The Japanese concept of ikigai provides a framework for discovering your purpose and passion in life. Traditionally represented by overlapping circles for what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for and what the world needs, ikigai indicates your reason for being when the circles align.
Intriguingly, the wisdom of ikigai also applies to martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and MMA. Identifying your passion in the arts, dedicating yourself to regular training, using your practice to enrich others and staying open to continuous improvement will reveal your ikigai on the mats.
Choose Your Passion
The first step in uncovering your ikigai is identifying your passion. Within martial arts, there are many styles to explore like No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, judo and more.
Instead of randomly selecting an art, reflect on what calls to you. Does grappling appeal to your problem-solving nature? Does the conditioning and technique of Muay Thai draw you in?
Training different martial arts lets you experience each style first-hand. Pay attention to which arts excite you and make you eager to learn more. Choosing something you genuinely enjoy will make the intense training more gratifying.
Build Your Skills
After finding arts you love, consistent practice is crucial for developing real skill. Expertise in any martial art requires patient, regular training over months and years.
Set achievable short-term goals like attending a certain number of classes each week. Longer objectives could include earning your next belt or competing. Having milestones provides motivation while charting your progression.
Also emphasize active rest and recovery. Pushing too hard without adequate breaks can cause injury and burnout. Take time for stretching, foam rolling, massage and light cardio. Listen to your body and take off days as needed.
Enrich Your Community
Though martial arts begin as a personal journey, you can positively impact others through your practice. Helping people and adding value to the world are pillars of ikigai. There are several ways martial artists can live this ethos.
With more experience, make time to assist newcomers. Offer advice and support to fresh faces at the gym. Be open to answering questions when approached.
You can also exemplify your art’s mental and ethical teachings. Bring the respect, discipline and control you cultivate in the dojo into daily life. Spread positivity through your conduct.
Commit to Continual Growth
Discovering your ikigai is an evolving, lifelong process. As you practice for years, your interests and purpose may shift. What excited you as a beginner may differ after a decade on the mats.
Make regular self-reflection part of your routine. What are your current goals? Which areas need work? Has your perspective changed? Be open to trying new styles if needed.
View plateaus as opportunities rather than failures. Learning is never finished. Embrace ups and downs, trusting the process. Aim for progress rather than perfection for steady, long-term gains.
Staying mindful and focused on growth will sustain you through a lifetime of martial arts. Living the wisdom of ikigai will guide you to deeper fulfilment.
Finding Your Ikigai on the Mats
The foundations of ikigai offer a compass for a fulfilling martial arts experience. Whether it’s MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, or Muay Thai, it’s about passion, honing skills, uplifting the community, and ongoing self-assessment. At Apex MMA, our ethos is deeply anchored in these principles. We foster well-rounded martial artists who train with purpose. We invite you to witness how the teachings discussed in this article are incorporated into our training sessions. Begin your journey by signing up for one of our beginner classes and take advantage of a free 7-day trial.