Abandon all weakness, ye who enter here.

Self-Mastery Through Fitness?

I had a question for Underground Strength Coach and martial artist Jon Haas about how to reach self mastery in everyday life, even without the years of training and discipline that many martial artists experience. Here's his response:

You do not need to possess the fanatical devotion of a samurai warrior in order to have self-mastery. You do not even need to train in martial arts to possess the self-assured confidence of a martial arts master. What you must do, is learn how to master yourself. There is an art to it though. The art of fitness.

Fitness is not something you do, it’s something you become. It is a quality you embody rather than an activity you perform. Being fit is an attitude of thinking, moving, and being. It is also a constant uphill battle against the forces of lethargy and ordinariness.

How does one become a fit individual?

There is much more to being fit than merely a buff bod (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) But fitness must help create a complete human being, not a one dimensional cardboard cutout of one. You must learn to cultivate a fitness mindset. The fitness mindset involves disciplining yourself in small tasks every day over the course of a lifetime.

We must all suffer one of 2 pains in life: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” – Jim Rohn

It is all the small, seemingly inconsequential things you do on a daily basis that make the most difference. The fastest way to become fit is not in doing the big workouts 1-2 times a week. It is rather found in the incremental progress of baby steps that compound their effect over time and provide an enormous return on investment (ROI).

Here are a few examples:

  • When you walk, move with grace, power, and purpose.
  • When you stand, stand straight with quiet dignity.
  • When you sit, sit tall, don’t slouch.
  • When driving, pull the belly to the spine, exhale and tighten the core. Hold for a few seconds then allow the inhale to happen and repeat.
  • When pushing a stroller, grocery cart, or even a car, engage your core and push from the center.
  • When brushing your teeth, perform bodyweight squats in the mirror.
  • When getting ready for work or school in the morning, take 5 minutes and do a quick mobility session.
  • When stressed, exhale deeply and hold the breath on the exhale for 5 seconds then relax and inhale completely. Do it several times in a row to get yourself under control. Learn more about breathing under stress here.
  • When faced with any challenge, draw on the strength you’ve cultivated in the gym through countless repetitions of bodyweight exercises or the throwing around of heavy weight. Draw on the mental toughness and grit that got you to that new PR and use it as fuel to propel you through any trial you face outside the gym.

Know that you have mastered yourself through fitness and that mastery will shine through to every other area of your life.

About the Author

Jon Haas is a certified Underground Strength Coach and has been involved in the martial arts for over 30 years. He has been training in the Budō Taijutsu arts of the Bujinkan for more than 22 years and is currently ranked as a Kudan (9th degree black belt) under Jack Hoban Shidōshi.
Jon is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for VX Global and is a certified VX Sport Coach.

He is the founder of Warrior Fitness Training Systems and author of the book, Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Arts.

Jon maintains a very active blog on all aspects of fitness, health, and martial arts over at www.warriorfitness.org