It's straightforward- if you know of a specific skill you want to develop, you simply go ahead and pursue it.
Yet, we also know that professional skills and attributes can be acquired and amplified through experiences in a form of personal pursuits that need not necessarily be professionally related.
Above: *Photo credits to Martial Arts World
For this reason, employers have become increasingly interested in personal pursuits outside the workplace (e.g. sports, music, arts, community service), as they realize that these experiences could be indirect performance indicators potentially beneficial to workplace.
What about the martial arts, a pursuit that would seemingly only make sense if butt-kicking and swashbuckling are KPIs in your performance appraisal?
Not too long ago, the World Economic Forum's social media page shared a video clip that briefly pointed out five benefits of martial arts practice that could contribute to better work performance-
Improved Attention, Sharper Memory, Better Stress Management, Enhanced Emotional Well-being and Reduced Aggression.
But what exactly happens in the dojo that brings about these benefits?
How does martial arts practice uniquely contribute to the attainment of these gains?
Above: Click on the image to view the video
- Improved Attention
In some karate classes for instance, it is culturally mandatory for participants to verbally acknowledge the sensei's instructions by saying "OSU!"
To avoid indiscriminately yelling out "osu", participants must attentively listen as instructions and lessons are being relayed.
Furthermore, the combative nature of martial arts study means that the risk of serious injury due to negligence is ever present.
As such, SAFETY have become a culture that all participants must observe during practice.
- Sharper Memory
The importance of memorization and performance is further AMPLIFIED given the high stakes that are perceived to be in place:
> Can't perform during a Grading/ Assessment? You don't get to advance to the next level of training.
> Can't perform in a tournament? You risk serious injury and lose a shot at the medal.
> Can't perform in self-defence? You risk losing your property and even your life.
In martial arts practice, memorization goes beyond theoretical regurgitation and towards actual application in real life.
Proper BREATHING techniques are also taught and emphasized in many martial arts schools, as they are necessary for the effective application of physical techniques (i.e. proper breathing is required to generate power, regulate emotions and prevent over-exhaustion).
Above: Demonstration of receiving blows to the body through the use of proper breathing technique
- Enhanced Emotional Well-being
The empowerment that comes from being able to overcome a physically dominant opponent, can easily translate to better confidence in overcoming obstacles at work.
- Reduced Aggression
For instance, we learn that confrontations in real-life are unpredictable and the result of a physical altercation is likely to lead to serious injury and other indirect costs (e.g. lawsuits, loss of life, damage to reputation, etc.).
For this reason, martial arts training is often about finding ways to prevent conflict from escalating to violence ,wherever possible.
Certainly, these benefits arising from martial arts practice can perhaps be realized through the pursuit of other activities.
Yet, martial arts training presents a unique circumstance in which these benefits are better emphasized, ultimately positively contributing to performance in the workplace.
Right: Tameshiwari or 'test breaking'
*Photo credits to KaratebyJesse