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Who is a Martial Artist?

It should be a simple question- "Who is a martial artist?".

However, it got me pondering.

Martial Arts Black Belt
Who is a Martial Artist?

Recently, I met a few people at a get-together, all supposedly martial artists. Let me introduce them.


The first person knew all about fighters, fight promotions, International and Indian MMA fighters and everything about them. His knowledge was commendable. However, when I thought, is he a martial artist? I could not answer in the affirmative as he never came to class and just showed up at fight events.

The second person always wore fight T-shirts, the UFC and top-notch gear. He could make conversation about martial arts. However, if I had to tell kids that this person is a martial artist, I would hesitate as he was neither respectful, or a role model nor good at keeping fit.

The third person knew much about martial arts, followed top martial artists, knew about history, and always engaged in Instagram debates on right and wrong techniques. Trains for a few days occasionally and then hibernates for months. Was he a martial artist? I could not answer.

The fourth person was a martial art instructor, who spoke about how good the training was in his days. However, his abs were deep inside the samosa and beer belly layers. This instructor, for me, was an absolute "no" for a martial artist despite his Instagram and Facebook profile saying so.


Disappointed, I sat in a corner when a man came over and introduced himself. The discussion led to injuries and how to stay fit, and what to eat. A healthy discussion made me realise he has been training for years under a renowned Sensei. However, he did not claim to be any master or show off any traits of the above four. He looked fit despite being close to 50.

I had my answer. While walking back, Sensei introduced me to someone. My response was simple- I am a student of Sensei Yashpal and practice in the morning batch.


Who is a true martial artist?

Thus after much pondering, this is what I inferred. The following three traits are essential for me.

1. The one who has a regular practice schedule- having practised for a few years does not qualify anyone to be a lifelong martial artist. Every instructor also needs a have a training schedule for themselves.

As Gichin Funakoshi once said- "Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool."

2. The one who is constantly growing- A true martial artist will never be satisfied with their technique, power or speed. While at peace with what they know, they always look forward to learning new techniques and are open to martial arts.

Dan Inasato, A legendary instructor and a student of Bruce Lee, said- "I train in as many arts as possible. I am constantly learning all the time. Once you stop learning, you stop growing."

3. The one with a respectful attitude- Someone might have sharp kicks and punches, but if they lack respect for others, they might be fighters, not martial artists.

The good old Dojo Kuns on the wall of Kombat Hall should be a daily reminder of being a martial artist and invite us to discover the warrior within us.

  1. Perfection of Character

  2. Respect Others

  3. Endeavour to Excel

  4. Refrain from Violence

  5. Be Faithful

Dojo Kuns- Martial Arts Guidelines
Dojo Kuns at Kombat Hall

Explore the Dojo Kuns and ask yourself- Are you a Martial Artist?

Note: The views mentioned are personal of the author.

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