Why Do You Train -Jehiah Burchfield
Why do you train?
There is a method in management circles known as “the 5 whys?”. The point of this method is to continue to ask “why?” until the deepest root of an issue is reached. There is nothing magic about the number 5, but I think a similar concept should be applied by participants in combat athletics.
Some people will cite their primary reason for martial training as “self-defense”, others “to get in shape” and others may say “I just like competition”. Any of these goals may be laudable and healthy, depending on the way the goal is pursued.
For instance, there is nothing wrong with the desire to defend yourself and your loved ones, but taking the laws of probability into consideration will likely lead you more down the path of using a seatbelt, flossing your teeth and staying away from places that are obviously unsafe than down the path of carrying six knives and a Rottweiler at all times and mentally rehearsing the “proper” way to gouge out someone’s eyes or bite their flesh (google “Kino Mutai” if you think I am exaggerating).
It is also possible, though less common, to pursue conditioning in a way that is detrimental to your health and happiness. And, as great a medium as competition is, it is definitely possible to pursue it for reasons that do not end up enhancing your life to the degree possible if a more thoughtful approach were undertaken.
I certainly do not have a magic lens of insight into what makes a given individual happy, but I do believe that people are capable of discovering their own bliss, and I have an opinion based on my experience and that of many close friends related to living this way.
If I had to (very) briefly articulate the reasons I train number one on the list would be the quiet state of mind that comes from immersing yourself in a challenging activity. The quiet is multiplied when a bit of a threat (physical or psychological) is involved. There is not room in our mind to carry on with internal dialogue while being confronted with an environment that requires our undivided attention.
And who wouldn’t benefit from quieting that internal dialogue we all incessantly experience? Isn’t that constant conversation with yourself often a root of psychological discomfort? With that voice we continuously tell stories to ourselves about our experiences, we paste a script on top of our sensory data.
The chatter of the mind is quiet, however, in a few rare places. That is what meditation is, the cessation of chatter. You do not have to be seated in the lotus position or on a retreat somewhere, and you do not need to go meet someone who calls themselves a foreign, mystical-sounding title. You can access this state anywhere. On the other hand, it is a skill that has to be developed like any other and combat athletics are a great way to start practicing in my experience.
The pleasure is magnified when you go past your comfort zone (which is where all growth occurs). Everyone can experience this part of training, and no one can take that experience away from you, there is no fear of losing it, it is right there for you every time you put on the gloves or get on the mat or in the cage.