How Martial Arts Can Supercharge Your Man Spirit

by Brett on February 19, 2009 · 49 comments

in Health & Sports


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Rodney King.

Robert Moore, a psychologist and theologian, emphasized that for men the warrior spirit was “hard wired.” Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were warriors. As warriors they where required to defend themselves to survive. They had to defend their family and tribe. This was necessary for the lineage and succession of family to carry on.

While most of us in the Western world no longer traverse the plains of the Savannah’s, the primitive responses of flight and fight of our male hunter-gatherer counterparts have not left use. The problem we find today is that many men have lost their ability to express the evolutionary adaptation of their fight and fight response in appropriate ways.

Today 90 percent of convicted violent acts will be perpetrated by men. 70 percent of the victims of those violent acts will be men (Australian Bureu of Statistics). Men are fighting men on all fronts. Addiction, suicides, accidents and premature death are all dominated by men.

Men seem to be losing their way. We have lost connection to one another and a sense of brotherhood. Not too long ago in our distant past, as we ran freely on the Savannahs, we would be together as men. A band of brothers. Together we would hunt, give each other courage, and inspire each other to overcome our inner shadows. In doing so, we would learn to trust each other. We would have the opportunity to express the positive masculine energies of valor, honor, and courage. At night we would sit around a campfire, retelling the stories of the hunt, playing drums, and symbolically reenacting the day. When called upon to protect the tribe, we would do so without hesitation, rising up as warriors in the service of something greater than ourselves.

This uniquely male right of passage has been for the most part rubbed out in the Western world. As men, we still hear the faint voice of adventure calling us; we hear the voice of what Robert Bly, author of the classic bestseller Iron John, calls the ‘Wild Man’, screaming at us to get back in touch with our male spirit. But we are too busy, too distracted, only noticing it when one more man commits a crime against another. As Bly states, “But now he has two Toyotas and a mortgage, maybe a wife and a child. How can he let the Wild Man out of the cage?”

While today there may be several ways available to the modern man to get in touch with his ‘Wild Man,’ one way that brings together many of the forgotten masculine energies of the male hunter gatherers is martial arts.

Martial arts, if coached correctly, are a wonderful vehicle for the positive expression of masculinity and the warrior archetype. Most people who train martial arts are men, which serves as a unique opportunity to create a tribe of brothers who are once again able to be reunited, metaphorically expressing the ‘hunt’ for the masculine energies of courage, tenacity and grit. Through the symbolic enactment of the ‘martial’ process, men are able to redirect their destructive energies and impulses, allowing them to work through conflict creatively as well as changing their perceptions of the issue itself.

The expression of martial art movement can therefore become a field of ‘play’ upon which men are able to safely project their responses and relive some of the disturbing situations they may have experienced in their life. The process of martial arts enactment can be a way of identifying, reflecting on, and changing a man’s conditioning, allowing him to rediscover his masculine energy.

Martial arts training with an emphasis on playfulness, challenge, connection, and brotherhood are not too dissimilar to the rough and tumble play most boys experienced with their friends and siblings growing up. In a way, as little boys we were closer to our hunter-gatherer ancestors then most of us are now as adults.

The National Institute of Play, for example, points to scientific research showing that rough and tumble play in animals and humans “has been shown to be necessary for the development and maintenance of social awareness, cooperation, fairness, and altruism. Its nature and importance are generally unappreciated, particularly by early (preschool) teachers, who often see normal rough and tumble play behaviour such as hitting, diving, wrestling, (all done with a smile, between friends who stay friends), not as a state of play, but one of anarchy that must be controlled.”

As men we have always instinctively known that the rough and tumble play amongst boys has always been vital for the growth of the male spirit. As Paul Whyte, a leader of the men’s movement in Australia, proclaimed at a seminar in Hobart in 1993, “If you want to get along well with your boys, you have to learn to wrestle.” In his book, Manhood, author Steve Biddulph explains how a father wrestling with his boys teaches him how to play fight without hurting. It teaches the boy how to control and harness his natural physical masculine expression. Later on in life that lesson will stand him in good stead. Now as a father himself and as a husband the lessons of wrestling with his father would have taught him to “debate, take criticism, experience strong emotions, and at the same time, never use his physical strength to hurt or dominate those weaker than him.” As further outlined by the National Institute of Play, boys who have “a lack of experience with this pattern of play hampers the normal give and take necessary for social mastery, and has been linked to poor control of violent impulses in later life.”

