Most people have no idea why they do Martial Arts

Why  Train?

Most people have no idea what’s involved in training or even if they do train why on earth they are training for martial arts. Most of us fall into it and then find we like it, its not just exercise or even fighting, and it is certainly not macho being thrown on your backside alot. Judo and Ju-Jitsu have a high proportion of women training.

I was always taught that there are 5 functional uses for the martial arts and when you understand them it’ll help focus your training.

5 Uses for the Martial Arts

My first SenseiTeacher/instructor) seperated the martial arts into 5 functional areas.

They are:

Law Enforcement/ Bodyguarding

Lets focus on them so we can think why we train and why we might want to train



Martial Art derives from the name of Mars the Roman god of war, it is the art of fighting or war like behaviour. If this is your thing the likelihood is you are in or about to join the forces and getting your training from within a military organisation.

The emphasis here will most likely be dispatching an enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible. Hand to hand combat will be emphasised but you are also expected to be carrying a weapon be that gun or knife.


Yes competition, so sport martial arts mean one on one competition inside a controlled space, using a mutually agreed upon set of rules. The Queensbury rules for boxing for example

Because it s not just about getting the competition done its also about preparing,  physical conditioning plays a really big part in getting ready for that competition. In Judo,  50-75% of  training time can be directed toward developing strength and cardiovascular endurance as well as balance, throws and holds.

Law Enforcement/ Bodyguarding

Thats the police to you, and getting people who break the law restrained and before the courts. So unlike the military it’s hurt if required and then only as much as needed in order to get the person restrained and to the prison and or to maintain order inside the prison.

In Bodyguarding, something that many police officers and exmilitary move toward, we are really looking at and extension of self protection and self defence.


To illustrate the differences between being a bodyguard and defending yourself my Jujutsu instructor likes to put new students into the following scenario:

However in bodyguarding emphasis is placed on alternate exits and routes of travel when someone is being protected more in the aikido sense of avoiding combat and securing the guarded. A bodyguard that gets involved in complex combat moves will lose sight of the person s/he is trying to protect.


But what is self defence? Keeping yourself safe is ( in a very simplified sense) about paying attention to where you are, who you are with and what you are doing

This why you must make a critical assessment of some fancy martial arts techniques that are taught,  and real concentrating on movement and positioning. Sensei Ray is constantly telling me, about the position of my feet, my body the movement of my arms and hands, this is essential far more than the actual striking, blocking and throwing. Think about it wouldn’t you rather have position yourself and moved to a place where combat could be completely avoided?

If you’re going to train for self defence then you need to not only train physical technique, but much more importantly you need to learn about human nature and as you progress some of the legalities of using force.


Self-Development, Self Confidence, Self Esteem

OK its a title for everything that’s left. There are all sorts of reasons the fall under this category:

  • Getting in shape
  • Character development (a big one with kids)
  • Bullying (another on that big with kids0
  • Confidence when approached aggressively (the reason why I started)
  • Learn about different cultures
  • Learn to do all sorts of fancy flashy moves
    OK so you get the idea, this list could go on and on and remember no club even ours at Bushido Kwai Dojo – Lewes can be everything to everyone

My feeling is that this last section has to be held in balance with the physical and technical functions. a good instructor will help you with a number of these developmental issues as well as fitness and technique.

So you need to be realistic about what it is you want from your training and then you need honor that choice and ‘get real’ about why you want to study the martial arts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to study simply so you can learn to move like Jet Li or Jackie Chan, or face up to the bully at school or work

You simply need to be honest about why you want to train and what your goals are and share these with your Sensei (teacher) and your dojo friends.



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