How Martial Arts Helps Develop Focus and Discipline


When discussing focus, think about two different aspects the level of focus (how pin pointed or laser is your focus?) and length of focus (attention span). 

A way to develop laser focus is with targets.  Hold targets for students to strike with a circle in the middle.  In the middle of the circle is a smaller item, like a letter, in our case it is an “E.”  Tell the kids to focus on the “E” because if you aim for the smaller part in the middle you are more likely to hit something.  This is the same premise as always aiming for the bullseye in darts, when you are learning or aiming “center mass” when learning to fire a weapon.  The smaller we can make our focus the more likely we are to hit what we are aiming for.   

For length of focus, or attention span, martial arts teach forms or kata.  These are long routines of techniques done at different angles.  Each has a unique story and unique movements.  Each one is a little bit more complex than the last.  It requires being focused for longer periods of time to learn and perform the entire form.  They are scenarios teaching the skills needed to survive a multiple attack situation so they also teach an open focus so you have an awareness of what is happening around you.  This is similar to the type of focus one should use while driving so to have a wider view of the road in front of you and still remember to check the mirrors.  One of the most. Important lesson a form can teach is to remain in the present moment which really is the most focused a person can be.  

In order to learn these complex movements it takes many repetitions and consistent practice.  Without the discipline to create routine practice time it is much more difficult to learn the material taught in karate.  This is one way karate instills discipline in the student.  A qualified instructor will also set a high standard of behavior in class with proper etiquette, for instance, bowing when entering and leaving the dojo (training area),  bowing to instructors at the beginning and the end of class, and to each other when practicing with a partner.  These expectations teach both respect and discipline.  

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