Martial arts as a process of rough and tumble play can help men develop and maintain social awareness, cooperation, fairness, and altruism. If you missed out on rough and tumble play growing up, martial arts are a great way to recapture that essential time of male growth. As an added bonus, all martial artists will tell you that in order to perform at a high level, under the pressure of dealing with a resisting opponent, one needs to be focused, centered, and calm. As Yoda in Star Wars knew all too well, “Anger leads you to the dark side.”

To perform at a high level in martial arts you have to embrace, accept and ride the wave of anger. You become intimately acquainted with fear, frustration, anxiety, and loss of focus. Unlike in life, in martial arts you have a way to learn from those experiences and you have the opportunity to accept them as a natural part of discovery and learning. Most importantly, you are allowed to display these emotions as a man in a martial arts environment.

Because you are free to fully explore anger, frustration, and fear as a man in martial arts without shame or embarrassment- something wonderful happens. You begin to feel the confidence rise inside you. You feel alive. At times you are in flow. You become intimate with the present moment.

As you leave the mat and as you look down the long road of the martial arts of everyday life, you know that you are prepared, because you are a man once more!

About The Author

Rodney King is an Embodied-Warrior Coach, Somatic Movement Educator, and the creator of the world famous Crazy Monkey Defence Martial Arts Programme. Dr. Randy Borum PsyD, Professor University of South Florida has called Rodney, “one of the most thoughtful & innovative martial artists in the world today.”

Rodney runs programmes all over the world where he teaches martial arts as a way to become reacquainted with the positive male spirit and the warrior path. He lives in South Africa with his wife Louise and their two sons Egan and Tobynn.

Rodney’s Personal Website:

Global site:

Rodney’ Male Spirit Blog:

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rodney February 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Most people who train martial arts are men, which serves as a unique opportunity to create a tribe of brothers who are once again able to be reunited, metaphorically expressing the ‘hunt’ for the masculine energies of courage, tenacity and grit.

2 Stephen M. February 20, 2009 at 6:26 am

While the author makes an interesting point, I would emphasize that martial arts introduced to a young boy’s (or girl’s) life at a 4th-6th grade (US) age is an excellent, if not better, idea. I started studying Taekwondo at the age of 11, and by the time I was 16, I was leading classes, both for children and adults. The discipline and self-confidence that experience has had on my adult life has been huge. There I was, a 16 year-old kid having grown men, doctors, teachers, and businessmen, listening to me. That is huge for a kid, I recommend to all that you give your sons and daughters that opportunity.

Onto the violence the author speaks of, I think of the restrained violence in martial arts as a sort of vaccine against future, real violence. I’ve intentionally shattered bricks and boards, and unintentionally damaged (others’) bones and tissue. When you learn what your body is capable of, and, perhaps more importantly, how fragile the human body can be in certain places, it gives you a whole new respect for true violence.

3 Darrell February 20, 2009 at 7:01 am

I’ve always wanted to get into martial arts, but I’ve been turned off by the way that most martial arts places seem to cater to children. The adults are just an after thought. And you see these 10 year olds who are black belts. If a 10 year old can be a black belt, then that honor loses its meaning.

4 Ryan February 20, 2009 at 7:15 am

Darrell, find a Boxing, Judo, Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai school. They generally do not cater to the children.

Not a hard and fast rule by any means, but all three of those disciplines are generally for contact sports.

Most Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and Karate schools cater to their after school programs, and adult classes are generally gear towards forms or point sparring. It’s cool if that’s what you are into. Again, not a hard and fast rule, there are exceptions in every school.

My children just started in kung fu this year, but I’ve been doing it for 8 years. We do a lot of forms, but I’ve had the chance to train for full contact fighting as well. It can take a toll on your body, be forewarned.

A decent place to find a school is the website Bullshido.

