The Benefits and Values of Martial Arts by Saul Shelton

I began training with the SAS at 13. At this time, I was a relatively shy boy with no great deal of physical aptitude. During the first few weeks of training, it became more and more apparent that this was something that I not only enjoyed, but wanted to continue doing. Before I joined the SAS, I had been a part of a different Kung-Fu academy. It had not been that good and was often very monotonous, with students performing the same basic moves over and over again. I was there for a few years and in that time had not taken a single grading, which made any form of development seem almost impossible. So when I started with the SAS, the concept of pad work, forms and footwork were astounding, and the idea that I would take a real grading blew me away.

After a month or so of training, I took a double white grading, being the only one in my class to do so meant that when I passed, I was completely hooked on martial arts. It immediately gave me a huge confidence boost that I had rarely seen from anything else. From a young age, I had never been that good at sport. I had always enjoyed it and loved taking part, but I had never shown any skill within anything I had tried. So once I had passed the double grading, it really did feel like nothing I had done before. Whatsmore, I became hungry for more.

At 15, the SAS gave me the opportunity to begin teaching wing chun as a peer tutor. I jumped at the chance and immediately begun training to do so. I had always looked up to the peer tutors around me and so the idea of becoming one was too good to miss. Becoming a peer tutor has changed my entire way of doing things. The small level of authority that came with the role really endeared me to try my very best to pass on the knowledge that I had been given. The level of responsibility that has come with it, has increased my level of maturity tenfold, as it gave me a real sense of purpose and direction within my life.

However, my time as a peer tutor has not only allowed me to teach young people, but has also opened my eyes to the benefits that martial arts bring, and the values it teaches people. When you watch one of your students who you have taught go up and collect their grading certificate after passing a grading, you can see it all in their face. Even the most insecure of students goes up beaming with confidence and with a huge grin from ear to ear. The martial arts inspires confidence within people, it gives them a realistic, physical sense of achievement that I have seen little else bring.

Martial Arts teaches you to treat your body right, the physical aspect of the training has helped me enormously in this respect. When me and a lot of my friends were smoking, the commitment needed in the martial arts to progress, allowed me to see that this was a stupid thing to do, as it did nothing but slow me down and make the training more difficult. To maintain the healthy body, that I felt was essential to my progression in the Wing Chun, I stopped and whilst those around me have continued, I have since not felt any desire to start again, as I know now that it is not worth it. In a time when more and more young people are destroying their bodies through alcohol abuse, smoking and eating junk food to the point where they are becoming obese. I believe that martial arts is more necessary than ever, because it really does teach people the value of treating your body the right way, though its natural promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Without anyone telling you to stop doing these things, the martial arts shows you itself that they are not the right things to be doing – self discovery, which is far more effective than any adult telling you what not to do.

Respect has become a major issue in today’s society. With more and more people now showing little or none of it at most times. Martial arts are a perfect way to bring back respect into people’s lives. It instils within you a sense of belonging and brotherhood that comes from training with other people. Once you are on the kwan, you are amongst equals, who like you are there to train and reap the benefits of martial arts. The personal connection between an instructor and a student, allows the student to see that although one has the role of authority, it is being used to help them to progress and learn, so mutual respect develops between not only them but also the other students who are also there to help and support one another.

Martial arts have often been thought of as simply a way to teach people to fight, but in fact this is untrue, they in fact teach people the value of self control and discipline, that there is no need to go and start fights and to allow people to control their anger. It is called self defence for a reason; they are only to be used in defence if no other alternative is possible. They are not there to train the next generation of street brawlers a few new moves.

Martial arts also open many doors to people and can give them opportunities to learn new skills. For example, through the SAS, I have gone on and taken part in a first aid training day, as well as completing a 12 week course in early stage security. Both of these are highly valuable skills and references for jobs, neither of these would have been so openly available to me had I not taken part in the martial arts classes. By showing that you do a form of martial arts as well, many employers will see this and recognise the confidence and self assurance that comes with it. So they are also highly beneficial within your personal life as well.

So in conclusion, by practising martial arts, you not only learn highly useful self defense skills, they can also open your mind to new philosophies, help in your career path, improve yourself confidence, teach respect to others as well as yourself and instil a level of discipline rarely seen in many other areas.


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