John Will - maintaining motivation on your martial arts journey

You might remember why you first started training in martial arts — but does that reason remain the same as you progress on your journey?

john Will
John Will - maintaining motivation on your martial arts journey

Sometimes we step onto a certain path for a certain reason, and over time we find that we are still walking the same path, but for very different reasons. We evolve and therefore our needs and motivations follow suit…and so we become ‘other’ versions of ourselves — sometimes better, sometimes not.

Like many Blitz readers, I began my own martial arts journey as a means of coping with bullying. I wanted to banishthat part of me that had been the victim of bullying and I knew if I could shape myself into some kind of teenage superhero, that scared child would fade into distant memory.

This motivation probably lasted for quite some time; the idea of shaping myself into something more, something better, something capable motivated me to train in a variety of martial arts styles through my late teens and twenties.

Somehow, though, over time, my motivations morphed and evolved. The adventure of it all took over and my imagined Superman character slowly but surely morphed into more of an Indiana Jones type as I began to find more and more joy in the discovery and adventure of it all.

These new reasons for training took me farther afield; I travelled to Thailand, India, Japan, South America and other places in search of deeper mysteries and more exotic training experiences. And again, over time, in keeping with the Indiana Jones character, I began to balance out the more ‘martial’elements of my personality with elements more aligned with the scholar. I began to realise that learning and training were different faces of the same coin.

As I strode happily through my thirties and forties, I realised that my reasons for training/ studying the martial arts were very different from those of my youth. It was now much more about the challenge of it; the puzzles that begged to be solved, and so on. For me, the timing of finding Brazilian jiu-jitsu was perfect. As an art that is at once both elegantly simple and deviously complex, it provided a new landscape upon which I could reinvent myself.

Through more by accident than design, I discovered that I had embarked on a course that would see me sharing my knowledge with others — and so I began to find a balance between teaching others and training for myself. It was a marriage that worked well, as each approach fuelled the other. Attention to detail in my own training fostered a detailed and technical approach when it came to helping others do the same, and vice versa.

As my life evolved through my forties and fifties, I began to find many effective ways to transpose the skills and understanding I had developed through training in other areas of my life. I was pretty easily able to use many strategies I had come to understand in training to square away many other ‘bothersome’ aspects of my life — things that were mostly tiresome and uninteresting to me (for example, becoming financially independent). So with relatively little effort, I was able to design my life using strategic thinking that I had developed through training; which was a boon, as it allowed me to stay mostly focused on the things I loved doing.

The reasons I now have for continuing my efforts on the martial path are vastly different from those that drove me as a teenager or young adult. I am now interested in guiding other people toward similar experiences. I feel I have enough life experience, both within and away from the martial arts scene, that I can confidently assist others in their own journeys of becoming more capable and joyful human beings. Of course, the martial arts and non-martial arts aspects of my life have become somewhat entangled; and it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate them out. Not that I would want to if I could, for they are interwoven into a tapestry of discovery, strategy, exploration and play.

We each have our own reasons for training and studying the martial arts, but in my view we should most definitely allow those reasons to evolve and change over time. As we evolve as human beings, our reasons for doing the things we do should also necessarily change. Sometimes we change the things we do; and other times, the things we do change us.

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