Martial arts training offers a vast array of life benefits. On the surface it appears to be about fighting and violence, but once you are past the hype and media, you can see it is about honor, respect, discipline and a life of striving for success. Martial Arts has a long history as a tool for personal development. The Shaolin temple started students at a very young age and raised them under the constant influence of martial art principles of self-improvement and personal responsibility.
Martial arts in Austin offers a wide variety of styles and teachers. You will find everything from Shaolin Kung Fu to Brazilian Capoeira. The diversity coming from the University of Texas has helped to bring a large number of teachers with a wide range of martial art talents. No matter your interest, you will be able to find somebody in Austin teaching that martial art.
Benefits Of Martial Art Training
The positive benefits of martial training go way beyond self-defense knowledge. The goal system is already built into the path with belts and sashes. The breaks up the lifelong journey into small achievable steps. When a person reaches each of these milestones, their self-esteem and empowerment grows. They are affirmed by the community of students and parents around them at the school with each achievement. In a society devoid of "rites of passage" experiences, the community affirmation is very powerful and life-changing.The positive benefits of martial training go way beyond self-defense knowledge. The goal system is already built into the path with belts and sashes. The breaks up the lifelong journey into small achievable steps. When a person reaches each of these milestones, their self-esteem and empowerment grows. They are affirmed by the community of students and parents around them at the school with each achievement. In a society devoid of "rites of passage" experiences, the community affirmation is very powerful and life-changing.
Shaolin Chinese Martial Arts In Austin
I began teaching in Austin in Fall1991. We started as a Rec Sports club at UT and soon grew too large to meet there. I found a dance school in North Austin that I could rent space from and we moved off campus. After a couple years, I moved toa very unique location called The Dojo. Jim Matteson ran this facility and rented one of three different rooms to martial art teachers for their classes.He sold martial art training gear from the center of the facility. It was an interesting idea and eventually housed about 10 different teachers of everything from WingChun and Jeet Kun Do, to Muai Thai , Kendo and Ninjitsu. Of course there was also Shaolin-Do Kung Fu and Tai Chi. By fall 1995 we had over 50 students and could no longer find enough time slots for our expanding classes.
A testing at the DOJO in 1994.
In October 1995 we opened our first full-time studio on North Lamar. We continued to grow and in October 1999 we moved to Rutland and Burnet, behind Jack in the Box. While there, we expanded our facilities and eventually over-expanded (too high a rent). In January of 2009 we opened a half mile down Rutland in a warehouse space. It is the perfect place for our school and we will be there for years to come.
The Austin Martial Arts scene has also been a very diverse collection of teachers and styles. We are usually too busy, with so many classes, to spend much time getting to know the other schools. That has always been a regret of mine; that we didn’t get to know more of the martial art teachers and their hard –working students around the city.
My North and South locations have over one hundred total black belts actively training. They have everything from 1st degree black belts all the way to 5th degree black belts (associate master in our system). It takes over 12 years to reach this rank. It is very inspiring to see so many students training at high ranks. 90% of them are adult students.
Look at the size of our 3rd and 4th degree class (31 students just at the North school) (all trained over 10 years with Master Schaefer)
Our community is strong and we have every intention of staying very active in the Austin Martial Art world for the foreseeable future.
Are Martial Arts Safe?
This is a difficult question to answer. It really depends on the style of martial arts and the culture of the school in which they are taught. The first consideration is how important is competition fighting to the school in question? With the advance of MMA and "no holds barred" type fighting, the chance for injury has increased under the heading of "martial arts training". Some arts like Aikido, emphasize principles like harmony, but the techniques revolve around throws and landing on the floor with control. It sounds great, but landing on the floor can be problematic and cause injuries. You truly cannot know if a school is safe unless you observe a class or even multiple classes. When compared to other organized sports like Soccer or Softball, martial arts can easily be as safe if not actually safer.
Why Do People Stay On The Martial Art Path So Long?
Martial arts constitute something called a transformational discipline. That is a path that leads to personal change. It is similar to attaining a Doctorate at a University (something I am quite familiar with). Before you can earn that Doctorate, there are a certain set of steps and barriers that you must overcome. There are certain public rituals and difficult moments that test you and make you question the entire path. Martial arts does this as well. It goes way beyond learning how to fight. All mastery is ultimately about mastering "self". In order to continue training for 30 years of your life, you must face the difficult questions, the midnight hours of the soul and emerge with new found motivation and knowledge about "self". If you don't find these hidden treasures, then you will not maintain the inspiration to stay on the path.
Formality and Ritual in Martial Arts
Everyone is aware that there is often quite a bit of ritual and formality in martial art classroom settings. The teachers have special names and there are many rules of behavior governing everything from walking in a doorway to asking a question of a higher ranking student. While this seems silly or overdone, I can assure you it has real-world application. If a martial art student cannot humble themselves to call their teacher a special title like Sensei or Master, then it is evident that they are filled with issues that will prevent them from learning anyway. In order to learn ANYTHING, the first requirement is to humbly admit that you don't know something. That is the entry fee to true learning, admitting you are ignorant of something. This single act of humility is what prevents most people from starting down a path to learn a new skill or discipline.
Martial Arts As A Transformational Discipline
Martial arts training is a path that if followed produces a personal transformation. There are other paths that can produce transformation, but they all have certain things in common. For example, I went through the Doctoral training in neurophysiology starting in 1991 and awarded my Doctorate in 1997. Before the scientific community can ever trust your research and data they need to know you have transformed into an actual scientist that understand the methodology of scientific reasoning. Changing somebody's think to an entirely different process is not simple. It requires many painful, committed steps. There are rites of passage, tests, triumphs, moments of doubt and despair and finally you emerge from the process. The training for a scientific Doctorate is less about learning science facts and more about changing your thinking processes. From that point on, you are a different person, capable of applying the methodology of science to all ares of life. The same holds true for martial arts and reaching the highest levels of black belt. It is less about fighting and more about changing the person inside, creating mastery over one's self.