Monday, June 14, 2010

Hobbies Outside of the Martial Arts

I have been involved in the martial arts for over 17 years. I run a dojo that has 8 classes per week and I do some of my own training in addition to teaching. Martial arts has become a big part of my life. That being said, I've come to discover that I need to have hobbies outside of the martial arts to give my life balance.

I believe that people need both a mental and physical break from the martial arts in order to get the most from their training. They need hobbies that are fun that allow them to enjoy time with their friends and families. These other hobbies can give students perspective about their training, allowing them to step onto the mats with a clear and receptive mind and body.

Lately, I had discovered that my own balance was out of whack. I was starting to feel a dip in my energy and enthusiasm when it came to the martial arts. It wasn't like I was thinking about giving it up or anything. I think it was that I had been so focused in the preparation for my Yondan that I hadn't had enough of a life outside the martial arts to balance things out.

After achieving my Yondan, I looked into finding a hobby I can do with my fiancé that is outside of the realm of martial arts. We have decided to take up fencing at a club that operates right around the block from the dojo, Dynamo Fencing in Richmond BC. I used to do fencing back in high school and university. It was a fun activity that was both physical and social. Though some of you might think of it as being a martial art, it really is more of a sport with only a very loose connection to its martial origins.

Other than that, I have a few seasonal interests that I pursue, including downhill skiing, climbing (indoor & outdoor), and camping. I also do yoga in the mornings, and I both read and write for pleasure.

Since I've started to restore balance, I've found myself happier overall with my life and have renewed my energy and enthusiasm in my martial arts training and teaching.

How about you? I would love to hear what sorts of things other dedicated martial artists do with their lives to maintain balance. Please post your comments! :)


ユライ said...

I wouldn't call fencing a hobby outside of the martial arts .. it's still too martial ;)

My hobbies outside of the martial arts: photography and scuba diving

Anonymous said...

My non-martial hobbies:

-- Hiking and Backpacking
-- Geocaching (a GPS navigation game)
-- Building free software for schools and helping them learn to use it.
-- Writing
-- Whatever my 7yo is most into this week. ;)

Anonymous said...

Reading, writing, various arts and crafts (dream catchers is a favorite), singing, dance, drumming (I sometimes facilitate Shamanic drum circles). All of these definitely do feed into my MA, though. Anything artistic is chi-inducing. :) -Kitsune

Steve said...

I'll second the vote for fencing being a martial art, unless you strictly define martial art as an asian/eastern thing.

I've been getting into fiber arts. While peripherally martial arts related, I've been dying bjj gis, more recently playing around with batik.

Elias said...

Maybe because of my age and gender, I play videogames and read. Studying for my degree is pretty cool too.

I've considered taking up knitting, but don't think I could tell anyone about that <_<

Anonymous said...

Why not kendo instead of fencing? They're both sports and both have martial origins. Both are physical and social pursuits. I've always wanted to study the sword (most likely in the eastern tradition) but for now I've restricted myself to the more practical, 'hands on' aspect of the arts.

Naturally it's important to have a life outside of the martial arts: unwinding regularly and finding hobbies and activities that aren't as strenous as training are needed to heal the body (or rather let it heal itself) and calm the mind. My hobbies are reading, studying, running, listening to music (I've only recently begun to explore opera and it's heavenly) and interacting with friends.

In terms of mental health you really shouldn't train too much: my sensei trains 5 to 6 days in the week and he's plain crazy, lol. I don't get how he can keep it up (I would be physically and mentally exhausted) but apparantly he does and it's probably the reason why he's good it's scary. Besides training he spends time maintaining our website and he works full-time so I don't think he has any hobbies outside of the martial arts, he does have a girlfriend but he's hardly ever home so I can't imagine they're spending much time together. Living together, apart...

Lori: doesn't your fiancé ever complain about your commitment to your dojo? You are the head teacher after all and from what I've seen on your website there seems to be a class every evening.

Lori O'Connell said...

Thanks for all your comments. I share some of the same interests as you all though I probably don't do them as often as you.

Scuba diving is a lot of fun and I have my license.

I agree with Kitsune that arts of all kinds can in some way feed into one's martial arts training.

As for fencing being a "martial art," I did it for over 7 years competitively. It's more like tag with swords. While some of the distancing concepts carry over to martial arts that are practiced for application purposes, it really is more of a sport than a martial art.

The reason why I chose fencing over something like Kendo is that it is more removed from the martial arts world. It is practiced in a way that is more laid back and social, which is more in line with what we wanted. They have three open training nights a week during which you just show up and casually fence with other people, kind of like an open tennis night. Kendo has a little too much of the Japanese structure and seriousness. We just want something light and casual.

As for my fiancé, he is also involved with the dojo, so he understands my passion.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a computer programmer by trade, so I sometimes tinker around with websites in my spare time. I also enjoy reading, and I'm an active clarinet player, and have been for about half my life. :)

Anonymous said...

-- Cooking
-- Craps
-- Mini weekend excursions and dates with my husband

Amiechan said...

I'm singing in a choir and playing alto recorder in a ensemble (2 sopranos, alto, tenor and bass). And there´s church too... :D