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Martial Arts Quotes - The Ultimate List

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Emma Whamond

#Martial Arts #Quotes

Martial arts quotes inspire us, motivate us and drive us forward as martial artists. In this list you’ll discover the 100 greatest martial arts quotes of all time.

And they’re not all Bruce Lee quotes, either! Yes, he had a lot of inspirational martial arts quotes - and a few are included in this list - but there are tons of martial arts sayings from other people, too. Here you’ll find kung fu quotes, Taekwondo quotes, quotes about Karate, quotes from Sun Tsu and lots of others.

Some of these quotes come from martial artists you’re familiar with. People like Chuck Norris, Helio Gracie, Dan Inosanto and other greats. Some of these martial arts quotes come from people you know, but might not associate with martial arts.

An example is Teddy Roosevelt. Believe it or not, he trained in Judo as well as boxing. Still other martial arts sayings come from people you may not have heard of (for example Bo Bennett) but are involved with martial arts.

Illustration men grappling by beach

There are also some very powerful quotes in the list that are from people who have absolutely NO connection to martial arts…but their quotes contain such pearls of wisdom that we just had to add them to the list. Julius Caesar and George Washington are examples. Both fighers in a way.

And finally, there are many martial arts inspirational quotes that have been passed down through the years from teacher to student - and nobody knows where these quotes came from. In that case, you’ll see them marked as “Author unknown”.

These inspirational martial arts quotes are in no particular order. We didn’t want to rank them because you might find a few gems right in the middle of the list. They are all really powerful, but some will speak to you more than others.

So here they are! Our list of the 100 greatest Martial Arts Quotes!

  • “A good instructor teaches students how to fight, a great instructor teaches students how to live“ - Ricardo Almeida

  • “Martial Arts does not teach you how to fight, it teaches you why not to.” -Lakshya Bharadwaj

  • “My opponent is my teacher. My ego is my enemy.” - Author unknown

  • “In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” - Suzuki

  • “Karate begins and ends with respect.” - Anko Itosu

  • “If you want to be a lion, you must train with lions“ - Carlson Gracie

Illustration men grappling by beach
  • “When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.” - Author unknown

  • He who conquers himself has won a greater victory than he who conquers a city. - Proverbs

  • “A brave man, a real fighter is not measured by how many times he falls, but how many times he stands up.” – Rickson Gracie

  • “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training“ - Author unknown

  • “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” - Frances de Sales

  • “There are few people who will make mistakes with fire after having once been burned.” - Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Illustration martial artist on fire
  • “I practice martial arts not to win over other people but to win over my own heart.” - Tony Jaa
  • “A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” - Confucius
  • “You should not have a favourite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.” - Miyamoto Musashi
  • “A good plan executed violently today is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point in the future.” – George Patton
  • “The mixed martial arts way of life will give you focus.” - Conor McGregor
  • “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” - Lao-Tzu

“I don’t initiate violence. I retaliate.” - Chuck Norris

  • “Where do you begin? Perfect is a good place to start. We must always focus on improving things that are already perfect.” - J. Viol
  • Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other a matter of time.” - Author unknown
  • “There’s only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
  • “I’m a courageous person because I’m a scared person” - Ronda Rousey
  • “Masters of the martial arts believe that a strong body and mind go together: you can’t improve one without working on the other.” - Laura Scandiffio
Martial arts life skills and improvement
  • “For me, the martial arts is a search for something inside. It’s not just a physical discipline.” - Brandon Lee
  • “Do not fight with the strength, absorb it and it flows, use it.” - Ip Man
  • “The Jiu-Jitsu I created was designed to give the weak ones a chance to face the heavy and strong” - Helio Gracie
  • “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are“ - Author unknown
  • Civilize the mind but make savage the body.” - Mao
  • “I shall give you a brief taste of death, so that you may recognize it when it comes again.” - Author unknown
Muay Thai fighter praying
  • “Life doesn’t get easier - you just get stronger“ - Author unknown
  • “It’s not about being better than the other. It’s about being better than you were yesterday.” - Author unknown
  • “Act like a man of thought - Think like a man of action.” - Thomas Mann
  • “Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick” - Bruce Lee
  • “My father always said, ‘Don’t try to beat them. Don’t lose to them. They will lose. They will make a mistake” - Royce Gracie, speaking about his father, Helio Gracie
  • “Fear is the true opiate of combat.” - Author unknown
  • “Achieving a state devoid of doubt is the essence of martial arts.” - Kazumi Tabata
  • Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body” - Seneca
  • “It is a brave act of valor to condemn death, but where life is more terrible than death it is then the truest valor to dare to live.” - Sir Thomas Brown
  • “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” - Napoleon Bonaparte
Illustration men grappling by beach
  • Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from the negative” - Author unknown

  • Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” – Col. David Hackworth

  • “Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought.” - Matsu Basho

  • “Be water, my friend” - Bruce Lee

  • “I seek not only to follow in the footsteps of the men of old, I seek the things they sought.” - Author unknown

  • “He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.” - Sun Tzu

  • “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” - Buddah

  • “The greatest enemy will always hide in the last place you would ever look.” - Julius Ceasar

  • “Sometimes you don’t have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing“. - Rickson Gracie

  • “To a real warrior, power perceived may be power achieved.” - Author unknown

martial arts master and student
  • “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure.” - Author unknown

  • “When you feel pain, you know that you are still alive.” - Bruce Lee

  • “Character is what you have left when you’ve lost everything you can lose.” - Evan Esar

  • “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got“ - Mark Twain

  • “It is the very mind itself that leads the mind astray; Of the mind, Do not be mindless.” - Author unknown

  • “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself” - Chinese Proverb

martial arts peace
  • “Master the divine techniques of the Art of Peace and no enemy will dare to challenge you.” - Ueshiba
  • “Pain is weakness leaving your body.” - Author unknown
  • “The true work of the martial arts is progress, not perfection” - Gene Dunn
  • “I see martial arts as moving forms of meditation. When you’re sparring or drilling techniques, you can’t think of anything else.” - Joe Rogan
  • “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” - Confucius
  • “When the Way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through.” - I Ching
  • “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” - Navy SEALs creed
Navy SEALS and martial arts
  • “If you want peace, stop fighting. If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts. - Peter McWilliams
  • “The best part of falling is getting back up again.” - David Belle
  • “I think setting a goal, getting a visual image of what it is you want. You’ve got to see what it is you want to achieve before you can pursue it”. - Chuck Norris
  • “A weapon isn’t good or bad, depends on the person who uses it”. - Jet Li
  • “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “Courage first; power second; technique third.” - Author unknown
  • “Haters will see you walk on water and say it’s because you can’t swim”. - Author unknown
  • “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” - Muhammad Ali
Is boxing martial arts - boxer and mountain
  • “We learn martial arts as helping weakness. You never fight for people to get hurt. You’re always helping people.” - Jackie Chan
  • “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” - Author unknown
  • “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” -Bruce Lee
  • “When I started training martial arts, I learned about respect.” — Anderson Silva
  • “He Who Knows Others Is Wise. He Who Knows Himself Is Enlightened.” - Tao Te Ching
  • “You might as well stand and fight because if you run, you will only die tired.” - Vern Jocque
  • “There is no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone” - Author unknown
Illustration men grappling by beach
  • “This game is ninety percent mental, the other half of physical” - Yogi Berra
  • “There are two rules for being successful in martial arts. Rule 1: Never tell others everything you know.” - Author unknown
  • Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu
  • “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” - Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Force has no place where there is need of skill” - Herodotus
  • “The minute you stop being humble is the minute you’re going to start moving forward as a fighter and a person you’re going to become stagnant at that point.” - Machachi

“A black belt is another name for a white belt that never quit” - Unknown

  • “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” - Buddha
  • True strength is the flower of Wisdom, but its seed is action.” - Author unknown
  • “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.” - Winston Churchill
  • “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” - General George Washington
  • “You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.” - Taisen Deshimaru
  • “The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be amongst the cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” - Teddy Roosevelt
Taekwondo saying and quotes
  • “To be able to tell any man that he cannot defeat you is to wield true power.” - Saulo Ribiero (about Helio Gracie)
  • “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” - Alexandra K. Trenfor
  • “A warrior may choose pacifism; others are condemned to it.” - Author unknown
  • “He who has conquered himself is a far greater hero than he who has defeated 1000 times a 1000 men”. - Buddha
  • “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities“ - Bruce Lee

“Martial arts is not about fighting, it’s about building character”. - Bo Bennett

  • “To practice Zen or the Martial Arts, you must live intensely, wholeheartedly, without reserve - as if you might die in the next instant” - Taisen Deshimaru

  • “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” - Muhammad Ali

  • “Be master OF mind rather than mastered BY mind“ - Zen Saying

  • “A black belt is nothing more than a belt that goes around your waist. Being a black belt is a state of mind and attitude.” - Author unknown

  • “The only time we fail is when we stop trying.” - Chuck Norris

  • “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” - Confucius

  • Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it’s price.” - Sun Tzu

  • “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy with out fighting is the highest skill.” - Gichin Funakoshi (Shotokan Karate)

And there you have it!

As you can see, many of them relate to character development. In that spirit, here is an interesting Ted talk that reveals many of these principles:

Hit us up on social media (Twitter: @martialartsio) and let us know which ones you like - OR if you have any you would like to see added to the list! Thanks for reading!

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