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What martial arts can teach you about running a business

April 4, 2016

A young martial artist bows to his instructor as a sign of respect.

Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” discusses martial tactics, but much of that information can be used in other fields. In fact, business tycoons have been following the advice for as long as the text has existed – and for good reason. Fighting isn’t always about hand-to-hand combat. Rather, it teaches you how to read your opponent and plan your own moves when you don’t know what your enemy will do. Martial arts can also instill lessons in business owners. Here are a few things martial arts develop in students and how they apply to a business setting:

How to set goals
Every business plan is defined by a series of goals. You have to determine what you want to accomplish and in what amount of time. That’s why being able to set achievable, realistic and specific goals is an important skill to have. In martial arts, you also have to set goals. You identify the techniques you must know to reach a new belt level. As you progress in your discipline, setting goals and working at them becomes second nature.

How to accept feedback
Whether you’re the owner of your own martial arts studio or a partner in another kind of business, you should be able to accept and implement feedback from your peers and employees. Individuals who see constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow are certain to advance in business. The same is true in martial arts. Your instructor and other students are sure to remark on your technique and ask you to adjust the way you move. These comments and directions are all meant to help you improve your abilities. Martial artists quickly learn how to use comments to their advantage.

How to follow your instincts
After all of your practice in martial arts, eventually, you must stop thinking and start doing. If you’re in your head during a sparring match, you could fumble. Trusting your training and following your instincts helps you excel on the mat. Sometimes, in business, you also have to go with your gut.