5 Art Gonzalez February 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

As Stephen I got into Karate when I was about 14 and then I was training others when I was 18. I was a shy teenager and training martial arts gave me a huge boost of self-confidence. Now I’m a blue belt in Kenjutsu (similar to Kendo, utilizing Katana swords) and love it. My older kid (now 13) is a blue belt in Jiujitsu and is doing fantastic. Every man should pursue and do at least some basic training in self-defense. Not only to increase his confidence level but to be able to protect himself and/or his loved ones.

Many blessings,

Art Gonzalez
Quantum Knights

6 Chris Bishop February 20, 2009 at 8:17 am

My favourite part of this article was

‘To perform at a high level in martial arts you have to embrace, accept and ride the wave of anger. You become intimately acquainted with fear, frustration, anxiety, and loss of focus. Unlike in life, in martial arts you have a way to learn from those experiences and you have the opportunity to accept them as a natural part of discovery and learning. Most importantly, you are allowed to display these emotions as a man in a martial arts environment.

Because you are free to fully explore anger, frustration, and fear as a man in martial arts without shame or embarrassment- something wonderful happens. You begin to feel the confidence rise inside you. You feel alive. At times you are in flow. You become intimate with the present moment.’

I think this embodies the essence of how martial arts can improve your life and teach you how to use your masculine energies positively. Martial arts can lead you the ‘dark side’ if you don’t have a good coach and a good training environment with your fellow warriors/brothers. Hence, it pays to find a club that sits well with your morals and helps you achieve your goals, being here, to invoke your warrior spirit and harness your masculine energies to positively impact your life and career.

One of Rodney’s best articles to date on this subject. Nice one brother.

7 Lawrence February 20, 2009 at 8:41 am

This is a great article. It really hits the mark of the value of true Martial Arts training. Too often schools and instructors base their training on “ego” and not on the overall improvement of the individual.

Self Defense is based on a foundation of confidence in which the individual is not subject to certain violent acts because his/her demeanor embodies a “non-victim” attitude that is sensed by most potential attackers. This attitude alone encourages the selection of a weaker victim.

Rodney states a strong case for the humility and compassion that is developed through strength and understanding of self. Many men who become comfortable with their “manhood” grow and step out from behind the mask of “being a MAN” through the Martial Arts disciplines.

Having met and listened to Rodney speak it is obvious he doesn’t just talk the talk… He “eats what he cooks” and is a great example for all men!

Great, Great article!

8 Matt February 20, 2009 at 9:01 am

This is a great article and I agree that martial arts can help bring out that warrior spirit in a productive way. I have been training for more than half of my life and I can vouch for these benefits.

9 Uberhack February 20, 2009 at 9:01 am

I second Ryan on finding a Western Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo or Muay Thai school. These are generally places that teach martial arts in an “aliveness” environment. Matt Thornton, founder of Straight Blast Gyms, describes it best here (adult language):

Also would second checking out, they’re the Snopes of martial arts. They’ll sniff out most of the posers and bs artists.

And by the way, Yoda would have phrased it, “To the Dark Side, anger leads.”

10 Kelly February 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

Great article.

Darrell- Based on my experience, Ryan is right Boxing, Judo, and Muay Thai schools. If you want to get proficient fairly quickly, find a boxing gym. Other styles are more complicated and can take some time to effectively apply the martial art. I have trained in Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Boxing, Escrima, and Kali, and have come back to boxing as my main “martial art”. Although, I feel that traditional “pure” Muay Thai is one of the best all around martial arts because it is considered “The Art of the Eight Limbs”, as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art along with standing grappling or clinch fighting. Muay Thai trains at all fighting ranges which makes it a very effective all around martial art…if trained properly.

11 Justin February 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

I couldn’t agree with this article more. I started boxing four weeks ago at the age of 31 as a way to get in shape and constructively work out the day to day frustrations of life. In just four weeks I’m already calmer, more confident, and feeling great all around. It has been a profound experience for me, and I encourage anyone of any age engage in some sort of martial activity. I agree with the posters above as well, you need to find an adult oriented gym. Personally I think it’s important to have actual contact. Even if you don’t compete there’s just something powerful the act sparring.

