Every martial arts style is different and even more unique is each student from each of those styles so should one be able to define the mentality of a martial artist? It is my belief that a teacher must guide their student not just through the physical training but also through the mental fortitude required to reach a level of mastery.
It is unfortunate that in the modern training climate there is such a strong focus on competition. Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with competitions, in fact it is an excellent way to learn however when a person dedicates their entire training to the winning competition – this could lead to social issues.
Before we continue I would like to point out that the comments made above are not addressed to athletes who work amazingly hard to make a living through competition; most of them already have the mental fortitude required to excel. No, the above comments are made more for those that train once or twice a week physically but are not given mental guide lines for their growth. An example of this can be seen with individuals who feel that it is appropriate to use their skills to assault people in public.
The very nature of martial arts is well-defined in the name. Martial – training in the ways of war; Art – an expression of something. However all martial arts that originated from China or Japan hold the idea that the training of the mind and spirit are equally as important as training the body. Martial arts should be seen as a way to train the mind through the use of the body. If you get into a confrontation, the first point of call should always be to defuse the situation; resorting to violence should always be the last case scenario.
When you learn to drive you are first required to learn all the road rules. The cognition ability of driving only comes after you pass the test for road rules – brain before body. Martial arts should be the same – the development of your mind and knowing when to use your skills should come before the training. How is that possible? Get into the martial arts for the right reasons.
Starting your journey in the martial arts makes you a tiger – hungry to prove something and that is natural however it should not be your permanent state of mind. One should aspire to be like the dragon, rising above everything and moving calmly through life. To maintain the mentality of the tiger is very much like being middle-aged with the mental development of a teenager – immature, irresponsible and unwise.
A martial artist is no different to anyone else in society besides having a very special set of skills. As a productive member of society you should strive to give back value to the community and never use your skills to bully, feed the ego or harm needlessly. A large part of this always comes from the master you train under. Personal development is very important and developing under the wrong guidance can lead to painful consequences.
Remember that the martial arts should be about benevolence, self-improvement and mental fortitude – your body is simply the vehicle used to strengthen the mind.