Students may become proficient in a combat skill, such as a stomp to the instep or an uppercut palm under the chin, in a few days. However, once they are proficient at a skill, there is little more they may do to improve the skill. Therefore, even if they continue to train for years, they will stay proficient at the skill but they will learn or develop little else. People tend to get bored when they are not challenged or when they are not learning anything new. This is even more evident in today's society where we are bombarded with information daily. Nowadays, people need constant stimulus or they get bored. The martial arts demand precision of technique and movement, and being able to perform techniques with precision at testings and competitions. Since there is always room for improvement, students are never satisfied with their performance. If they ever do become satisfied, there is always a new advanced technique to challenge them. If not challenged by others, students will challenge themselves to reach perfection.
As people of action rather than students of words, many martial artists may not have thought much about what the word "art" in "martial art" really means. The term originated in ancient Greece. Socrates, the wisest of the Greeks, maintained that something is an "art" when it has "the greatest good of the soul or body in view." Substitute the words "character" and "personality" for "soul," and you have the meaning of a martial "art": "the study of war designed to build character and improve personality." The martial arts do not just build better fighters; they build better people.
The term martial arts, though once aptly defined as "methods of violence and the control of that violence," literally means "military skills" and it encompasses all the individual fighting methods. Martial arts were initially created for combat. Combat may occur in different forms: it may occur in war, during law enforcement duties, or even during personal self-defense. However, the martial arts evolved from just being fighting methods into becoming a way of life for their practitioners. Most people go through their entire lives without ever having to defend themselves physically; so, if self-defense were the only reason for learning a martial art, the time and effort would be a waste of time, effort, and money. Martial arts are used preserve life, through their use in self-defense, defense of others, or defense of country. Martial arts build character by teaching respect, honor, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, courage, and a sense of community.