Martial arts life lessons

There’s the old saying that idle hands are the devil’s playthings, meaning that if one isn’t kept busy people go off and do silly or destructive things. As a fan of laziness myself, I don’t hold that to be particularly true, but I do think that an idle mind is a very serious health threat. From what I’ve seen in others and experiences that I myself have made when people do not have some sort of hobby or passion—learning languages, playing basketball, painting, weaving, pub quizzes, cooking, anything!—people tend to get more depressed and stagnate in an unhealthy way.
For me it’s martial arts that I have to think for keeping me active and keeping me sane. The physical health benefits of the sport are obvious: one has an active and fun way to stay in shape and get fit and one develops the ability to defend one’s self should there ever be need to do so. Although one doesn’t always have to partake there’s also a very strong social component involved in martial arts, especially the more ancient and established martial arts. Tae-kown-do is a Korean martial art that has a long history and involves much ceremony and provides amble time for people to get to know each other before and after lessons and matches. Judo, has an international ranking system, and so by going to meets people are put into circumstances where they are likely to get to know other practitioners—in fact, Russia’s president Putin practises Judo and is apparently quite good according to Russian media.
For me however, I think it’s safe to say that beyond the advantages of the social and physical, what I learned from my own experiences practising martial arts is the important of learning. I was never interested in simply learning the sport, but I also wanted to know about the countries that the various martial arts I practised came from and that was part of the reason that I preferred trying new forms instead of sticking to the same one year after year. What I learned and still practise is that in order to be happy I have to be learning, and that’s a lesson every bit as valuable as staying in shape.