12 Joel M February 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

It made my Friday to see this post waiting for me this morning. Growing up, much of my life revolved around basketball, football, and baseball. I realized after becoming a father and husband, that my desire and time to compete in these traditional sports had really subsided since my earlier days. It was by chance that I met the man who become my sensei, and filled that desire to compete by learning martial arts (judo, isshinryu karate, and jiu-jitsu). More than learning “how to fight” or self defense, I love the history and the commitment it requires to really develop into a balanced karateka. Nothing like it. I definitely recommend learning any style or discipline, but don’t underestimate how much commitment it takes to truly grow.

13 Brucifer February 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

I have long-lamented the habit of modern men to spend so much time and energy at insipid “sports,” involving chasing silly balls around in various manners. That modern men have been brainwashed to think it oh-so-manly to dress in their underwear and bounce balls around a child’s playground, befuddles me. They could instead be learning something of potential use to protect themselves and others; martial arts, firearms, archery, search & rescue. Instead of modeling after the actual heroes of yore, we model after grossly overpaid jocks who contribute nothing to the betterment of society. Bah!

As evidence of our malaise, one afternoon some fellow Escrima students and I thought to repair to a public park to practice on a nice sunny day. The park cops almost immediately showed-up because somebody called in a report that people were “fighting.” The cops recognized what we were doing, but still told us to leave anyway because of the potential for causing injuries on park property. Yet, if we had been getting tore-up and injured playing football or rugby, no one would have blinked. Again, I say bah!

14 Eric K. February 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

This is another awesome article by Rodney. He touches on a subject that has been long swept under the rug by western society. With the contrasts of the ‘political correctness’ and demasculination of men in our society coupled with the hypercompetitiveness of sport, including the rise of combat sports, men really don’t have much of an example of the process of reclaiming their manliness. With the proper coaching martial arts is, in my opinion, the perfect way for us to connect with the ‘wild man’.

Great article Rodney!
Keep them coming!

15 James February 20, 2009 at 11:25 am

I have been involved in m/a since i was 5 and now soon to be 33 i will train for the rest of my life….god willing. It gives you soul and so much positivity and has made me who i am today a husband, father and trainer. I also have had the pleasure of meeting and training with Rodney and he is an exceptional soul and human being.

16 Mike Addison February 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Superb article Rodney, as ever interesting and thought provoking.

I can absolutely speak from the position of never having trained martial arts before I was introduced to Rodney and the CMDP.

It is absolutely the most positive and life affirming program I could be involved in. On every level – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically I have increased my performance massively. It has made a huge difference outside the gym in the way I approach my business and my conduct and temperament with others.

Physically it is absolutely rock solid and functional and should be the basis for any reputable and genuine martial arts system out there. It is constantly challenging mentally and embraces the need for direction and guidance in life. More than anything it has opened up for me a whole network of great people who have nothing to give but good advice and strengh in understanding.

In terms of the article it is nail on the head. Modern men have a hugely difficult time affirming their masculinity and as Rodney points out, often this leads to fatal and huge consequences. Finding something – be it martial arts or similar – to open up direction and the soul is important and should not be understated by any means. Hopefully martial arts can be taught and understood properly and go someway to repair the damage of modern living and amenities.

17 Rich February 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Why do you have to crack on traditional sports, “Brucifer?” There is much to be gained from playing and practicing and competing in those “silly ball games.” Your gross mischaracterization is disappointing. And there’s no need to be so florid and wordy in your writing, its not really impressive or anything.

As far as martial arts, I have to say that this is an awesome topic. To me, it seems most reasonable to practice arts that have the most real world application if you ever do have to defend yourself. IMO, thats BJJ, boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, wrestling and combat sambo.

Most BJJ gyms I’m familiar with cater to an older audience, with the kids classes taking a bit of a backseat. I’ve loved every minute of my BJJ training and appreciate the feel of camaraderie that is established inside the school. The Gracie family, and Helio Gracie in particular can be seen as an example of manliness.

Great article.

