Why people practice martial arts

Here’s an insight that I gained from running a dojo and being a martial arts enthusiast that has tried to convince and motivate many people to join a martial arts class.

There are (at least) 4 different reasons that people practice martial arts.

1. Fitness
2. Sport/competition
3. Art/Style (ie cultural aspect)
4. Self defense

Some people (myself included) can fall into multiple categories, but there’s usually a primary category that motivates the training.  I had to analyze why some people, even people that are into martial arts, wouldn’t come to a seminar or even try out a free class.  Aside from the “lots of people are flaky and/or lazy” (like me sometimes :-/), a martial arts event won’t appeal to all martial artists because of a mismatch in these four categories between the event and the practitioner.

For example, it’s hard to convince a life long Taekwondo practitioner to come to your ground fighting knife defense seminar.  Similarly, someone who does cardio kickboxing isn’t likely to want to participate in a sparring tournament.  A guy who wants only the simplest self defense moves is probably not going to be interested in mastering a trapping hands drill. People have different goals.  The market is segmented, not only by art but by motivation.

Here’s my motivation breakdown.  I’m about 50% self defense driven, 40% art/style driven, 9% fitness driven, and 1% competition driven…and that competition aspect is probably because of my slight interest in doing a knife fighting tournament.

So, just know that’s where I’m coming from in my future posts.  I primarily want things to work…but I wouldn’t mind looking awesome while doing it ;-). But I wouldn’t sacrifice functionality for style.  I guess what I’m saying is “know your audience”.

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