How To Use Martial Arts To Develop Self-Discipline

Discipline is a key element of living a successful and happy life. With self-discipline, anyone can develop the skills to create and achieve what they want, and doing martial arts is an excellent way to train your mind to be more disciplined.

Martial arts develop discipline by making students:

  • Focus and control their emotions.
  • Memorize physical movements. 
  • Listen and follow directions. 
  • Respect themselves and their classmates.  
  • Learn confidence through breaking their limits.
  • Gain motivation while working to attain their goals. 

Continue reading to learn more about how martial arts practice helps people master self-discipline. I will also discuss how martial arts can enhance your focus and self-control. 

Do Martial Arts Develop Discipline?

Martial arts is an engaging practice that many people love, and it provides many potential benefits to improve your life. One of those benefits is self-discipline. 

Martial arts develop self-discipline by providing structure and self-mastery. Practitioners can expect to learn self-discipline through consistently working towards achieving their martial arts goals alongside a like-minded group of individuals.

Although martial arts is a physical activity, it provides a healthy environment for students to build life skills that are key to success. 

Individuals interested in this physical activity may also want to set positive and healthy goals for their lifestyle. If you practice martial arts, you may accomplish the following:

  • Develop a healthy diet and exercise routine. Martial arts teaches individuals to have a healthy lifestyle and consistently follow it. You will learn how to set attainable goals to learn new physical skills. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for achieving these specific goals. 
  • Learn leadership skills. Martial arts teach individuals to listen and to follow directions. In doing so, students learn how to create a structure for themselves and develop leadership skills. Soon after, these skills can transfer over to the real world. 
  • Form healthy self-esteem and confidence. In learning self-control, martial arts teach students to rely on themselves through attaining their goals. Students will also have to tackle physical challenges, learn to overcome fears, try new movements, and work hard to achieve the vision they have for their practice.
  • Learn how to focus. Many martial arts students seek to achieve goals that take time and effort. Students learn to focus their time and energy on planning and executing their goals.

Ultimately, learning martial arts is hard, and training martial arts will constantly give you difficult but achievable work and challenges that over time will help you develop the capability to accomplish difficult tasks in other parts of your life.

Which Martial Arts Practice Is Best for Self Discipline?

Any martial arts can be a fantastic activity to enjoy. Some styles, however, may work better for developing self-discipline than others. 

The martial arts best suited for self-discipline are traditional Japanese martial arts, such as Judo and Karate. They operate on a belt system, which teaches patience, focus, and setting goals. Methods that center around a life philosophy are also helpful for achieving discipline. 

The practice of traditional martial arts often includes focusing on showing respect and self-development. As students journey through their training, they learn many qualities that help them achieve their set goals and overcome their limitations and challenges. 

As they achieve these goals alongside technical mastery, they receive an acknowledgment of progress in the form of a new colored belt that can be seen as a reward to work towards.

Many traditional martial arts disciplines focus on self-defense and personal development. Having this directly addressed can be helpful, but any martial art that is sufficiently emphasized by a student for achieving goals and mastery can develop self-discipline in the student.

Some students may wish to focus more on emotional and mental mastery to develop self-discipline. Although most martial arts styles focus on internal development, Japanese martial arts typically spend much more time on them. 

Japanese martial arts and other traditional Asian martial arts directly often integrate emotional mastery and self-control into their discipline. However, any martial art can help you achieve self-discipline if you put long-term effort into it.

How To Maximize Your Self-Discipline Through Martial Arts Training

Martial arts is a great activity that has incredible health benefits. Although it may only be a fun physical activity for some, it provides an excellent opportunity for maximizing inner growth through self-discipline.

Martial art students can maximize their self-discipline by investing time, energy, and skills into the martial arts training process. Self-discipline is a reward for the efforts that students put into their practice. 

Martial arts has an excellent foundation and structure for developing self-discipline. Regardless of an individual’s style, self-discipline can be formed and maximized. 

The process and success of developing self-discipline, however, will be the student’s responsibility.

Students must set positive intentions, invest their energy, and align with their practice values. If a student enrolled in martial arts is not invested in it, staying committed to the process can be challenging. 

The belt system of traditional martial arts helps students achieve their goals. It provides students with stepping stones along their journey as they work to reach bigger dreams. 

To maximize self-discipline using martial arts, consider using the following eight tips: 

  1. Invest time and energy every day to practice your skills and improve, one step at a time. 
  2. Set positive goals that are attainable and reachable to go past your limits. 
  3. Remove distractions, center your focus, and invest in healthy foods and a great routine. 
  4. Listen to your instructors, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  5. Take the time to work with your peers and learn from them.
  6. Use repetition to achieve your goals and master your practice.  
  7. Respect what your body is telling you, and have patience with yourself. It’s okay to take your time.
  8. Integrate your practice into your everyday life to enhance your learning. 

Ultimately, the best way for students to utilize martial arts for self-discipline is by allowing the structure of their practice to become a way of life. 

Many students and masters believe that martial arts are a life philosophy. The lessons and skills learned in martial arts can bleed over into the real world. 

If students apply their practice to their everyday lives, self-mastery and discipline will come naturally.

The Different Martial Arts Practices 

Martial arts come in many shapes and sizes. What’s important is that individuals find a practice that suits their lifestyle. 

Every method of martial arts is rooted in culture and tradition. Many well-known martial arts styles are Japanese, Korean, and Chinese in origin.

Some of the most popular current martial arts are: 

  • Karate 
  • Taekwondo 
  • Judo 
  • Kung Fu
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Along with culture and tradition, martial arts practices also have a fighting style. These styles can be broken down into five main categories that most practices adhere to: 

  • Stand-up or striking style. This style focuses on defense while standing up. An example of a traditional striking style of martial art is Karate.
  • Grappling style. Grappling martial arts focus on takedowns and ground fighting. Examples of grappling-based martial arts are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.
  • Low impact style. These martial arts focus on health and wellness rather than defense. An example of low impact style of martial arts is Tai Chi.
  • Weapon-based style. This martial art style works with weapons, and it’s especially common in New Zealand. Fencing is an excellent example of weapon-based style martial arts.

Which Martial Art is Best for Developing Discipline?

The best martial art for developing discipline is the one that a student wants to train. Developing discipline through martial arts has to do with consistent training and focusing on self-improvement. A martial arts school that focuses on discipline and self-improvement can support this goal.

Physically or mentally demanding traditional martial arts like Judo can provide even greater benefits to discipline since the martial art is far more physically taxing and requires that students are able to persevere through the challenges and develop more mental toughness.

This is not the best choice for everybody depending on where they are at in their physical fitness or self-improvement journey but can provide an incredibly effective activity to develop discipline. It is my martial art of choice for my own kid and I have anecdotally seen incredible benefits for him.

Training martial arts for self-discipline is a great goal but should not be the only factor that you consider when determining if you should train in martial arts. Check out my post Should You Learn Martial Arts? Benefits and Disadvantages for more information to help you decide whether or not you want to train in martial arts.

Final Thoughts

Any martial art or combat sport can be used by a student to develop strong self-discipline. Many traditional martial arts focus on building a respectful and disciplined culture directly, which can benefit many students at both the adult and child levels.

Studying martial arts does not automatically bring self-discipline to a student, at least not completely. Taking a healthy and balanced approach and setting goals for yourself and working to achieve them can be learned in martial arts and transferred to all aspects of your life.

Ultimately it is up to the individual to decide to develop the self-discipline they are after, and martial arts is a good environment to start building that skill.

For more check out How Many Times a Week Should You Train Martial Arts?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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