Pain In The Martial Arts

hands up


“Sifu/Sensei, why don’t pressure points and locks work on you? Don’t you feel pain?”

The fact is that they hurt me just as much as they hurt you. The difference is that I choose not to yield to the pain. Pain and your reaction to it tells me a lot about you. The world is full of mentally weak people. The moment they get any discomfort they want to give up, run to their Mummy and want it kissed better and have a Mickey Mouse plaster put on it – and Im talking adults of all ages here.

There are 2 types of pain.  Good pain and bad pain. Good pain is not injurious and trains the mind and spirit to be far more durable in life and is an essential part of training, this is called ‘eating bitter’.  Bad pain is injurious and means that you should stop and allow it to repair unless you’re in a life threatening or more injurious situation.

If you can’t discern between good and bad pain you shouldn’t be training. A martial arts coach should teach the difference from day one and push a student with good pain and stop them to teach about recovery and rehabilitation with bad pain.

You must learn to not show pain as that reveals weakness to your opponent.  You shouldn’t show discomfort, you shouldn’t show anger, fear or any emotion that allows them to get to you. It should be made clear that the only way you’ll stop is if you’re killed – and you should mean it!

This is what makes you a true warrior.  You should take every opportunity to challenge life and walk towards what scares you. Face any fears and overcome them, each time you challenge them, each time you challenge discomfort, pain and suffering, you grow stronger.

Life will always continually throw you curve balls, you’ll always get what you didn’t ask for and didn’t want, but this is what sorts out the difference between the wimp and the warrior. If you bleed over your family, friends and social media you are just showing your weakness and are definitely not a martial artist.  It’s as if you are dropping your weapons and asking for a cuddle – your enemies will simply use the opportunity to stick the knife in or piss on you if they don’t consider you a threat and walk away.

Pain just is. It can be physical, mental or emotional and just exists as pain, if you take ownership of it you will start to suffer, I have a mental image of so many people stabbing themselves with the same bit of pain again and again because they can’t let go and then bleeding over everyone around them. Recognise it for what it is, only take the appropriate action if needed and then let it go.

Challenge it. Eat bitter. Make it your friend. Don’t own it. Don’t fear it.

Then you are a warrior.



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