I find our bodies to be amazing things. They naturally strive for preservation and efficiency. You exercise and work hard for a long time to make physical gains, then you lay off for just a short while and all that work disappears. Our bodies strive to maintain just the level it needs, which is great, but frustrating when it takes so much time to gain and so little time to lose.
One area I see this is my legs, not just in strength but in endurance. In Kuk Sool we strive for low stances. This can look very nice when performing forms (especially on taller and thus longer legged and torsoed people), but moreso it’s a matter of training legs for strength and endurance. You don’t really fight in a low stance, but it’s a lot easier to duck via bending your knees when your legs are strong enough to allow you to do this.
I think what motivates me more than fighting, self-defense, or any sort of martial activity is growing older. I see people much older than me and even people my age, that just can’t get around. Getting off the couch is an effort. Picking something up off the floor is a strain, and they bend from their back then complain of back problems when they right themselves. They haven’t used their body, so they’ve lost it. I don’t want to be this way as I grow older. So, I do my best to just use my body fully in my daily life. If I need to pick something off the floor, I bend at the knees, either squatting or quasi-lunging to do so, but either way using the full range and ability of my body. If I need to stay down for a long time (e.g. scooping out the cat litter box), then I assume some sort of low horse stance while I do so… again, not being bent over at the back and feeling the lumbar pain as I’m down working for so long. Lifting a heavy object? Use the legs, baby. Things like this. Just ensuring that whatever I do in my daily life I do fully (other implications implied).
Doing such things in everyday life won’t turn my legs into something Tom Platz will fear, but it helps to keep my legs and body usable. As I said, the body likes to maintain just the level it needs, so my hope is if I continue to use my body every day at the level I wish to have when I’m 70 years old, hopefully when I get there I’ll still have it.