I asked the question on our Facebook Page recently:
“Are you a martial artist or a student of the martial arts?”
We had a few people brave enough to post their answers publicly, some sent me an email and others were discussing the question before and after class. I think our students were split about 50/50.
The students that answered, "we are all martial artists," liked the idea that anyone that habitually practices the martial arts should be considered a martial artist. Habitually being the key word there. For example, someone that drops in on a class here or there wouldn’t be considered a martial artist as they have not really adopted the practice into their way of life. One of my black belts, Terry, made the suggestion that if you practice the art with passion you are a martial artist.
On the other hand, some students were suggesting that they must reach a certain skill level (such as Black Belt) to be considered a martial artist. Their humility was telling them they had not yet mastered the art enough yet to be considered an artist.
The argument to this was that even someone that is not very skilled at “art” can be considered an artist if they paint/draw/etc on a regular basis and have passion for their work.
So what is the answer?
Obviously, what I think is right is the “correct” answer. (Just kidding!)
I think everyone was right in this circumstance. Every person training martial arts is on his or her own journey. No matter what stage of that journey you are on, you should always maintain the mindset of being a “student.” At the same time, I consider all of my “students” debating this question “martial artists.”
If you care enough about this activity that we are all practicing to debate whether or not you can call yourself a martial artist, it must mean something to you!
Whether you are a white belt that has only been training for a few months or a black belt that has been training for many years, if you have adopted what this blog is all about as your own than you are a martial artist - “The Martial Arts Way of Life.”
What is “The Martial Arts Way of Life?” To answer this I think you have to ask yourself why you are training martial arts? If the answer is to better some aspect of yourself, than you are on the right track.
Whether that is you increasing your confidence in your ability to protect yourself and your family, increasing your mental focus, getting in better shape, or becoming a more kind and peaceful person, we’re all here for one reason – to be better. That’s what it’s all about. What makes it a way of life is that we will never achieve perfection; we will just always strive for it.
So martial artists, let me ask you this:
“Why are you a student of the martial arts?”