Martial Arts Life 

Pretty Vacant Vs Pretty Present

Martial Arts Life.

You can watch the wonderful Lego Movie, and either.

  1. Enjoy a funny cartoon
  2. Have your mind blown at the deep profound meaning.

Neither one is better than the other, whatever you are looking for, you will find.

You can study martial arts and either

  1. Get fit, punch pads and enjoy it at that level
  2. Have your mind blown by the skills and meaning the arts can give your life

Neither one is superior, we have students in both areas, you get what your looking for


Thought I’d start a little dramatic there with the warning. Though there are things coming our way we are not prepared for, and I really do believe one of the surest ways to navigate the future.

Is to Learn how to learn. 

I’m not alone, some of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of our time agree. Though they could be wrong too eh.

In our lifetime the technological landscape will change dramatically, Artificial intelligence driverless cars are already being used in LA for Uber taxi services. In Australia, driverless trucks are already being used for deliveries across the enormous country. We are all constantly on catch up with new technology and operating systems. Ok, we have sort of mastered the smartphone and the tablets now, but in five years they will be old technology and we will all be learning completely new modes of interacting with new, currently, unthinkable devices.

We are all from this point on, eternally white belts, forever more in a state of learning, how to keep up with new developments. For adults, it’s difficult to keep up, kids will adapt faster, but schools are not able to prepare children for what’s around the corner. They can’t, they don’t know what’s around the corner. No one does. But we do know whatever it is its, it will change the global job market radically and will require new ways of understanding and learning to compete.

Learning To Learn

So do we have the answer? NO, no one does.  We do this though.

Learn – Unlearn -Relearn. This is the essence of learning martial arts and at Function First, we emphasise how important this is during our classes. We coach people in learning how to learn, it’s a steady journey, but it’s a vital skill, as is a process, more on that later.

Spinning Flying Ninja Kicks

So don’t misunderstand this, there is nothing more satisfying than landing a spinning side kick. Dead centre into your opponent’s torso. Watching them fly across the mats like a canon ball just hit them, it’s a great feeling, for you, not them.


How does that help you in your daily life?

Well the obvious confidence and health benefits, but let’s look deeper.

Martial Arts Life – Kickboxing – Self Defence – MMA 

Martial Arts  KickboxingSelf-Defence brings you into the present moment and are an amazing tool for doing so. Whatever your art, it should transfer Off The Mats As On The Mats, and with a conscientious coach, it will, though it takes time. Martial Arts are so important for training this mindset, kids and adults benefit enormously from this side effect.

Many of the martial lessons apply in daily life, for example. The emotional control required to spar or compete is vital. In the combat arena, let emotion control you and you lose.

Let’s apply that to trading on the stock market. Let emotion control you and you’ll soon be a broke investor. Read UK investor Mark Shipman’s book EQ vs IQ. Seriously you could replace the word investing with the words “martial arts” and its a fluid read. Bizzare.

Vacant vs Engaged

From twenty years of coaching martial arts and engaging with others, I have noticed some wonderful side effects. When someone is punching you in the face, while explaining posture alignment, you really do have to be switched on. No room for vacant mindset in this moment or you pay the price.

Everything occurs across a bell curve – Martial Arts Life

Off The Mats As On The Mats

So at one end of the bell curve, we have the scatty brained non-focused undisciplined type. A hangover is a good example, that feeling of cannot be bothered with anyone or anything, well that’s a great example of a lazy vacant mindset.

At the other end, we have a fighter pilot flying at 1500 mph while keeping an eye on multiple targets, threats and complex instrument panels. No room for error whatsoever, laser focused engaged mindset.

Then the majority of us fall somewhere between the above two extremes.

Present moment – Martial Arts Life

When training a martial art you have no choice than to be in the moment, if you have a decent coach and training partners of course. There are those that will let you drift into a lazy vacant non-focused world. But they just want an easy life too, shop around or seek out the training partner that pushes you, you are worth more.

The engaged and focused state of mind you develop on the mats will transfer off the mats into your daily life. It gives you the tools to develop deep meaningful relationships, deeper focus and attention to detail. You can work an eighty hour week and still spend quality time with loved ones. Make those minutes and hours count. Be engaged be there, be present or be vacant, you choose.


It’s not easy and if it’s worth having it’s worth fighting for, life’s a fight.

In two hours with your kids or loved ones with focused intent, you can go deep with your relationships, it’s a disciplined work ethic. I know people who achieve more in one day at work than many do in a week, they are self-employed which may have something to do with it. I guess there are instant negative consequences and extremely motivational reasons to do so. Even though it’s all the same, the focus should be engagement and discipline. Martial Arts Life

Martial Arts Off The Mats

Your martial art should enhance the time you have with loved ones, it should enhance your relationships. When you feel vacant, put your mind into sparring mode. You’ll feel an instant change in the way you perceive the world. Those you’re engaged with feel it as the energy changes. Go steady, don’t go full beast mode and scare them with crazy eyes. Wait a while before you do that. But talk to your kids, friends, loved ones with that engaged sparring mindset. Hear every word, see every facial expression, find the rhythm and timing in the interaction. Anything else is simply not good enough. We have a limited time on this planet and on these mats.

Be there

PROCESS – Martial Arts Life

Off The Mats As On The Mats 1

Martial Arts Life

Another massively important element of learning martial arts process.

A process when understood and applied, can affect all areas of your life. 

My BJJ coach John Will 5th Dan built a house using his martial process. He’d never designed or built a house in his life until this one. He ended up winning the best new house in Australia in a national competition.

I personally apply my martial process to many areas of my life, investing (unbelievable similarities) Snowboarding, finances, budgets, organising my music collection and soon my next house project and so on. One of my staff at Function First Stu tells me how understanding process through martial arts with us has transformed how he interacts with his children. He teaches them new skills be it reading or a physical skill using a process and with great results. 

As discussed in the opening paragraphs, adapting to new technologies and navigating the future. Having a process-driven mindset and learning how to learn, unlearn and relearn are indeed vital skills.

To be illiterate these days does not mean you can’t read. It means you are unable to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn.

Side Kick – Martial Arts Life

A process mindset is a tool that you can use wherever you wish. Unlike the spinning back kick originally discussed at the beginning of this article, though still very cool. Once the process mindset has been developed it comes so naturally. But you need to build that neural cortex. Over time the brain builds a pathway associated with process, and like any tool and art form, you can become a master at it.

I believe your martial art, be it Kickboxing or MMA and so on should enhance your life experience. They should have a knock on effect for those close to you and even your community and maybe even the world. Hey, think big.

If they are not then I truly believe you are missing out on the wonderful benefits of the arts.

Martial Arts are not the only tool for achieving this state of being. There are many paths to this place but Martial Arts are what we do and we do it for many reasons.

Become the master of process and master many areas in life as a consequence.

It matters and Disciple = Freedom.