It’s not enough to have fighting ability. You also have to have fighting spirit, the will to do whatever it takes to survive. All the martial arts knowledge in the world cannot save you in a violent confrontation if you lack the will to push yourself beyond your physical limitations. That ability is what will enable you to stop an assailant that’s twice your size, or neutralize someone armed with a weapon, or prevail in a multiple person assault. It’s what we call martial spirit, and it is one of the most important facets of the training at Combat Kung-Fu.
Fighting spirit is actually something you can cultivate. Every time you physically challenge yourself to go above and beyond what you’ve ever done before, you build your level of martial spirit. That’s because every time you overcome a mental or physical obstacle, you show yourself that you can accomplish way more than you ever thought possible. This is how you build the kind of self-confidence you’ll need to defend yourself in a violent assault.
One way to build your martial spirit is to push yourself when you workout. When your legs and your lungs start to burn from doing a kicking bag workout, for example, imagine that you are fighting for your life, and push yourself to keep going. Keep kicking that bag for another minute as viciously as you can. Because, it’s at that moment of extreme fatigue, when all you want to do is give up, that you begin to program your mind for how you’ll respond to all future challenges. It’s at that moment of extreme fatigue that you need to show yourself that you have the ability to keep fighting despite the physical exhaustion that’s telling you to stop. This is how you’ll learn to put your mind in charge of your body, even under the most extreme of circumstances. It is during these kinds of workouts where you train for how to respond in life or death situations.
As you engage in these kinds of workouts be careful not to ignore the kind of pain that could be indicative of an injury or deeper illness. If at any time during a workout you feel you’ve injured yourself, or aggravated an existing health condition, then immediately stop training and assess your situation. You can always return to your martial spirit building workout another day. (See my blog on Training Around Injury for more on this subject.)
Another great way to give your fighting spirit a boost is by engaging in combative competitions. Participating in these kinds of events will give you a chance to test your skill against other trained martial artists. Tournaments are one of the best ways of replicating the stresses of an actual fight, while at the same time challenging yourself physically. However, it’s important to realize that competing in tournaments safely and successfully requires in-person training from a competent instructor who’s skilled in the combative arts. Before doing any tournament fighting you’ve got to engage in the right training regimen under proper guidance.
A lot of good can come out of pushing yourself to face up to the physical challenges of training and competition. Improved confidence, superior physical fitness, and the mental toughness needed to overcome obstacles are all invaluable tools for facing the challenges of everyday life. Achieving academic excellence or advancing your career goals, for example, often require the same kind of sheer grit and determination required in martial arts. It is for this reason that cultivating the fighting spirit should always be first and foremost in your mind every time you workout. Happy training!