I had a chat recently with a new business associate, and all around swell guy (hint, it’s Brian). While trading life stories including the usual stuff (I graduated high school, did ‘the thing’, did ‘the other thing’, achieved multiple black belts in martial arts—doesn’t everyone?— and now I’m here!) and then he commented, “You should write about the impact martial arts has on business success!”.

That comment got my brain whirling, and I realized how true it is! Not to say that only people with martial arts as a cornerstone of their lives win at business! Instead, it is better to say that martial arts has many of the elements that help KEEP people in business. I wanted to ensure that EVERYONE would be able to see the connection between martial arts and business. Using my professional practice (Business Coach!), I made sure that the idea covered what’s truly important, and being mindful of results, is bullet proof.

With that in mind, here are three things that create success in martial arts and business

Follow along, shall we?

Resiliency And Discipline 

Imagine getting punched right in the mouth—over and over again.


Imagine getting back up, straightening your clothes, smiling, and walking right back into another punch in the face. In a martial arts class, you can get punched in the face a lot (occupational hazard), which teaches you that things don’t always go your way! Martial arts teaches this, which is a business related competency called ‘resilience’, and a practice called ‘discipline’. You see, resilience and discipline go together, hand in hand.

Resilience means we develop the ability to stick to something, even when it’s difficult. It is the way we accept losing, yet still drive to win. Discipline is the fine (martial) art of training ourselves to do something in a habit forming, or ritualized way.

Martial arts teaches in prescribed ways and with lots of practice, over and over again. That means lots of practice without necessarily being able to touch/ taste/feel immediate results! Resilience is getting used to not always getting what we want, and discipline is keeping us honest by always working, and not folding under pressure.

When a business owner learns this competency and practice (yes, you learn them!) then business challenges don’t keep us down for long. We learn to get up and keep driving! Martial artists that attain mastery develop these fully. Business success is about staying resilient in adversity, and disciplined in a number of key business areas: analyzing, selling, projecting, planning, and measuring.

Working With A Format And Improvising 

In martial arts, there is a Japanese word that encompasses the primary lessons/practice method used: Kata. Kata is a series of predefined movements to teach and develop technical skill. The methods of kicking, punching, etc are taught through repetitive practice of increasing complexity and variety. This method develops competency in the skills you need to advance, and potentially save your life (it happens!).

Hand in hand with this is the ability to adapt or improvise. Improvisation in martial arts is taking all of the technical skills learned, and experimenting through free-form or sparring. Sparring means that martial artists mock fight each other to show off, practice, and force themselves to adapt and grow by using these skills in different ways than originally thought of. Nothing develops in a straight line, and learning to improvise and “roll with the punches” is critical!

In business, we need to realize that there are certain technical skills that we MUST learn. Once we have a good foundation in these, we need to be able to adapt our use of them. These skills are called competencies. The skills we need to win and succeed in business can either be learned piecemeal, or developed

How Martial Arts Can Help You Master Business

through a format (or ‘Kata’). Once we learn critically important business skills and feel fairly confident about our abilities, BUCKLE UP, because an average business day is going to teach us that we’d better adapt or else! It will expose what we don’t know, what we DO know, what we STILL need to learn, and that what we do know isn’t enough!

Heck, business will show that we don’t even know what we don’t know! Time to learn.

Get Better Business Friends! 

Every martial arts student had a teacher. Through six martial arts, I have had eight teachers! I have also been blessed with too many friends / partners / peers as I “leveled up”. My teachers were ALL responsible for the opportunity to achieve and grow the way I did. My friends and peers kept me honest, occasionally punched me in the face (true!), and pushed me to achieve!

Developing competencies in business, just like training in martial arts, requires mentors (teachers) and proximity (get good friends!).

Mentors come and guide us in the dojo (our business), teaching lessons and making us grow up, develop competency, and then mastery.

Proximity is the business friends we build, rely on when we are out in the streets, and keep us honest about what we do daily and weekly in business. Whether we’re discussing martial arts or business, you need both when life punches us in the mouth! Business is hard! Doing it alone, without guidance or knowing where to start, is even worse! We need people who can guide us and have the ability to teach us. We also need people who have our backs. No one wins alone in business.

I wanted to show the interconnection between martial arts and business success. Like learning to throw a punch, if we want to win in business, we need a few critical things. Also, the simpler we keep things, the better the result. With that in mind, let’s simplify and summarize the above, so that we can get back to winning in business.

Learn to be resilient and disciplined in our businesses. 

Find a format to learn what’s needed, and adapt as we experience daily life. 

Find mentors to teach us, and surround ourselves with great people. 

Funny how that worked out.