Most people do not think, “I want to develop myself so I’ll study martial arts”. This is something that sneaks up on you like a ninja in the dark, only much slower. From a physical perspective it may be liked to developing six pack abs. If you do crunches every week, you’ll have great abs but they will not be visible for quite some time.
Enhanced confidence is probably one of the more noticeable results of training in martial arts. It is natural to feel uncomfortable during conflict or in unfamiliar surroundings but martial arts creates unfamiliar situations in a safe environment. This allows you to build confidence in your ability to respond and be more relaxed in difficult situations.
Training with an emphasis on relaxation and deep breathing as a response to an attack is likely to have some transfer to being “attacked” outside the dojo (school). “Attack” can be any kind of threat; verbal, physical, etc. It may come from a situation like a car accident, a vicious dog, an angry spouse, a mugger or any number of other threats. Being a little more relaxed means the mind will be clearer and leads to a better response.
Whether the threat is verbal, physical or imaginary, it is an attack on the mind. Yes, being punched in the gut is an attack on the mind! Without the mind there would be no registration of pain, no thoughts of why this is happening, how did this happen to me, how do I respond, etc. Certainly it would be nice to condition your body to withstand a physical assault with “abs of steel” but you cannot have “eyes of steel” or teeth that cannot be broken by a ball bat. Sometimes survival depends on how you react to the initial event within less than a second. If you panic and shut down, that’s not a best response. Sometimes freezing and doing nothing is the correct response but it would ideally be a conscious decision, not an automatic reaction.