Modern warfare has long since eclipsed the need for martial arts.  Roundhouse comparison to the  destructive power of Abrams heavy tanks, B2 bombers, and Tomahawk cruise missiles.  But the principles behind martial arts still offer many benefits on a personal and group level.  While theoretical physical, mental, and spiritual concepts and teaching play an important role within human life, spiritual liberality in actual hands-on  training enables  partners to exchange martial techniques and concepts without apprehension or intimidation, knowing that as we better those around us we are bettering ourselves.  These ideas are hard to learn out of a textbook.

Since the dawn of recorded history, the martial arts principles of honor, respect, and free idea exchange has formed the bedrock of free civilizations and served as insurance against tyranny.  Honor is simply the trust that the person you are dealing with will back their word.  In a perfect world there would be no need for lawyers or contracts because everyone would act honorably.  However, since this is clearly not the case it shows the need for martial arts-based instruction to promote and keep alive the idea of honor.

Respect is simply allowing another person to have their own ideas without trying to change them by physical force or might of arms.  Martial arts training actually teaches people to NOT use force to change the behavior of others and instead of fosters tolerance and patience.  When we train, we allow our training partners to operate how they want.  Although we do offer suggestions it is their ultimate choice how they build their "game."

This respect during training builds a mutual camaraderie between members of an academy or dojo.  This is because if I make someone better, then the people  I am training with will work to make me better as well.  In other words, the good I extend towards others will be expended towards me in return.  It is common in martial arts to see people get a greater joy from the success of others than from their own success.  It is a small step to transfer this principle from the dojo to everything a person does in life.

While there is an emphasis now on winning in the cage and becoming a champion, a win-loss record is probably the least important aspect of MMA training.  While these things are important as a test of skill and effective functionality, they are very ephemeral in nature and come and go like the wind.  The camaraderie and friendship that we build with others during our training will be our true legacy.  These are the living achievements that will be transmitted from generation to generation and never become, stagnant, rusty or old.

Bruce Lee, arguably the most influential martial artist of our age, never won an organized martial arts competition, but yet his influence, built on friendship, honor and trust, survives and flourishes to this day.

The same benefits that a champion gets from their training, is the exact same benefits that someone who never competes will also get.  Training is an end unto itself and is independent of any external rewards.

I recently had a training session at my dojo in Pensacola, Florida with Carlos Machado, Quinton Jackson, and his manager Juanito.  We all had the opportunity to roll, hit the pads and bags, and share our concepts and ideas of the martial arts.  When we were done, we had built up a far stronger connection than had we just had a business lunch at a fancy restaurant.  The spirit of camaraderie and agreement permeated the gym and was punctuated by laughter and jokes.  My wife, Dr. Robin, in observing our antics, made an observation which I'll paraphrase and which sums up the essence of martial arts training: "The character formed in us can be transferred through us.  Since everyone is transmitting the best part of their character in training, everyone is getting elevated by everyone else."  I couldn't have said it better myself.