much about building character as it is about learning to fight. And if you are looking for the perfect place to develop yourself, consider Evolve MMA to get started with authentic martial arts training. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Boxing, the chance to learn and understand the first-hand experiences from our World Champions is something that you can’t find anywhere else. 


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