Most people continue to practice the martial arts for many reason in addition to developing self-defense skills.
This is certainly true. Any student of average intelligence comes to this realization sooner or later. I don’t think I would have remained involved only for the self-defense aspect for all these years.
However, it is my belief that lots of things are taken for granted along the way.
The “ability” for self-defense is one. Very much taken for granted until reality comes knocking.
The “spiritual development” is another that students believe they are accomplishing in their practice.
Maybe so, but I see lots of examples of martial artists actually becoming worse human beings than they were when they first started.
It starts with the natural ego we all possess, although we deny we have one.
It gets more and more inflated with the passage of time and the acquisition of rank and “status” __
Then there is arrogance, intolerance, greed, elitism, and pompousness _ just to name a few. The list is long. The Okinawan example, save for a few noted seniors, has not been particularly inspiring either. So this “spiritual” thing remains a chimerical, nebulous, notion for many.
It might be well to define what we mean, what we envision this “spiritual development” to look and feel like, and how we expect to see manifestations of it.
> just being able to "talk" about how tough we used to be<
Again I think it is matter of definition. I believe that “toughness” goes beyond the physical.. It is more an emotional attribute, a state of mind.
The smart ones among us always knew even then when we thought we were tough, that there was always someone tougher, one way or another, just like many believe that the usefulness of martial arts for street defense is much over-rated, which is of course true, or we would not see the majority of martial artists also embrace the weapons [gun/knife] concept.
So when we say “tough” how do we define that word for ourselves? What does “tough” mean to us..what kind of “tough” is what we envision and respect?
All is relative.