18 Louisville Kempo February 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm

“Because you are free to fully explore anger, frustration, and fear as a man in martial arts without shame or embarrassment- something wonderful happens. You begin to feel the confidence rise inside you. You feel alive. At times you are in flow. You become intimate with the present moment.” This is the best paragraph of the article. It sums the meaning of martial arts into an understandable statement. If you practice properly you will achieve.

19 Foster Karcha February 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm

A good post, out-lining the many lessons and benefits of martial arts. In high school freestyle wrestling, and a sting in kick boxing and boxing, gave me a significant physical and mental boost. I miss that I haven’t taken the time and money to engage in other martial arts activities, but this post has inspired me to change that.

Now if only they offered Krav Maga in my city.

20 Mike A February 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Foster, as someone who has experienced a single lesson of Krav Maga I would advise against pursuing it – the benefit of teaching civvies the art of disarming someone with an M16 is quite beyond me ….

21 Kelly February 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I was reminded recently that have to control your mind and emotions to box well… it is true for martial arts as well. My boxing gym has a quote, how you react when you get hit is how you react in life. There is a lot of strategy in boxing…that is why boxing has been called physical chess.

22 Sam Kressin February 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

I have been a practitioner of Martial Arts for more than twenty years and a coach of Martial Arts for more than 5 years. This article by Rodney King explains well not only the value of Martial Arts training when done correctly but also the reasons why I love and continue to train and coach Martial Arts today.

23 Nathan Wagar February 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I think Rodney hit on a lot of key points.

I personally think that a big reason why functional martial arts are so important from a standpoint of positive self-change is that they keep you honest. Honest about what you can do, honest about what you can’t, honest about your limits. Without having a keen awareness of self, you can’t transcend your own limits because you don’t know what they are, and without the concept of honesty in and of itself, there won’t be much of an interior change either. An even more important concept touched on by Rodney is martial arts are an excellent vehicle for positive self-development – if properly coached. Some functional arts, despite their many benefits, can run the risk of developing an aggressive, dominating mindset, rooted in a for of fear if learned in the wrong atmosphere. Fear of training because you’re afraid to lose, afraid to go easy because the other guy might not be so inclined towards you; the list can go on. The clients being coached then lose out on the sense of play and comraderie that makes the arts so positively beneficial in the first place. And, sadly, these fears are often taken with the individual outside the walls of the gym as well. I can speak from experience that Rodney is excellent at fostering an environment that nurtures creativity and expression, expressed through a functional art that keeps me – honest. Great article

24 Jim S February 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm

This is really painful to write.

I really wish I could do some martial art, but previous efforts have come to nought.

I did not have a chance to do the sort of roughhousing described in the article. Whether it was due to lack of family interest in sports, an absent father, or my own obstinacy is hard to say, but I grew up a total klutz and was picked last on every team all the way through school. Add the usual bullying accorded the class nerd, and I just walled myself off – girls were completely out of the question, and college was a tremendous relief.

The irony is that I now go to the gym, lift weights, and outwardly look okay; I guess I sort of slouched into manhood without quite realizing what was happening. And many days, things go okay – but I often feel like my “man act” is a complete fraud.

I tried karate a few years back and did okay with the assigned katas (took a long time to learn, though), but found that sparring made me completely freeze up. I finally quit after getting kicked in the head by a higher belt one time too many.

I sure wish things had been different. I’m old enough now (50-something) that it would be a waste to try again – but I feel like I’ve been permanently crippled.

25 george wunderlich February 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

As a holder of a first degree black belt in Tang Soo Do , it is easier to fight in the ring than open my wife’s car door . Why . May I suggest Martial Arts are alive , chivalry is virtually dead . Seems to me , we men should start with what is most difficult first , showing courage and be chivalrous toward our wives . Then take up Karate .Any black belts want to spar with me on this one ?? Ask your wife if she wants her door opened or see you in your gi
Autagani moto no ichi

26 george wunderlich February 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Response to Jim S. I am new to blogging as I delivered mail for 30+ years and am still old school letter writing . Mr. S – As a 60 year old black belt , I hated katas . You can grin and bear getting thru them . As to sparring , I suspect you think rather than trust your reflexes . Every time I thought , I got thumped . Trust the training and your reflexes to merge . You are not to old . Pls , get back to the dojo and go for black . You can do it friend .; No one can stop you .

