• Breathing Is Everything: How you breathe will dictate everything from the type of athlete you are, to how you sleep, to how your body feels and looks. It’s a wonder why we in fitness so seldom focus on this very essence of life. My sifu once told me that he could tell how effective a fighter was in one glance by how he or she breathed.

    Slow It Down: Everything seems to move at warp speed these days. From how we communicate to how we travel, in the blink of an eye the world is at your fingertips. With this hectic pace comes a rushed focus on fitness, our physicality, and our athletic endeavors.

    But being proficient at anything at full speed takes the willingness and patience to first go slowly, literally and figuratively. Any professional athlete will tell you that the ritualistic nature of slowing down your craft is the key to success in that craft. You have to walk before you can run.

    Words Only Have the Power We Give Them: As a writer, I am acutely aware of the power of words. Words inspire, words inform, and words can destroy - if we let them. One of the first lessons my sifu taught us was that we were never to fight over words. Never. Someone else’s problem was just that, their problem.

    The martial arts will teach you not to react to other’s problems, but to pay attention to your own. There has been many times my training in the martial arts has saved me, but not in the way you might think. I haven’t used fancy kicks to ward off a gang of street thugs. Rather, I’ve used the ability I learned in the martial arts of not reacting to words that were meant as harmful, but in actuality were harmless.

    Awareness Is Everything:The ability to be present in a given circumstance means the difference between success and failure and potentially life and death. Where can you learn heightened awareness? Look no further than the martial arts.

    Even with a mouthpiece, headgear, and padded gloves, getting punched (or kicked) in the head is no joke. The stakes are high. Nothing brings you to the present moment quite like a fight, whether it’s a practice fight or a real one.

    The Journey Is What Matters: In our culture, we tend to focus on outcomes. Winning versus losing. Gaining weight versus losing weight. In the martial arts, I’ve learned that process is growth, regardless of outcome. A journey in the martial arts is a journey from within. To that end, as we grow old we need not stop growing. Our limited view of growth is expanded by the viewpoint of a martial artist.