This is the text versionChange graphic image of the graphic: How martial arts can change your life.

The graphic is structured around the five ascending levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs.

The first section looks at all the ways that martial arts can change us under each of the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy:



  • Balance
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Coordination
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Good posture
  • Fitness
  • Muscle tone
  • Lose weight
  • Increased strength
  • Better sleep
  • Makes you sweat
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Practising martial arts feels great!


  • Confidence
  • Assertive posture
  • Learn to handle adrenaline
  • Walk taller
  • Increased awareness
  • Self defence
  • Heal from past trauma
  • Protect others
  • Reduce fear of confrontation

Love and belonging

  • Tolerance / patience
  • Conflict resolution
  • Meet amazing people
  • Make new friends
  • Have fun
  • Belong to a dojo
  • Take care of others
  • Social skills
  • Respect

Self esteem

  • Determination
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Positive attitude
  • Compete (against others or yourself)
  • Leadership skills
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Master new skills
  • Control emotions
  • Stress relief
  • Empowering
  • Mentally stimulating

Self actualisation

  • Adventure
  • Spiritual development
  • Help others to grow and develop too
  • Creativity
  • Philosophy
  • Moral values
  • Rich historical tradition
  • Curiosity


The second section of the graphic gives some inspirational quotes from martial artists, again relating to each level of Maslow’s hierarchy:

Physiological needs

“There is all this controversy that women and girls are too skinny or too overweight. I say to just do martial arts and everything will be okay. You will tone up your body and find a confidence you can’t find just sitting around watching TV and hanging out with friends.” MILLA JOVOVICH

“Karate-dō is not merely a sport that teaches how to strike and kick; it is also a defense against illness and disease.” – GICHIN FUNAKOSHI, Karate-Dō – My Way of Life

Safety needs

“Psychopaths are skilled in decoding […] body language, giving them an advantage in selecting ‘easy’ victims […] Victims are not picked at random, but are chosen for specific reasons – for example they may be less likely to fight back? […] The authors of the study argue that those at risk can be instructed on how to avoid displaying vulnerable body language, in turn therefore possibly reducing their likelihood of being chosen as a victim.” – DR RAJ PERSAUD, in The Huffington Post.

“The historic beauty of BJJ rests not with its ability to allow a smaller man to maim a larger man, but with its ability to allow any man of any size to survive.” – CAMERON CONAWAY, Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet

Love and belonging

“If you practice in a place that is cheerful, harmonious and enjoyable, before long, you will naturally blend right in and develop these characteristics yourself” – GOZO SHIODA, AIkido Jinsei; My life in Aikido

“The common bond I shared with my classmates provided a stable, supportive group that I could rely on.” – VALERIE LEE, quoted in CAROL WILEY, Women in Martial Arts

Self esteem

“We must rely on the battle cry ‘Masakatsu agatsu katsuhayabi’ [True victory is self-victory, a victory right here, right now].” – MORIHEI UESHIBA, The Secret Teachngs of Aikido

“[…] the art of martial arts, the art of combining power and grace in a single gesture, of feeling calm and self-confident, of being in complete stillness, the art of the body at peace – with itself, with the mind, with the world. It was […] only from that place that I could defend myself if necessary. It was from that place that I probably woud not have to defend myself. It was in that stillness that I felt whole.” – BK LOREN, The Way of the River; Adventures and Meditations of a Woman Martial Artist

Self actualisation

“I don’t doubt that at the dawn of martial arts, the main goal was to beat up one’s opponents in the most effective way possible. But then, indirectly, the alchemy of martial arts began to strike some chords deep within the spirit of many individuals, transforming living war-machines into poets, artists, and philosophers.” – DANIELE BOLELLI, On the Warrior’s Path

“Ever since I was a kid I have [had] this instinctive urge and craving for expansion and growth. To me the function and dutyof a human being […] is the sincere and honest development of his potential and ‘self-actualization.'” – BRUCE LEE, Artist of Life