Reasons for Starting & Continuing (Martial Arts)

“I often recommend to people, even if they never have the opportunity, hopefully never have the opportunity to use kickboxing or Brazilian jiu jitsu or some martial art outside of a practice environment that they should train because the way they will carry themselves through the world — male, female, it doesn’t matter; age doesn’t matter — will be different and there will be a certain quiet confidence that I think can be built and added to, with many different skills that demonstrate an ability, demonstrate to yourself an ability to learn, be self sufficient, survive, whatever it might be.” —Tim Ferriss to Edward Norton on The Tim Ferriss Show Ep. 393

Photo by Mike Oswald Photography

People do martial arts for many different reasons. As a person continues to train, much like the person him or herself and the art itself, these reasons change and evolve. What got a person into martial arts is not necessarily the same thing that keeps him or her training over a long period of time.

Some of us got into martial arts as kids because our parents put us in classes or maybe we because of our friends or because we saw a movie or a tv show. Maybe we began training for self defense, for fitness, for confidence, or the mental-physical challenge that comes from training, or maybe simply because we were bored.

Whatever our motivation for starting, the thing that we were looking for and must continue to find if we are to continue is improvement. We all need to feel like we are getting better at something, that we are moving forward, and that our lives are better for the time we spend dedicated to some activity. For this reason, the best martial arts for a sustained, lifelong practice contain some combination of of tradition, innovation, and character enrichment.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Street art photo taken by Robert Van Valkenburgh, artist unknown unless otherwise noted.

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