Martial Arts Mindset

What is your martial arts mindset?  When people set out to train in martial arts, they typically have some preconceived ideas about what they will learn and why they want to train.  But sometimes there can be a disconnect between the mindset of the art they are training in and what the long term goals are for the student.  Conversely, some students find their rational for training evolves over time… and hopefully the art they have chosen is structured to evolve with them.If you reduce martial arts training down to its most fundamental principles, you will find the process can take on three distinct mindsets. “War Time” training, “Peace Time” training, and “Sport” training. These mindsets serve as the primary philosophical driver behind what you are learning, why you are learning it, and how you will apply what you have learned.

War Time Arts Training Mindset

These systems of training are emphasizing preparation for life threatening situations arising at any moment. The intent is to hard wire conflict into your way of thinking and viewing situations. There is also a strong emphasis on teaching to inflict damage to an aggressor. This type of training is very powerful. It also takes a toll on the body with the way the techniques are practiced. Krav Maga and Russian Spetsnaz would be examples of this type of training. However, any school teaching with a very strong emphasis on “street fighting” and “battle tested” techniques would be developing this type of mindset in their training.

wartime arts mindset focus percentage

Today, one of the most effective systems of kali, Pekiti-Tersia, is used by the Armed Forces (including the Special Forces) of the Philippines. Pekiti-Tersia uses both edged and impact weapons to effectively deal damage at close quarters…

Peace Time Arts Training Mindset

These systems provide a way to rewire how your mind and body work together. They use self defence as a framework to study the principles of how the body works internally and externally in conjunction with the mind. The goal is  to develop unity between the mind and body. This process results in self cultivation by training the calming the mind and building a strong and balanced body. You will learn how to defend yourself, but you won’t be taught how to “win in an arena”. This is a different mindset and requires different training. I wrote a bit about this process in a previous post that can be found here. These arts can be practiced long into your senior years. They also support multiple practical benefits for life in modern western society, such as how to fall safely. 

peacetime arts mindset focus percentage

Stats Canada’s 2020 results for top 10 causes of death have “Accidents” as the number four leading cause of mortality in the country.  Building balance and control into the body through martial arts training is a practical way to reduce the risk of unintentional injury.  Additionally, learning to calm the mind and reduce anger and stress is a great way to de-escalate situations of conflict and reduce the need to inflict harm onto others. Aikido, Tai Chi, and Bagua would be examples of arts that focus on developing more self cultivation.

Sport Fighting Mindset

 The focus here is building skills with the focus on wining in a particular framework. This type of training is great for building a competitive mindset and a strong body. Great examples of these types of arts would be Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. These clubs provide great training opportunities to learn self defence. While at the same time, they provide the arena to compete with others.

sport combat arts mindset focus percentage

Training in any martial arts is a worthy endeavour. Each style and teacher will emphasize and foster a particular martial arts mindset in their training. The question comes down to which one you want to foster? Which ever path you choose, I wish you the best of luck on your martial arts journey!

Sensei Jason Moore
Chief Instructor, Aikido Durham
Aikido Yoshinkai Canada

This post is part of a series. For more insights into a variety of Aikido-related topics, please visit the other Aikido Yoshinkai Canada websites:

AYC Durham

AYC Hamilton

AYC Oakville

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