If there’s one activity every man must do, it’s lifting weights. The benefits it offers simply can’t be ignored.

But after my experiences training in Krav Maga and then Muay Thai, I’m convinced that learning a martial art is a close second. Here’s why:

1. You’ll learn to fight

If there’s one primal instinct that makes us men, it’s our inclination towards the physical.

When a dispute escalates between two grown men, the possibility of a physical confrontation is always present. It’s the obvious last resort.

In western cultures today, fights are few and far between, but they still happen. Being prepared for this very real possibility is not only practical, it also puts you in closer contact with your masculine energy.

2. You’ll build true confidence

This benefit is a direct result of knowing how to fight.

When you know, in the back of your mind, that you’re prepared to defend yourself if the shit hits the fan, a sense of self-assuredness will surface.

This confidence is real and can’t be matched by cheap tricks like positive affirmations.

3. You’ll develop persistence

If you’re training at a quality gym that’s pushing you to get into fight-level shape, your persistence will be challenged time and time again.

There are moments during every workout when I question my ability to continue to spar or complete a particular drill.

By constantly pushing yourself past these points of exhaustion, you build a tolerance to your instinct to quit. This tolerance translates to other areas of your life and allows you to persist past the point where lesser men would give up and fail.

4. You’ll radically improve conditioning

Throwing punches and kicks or wrestling for extended periods of time simply cannot be matched by other forms of exercise.

My Muay Thai classes are 2 hours long. By the end of each class I’m thoroughly fatigued.

While you can’t build the same amount of muscle when compared to lifting weights, you definitely do push your physical limits much further with martial arts.

5. You get to compete

The need to compete is another primal obligation of men.

When you train in most martial arts you’ll get the chance to spar, if not enter formal competitions.

I don’t want to marginalize the competition that traditional sports like football or basketball provide, but competing in a martial art is a whole different ballgame. It’s a true test of your mettle.

6. You’ll expand your comfort zone

When I first stepped in the Muay Thai gym, I wasn’t met with flowers and kisses. The experienced fighters looked down on me with a sense of superiority.

There’s so much technique to learn and instincts to develop that it’s overwhelming at first. You’re being thrown in head-first to a vicious cycle. You are already starting far outside your comfort zone.

Many men face this reality and quit after a few training sessions. But if you fight this impulse and push on, you’ll quickly expand your comfort zone, something that pays dividends across all areas of your life.

7. It’s a new area to set goals for

Because there’s so much to learn, you’ll be forced to set mini-goals as you go, whether it’s just keeping your hands up while sparring, pivoting on the ball of your foot when kicking, or keeping your chin tucked at all times.

The act of setting and achieving goals is the most important habit you can build. By practicing it in the ring, you’ll be more likely to do it in other areas of your life as well.

Bonus: Women will think you’re a badass

By now it should be clear to you that it’s your duty as a man to sign up at a martial arts gym. Brazilian Ju Jitsu and Muay Thai are the 2 most popular options, and you’d do well to start learning one of them today.

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