Throughout the various nations of the world, martial arts play an integral role in the lives of many.
While one may enter this realm with a desire to learn how to protect themselves, others thrive on the discipline-driven structures they create. In some cultures, it is the key to achieving personal honour and respect.
From place to place, theoretical knowledge and practices may differ, but the principles remain consistent.
Whatever the reason for finding martial arts may be, there is an overarching need to be receptive to a diverse range of approaches.
Through a near three decades of immersion in combat, Brisbane’s Elliot ‘The Dragon’ Compton is very familiar with this ethos.
“It’s about having an open mind and an empty cup,” Compton told The Inner Sanctum.
“It’s that white belt mentality you hear people talk about. A sixth-degree blackbelt can roll with a whitebelt and learn something they didn’t know before.
“I remember doing rounds with Rafael dos Anjos and I’d catch him with something and we’d stop and break it down and I’d explain it to him. There was no ego, like ‘I’m a former UFC champ – I don’t learn from you, you learn from me.’
“I can always add to my cup and always get new experiences, learn from different people.”
Though he was never pushed into this lifestyle during his formative years, it would have been hard for the 33-year-old to have escaped its clutch.
Compton was born into a martial arts lineage. By watching father Steve practice various disciplines from a young age, a genuine curiosity was fostered.
Soon, this gave way to a lifelong quest for knowledge that has formed the basis of 11 major kickboxing and Muay Thai title triumphs.
“It was something that kind of happened organically,” he said.
“My dad’s my coach, my main training partner. His father before that was a martial artist. It’s kind of in our bloodline, you know?
“It’s definitely like a rite of passage, but it’s not something that was ever forced upon me.
“I always used to go to the gym as a kid with the old man and watch him train. I always wanted to be involved and get into it.
“Then it kind of was just an organic progression to get to where we are.
“I had no expectation to get to where I did in the sport. I just wanted to train and teach and enjoy training martial arts for the sake of training martial arts.”
As such, this thirst for learning has taken Compton far and wide in pursuit of broadened horizons.
Each experience has been more unique than the one prior, and each has resulted in the development of his skillset and game.
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There has been a flow-on effect from this, however.
Compton has not just found a new way to view martial arts, but the world more generally.
“My old man and I have been on a random beach in the Philippines, stick-fighting people and all sorts of stuff,” he recalled.
“I’ve watched my old man live sparring someone with blades. You make one mistake, you’re going to get your arm cut off.
“In the fight game, you make a mistake you get a black eye or are knocked out. But that’s so unforgiving.
“Some of the things I’ve seen in Thailand while living in Bangkok, places the locals would take me, you realise fighting is awesome and it’s amazing. For me, it’s the be-all and end-all, but there’s so much more to life.
“It’s such a bigger picture. I think the more you can travel and expand your horizons and experience different things, particularly within the world of martial arts, you realise it’s just a small little blob on the radar.
“No matter what happens, at the end of the day, the sun always rises tomorrow.”
That said, the transformative impact of these experiences has been undeniable.
The values instilled in Compton by various trainers, coaches and instructors have become more than just a set of rules for athletic improvement. They have instead formed a code to live life by.
“It’s kind of made me who I am as a person today,” Compton proudly stated.
“It’s that old Bruce Lee saying, ‘absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.’ I’ve kind of taken that from martial arts and applied it to every single area of my life.
“The concepts of martial arts is something that I’ve been able to apply to my relationships, being a dad, to obviously my fight career – everything I’ve done.”
The application of these concepts will indeed be needed in Compton’s next outing.
Here, ‘The Dragon’ will switch sports to make his MMA debut against well-rounded Japanese veteran, Takuya Oyama (11-6).
Although the experience differential is a wide one, the Queenslander is not just viewing the fight in the context of wins and losses.
Another chance to ‘fill the empty cup’ is just as important as victory.
“I’m the guy that always wants to go after it,” Compton concluded.
“I want a fight that when you win, you know you’ve won. Not just beating some guy that shouldn’t have been there.
“I want the challenge.”
Compton vs Oyama headlines Beatdown Promotions’ inaugural event live at Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel. Tickets for the July 9 event can be purchased here.
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