On any given day, waking up at 5am to include Sundays, the first thing I try to do is appreciate the sunrise. My bed’s placement happens to have a window that faces east so when I open my eyes, I can see it, appreciate it and remember that its a new day for meaningful work to take place. Other than that, I just do what I love to do with its associated stresses and workload that any other profession has. A dream turned reality and always a work in progress.
The Real Question
“Ya ya, but what do you do? What does being a professional martial arts actually do?”
I’ve been asked and faced with this question numerous times. Each time, I’ve answered differently in hopes to have improved a way to explain what it is. I figure I’ll write about it here to being the thoughts together so you can see what I consider is professional in the world of martial arts.
Subject Matter Expert
First thing’s first. The most obvious and easiest of them all is being a subject matter expert in a specific martial art. Techniques, tactics and strategies are what the world sees us do. Becoming a black belt is just the tip of the iceberg. As a matter of fact, although an important achievement, it is only a small part of being a professional martial artist.
Now that said. Let’s move on to the deeper characteristics.
Deep thinking typically happens when many experiences have occurred. Looking for meaning behind them all is a trait that all professional artists have.
I create, design and deliver proven habits in the martial arts lifestyle. Habits such as good self-discipline, care and attention to detail are built into what is considered to be healthy living.
Talk the talk and walk the walk. Living the lifestyle designed is an indicator of a professional martial artist on and off the mat doing the best that we can at any given moment.
Delivering lesson plans through black belt presentations is a must. Becoming a black belt is a matter of continuous improvement so that the presentations are not only effective, but beautiful to watch.
Marketer and Promoter
Commonly when we think of marketing, we think of commercials and annoying paid advertising. The objective is to build awareness. If that is true, then talking about healthy lifestyles like martial arts is an act of marketing and promoting a product that is beneficial.
Bringing people together in a cooperative yet challenging environment with the objective to become better thinkers and doers in every aspect of life. The physicality is the vehicle that strengthens the bodies of knowledge and capabilities of skill.
Organizer of Knowledge
A mentor once said to me:
While an unpredictable teacher can create a predictable student, a predictable teacher can create a predictable student.
I thought on this for a very long time and what I found was this. Preparedness through careful thought and action requires organizational skills. Having a good foundation written down in curriculum that is clean and simple enables the transfer of knowledge to smoothly be passed from one person to another.
Since people are unique and independent, then this endeavor is a lifelong pursuit.
Explorer of Better Ways
This is not limited to martial arts. It is in everything that we do. From washing clothes, getting up early, being productive, etc. There is always a better way. We just have to find it then implement it.
Tactical Planner and Strategic Planner
Tactical planning is for the short term. Strategic planning is for the long term. I believe a professional martial artist knows how to do both. A minimum of one year plans would be a good sign of a base in a professional martial artist.
Empathizer of All Ages
Saying “All ages” can be a little confusing so let’s break down the demographics since there are different maturities, capabilities and preferences to consider.
- 0-3 years old
- 3-5 years old
- 5-8 years old
- 9-13 years old
- 13-18 years old
- 18-25 years old
- 25-30 years old
- 30-40 years old
- 40-50 years old
- 50+ years old
Through the act of writing we come to understand our thoughts more deeply than any other form of exploration. We find out more about ourselves as we read them back to ourselves. It is in this we can improve our way of thinking or acknowledge facts that just happen to be. We then bring them back to the improved ways of practicing martial arts and sharing it with others.
Commonly, when we hear the word salesman, we think of the sleezy used car salesman. As a professional martial artist, this is far from that fact. Having people buy into the idea that martial arts is a healthy lifestyle is, simply, an activity of selling. Just walking around as an ambassador of this way of living is an act of selling. People will wonder and be curious how you’re able to walk around so confidently. Some people might just ask you, “How?”
Being a leader is not to be confused with being a boss. Bosses tell you what to do. Leaders know where to go, can point the way and goes there themselves. It is not the means to convert habits. It is just something that others consider into adding it into their lives. If so, then they follow.
Professional martial artists understand fighting in three realms; the mind, body and heart. Fighting well is not about being emotional or busy. Fighting well equates to being smart and calm, while asserting with confidence. Professional martial artists have gone through and continue with pressure tests of their ego and body. Improvements ensue and a better person emerges.
Often times, innovation gets confused with creation. Creators come up with the ideas. Innovators converts that idea into action. Innovators execute.
Personally, I live in this role majority of the time.
Each area of innovation is a project. Management is necessary for growth and progress. Whether its for the building at which they practice, growing a staff, coordinating events, etc. This is an important area of expertise that a professional martial artist must improve.
The martial arts trade requires use of many products and items. Having experience in these essentials to determine what and why something is good, better or best is important.
Traveling allows the opportunity to develop diversity. Different parts of the world improves perspective through its people and culture. Bringing that perspective home to share with others in the form of training is a potent value a professional martial artist has.
A professional martial artist becomes a reliable source of specific understanding. This is a very important support element in people’s lives.
Every lesson plan has the potential to contain many meaningful elements for all aspects of life. Crafting one either dynamically or statically shows an immense amount of care and attention. We can all agree to the amount of appreciation we feel towards sharing in general. In this case, professional martial artists are sharing more than what meets the eye.
There are more items that I can get into about what a professional martial artist is. As you can see, a pro is definitely more than a technique library or work out exercises.
This list gives me a sense of pride. It allows me the honor of calling my place of training an academy instead of a gym. If you’d like to come train with me, you can find me at Impact Martial Arts Academy in Virginia Beach.