It was profound, and pointed out a deep difference in how different people see their practice. At the time, I studied MA because I wanted to be a "complete human being" without even realizing that we are, all of us, already complete. It was just words and an ideal. Nothing, really.
Everything has primary and secondary gains. The same thing can have different primary and secondary gains. And we can lie to ourselves about which we value.
Some people want a black belt. Some want to be champions. Some want to be 'masters'. None of those words mean anything. The blackbelt is a symbol. The primary gain behind the desire can be to amass skills or to gain prestige, to get entry into a world of competition or to understand yourself...and some of those, particularly understanding yourself, are nebulous ideas and maybe traps, but that's a thought for another time.
So someone can believe they want to be a champion, and the real primary gain is to win matches... but they can convince themselves this is the same thing as dropping an opponent. If that were true, ambushes in the locker room or parking lot would be an acceptable part of the entire tournament process. Getting the skill to drop people, or to escape are different gains.
So some martial artists proudly do their thing as a 'way of life'. It is part of their identity. It is who they are. It is a primary gain to be a martial artist.
My point of view is radically different. Unarmed arts are part of a subset of skills that may be necessary so that I can get back to my family and friends, so that I can look at sunrises and have a good burger. That is life. Anything I do in training is to serve that. Martial arts or combatives or whatever can never be a way of life for me, only a tool to ensure that I have a life to enjoy my way in.
It changes many thing. My primary gain in an altercation is to get out of the altercation with minimum problems later. My primary gain is going home. There is no internal desire to be a monk or a master or a samurai or a knight or any of the icons that people strive to emulate. The longer I can keep breathing, the longer I can be Rory, (which has rocked so far.)
The training still shapes me (or you, if you envision it like this). It has become a basic part of my movement. It colors how I see the world and how I plan. It has taught me that many things are not problems that may seem troubling at first.
But one of the big differences is that when we look at what works, I have to be more specific about what it works for. If you train martial arts as a way of life, as long as you are engaged and alive in training it is working and your primary gains are satisfied. Whether it works for anything else or in any other context is, at most, a secondary gain.
When you train for life, whether it works and what it works for are primary. Training spent for the sake of training alone is time spent away from that life.