Martial Arts vs. Traditional Sports


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Obviously since you are on a martial arts website reading a martial arts blog written by a life-long martial arts participant you can assume that I feel martial arts training is superior to traditional sports. However, I LOVE sports. I love playing them, watching them, reading about them. I love sports. So my goal today is to outline the main differences and give you a surprise twist ending. I probably shouldn’t have told you that yet. Anyway, here we go:

 

Five Reasons Why Martial Arts Training is Superior to Traditional “Ball” Sports

 

1) You are judged on your effort and ability only! Anyone who has played traditional sports knows that it only takes one mistake made by one person to lose a game. Eighteen kids play their hearts out on a baseball team and the pitcher floats a soft pitch in the strike zone….BAM! Homerun! We lose. Fifteen players on a basketball team that is down by one with one second on the clock, and Timmy misses both free throws. We lose. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.

 

In martial arts we are evaluated only by our efforts. While we get the camaraderie of traditional sports by training together we are only responsible for our performance. If someone else makes a mistake it does not have an impact on our training.

 

2) No one sits on the bench! I was one of the lucky kids that was good enough to make the team, but not quite good enough to get a lot of playing time. I would practice harder than anyone. I spent hours at home practicing and training, but no matter how hard I worked I was not as good as the 5-10 other kids on the team that were starting the games. So I spent a lot of time sitting with the coaches watching my friends have fun playing and competing. All the work with no play and it was dull, boy!

 

Then I found martial arts. No one sat on the bench. There was no such thing. We all trained together. The talented, the not so talented, the dedicated, and the lazy all got to do the same drills, learn the same skills, and participate in the same testings and tournaments. No, I wasn’t the best at martial arts either, but I got the same opportunities to “play”.

 

3) Competition is optional. I love to compete. That’s the main reason I love sports. I love the pressure of trying to win; trying to outthink or outperform the opposition. But lets face it: some people do not like to compete. The very thought of competition turns them off. Whether it’s fear or just a general disdain there are many who simply do not have the spirit of competition.

 

Martial arts training gives those of us who are super type-A competitive monsters the opportunity to test our skill and drive against others. However, it also allows non-competitive individuals the opportunity to thrive in a personal activity in which they do not have to do so. Rank and skill advancement is not competition driven. It is based solely on the practitioner’s effort, attitude, and progress. Do I believe that you need to compete in order to reach your full potential? YES! Is it possible to become a highly skilled black belt without it? YES!

 

4) There is no off season! As I write this I am reminded that we are currently in the football dark season. The last game of last season was over a month ago. The draft is over a month away. The first meaningful game is almost six months away. It is excruciating for a fan and probably worse for the players and coaches.

 

Our students can train in martial arts every day of every week and every month of every year. There is no break between “seasons”. Training is ongoing and so it the skills progress. There is no need to get “back in shape” or “knock the rust off” because training continues without a lapse. It’s awesome!

 

5) Martial arts is for LIFE!!! I don’t know about you, but my body doesn’t like most traditional sports anymore. I know it’s not just me because we’ve all seen our sports heroes eventually retire because they simply can’t keep up with the younger and faster players. While that still may be true in martial arts our students can train forever. Remember, you are not compared to other students’ performances. I’ve had the privilege of training under 80 year old instructors. I’ve had the honor of tying black belts on 60 year old students. I’ve heard of individuals successfully training in the martial arts into their hundreds! Martial arts is forever. I am so thankful that my parents got me started in an activity that I could love and enjoy beyond my school years.

 

“So Mr. C, what’s the twist ending?” I can’t believe after nine captivating paragraphs of literary awesomeness you are still looking for more, but here you go. I think children should participate in both traditional sports and martial arts. Please notice I did not use “either/or” in that sentence. I used “both/and”. Most martial arts training consists of 2-3 classes each week. Sports practice requires 2-3 practices each week. The training and experiences of each will compliment the other. Through sports practice students learn to rotate their hips to develop power, they develop improved hand/eye coordination and reaction time, and they develop a competitive spirit. Through martial arts training the ball player develops improved balance and coordination, improved dexterity with the “weak” side of the body, and unshakable concentration and focus for improved performance under pressure. The skills learned in each compliment each other.

 

I began this blog with the statement that “I LOVE sports!” I do. But I LOVE MARTIAL ARTS and I LOVE TAEKWONDO!!! I think that each are valuable, and if you can do both then do both. But if you can only do one then DO MARTIAL ARTS!


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