We must not forget why we started training martial arts and why we decided to stay.
It is difficult to explain to people who do not know, just how important martial arts are to the lives of the people who practice them. For many practitioners, martial arts saved us from ourselves. They saved us from isolation, loneliness, depression, and an otherwise unhealthy, self-destructive lifestyle.
More than just a hobby, martial arts give us a community, a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging, a place where we can get away, challenge ourselves, work out, and put life in perspective. Martial arts bring people together from all different walks of life, socio-political and economic backgrounds, religions, and occupations. They unite us around the common purpose of mutually beneficial self-improvement.
For many of us, martial arts are our lifeline, our stress relief, our exercise regimen, our social life, the means by which we improve our mental, physical, and emotional health, and perhaps even our primary source of income. For some, the martial arts we practice are even our chosen spiritual path and the dojo our temple. It is not all that important for others who do not practice to understand these things, but it is essential that we who practice do not forget.
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.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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