27 Nathan Wagar February 21, 2009 at 12:10 am

Jim S, not to advertise, but Rodney’s style and method of coaching are specifically suited to people in your situation. I.E: beginner’s that are disillusioned with sparring because they get in, get their head taken off in an overly-competitive training environment, and lose the will to train. I would highly suggest looking up his website.

28 Gary Slaughter February 21, 2009 at 8:57 am

Jim S., I’m going to echo the two previous posts. I, too, was picked last or one of the last. I finally was able to take classes in Tang Soo Do when I was in the Air Force in 1973. Financial constraints caused me to have to give it up after a year, but I continued to practice and read on my own. I also took classes in Aikido, which helped me learn about distancing, movement in relation to an adversary and helped me get over my fear of contact.

Three years ago, at the age of 53, I enrolled in Tae Kwon Do. One of the first things I did was wrench my knee trying to do a jumping kick my mind remembered but my body didn’t. While I was recuperating I enrolled in Kum Do (Korean sword art similar to Japanese Kendo). My knee got better and in December I passed my black belt test. My black belt test for Kum Do is next month.

Your post resonates with a defeatist attitude. I’m still struggling to deal with mine. I still have to force myself sometimes to make an attempt at something I perceive to be difficult or have had trouble with before. Perseverence will eventually pay off, if you believe you can prevail.

My father remarked a couple of years ago that he did well in school because he always had the attitude, “I can do this, if you show me how.” I wish he’d said that 45 years ago, or that I had not been parent-deaf if he did. Too many times my first thought has been, “I can’t do this,” or “I’ll never learn this.”

Now, I help instruct TKD classes. Every time someone (child or adult) says they can’t do a technique or learn a form I ask them, “You mean you’re physically incapable?” The answer is no. I then tell them that their mind and attitude are their greatest weapons. They’re also their greatest hindrances.

Houdini used to drum up interest by escaping from jails, usually in a very short time. Once, after he’d been locked in and the inspecting committee had left, he couldn’t get the door open. As the time grew longer he began sweating, seeing his reputation as The Man No Jail Could Hold evaporate. He smacked the door in frustration, and it swung open. The committeemen had forgotten to lock it. It had been open the entire time, but in his mind it was locked tight.

Believe in yourself. If you can’t do something the first time, believe that you eventually will. Failure is the opportunity to start over better educated.

29 kelly (BOXER) February 21, 2009 at 9:53 am

Jim S-

Boxing is something that you can pick up later in life. In my gym, there are first timers that are in their 50 and 60s and start punching well in a couple of months. There is also a new “Masters Class” of amateur boxing. Check out this link:

I think that it will motivate you. You are never to old to improve…so get yourself into training.

30 Kevin February 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

“While most of us in the Western world no longer traverse the plains of the Savannah’s, the…”

Apostrophe misuse here, just to nitpick a little. Good article otherwise.

31 Mike February 21, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Couldnt agree more, did krav for 3 years , loved everysecond of it, deftinley made me more confident.

32 george wunderlich February 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Mr.S – Sir I owe you an apology . I re-read the posts and discovered another gentleman wrote concerning the defeatist attitude . I have to say I love the power of an apology . makes me smile and realize the journey is never over untill it is over .

33 Mike M. February 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Jim S, a couple of points..

First, don’t think that you need to spar. It’s useful, but kata and pre-arranged kumite are essential for good technique. There are many good streetfighting techniques that are forbidden in tournament sparring because they can’t be pulled.

Second, don’t worry about how long it takes to learn. Some people can pick up a kata quite quickly…I’m not one of them. Keep practicing, and you’ll find yourself with a shodan – or higher. Grinding perseverance is a sine qua non for the fighting arts.

Third, a general comment. Consider the Western fighting arts as well, particularly fencing. You can be extermely competitive in that art, without busting your hands and feet – and with very few real restrictions on technique.

34 Gary W February 22, 2009 at 8:20 am

Great article.

