Why would I Study Martial Arts? What are the benefits of studying Martial Arts? How will it benefit me? These are but a few of the questions that people ask themselves before they enter the doors of a Martial Arts School.  Many people have asked me why I got into Martial Arts.  Why I decided to take a “HOBBY” and turn it into a career.  What was it about the Martial Arts that enticed me to open a school?  And of course most importantly why should everyone take a martial art at least once in his or her lifetime?  Well the answer lies in the following paragraphs.

I want you to imagine what it is like in a foreign country, with different sights and different smells.  Streets full of people, motorbikes and cars flowing together in a difficult balance.  Your alarm goes off at 6:00am and it is time for you to get ready and embark on another day of difficult training.  The sun is up early and it’s already scorching hot.  You know that there is 10 km of hot asphalt ahead and your body is aching from training the day before.  You struggle and hit snooze once but your alarm clock is relentless.

You jump on your little Motorbike and head to the camp, you jump on the back of a pick up truck and it drives away as you see the dust shout out from the back of the tires.  Twenty minutes later it stops next to a lake surrounded by beautiful trees and as breathtaking as the scenery is, the next 45 minutes, running back to camp will be grueling.

As you make it back some of your teammates are already putting on their hand wraps and shadowboxing.  You prepare yourself to do your rounds on the bag.  The sun is in full force and there is little cover, the concrete under your feet is hot and your legs like cement.  Looking at the young Thai boys training you push yourself and convince yourself that this is what you want, this is what you signed up for, that you came half way across the world to be the best you can be at this thing called Muay Thai.

The Ajahn calls you into the ring and as he smiles at you climbing through the ropes you know that you’re going to hurt. You are in there for 25 minutes and yet it will feel like an eternity.  You start to hear the popping sound of the pads as he calls out the combinations in Thai.  Sweat rolls off your face and the end of the round is nowhere near.  As you kick and punch there is a moment of clarity, you know that you will make it, you know that you can push harder.  You have what it takes to get through and feel inside you the strength growing, your heart pushes you forward; your soul knows that this is what it desires.  As the bell rings you go to the corner for water and smile at your trainer as he nods his head in acknowledgement.  You have come a long way from the first days of arriving in Thailand and your teacher sees it and feels it in his hands and forearms.    Proud but even for a moment you drink the water and know that this hard work is but a small indication that you are growing physically, mentally and spiritually.

It’s an experience that no one can take away from you. You ask yourself why you do this but all you know is that you are changing one day at a time. You see training in martial arts is one of the few things that you could do in your life that really hits on all of the points that make the triangle of body, mind and spirit.  In your job, you may exercise your mind and body, but very few activities hit all three points.  The journey of the martial artist pushes him/herself to look deep inside, to look in the mirror and see what it is saying. It forces you to ask the questions; who am I? What am I? Where am I going?  In training and understanding the discipline involved, you slowly start to uncover some of the answers.  These questions involve a life long journey, they involve you to peal back layers of your personality that you may or may not like.  They uncover things that you want to change about yourself.

This has been my journey and as I continue it, the answers to the questions in the first paragraph are easy to answer. Every situation I have encountered in my life I could tie in to an experience I have had in martial arts.  The pain you feel in training every day.  The hardship of pushing through your injuries, or the heartbreak you feel when you lose a fight, can all somehow relate to some of the challenges you have experienced in your life.  This is why I believe everyone should try a martial art at least once in his or her life.  Whether the experience brings you pain or fills your heart with joy, martial arts is for everyone.  It reminds me of a beautiful quote I share with those that are in my leadership class that reads, “Take care of each day and the years will take care of themselves”. Learn to love yourself and be good to yourself.  Give it your best effort each day and listen to what your heart tells you for it will never steer you in the wrong direction.  When you learn the language of the heart only then can you really answers the questions that we all ask ourselves at one point in our lives.  Who am I? What am I?  What is my purpose? And where am I going?

With love and light

Kru Mel Bellissimo

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