Some people look at martial arts and imagine it to be all action and strength. But martial arts is much more, and a true martial artist is a true leader.

I learned Karate (空手道) when I was young, and Muay Thai when I was much older, for a while at least. I remembered fondly the arduous jogging as warm-up, the challenging physical training, and the part I loved the most – the “kata”.

From the two forms of martial arts, I still prefer Karate, which is like Chinese martial arts, with many beautiful “kata”, or choreographed forms of movement, that is like dance, or art. From the “kata”, especially when I practiced on my own, I found a solitary quiet space that I could hear my own heartbeat, felt my own rhythmic breathing, and my deliberate and measured movements, a step at a time. It was meditation.

That to me, is what martial arts is all about. Peace. Contemplation. Finding oneself. And in business or management, leadership is much of the same.

Contrast that to the violence we see in the world. Those who exert unnecessary might (otherwise known as bullying) on others, would have a difficult time understanding what true martial arts can be.


From the Chinese characters “wu gong” (武功) for martial arts, the first character roughly means the “right use of arms or strength.”

The word “right” is not about the judgmental assertion on another person, but the inward belief with moral fortitude that expresses itself in gentility, humility, discipline, respect, and compassion. Therefore, the “right” use of arms of strength in martial arts is always about an inward fortitude of gentility, and never an aggression against others.

Learning a martial art like Karate or Taichi (太極拳), is about elevating one’s own person to a better person. It is like true leadership, where the leader places the needs of the greater ahead of himself, and carries the burden of others upon himself. The embodiment of a true leader is just like a martial artist, where gentility, humility, respect, compassion, and a quiet inner strength, governs the person.