Addresses issues that can often plague the office environment which can take away the essence of being strong and independent in actions and thinking. The office environment can foster weak thinking which leads to whining and dissatisfaction with work and life. Getting in touch with the inner self through martial arts is very therapeutic and will nurture the true spirit of men.

35 T. Faresh Onn February 22, 2009 at 8:34 am

I never thought of it in that perspective till I’ve read this article. As a young boy play wrestling and fighting ninja’s with my cousin’s only translated as fun for me but now after reading this article I can see the meaning behind it all. Thanks for the enlightenment. When i first trained in BJJ the amount of confidence boost that I received after the second class was just unbelievable. And I have carried it with me ever since. Great job Rodney.

36 Chris | Martial Development February 22, 2009 at 5:41 pm

An unusually clear presentation on one benefit of martial arts. We need one hundred more like it–and we still wouldn’t be finished.

37 Kelly (Boxer) February 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Mike M-

You are offering dangerous advice-

Don’t spar? That is why many “martial artists” get destroyed in street fights. They are overly confident and have never been punched in the face. If you don’t get used to getting hit, in a real situation, you will reacted badly (cover up, freeze, etc.). You need to learn to counterpuch or counteract which is not instinctive and has to be practiced with real pressure.

38 Scott Walker February 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Awesome article Rodney! Reading your articles always re-cements my decision to become part of the CMDP family. I have been training martial arts for over 19 years now and have been coaching for the last 17 years. I have been coaching the same guys for the last 15 plus years. I believe the reason I have had the same people stick with me for so long is exactly what is preached in this article. I can’t say enough about how fantastic Rodney and the CMDP family is. It is something you have to experience to believe. In all of my 19 years of martial arts training I have never wanted to be a part of any program until the lucky day I met Rodney King. Since then I have not looked back and articles like this are not uncommon within the CMDP.

39 John February 24, 2009 at 3:07 am

I thought the article was ok until I realized it was basically a sales pitch for the author’s martial art studio. I could have done without that but did agree with the over all topic.

40 Rodney King February 24, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Thanks everyone for the kind words:)

I was content just to sit back and read all the posts, but I do feel that a reply on some points is required.

John, I beg to differ. No where in the article that I wrote did I mention my programme or it’s name or even a specific style so to speak- outside of my signature and about the author (Which is perfectly acceptable in the context of the article written). Is it how I coach? Absolutely! Am I the only one who coaches martial arts in this manner, with the intended outcomes I described, absolutely not. There are many great martial arts coaches out there doing a fantastic job and using the martial arts to create champions on and off the mat.

The fact that people I know and some of my clients responded to this article is natural as the Editors of this site request that when writing an article for this website it appears no where else. I am honored that they feel the way they do. Unlike most men who simply nit-pick about irrelevant subject matter, they are in the fray discovering their manhood and positive male spirit.

Stephen M. this article was specifically written for an adult male audience. This sites name is specifically ‘The Art of Manliness’, not ‘The Art of Childhood’. This article was therefore written within the spirit of this site. I agree martial arts should be taught to children. I coach my sons, but it should be done in the spirit of developing inner wisdom and truth. Unfortunently most martial art schools for kids place too much emphasis on competition than real personal growth.

Jim S. Sparring is essential for discovering all the things I discussed in this article. The reason so many men steer clear from sparring is due to the way it is expressed. Too often in many martial art schools it is about physical dominance over other men. Your measure then of success is defined by whom you can beat. This is a very limited view of sparring and it can be so much more. Sparring gives reality. In sparring as a man, you cannot deny to yourself what you are afraid off or where your insecurities lie. This is a perfect vehicle to embrace ones shadow and an opportunity to do the work in discovering positive male spirit.

Keep safe everyone:) And feel free to stop by my blog and drop a note!


41 Елизавета LiSa April 17, 2009 at 1:09 am

While today there may be several ways available to the modern man to get in touch with his ‘Wild Man’

42 happykarateka June 17, 2009 at 8:03 am

I love this article. My main art is kyushin-ryu karate and it is amazing. Martial arts are fantastic because they cultivate honor and spirit and have great fitness benefits. I would encourage everyone to find an art they enjoy and get good at it. Age or ability don’t matter nearly as much as one might think they do. One of the black belts at the dojo I go to is a grandma and she can kick most people before they can react.
BTW, sparring is lots of fun. Yeah, getting kicked in the face kinda sucks but there is something primal about fighting. It feels great to fight in a controlled environment and still be friends with your opponent afterward.

