What Defines a Martial Artist?

Nowadays, many people study some form of martial arts whether it be jiu jitsu, muay thai,karate, etc. Does that automatically make the person a “martial artist”? If someone takes endless hours of martial arts, should they consider themselves a martial artist? Is it because they learned how to throw a punch or a kick? In some cases the question will answer itself. I personally was and still am a huge fan of Wing Chun kung fu. After the opportunity to learn Wing Chun presented itself, I became obsessed with mastering the art. I took my very first official Wing Chun class in 1998 and since then iv’e never stopped learning. Before signing up for Wing Chun I attended a kung fu academy for almost a year, where they taught a long-fist style called Choi Le Fut. Before Choi Le Fut I took a free two week training at the University Karate Center where they taught an art called Mudokai. Before Mudokai I gritted through two wrestling seasons for the high school I attended. I remember while walking to school, I would practice spinning kicks on the high branches as I aimed at the leaves. Learned this from the countless kung fu flicks I used to watch. When i went to the arcade I would always play Street Fighter 2 only so I can study Ken and Ryu’s kicks. Now, presently, after learning Wing Chun I’ve grown very fond of jiu jitsu. Without a doubt I consider myself a martial artist. There are many different disciplines involved when learning an art such as Wing Chun or any other authentic kung fu style for that matter. It’s not a hobby, it’s a way of life that teaches more than just how to punch or kick. The mental strength that comes with it is the most powerful aspect. We are designed to fight with our minds and to create with our hands. With that being said, a good martial artist will rarely ever have to fight. Are all MMA fighters martial artists? Absolutely not. Some fighters are just fighters that know how to mix things up with a lot of striking, wrestling, grappling, good head movement, and defense. Knowing how to fight does not make anyone a martial artist. Being a competitive gritty fighter is completely different from being a martial artist. I’m not saying the gritty will not prevail because we all know it usually does, but there is a difference in lifestyle. Some fighters are in tuned with the warrior spirit accompanied with traditional styles and values where the training starts with the sunrise. Strength training is taken to another level when the body is studied from within and the ability to do handstand push-ups is now a reality. When coming from a traditional martial arts background such as a karate style, or kung fu style, it is more likely the characteristics of a true martial artist is embedded within the individual. It also doesn’t mean a martial artist will not get pissed drunk after winning a fight and completely trash a hotel room. So what is it that truly defines a martial artist? If you’ve been paying attention then you already know.

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