Everything we do should have a purpose, even if it is recreation. Goal setting books provide anecdotes that demonstrate the need for goals or purpose. “If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know you got there… a ship without a rudder… a journey without a map…”, etc. How do you know you are on the right path if you don’t know what path you want to be on?
Why are you training martial arts? That question can give you the reason you are staying with or quitting martial arts.
As with most things in life, the average person quits the martial arts. Why do they quit? They don’t see the value in training martial arts. The cost of martial arts is high and I am not talking about money. Time, effort, challenges, testing, humility and sometimes embarrassment are high costs. People will only pay the price if they see the value of martial arts. That value is determined by the answer to the question, why do I train martial arts.
If students answer why martial arts with self-defense or competition, there is a good chance that they won’t be long term practitioners. Unless someone is in a high-risk profession, there is not a high probability that they will be attacked and competitions can be expensive and can seem more of a chore than a pastime the more we do them. These reasons do not provide the student the value that will keep them in the arts. The migration of children in and out of martial arts demonstrates this. Many of the kids that go into martial arts just for defense or just for competition quit. I have seen kids quit just before their black belt test. So, what are the reasons? Is it fitness? You can always go jogging. Discipline? There are plenty of other discipline programs. What is it?
Why martial arts? To me it is a lifestyle. That lifestyle encompasses all the things mentioned above and more. Martial arts teach lessons that can be used in all of life. It allows one to use their mind in conjunction with their body. It is like three-dimensional chess. It offers balance: personal achievement – helping others; improving the mind – improving the body; test/challenge – meditation/relief.
Why martial arts? Only you can answer that for yourself. The answer makes a difference between progress and quitting. Remember that your students ask the question every class. How they answer it can determine if they will be at the next class.