What Music and Martial Arts Have in Common


Preparing for a Tae Kwon-Do tournament is different than, say, preparing to play with The Four Tops. 

Yep. Those Four Tops. 

In music, I prepare based on the situation. If I am going to be backing up the Four Tops – which I have – I need to make sure I’m reading well and paying attention. If I am preparing for a solo performance, like a recital or something, that is more like preparing for a Tae Kwon-Do tournament.

Getting on the mat and demonstrating your pattern is really no different than getting on stage and performing a piece of music. You meticulously go over your pattern move-by-move before you demonstrate, just like you rehearse your piece of music note-by-note. You want to make each of them as perfect as possible. 

Preparing for belt testing is a little different. There are many components to a belt test, and they cover a wide range of abilities. Belt test prep is more akin to taking a test in college. You’re learning top-level concepts and approaches as opposed to focused skills. For a belt test, you have to know your patterns, sure, but you also have to be able to answer questions from the head table, you have to fight, etc., so your preparation is more all-encompassing. 

The common thread here is preparation. It is one of many similarities I have found between my two passions for music and martial arts.

Passion. That’s another thing that music and Tae Kwon-Do have in common. A piece of music performed with no feeling or emotion falls flat. The same goes for the demonstration of a pattern. If you’re just going through the motions – literally – the judges, just like the audience, will know it immediately. 

Perhaps the strongest connection between music and Tae Kwon-Do is the use of focus and repetition. Whether it is learning scales or practicing patterns, the only way to truly master your craft is by making time to practice. You must be laser-focused on using that time well. You must do so frequently and consistently. It is the only recipe for success.

As much as I love both, Tae Kwon-Do seems to me like a healthier option than playing music, though. I would imagine that going over and over a pattern is a lot better for you than sitting in a 5’x5’ practice room, and blowing the same air into a horn for 6 hours. 

Musicians also tend to live a bit of an unhealthy lifestyle as well. You work mostly at night, which messes with your sleep. You’re also playing a lot in bars and clubs and are frequently compensated with free food and drinks. Back in the day, when I was playing live more, people were still allowed to smoke in clubs. So there was that too.

The discipline that it took to sit in that practice room, though, made it easy for me to transition to punching and kicking patterns. It helped me mentally as well. You have to overcome a lot of mental fatigue when you’re doing reps, trying to keep things fresh.

Weirdly, music also gave me my first lessons in self-defense. When I was in my own bands, whether it was dealing with nightclub owners to make sure we were paid correctly or fighting to book gigs in the first place, music gave me a lot of sales and negotiation experience and taught me the importance of standing up for myself and my band when the time came.

I love it when I learn that a student of mine is also learning to play an instrument. I am proud to say that there have been many over the years who have done both music and Tae Kwon-Do. Some have even been doctors, lawyers, and accountants as well.

Whether it is the discipline, repetition, consistency, or all of the above, the connection between music and martial arts is real. I feel very lucky that these two wonderful institutions have defined my life up to this point, and that life is now dedicated to helping others make that connection too. 

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, visit the Contact Us page or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


Your browser is out of date. It has security vulnerabilities and may not display all features on this site and other sites.

Please update your browser using one of modern browsers (Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE 10).

WordPress Video Lightbox