One of the biggest hurdles for most people leaving military service is regaining their sense of purpose. The other is finding a new way to fill the void that once was filled with brotherhood, community, and a strong identity forged through hardship. It is very common to miss the structure and support of military life. Civilian life often seems full of people attached to things that aren’t really that important. Many people who were in the military turn to alcohol or just sort of get fat and drift about not sure what to do with themselves.
Martial arts is an easy transition for veterans. It instills discipline and structure. It expects you to be something better than the average person. It provides hardship and the ability to test yourself. But mostly, it’s community and purpose. It even has a new uniform, making you feel once again like part of a whole, which you know matters more than you.
The purpose of martial arts is the betterment of self. You become driven in discipline to achieve goals and improve yourself. Whether it’s improving your half guard game or perfecting a form, it becomes consuming. On the drive home from class you think about your training. When you fall asleep at night, you think about your training. When you are standing at the microwave waiting for your lunch, you walk through a movement because you are thinking about your training. Martial arts isn’t a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s an obsession. It’s a religion.
The community in martial arts is another brotherhood. When you experience hardship with someone, you grow closer through it. The same thing that bonds you to the others in your unit, now bonds you to your partners on the mat. You learn together, spend lots of time developing together, and making each other tougher. Over time, you see the value in a person you would normally just have ignored on the street, and you look out for each other. They become lifelong friends who become your partner in betterment.
This training makes you confident. It reinforces your knowledge that you are tougher than the next guy and more disciplined than the next 20. This carries over into all aspects of your life. If you can be successful on the mat, you can learn to be successful in life, and your new community on the mat are going to help you along the way.
Best of all, it lasts your lifetime. Military service in most cases is 4-5 years. Martial training lasts the rest of your life.