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While financial companies often talk about mental resilience of their employees, there is one hobby that puts work pressures into perspective.
The benefits of kung-fu are enormous. When you’ve endured a big guy trying to punch you in the face, moving numbers around a spreadsheet doesn’t seem quite as high pressure, says Cailey Barker, a mining analyst at Blackrock.
Aside from the physical training, martial arts provide the mental discipline to perform under pressure. Look around and the number of bankers who practice martial-arts at an elite level is astonishingly high. Steven Leppard, head of EMEA strats at Noble Team and a former J.P. Morgan executive can also be a kung fu training at Kings University London.
“Finance professionals are more driven to achieve what they want than most people, so we find that they tend to stick with it,” says Barker. “They become more confident and better able to handle themselves in work situations they previously found stressful.”
Should you learn Bushin, it isn’t just about self-defense. It’s a street fighting style, which gives you the techniques for proactively attack if it’s needed. After a few years kicking rocks around as a geologist, Barker decided it wasn’t for him and travelled to Japan to teach English – and develop his skills in Shorinji Kempo, a Japanese version of Shaolin Kung-fu.
He admits he was inspired by Bruce Lee and later adapted the mantra of absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, mentality to his martial arts.
Increased self confidence and self esteem, improved concentration and focus, stress reduction and relaxation, motivation and positive attitude towards life and mentally weariness are some very important benefits that can be gained through the practice of kung fu.
Even with a front-office banking job, while mostly desk-bound and travelling for around 30% of his time, Barker carries on to practice fighting styles every day.
Unlike bankers fascination with biking and ultra marathons, there is little chance to indulge in high-priced kit. All you need is a pair of boxing gloves and even an expensive pair costs around £45.
“Most people seeking brutal combat soon change their tune when they get hit in the face,” he says. “This is about commitment and discipline. This transports across to your daily life and gives you more confidence both in your career and elsewhere.”