Even without the roots of Martial Arts Styles being specifically developed for Military reasons, it is evident that the reasons they were first were developed was not for spiritual awakening but more as a need for self-defense from groups of would-be attackers. Martial Arts’ inceptions and growth came out of necessity for self-preservation. The spiritual aspect came about after. Now in any war, there is always a necessity to be skilled at close quarters combat. Encounters with those who mean to kill you in the name of country are readily available and are usually at war because they are trying to occupy the same space you are. The whole point is, if you are in the military, Martial Arts are going to be taught to you. Krav Maga is a martial art that was specifically developed and adapted for Military use, Israeli Military to be exact.
Martial Arts are a big part of Marine Corps training, this is mainly because Marines are in the thick of the battle most of the time. Marines are on the front lines and must be highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat because they are the most likely to employ its tactics. They have their own program. Marines have the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, or MCMAP, which focuses on hand-to-hand and close-quarters combat. There are specialized instructors that are usually taught by some of the masters of certain martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai in order to take what they learn and pass it on to their students. How involved a Marine gets is usually up to them, but all Marines are required to gain minimal knowledge of Martial Arts. It could surely save their lives.
The flexibility and muscle memory in martial arts is necessary and must be learned and then practiced.
With all of the physical attributes mentioned, I’m sure you can easily the connection between the mental toughness and discipline needed for both military training and martial arts. It is well known and quite celebrated by both that discipline is not just present but very necessary for becoming an expert in hand-to-hand combat. You have to get through the bumps and bruised involved in learning. You have to deal with the disappointment of being beat by those who know more than you. You have to endure the hours of conditioning. You have to keep an open mind and follow instructions from those who teach you. There are so many similarities in the mentality that it takes to be a soldier and a martial artist. Perhaps the need to protect yourself, or your country is the motivation for most soldiers. What is the motivation for most Martial Artists? The notion of being able to defend yourself is probably the number one motivation for beginning a Martial Art.
When something is a life-and-death situation, you want as many tools as possible. Martial Arts provides that. There have been many young people that came into the gym because they had intentions on joining the military. I always thought that it was a good way of “cheating”. It isn’t actually cheating, but why not become proficient at it quickly. As I have mentioned several times, learning a Martial Arts also allows you to learn how to learn. Those of you familiar with my writing know what I mean but for those of you who don’t, I stress the fact that learning a Martial Arts helps you become a “coachable” person. Learning how to learn is a great way to advance in any aspect of your life.
Martial Arts teaches you about yourself; your strengths and weaknesses all come to light when you become a Martial Artist.
My advice to anyone thinking of joining the armed forces: Get a head start now and learn a Martial Art. A great coach once told me that it is better to become a master of something than a jack of all trades. Become great at a Martial Art, it just might save your life.