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Life Lessons Through Martial Arts

Life Lessons Through Martial Arts

August 21, 2018

By Carly Gangell

There are many benefits when it comes to training in Martial Arts from physical gain to mental, emotional and spiritual too. Everyone has different experiences when it comes to their Martial Arts journey, but I can't say I've met one person who hasn't taken away something valuable from giving it a go! This is my personal opinion and experience.


Since training in Martial Arts since I was 3, I can confidently say that the sport has provided me with a stand out work ethic in other aspects of my life and has shaped the positive qualities that I consider myself to have (don't worry I've got bad ones too). As a professional fighter, trainer and gym operator I have observed the Martial Arts world from several perspectives meeting plenty of people I aspire to be like and some who I never wish to be like. From training in my family's gym, to training under many trainers and fighting locally, interstate and overseas I can clearly identify the lessons that the good, the bad and the ugly experiences have given me. The best part? they can apply to everyday life . . .


1. Shortcuts DON'T exist when it comes to being successful.

Ever heard of the saying you can't fake hard work? Martial Arts proves that this is too true! When that grading rolls around or the first bell rings, it's just you and your hard work (or lack of) on show. A hard work ethic and dedication to your task is essential to be successful in this highly competitive world. 'Winging it' or having that natural talent can only get you so far.


Whether you want to be a champion fighter, a kick ass accountant or a profitable business owner, nothing can replace the hours spent working on what you want to achieve. Rome wasn't built in a day.


2. Your attitude is everything.

I truly believe that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they approach or react to challenging situations - whether it be losing a fight, persevering through a tough training session or even tackling a pile of never ending paper work. Times get tough but a good attitude can help you through almost anything!


As an amateur fighter I always looked up to and admired several female fighters. During my career I had the opportunity to fight one of my idols; this fight changed my life forever. The woman I had looked up to for so long turned out to be someone completely different, displaying acts of disrespect and unsportsmanlike behaviour - as a result of a poor attitude. Whilst this was one of the most difficult periods of my life to deal with, it changed the way I approach being a trainer and a person and mostly importantly, it changed my attitude. It is now my mission to build respectful and positive fighters who are remembered for their up-lifting attitudes, after all you never know who might be watching!


Your attitude is what makes people remember you (good or bad) - how do you want to be remembered?


3. The people you surround yourself with shape who you are.

After training in several Martial Arts environments, I can openly say that the people you train/work/socialise with affect you, daily! Residing amongst people who challenge you is important - but surrounding yourself with people who support you, care for your well-being and are genuinely positive to be around is equally as important. Find an environment that fosters growth and positivity and people who make you feel good but also push you.


If you're unhappy in a particular environment, take a look around at who's in it and ask yourself if you want to be like them? - if it's no, time for a change! Never feel bad for doing what's right for you.


4. Challenges might break you, but they sure as hell make you.

There is nothing wrong with failing, but there is everything wrong with giving up!


The most intense experience I have had in my career was a 2 week training stint in Bangkok, Thailand. As I walked in to this traditional thai gym I quickly realised I was the only female and 1 of 3 white foreigners. I was left to shadow box in the corner for 2 lessons, being laughed at continuously for whatever reason, all I wanted to do was walk out and quit but my father didn't let me. After 2 lessons, I was finally given the chance to hit pads where I was thrown to the floor at least 100 times. After 3 lessons I finally earned the Thai's attention for not giving up and was invited to hit pads, clinch and spar with the Thai boys. I was alone, I felt intimidated and I was definitely out of depth away from the westernised Thai camps I had previously visited. I cried after EVERY session at this gym and I fell apart several times, but I never let myself give up.


One week later I went on to win my IFMA World Title.... and the best part was, all of those Thai's who were laughing at me were standing ring side when I walked out.


Overcoming challenges builds a strong foundation to lean on for future hurdles. Just keep swimming!


5. Never judge a book by its cover.

The beauty about Martial Arts is that some of the best athletes don't quite look like the stereotypical ripped, mean machine. Some of the best Martial Artists I know could probably take up a modelling career or actually spend their time nursing patients or serving burgers at a restaurant - hardly Mr Miaygi or Jackie Chan. Majority of fighters that I know are relatively quiet achievers, polite and shy at first.


Ever wonder why Martial Artists don't go around looking for street fights? They know what people are capable of and know to NEVER underestimate someone's ability (and they probably know it's wrong too).

So they're my top 5 life lessons Martial Arts has taught me! Everyone is different, but if you've never given it a go.... DO IT! ;-)


Carly 'Cupcake' Gangell x