Why Every Entrepreneur Should Learn Martial Art

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Martial art is not only a way to work out. It also teaches you a lot regarding entrepreneurship. Read more on how you can use this sport for your business.

Few days ago, I was watching videos of Kuya Doug Marcaida, expert of Philipino martial art ‘Kali’ on YouTube. While detailing the techniques of use of collapsible baton and Kali stick, he talked about being alert to block the attack, move forward to close the gap and attack the opponent. In another video, while teaching the techniques of using a baseball cap as a weapon, he talked about being always ready to use whatever you can lay your hand on as a weapon and protect yourself in the case of attack. If you fix your mind on one kind of weapon, and if you don’t get that in the time of need, then you will end up being in a fix.

Now question comes, why I am writing about these two videos? I am writing it because I think martial art is a great helping tool to an entrepreneur. I am a martial art student and I have found its teachings very useful in every aspect of life, including entrepreneurship.
I have attended several start-up training sessions as a student and wherever I have been, one thing remained constant was ‘Business Model Canvas’. I am for sure not in favor of not having a business plan, but one question always intrigues me; what is business plan for a startup? I asked this question to myself and what best I could come up with; business plan for a startup is an assumption based someone else’s facts, which its founders are supposed to adhere to. But it is a Catch 22 situation; you can’t start a business on your own data, because it is always historical and own data will come only after starting your own business.

So, what should an entrepreneur do?

In my opinion, start the business with a business plan, but always keep scope open to use whatever opportunity comes his/her way as a weapon to achieve success. Though Apple is not a startup, but I am using its example. It earns close to $4.5 billion per quarter from iTunes and we know it as the maker of iconic iPhones, iPads and iMacs. We know Google as Search Engine, but it earns the dollar and cents through advertisement and I am sure that Mr. Page and Mr. Brin didn’t start an advertisement company. They grabbed whatever best the time had ready for them and we are reading their business model and monetization strategy.

A client of mine lost a better part of his business due to change in the government policy and now he is forced to opt for other business opportunity, which uses his skill set, is very much in line with what he should have done as one of the revenue stream, but did not do so to focus on his core strength. Had he fixed his mind more on his business model than his skill set, then he would have been staring at dire financial consequences. Existing market situation, whether perfect competition or market disequilibrium, is always daunting for the entrepreneur; either in the form of customer acceptance or competition. What he/she can do is to block the attack of challenges, adapt to the situation, improvise and close the gap. If he/she keeps doing so and keep collecting small points, a definite win will never be far off. Please remember that knockout in first attack rarely happens; it’s the small successes put together becomes big success. He/she need to seek, adapt and improvise.

I think teachings out of both the videos of Kuya Doug are so relevant to these business scenarios. I am trying to connect these three paragraphs and come out with a conclusion that an entrepreneur must play some kind of martial art. I have following points in support of my argument:

1) Martial Art helps in having control over ‘Mind’ and ‘Body’:

Many people think that martial art is about combat, fight and self-defense, but these things come in the last in the list of priority. It is about control over your mind and body, it is about training your mind to believe in yourself that you can achieve anything and to do so, power rests within your mind and body only and nowhere else. Who else better than an entrepreneur needs it? More than the customers, an entrepreneur needs to believe in himself/herself.

2) Martial Art helps Coordination between ‘Mind’ and ‘Body’:

You want to jump and kick, but if your body don’t do what your mind wants then what will happen? So, coordination between mind and body very much important and backbone of any martial art. With every ‘Kata’, a martial art player practices various stances involving right body posture, strength, skills, breathing and body movement. If they don’t practice it with dedication and diligently, they don’t succeed. Though, a viewer only sees the movement of body, strength and Kata skills, but a martial art player knows that how much it goes into memorizing and displaying every step, every posture, every kick and every punch with perfection. Let us connect it to startup environment where an idea needs to be in sync with available resources and market conditions. Though a success seems so easy to the outside; they start dissecting it to make a case study and learn business tricks, but only an entrepreneur knows how much he/she struggled to make an idea successful and sustainable. He/she has to tell his/her mind every day, every moment to not to abandon the idea, work hard, endure pain, in order to succeed. If it does not happen, then idea vanishes like vapor in the air and resources will flow like water in gutter. Moreover, on the personal level, health and personality benefits are always there if someone learns martial arts.

3) Martial Art teaches us to focus and stay alert:

Suppose you have started a business, which already has competition. If you are not focused on your meat and have strength to grab it, then be ready to give it to someone stronger and focused. Suppose you start something completely new and become a market leader. You earn huge margins in the beginning due to market disequilibrium, and this huge margin encourages more participants to join the business. Obviously these new entrants will hit your money with more innovation and price cut. What will happen if you are not focused and alert; you will lose whatever was yours. When you fight someone, you need to focus your eye on body movement of your opponent like a crane and if you don’t do so, then he/she will break your leg while you would be protecting your face. My love with martial art started around 11-12 year back, when I joined Taekwondo classes. In one of the combat session, I defended myself from a deadly roundhouse kick by timely moving my body aside, which could have broken my neck for sure. I was amazed at the focus and agility Taekwondo had given me. Though I couldn’t pursue it more than 6 month due to change in location and hectic schedule, but I was determined to start it once again. Thankfully, I started again with Karate around two and half year back. Broken wrist and injured ligament during this period has not been able to deter me from pursuing my passion.

4) Martial Art helps you to use your strength and energy at the right time and the right place:

Around two year back, one e-commerce company, which is acting as investor as well for startups, wrote off their big investment in another e-commerce portal. When I asked the opinion of a leading digital entrepreneur of India on this topic, he said, “when a business resorts to paying salary to its existing employees from the money it has raised from VCs, then understand that something has really gone wrong. You raise money to invest in strength building, acquire new market, new business etc., and not to pay your existing bills”. My brother started his software firm around eight year back and spent all his money to develop the product. He left absolutely nothing for sales and marketing and neither spent even a thought for it. He had this huge misconception about sales and marketing being hugely overrated business function. We used to have nasty argument over this, but ultimately it was his money and his idea. He lost his money, valuable time and many things more in two year and shut down his business. So, use of your strength and energy at the right time and right place are also very important for success. A martial art kumite demands right use of focus, agility, flexibility, energy, strength, stamina and skills. How and when to block an attack, how and when to kick, how and when to punch, how and when to move your feet while fighting etc; a lot goes into learning the martial art and nothing is fluke. A wrong move can either break your bone or put you behind the bar.

Can you tell me; which one is not useful in entrepreneurship? Though people may argue that it is the idea or its execution which is important, but for me it is the body and mind which holds the both is more important and martial art gives a character to that mind and body. Let me be not so mean and say that an entrepreneur must play some kind of outdoor sports. An outdoor sport, along with above points, gives you scope to release your negative energy, entertains you, teaches you team spirit, helps you to learn how to negotiate and navigate your way under difficult situation, fills your mind with positive thoughts. Health benefits, which everyone needs, come as bonus.



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