5 Ways Martial Arts Have Made Me a Better Person- by Lauren Ellis

Adult Martial Arts in Austin - Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of attending a Jeet Kune Do workshop taught by Sifu Chris Kent.

Sifu Kent trained under Dan Inosanto, who trained under Bruce Lee himself, so Chris had some amazing insights and stories from back in the day.

Although there are a large number of things I took away from that intense (but awesome) weekend, there was one thing Sifu Kent spoke about that has really changed the way I see, well, everything.

That one thing was something Bruce Lee based his entire martial arts / life philosophy around, being:

Lauren's Quote

I’ve been training in martial arts on and off for three years.

I started in Jeet Kune Do, dabbled in boxing (with a very short lived amateur competition career), and am currently thriving in kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

In years past, I trained in Kendo and Iaido.

Needless to say, I love martial arts.

The interesting thing about having taken a break and gotten back into fighting is that I can see a very visible change in my behavior, strength, and overall happiness.

But it only was until I heard that quote from Sifu Kent did things really click.

In our consumerist society, it is easy to get wrapped up with “I deserve this” or “That’s too hard – I’m not even going to bother trying.”

I’ve always viewed myself as a fit, active, hardworking person, but lately I’ve tried living the way Bruce Lee spoke of.

I’m hacking away at the unessential, and I love who I am becoming.

1. Better Technique
Obviously, Bruce Lee’s philosophy works perfectly for whatever martial art you study.

He borrowed techniques from nearly every art in a pursuit of discovering the best.

He would throw hundreds of kicks in one day, tweaking only one thing to discover the fastest, strongest, and most effective way.

He said simply, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”

As you train, you create habits.

If you have any bad ones (I have a dozen), it only slows you down.

Begin cutting it out and discover the best fighter you can be.

JKD Quote #34

2. Better Eating Habits
I’ve gone through nearly every diet (mostly out of curiosity), from vegan to consuming lots of meat and vegetables.

I consider my daily intake of nutrients to be relatively healthy, but I would find myself struggling.

Too often, I treated myself to a donut or stress ate after a painful conference call.

My weight generally stayed the same, though I found myself gaining on bad weeks.

I would have to go on a diet nearly every week to make up for stress eating sessions at local bbq joints over the weekends.

When I started putting Bruce’s quote into practice, I found myself eating even better than before and craving the “unessentials” less and less.

When in line at the coffee shop, I used to ask myself, “Do you want/need this donut?” The answer was usually, “Yes. It’s not the worst thing in the world.”

Now I find myself asking, “Is that donut essential to your body right now?” The answer is always no. Besides that boost of joy from the delicious sugariness, it really does not contribute to my overall health.



3. Healthy Living
Similar to above, I have started viewing other unhealthy habits as essentials or not.

Sure, another beer would be fun, but is it essential?

Is smoking essential?

It’s like Bruce Lee said: It’s a daily decrease.

Once I started cutting back on my alcohol intake, I find that I want it less.

I still enjoy a glass from time to time, but I no longer just keep drinking for the hell of it.

I feel more clear headed, healthier, and my body has never looked better.

4. Discipline and Focus
I love how martial arts increases your discipline and focus.

I know we are talking about cutting back, but martial arts are an amazing way to push yourself mentally.

If anything, you decrease in your “can’ts.”


When I trained in Kendo, my dad taught me to push myself to “do one more.”

Sensei asked for 100 strikes to the head? Do 101.

When training in boxing, Coach Mike took that to a new extreme.

“One more” became forty more until I got one that is great.

It is easy to give up. It is easy to throw up your hands and yell, “This is too hard!” But when you push through that, you increase in focus, strength, and stamina.

When you make yourself do “just one more” push-up, punch, burpee, whatever it may be, you and making yourself a stronger person and cutting away the all the times your mind has whispered, “I can’t do that.”

5. Confidence
For those who have met me recently, they would not recognize me three years ago.

I had a paralyzing fear of messing up, doing anything outside of my comfort zone, and looking stupid.

But all of those feelings are actually quite unessential.

They interfere with who I want to be: confident and strong.

Bit by bit, with every lead jab, every hook kick, I find confidence in myself.

After each class, I am slowly cutting out that shy, nervous Lauren and becoming a more confident human being.


Change does not happen overnight, but it does happen, for better or for worse.

Life requires constant tuning and tweaking.

Each day you have the potential to become the best version of you. Then the next day, you can be even better.

Hack away at the unessential and begin that path towards who you are really meant to be.

Side note: Thanks to Sifu Forrest for hosting and Sifu Chris for teaching an amazing seminar!

–Lauren Ellis



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