Opinion: Martial arts: Is it really just about fighting?

Frank Shekosky, owner of Cromwell Martial Arts.

Frank Shekosky, owner of Cromwell Martial Arts.

Contributed photo

When I first began teaching martial arts in the late 1980s, my teacher and mentor Shihan Eric Alexander commented that those who are only teaching the physical moves in martial arts were “only doing half the job.” I have heard some martial artists comment that all they cared about was teaching the self -defense aspect of martial arts and that’s all that really existed in their martial arts training and in their teachings.

Having owned and operated a successful martial arts school since 1993 I have seen hundreds of success stories with students. I have seen students overcome anxiety, improve grades at school, improve relationships and obtain better jobs all through the self-development they have attained through martial arts training. They have learned to defend themselves; however, martial arts training has far more to offer than just learning self-defense skills. Martial arts training has improved their entire lives. Not all students have stable home lives and many need positive role models in their lives and the structure and positive reinforcement that good martial arts schools offer.

In his book “The Secret of Inner Strength,” martial arts legend Chuck Norris lists a code of ethics that he believes contributed to his success in martial arts and in life.

In his book “Modern Arnis Stick Fighting” Remy Presas, the legendary founder of Modern Arnis, stated that there are principles that must be remembered such as “ character, sincerity, discipline, self-control, etiquette, and students loyalty.”

In his book “Infinite insights into Kenpo” Grand Master Ed Parker included a creed he developed in March of 1957 that has become an accepted code for many martial artists. In his books Parker also asserts that martial arts has many facets as a discipline, a way of life, a philosophy, an art, and a science.

In our seminars together, nine-time WAKO World Karate champion Shihan Christine Bannon-Rodrigues has mentioned the importance of not only developing physical skills but also of character development.

I believe that if you can master martial arts then you can master anything. For many people martial arts is more about self-development than it is about fighting. This is not stated to discount the importance of the self-defense aspect but rather to help highlight the fact that martial arts has multiple aspects developing the mind, body and spirit.

In these challenging times I think the world needs martial arts training now more than ever. We need the physical training, the mental training, and most assuredly the spiritual development. If not us, who? If not now, when?

Frank Shekosky established Cromwell Martial Arts LLC in Connecticut in 1993. He has been inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame.