Change is inevitable. It’s something that applies to everyone at any time. As the saying goes, the only thing that’s permanent is change. If we look back at ourselves from a few years back, the changes you see can be quite remarkable.
I’m not just talking about physical changes. We might also have changed in terms of what we like, what we usually do, or even what we believe in! The same holds true in the context of martial arts. It changes and evolves and the question is – how do we respond to these changes?
Change and Martial Arts
Martial arts is an evolving art. If you look back at its beginnings and compare it to how it is today, there’s a LOT going on there from its basic form to the techniques and development of new styles. It has developed to adapt to modern times and is not just a form of self-defense or a means of developing discipline but is now known as an international sport too.
With that said – one would also expect martial artists to be as flexible to these changes themselves but this isn’t always the case. As a martial artist – how much are you willing to change to become relevant in today’s time?
A major problem with martial artists is the tendency to resist change. Yes I get it – change can be daunting. Stepping into unknown territory is always unpredictable and there’s no way of determining the kind of outcome.
I’m not talking about the changes in the content of martial arts. That’s already a given and martial artists know that. I’m talking about changes in the way we relate to it and even in the way we teach it.
People are different now compared to how they were 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. We need to accept that or we can end up losing ourselves as a martial artist and miss out on a lot of opportunities.
As martial artists, we tend to be quite observant of what’s happening around us. After all, self-defense requires a keen and observing eye to be able to keep oneself out of bad situations and to limit damage when you’re already in the middle of one. So I do believe that martial artists aren’t blind to what is going on in the world.
We actually pride ourselves in being aware not just of ourselves and who we are but as well as of our environment. The world is just not the way it used to be and we have to accept that. We may want the world to stay the same, the way it was when we were growing up but at the end of the day, we'll just sound like grumpy old men grumbling about the best days that have gone by.
Adapting to Changes
Resisting change is like hitting a brick wall. Don't beat yourself up over the changes that are happening because it doesn't help anyone.
It won't help you as a martial artist, it won't help encourage your students, and it won't help you develop as a person. Rather than trying to push back, keep your mind open and try to look at how all these changes can help you with your art.
I’m really eager when I see the great stuff going on especially in the field of science. There are so many possibilities to integrate those learning with martial arts. For me, I take a lot out of my education in biomechanics and apply it as a martial artist.
I’ve also found that my training in gymnastics and cross fit help make me better in martial arts. When you look at new findings in nutrition and how food and the body interact, it's amazing how you can relate it to martial arts too. Even the findings in how brain injuries happen help martial artists by making us aware of how to keep our students safe in terms of safety equipment and how different techniques can cause such damage.
These new things help me adjust my martial arts training and my curriculum not just to improve my technique as a martial artist but also to become more relevant in today’s times.