There are points in life where, unbeknownst to one at the time, life changes.  The path that one is on, makes a turn and one follows it.   Meeting the right teacher of the perfect subject at the right time can change one’s life.  This happened in Cape May, New Jersey in the summer of 1984, when this author was first introduced to the martial arts and everything after that changed. 

Before beginning training with the teacher, this author had trained in boxing, kickboxing and American style wrestling.   There had been no formal martial arts training.   There was no teaching of discipline or about the philosophy of the martial arts, which has been handed down for hundreds of years.   This one simply brawled and more or less was a street fighter.   When training first began with this teacher, one started at the bottom.   One would be standing in horse stance for long periods of time, moving up and down the gym through different stances, and practicing basic block / reverse punch drills.   One was intentionally made to do basic stuff that one might think was boring and monotonous.

Building the foundation of a house is boring and monotonous also but the house cannot stand unless the foundation is solid.   This was the first lesson. One must sometimes do boring and monotonous exercises in life so that one may grow and become successful.

Here is a partial list of attributes that may be learned from the practice of martial arts:

DISCIPLINE – The martial arts requires that one perform tedious tasks over a long period of time in order to learn and become proficient.   That proficiency does not come fast or without sacrifice.   All things worthwhile in life require the same process.  One may excel in college because of the same kind of discipline.   One may succeed in business, likewise.   One must exercise discipline on a daily basis in order to get the desired results in life.   The martial arts teach the strength of discipline.

FOCUS – How easy is it to remain focused on a task until one has finished that task at a high level of performance?  It is not easy at all.  This is where most young people fail in life.  They refuse to focus, like a laser, on the tasks at hand until they are finished.  The martial arts teaches one to focus, and apply oneself, then rewards one with the achievement of a goal.  Whether it is losing weight, learning a kata, the achievement of a specific belt level, or attaining any other worthwhile goal—focus is required.  The martial arts teach the strength of focus.

Discipline and focus are required to succeed at anything.


  1.   Where does one want to be in 10 years?   

  2.   What does one want to accomplish?   

  3.   What car does one want to drive?   

  4.   What house does one want to own? 

  5.   What level of the martial arts does one want to reach?

The answer to these questions will produce a goal.  For example, if one’s goal is to become a black belt in karate, then that is the end result that one wishes for.  In order to achieve that goal, one will need to use discipline and focus to study and practice for a long period of time until one achieves that goal.  The road will often be tough, and there will be times when one will want to quit.  The goal will only be achieved if one does the required work.  This is true for everything in life that is worthwhile. Goals are also the way one challenges oneself in life.  A life without challenge, is no life at all.  

The author met a very wealthy man a number of years ago.   He was worth well over 100 million dollars.  Sitting on his 2 million dollar boat, talking about what it was like to have anything in life that he wanted, he asked: “If you could have anything in life you wanted, what would you still need in order to have a fulfilling life?”  No answer would come, instead he was asked how he would respond to that question.  He said “Challenge."  One needs to be challenged in life for it to be worthwhile.  Without challenge, life is not worthwhile.” Goal setting helps one create challenges in life.

RESPONSIBILITY – The martial arts requires one to take responsibility for oneself. Responsibility, by definition, is being accountable for oneself.  When one is accountable, one is responsible for one’s actions, one’s attitude, one’s behaviors, and one’s life.  Martial arts training helps one to become responsible.   One will achieve nothing in life without taking responsibility.  There is a saying:  “If it is going to be, it is up to me.”  No truer words are spoken.

To summarize, if one actively engages in being disciplined, focusing on what good one can do, sets worthwhile goals, and holds oneself accountable–then one will live the life of one’s dreams.  One will achieve great things and develop a wonderful list of achievements.

Life is short.   One must do all one can to make the best of it.

T.A.Y. Sensei