43 Chris Aitken June 25, 2009 at 11:08 am

This article is spot on!
“Martial arts, if coached correctly, are a wonderful vehicle for the positive expression of masculinity and the warrior archetype. Most people who train martial arts are men, which serves as a unique opportunity to create a tribe of brothers who are once again able to be reunited, metaphorically expressing the ‘hunt’ for the masculine energies of courage, tenacity and grit. Through the symbolic enactment of the ‘martial’ process, men are able to redirect their destructive energies and impulses, allowing them to work through conflict creatively as well as changing their perceptions of the issue itself.” — This says it all.

Well, since everybody else is name dropping their respective disciplines, I am a Shodan(1st Degree Black Belt) in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu and previously done some other systems also. Not an expert by any means, but IMHO a better person for making martial arts be such a huge part of my existence. Thank you for permitting me my two cents on the matter.

44 Punditus Maximus August 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

For me, martial arts has become about defeating fear. I was raised in the suburbs, which is a fearful place — fear of conflict, fear of the city, fear of poverty. I internalized those fears deeply. And by learning to move my body and take on the truth that bad things can happen but I can be better prepared for them, I’ve defeated a great deal of the fear.

I still remember the time some drunk bum started just cursing me out, in the worst possible language. That would have thrown me a while ago. But with less fear, I could just put the experience in its place and move on with my life.

45 Chieftain August 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Jim S, I have a great deal of empathy for your situation, in many ways. I am a big guy, I am not flexible and I’m slow-moving: not particularly elegant or capable of doing many of the showy, flashy martial arts moves. Yet nature has compensated: I have a cement head and if I hit something it gets broken to bits and it wakes up in a couple weeks time. But my very best weapon is between my ears, and my next best weapon is attached to my tongue. I can talk myself out of any fight anywhere without losing face. I have found this skill to be of immeasurable value as a Guardian Angel: being able to smooth things over before they get to blows. It could be that you, too, have this gift-of-the-gab. Speaking of which, have you considered volunteering as a Guardian Angel? You learn valuable, practical, street-worthy self-defense skills, as well as the gift-of-the-gab that I spoke of, as well as a whole bunch of other useful life skills — all for free. And you get to protect your community from crime. Why not check out our website at and see if it is something that might work for you.

46 Arlito October 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Interesting article! I’ve always wanted to get into martial arts.

47 Tim November 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Darrell — you should start doing Kung Fu. Until you’re a black belt you’ll need more than 10yrs. depending on how often you train and how your conditions are.
Kung Fu is not only kicking and hitting like you do in Muay Thai and generally the people that do Kung Fu aren’t going to piss you off, when you’re new to Martial Arts and join them.
I do Kung Fu myself.
Best thing I ever did, I have to say.

Best regards.

48 Tim November 28, 2009 at 6:19 am

@ Stephen M.: Sure, it sounds great to have a kid be able to defend itself at a young age, but imagine you sending your Kid to a Martial Arts class at a young age — you may think it’ll like it, but probably it won’t, if you’re going to push it too much.

Just got the newsletter, in which I saw a Martial Arts article too, but Krav Maga is not really a Martial Arts, but more like a fast killing or much hurting defensive military thing.

Also I would describe the martial arts a little more. For example, that you don’t know how to block kicks in Boxing or in Taekwondo you use your legs a lot, and so on.
Muay Thai is a very agressive sport, street fighters use that, and Kickboxing a lot.
Judo is a lot about throwing people on the ground. Kung Fu is were it all originated from. I love it.
Anyways, try out some stuff.
Just look up all the many martial arts on wikipedia or something like that. Jiu Jutsu is good for ground fighting, too.


49 James January 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Really nice work! Your article is unique, informative, interesting and is captivating attention of the readers. You have emphasized on a good point (Martial Arts).

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