As children, our parents instilled in us the belief that anything is possible. They tell us that if we work hard enough, we can achieve anything we set our minds to. But somewhere along the way, we discover that the path to success may not be as straightforward as we once believed it was. There are many twists and turns along the road that may lead us astray, causing us to lose hope.
For some, martial arts has become the guiding force to a better future. It is their inspiration to right all the wrongs in their lives and improve themselves. The story of Evolve MMA founder Chatri Sityodtong is a great example of the positive impact martial arts can have on one’s life. Martial arts enabled Chatri to get through the toughest times in his life – from his family’s bankruptcy to living on one meal a day. Although times were tough for Chatri, he chose not to let his circumstances affect him. Instead, he called on his warrior spirit and persevered.
At Evolve MMA, we believe that martial arts is the greatest platform for unleashing human potential. Martial arts teaches us valuable lessons that improve our lives – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are the top 10 lessons we can learn from martial arts:
1) WE NEVER STOP LEARNING
Legendary martial artist Bruce Lee once said:
Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup; it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
We must break out of our comfort zone and be ready to adapt to any situation. We must be open to learning new things. When you practice Martial Arts, you realize that learning is a never-ending process. There are always new techniques being developed, and new ways to counter those techniques. Being open to new discoveries broadens our horizons as martial arts practitioners and human beings.
Perhaps you are the CEO of a large organization, and you feel like you have attained enough to be considered successful by your peers. This does not mean that you should stop evolving. Do some academic research, learn a new language, or take a class on new media technologies. By being open-minded about learning, you allow yourself to be the best that you can be.
2) SMALL IMPROVEMENTS ARE THE KEY TO LONG TERM RESULTS
Martial arts teaches us that continuous self-improvement is the key to making ourselves better than we were yesterday. We should always aim to improve ourselves at least 1% each day. By improving just a little bit every day, we can eventually turn bad habits into good ones. Slowly but surely we develop into better versions of ourselves.
3) ANYTHING IS ACHIEVABLE
Deep within us is the ability to do anything we set our minds to. Whether it is to become the next World Champion in Mixed Martial Arts or simply lose 10 pounds, we all have something that we desperately want to achieve.
Perhaps you are desperate for a change in career, one that will finally bring out all of the brilliant work you are capable of. Instead, you are stuck in a heartless, dead end job because you are scared that nobody will hire you. When you practice martial arts, you learn that you have the potential to do anything you want to; all you have to do is work for it. It may sound fairly simple, but people often forget just how special they really are.
4) WITHOUT RISKS, THERE ARE NO REWARDS
“What if I decided to be an artist instead of a banker?”
“What would have happened if I moved to Thailand instead of Singapore?”
We always find ourselves asking these kinds of questions, wondering what could have been if we had taken that leap of faith.
Whether we step into a new office, MMA cage, Muay Thai ring, or onto the grappling mats, we always risk the chance of losing. There are no guarantees in life, but along with that risk of losing, is a chance for greatness and victory. We will never know what we are capable of until we try.
5) DISCIPLINE IS THE KEY TO MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE
There are times in life when we find ourselves slacking off in our work or training. We continuously tell ourselves that we’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes a week and a week becomes a month. You find yourself way behind your peers, your goal, and you feel like you’ve let yourself down. Martial arts teaches us to be disciplined with our mind and body. Discipline brings us closer to achieving our goals. Being disciplined means we should avoid distractions and do whatever is necessary to achieve our goals.
In martial arts training, our instructors teach us the techniques, but it is up to us to put in the hours of drilling to master it. We learn that our instructors can only guide us so much. It is our discipline to the task that brings results.
6) ANYONE CAN DEVELOP COURAGE
One of the most important lessons you’ll learn from martial arts is courage. Knowing that you can defend yourself in a compromising situation will enable you to walk through life with confidence. This is particularly important for children, who are often vulnerable to bullying. Knowing that they can defend themselves properly against bullies will give them the confidence to take control of their lives and prevent emotional scars that could last a lifetime.
7) MENTAL STRENGTH IS THE KEY TO OVERCOMING ADVERSITY
When you train martial arts, mental strength is one of the first things you learn. In order to make it through the last round of punching mitts or sparring on the mats, your mind has to work against your body. Your body is telling you that it is tired, but your mind pushes you onward.
Everyone experiences adversity at some point in his or her life. Whether it is money, family, romantic relationships, or career – everyone experiences tough times. It is up to us whether or not we choose to let these problems defeat us. Mental strength is what enables us to prevail in our darkest hours.
In martial arts, we learn that our biggest opponent is our own mind. When we train, our instructors often tell us that how we respond at our weakest moments is what defines us. Over time, martial arts teaches us to overcome obstacles with our mind, to ignore the voice in our head telling us to quit, and to push forward like a true warrior.
8) FOCUS IS ESSENTIAL
When we attend our first martial arts class, we quickly learn that we must give our instructors our complete, undivided attention in order to learn the technique properly. When distractions are all around us, from technology to social media, it gradually becomes more difficult to stay focused. Martial Arts teaches us how to block all distractions and focus on the task at hand. By focusing, you become a calmer, more confident person. Laser sharp focus is one of the greatest gifts that martial arts bestows upon us.
9) EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH LOVE
When you attend a class taught by Prof Almiro Barros, the first thing you will notice is the constant smile on his face. Despite the fact that he already taught five classes that day and had eight rounds of MMA sparring, his passion for teaching and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu shines through. When you do something with love, all of life’s external problems fall to the wayside. You live in the moment, cherishing the life that you have.
10) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GREATNESS TO UNLEASH YOUR GREATNESS
When you train with the same people day in and day out, they become more than training partners – they become family. Spending this much time together helps you get to know a person. You hear about what they like, dislike, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Eventually, you consider them to be “brothers” or “sisters”. They’ve seen you do well in competition, and they’ve seen you lose. They have been by your side through the blood, sweat, and tears. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing, they just want to be there for you.
So in the end, our parents were indeed correct. If we work hard enough, we can achieve what we want. The trick is to find the right tools to go along with that hard work. Martial arts has proven time and again to be the perfect platform to unleash the greatness within us all.