Building Character through Martial Arts Training

We hear frequently that sport builds character, however participation alone does not achieve this. Character must be taught. How do you know if you possess character, how can you teach character?

In addition to teaching the physical aspects of martial arts instructors are also responsible for developing character in those they interact with and act as a role model.  It’s often possible to tell which instructor or academy students train with by the way they conduct themselves. To teach character, it seems one must first possess character (there is an old aristocratic saying: “to command others first you must learn to command your self”).

Possessing Character

It can be difficult to define what character is, but you undoubtedly know it when you see it. The qualities one expects to find in a person with character would be: Integrity, respect, responsibility, honour, truthfulness, courage, and humility. For me having character means always doing the right thing even in an unfavourable situation, even when there is no reward.

When a person has character it shows even in minor actions. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do I use appropriate language, especially in front of children?
How do I treat women and children?
Am I a positive role model?
Is being right more important than getting the desired result?

Or getting more specific

… Do you show up in smelly, unwashed training kit?
… Do you put your training equipment away afterwards?

…Do you try to hurt your partner when sparring?

These are just a few thoughts, but consider that character is the example you show to everyone, every session, every minute.

Developing Character

We believe that martial arts training provides the environment to both test and develop character. A degree of hardship creates the desired environment perfectly because it’s easy to do the right thing in an easy situation. Hardship helps develop respect, humility and empathy – qualities that are extremely valuable and difficult to acquire. Character is much more than a list of behaviours, it’s not a way of acting, it’s a way of being. At Total Martial Arts Swindon we aim to provide a challenging environment and set a good example, therefore we develop character in our students.