Your Guide To Doctors, Health Information, and Better Health!
Your Health Magazine Logo
The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Robert Van Valkenburgh
On Camaraderie and Belonging In Martial Arts
Kogen Dojo
. http://kogendojo.com/

On Camaraderie and Belonging In Martial Arts

There are many personal reasons to join a martial art school as there are different martial art schools to choose from. Many folks are looking for self-defense. Some are interested in competing at a high level. Others are simply searching for a new and more interesting way to exercise, to get into better shape.

All martial art schools will offer some or all of these tangible, often measurable, benefits. The best martial art schools, however, have something more going on, beyond simply the class structure, the techniques being taught, and the intensity of the training itself. The best martial art schools offer a sense of camaraderie and family that is deeply felt, even if difficult to pinpoint or describe, by anyone who walks into its doors and steps on the mats.

For the most part, martial arts are not a solo activity. They are most often trained in a group setting. The attitude and character of the group itself then, perhaps as much or more than the particular style being trained, is of utmost importance. Style and skill matter greatly, but the environment must be conducive to learning. It must be friendly, hospitable, and inspiring. The best schools have an almost contagious quality, a feeling of welcoming camaraderie that makes even the most hesitant newcomer feel at home. A prospective student is already nervous enough walking into a martial art school and the best schools will give him or her the sense that it is okay to be new, to join in, to step on the mats, and to learn.

Ideally, martial arts teach more than just fighting skills. They teach discipline, courtesy, respect, and how to put the education and welfare of others above oneself. The atmosphere of the school should reflect these characteristics. It should not feel rigid and strict any more than it should feel overly casual and sloppy. There should be a degree of looseness and playfulness, where it is obvious that everyone is comfortable with one another, from the highest-level instructor down to the newest student, but there should also be an attitude of serious attentiveness when it is time to learn. It should not feel like survival of the fittest. Instead, the right academy will feel like everyone wants everyone else to be his or her best, for the sake of each individual and the group itself. The best martial art schools are much more than a business. The best martial art schools are deeply personal.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130