Similarities of Learning Guitar and Learning Martial Art

Learning guitar and learning martial art are very similar in nature.  Playing guitar is like a mini martial art of the fingers.

You have to work on moving from position to position (chord to chord ~ and fluidly moving across the fretboard); using just as much movement and force as is necessary.

You have to figure out what actually works in a real life situation (actually playing music/actually being in a real life combat situation), and what is a waste of your time.

As Bruce Lee said, “Absorb what is useful.  Discard what is not.  Add what is uniquely your own.”

There also tends to be a lot of internal growth that develops as you train and get better. In the book of five rings, Myamoto Musashi said if you want to get good at sword, practice guitar. The arts compliment each other and help you grow!

Way of Life

In the martial arts your training is not considered to be separate from the rest of your life.

Instead, it is all about your way of life!

This is why it is common in the Shaolin temple for example, to see as part of the daily training, not just physical training in the martial arts, but focus on things like meditation, developing virtues, and healthy eating habits.

Self-discipline is practiced in all areas of life; because it is about growing your entire self, your entire life!

And so it is with training in music…

It impacts all of your life!

I have known friends who, through playing guitar, it really shaped who they are, and even kept them out of trouble as teenagers.

It also tends to come with a call to morals, or a call to virtue, where they sense internally the need to live as better people.

In other words, it helps them get in touch deep inside themselves with true living moral impulses.

My students know that I have trained in martial arts for years, and even taught for some time, and it is something that is important to me.  I also draw from my martial art experience, and what I have learned from the amazing sensei’s I have been blessed to have, in how I teach.

And the truth is in music, just as in martial art, if you want to get better you have to practice!

And both are about genuine self-expression!

It’s ok to learn from other guitarists, but ultimately you must learn that what you are really exploring is yourself.  And you must learn to genuinely express yourself in your playing, and not just imitate others.

WuDe: The 10 Virtues of Shaolin

How you live is how you play!

So, to finish this post, in connection with I’m talking about, I would like to cite the ten virtues of Shaolin; because these are very inspirational and in line with actively developing yourself passionately in how you live!

These are pulled directly from the headmaster of the Shaolin Temple Europe, Shi Heng Yi 释恒義

1) Humility can only arise when one is willing to control one’s pride and to practice in overcoming it. Satisfying one’s own desire is not to be placed above all else.

2) Attention is the basis of all relationships with humans, animals and all beings. This also includes the respect for oneself. It is the foundation on which the Shaolin community is build upon.

3) Righteousness is an attitude towards life. What is rightful to do, you should do and what is wrongful to do, you should not do. Taking responsibility for your own actions is expected.

4) Trust includes trustworthiness towards others and also your ability to trust in yourself. Each practitioner of the Shaolin Arts should develop a personality that can be trusted without reservation.

5) Loyalty may be the most important of all the virtues of action and behavior. Loyalty is the basis of trust and any relationship. Those who are missing it or can’t develop it, won’t proceed.

6) A strong will is necessary to not lose sight of our goals and to intensively study the arts. An iron will, can be advantageous, at the same time it may not be used to the detriment of other beings.

7) Perseverance means to practice and train incessantly. This applies both to the physical and mental development within the Shaolin Arts. It is expressed by the continuous effort to work on oneself.


8) Persistence enables us to detect mistakes and to correct them. Persistence never lets a Shaolin practitioner become tired of improving oneself and expresses in the capability to withstand hardship.


9) Patience enables us to continue even when there is no understanding of the meaning of the practice, or if a goal seems inaccessible and unreachable. It is expressed by self-discipline and calmness.

10) Courage is necessary to learn the Shaolin arts and to act properly in difficult situations. It enables us to attain a state of the mind which is rooted in confidence to overcome our fear or anxiety.

For most of my closest friends and I, training in music, training in martial arts, working out, eating healthy, developing ourselves as good human beings, and growing our spiritual life consciously… is all a part of who we are and how we live!

I invite you to think about your way of life, and integrate these principle virtues consciously into the core of your being!

Virtual Guitar Lessons

If this speaks to you and you want to walk the true path of self-mastery as a guitarist, then feel free to reach out to me for online virtual guitar lessons!

Thanks for reading!!!

Coren Smith