People have various motives for training in martial arts: for self defense, sport, as a social activity, and to learn about its history and culture. All of these are great reasons to begin training.
In this blog post, I don’t focus on reasons for training but instead I discuss 10 benefits of martial arts training. Granted, there are many more reasons than that but I believe the following ones are at the top of the list.
To be successful in life you must have discipline. This is especially true in martial arts. There is so much to learn, and none of us are perfect or coordinated at first.
When you start sparring you may lose all the time. But that’s normal. Like anything else, sticking to it and working hard will get you where you need to be. It takes discipline.
Mental discipline in the martial arts helps you manage your expectations. Again, in the beginning your skill level will be low. You advance one step at a time, and only through disciplined and systematic training will you get better. You have to persevere.
As for children, many parents find that the (behavioral) discipline kids learn through martial arts transfers positively to their behavior both at school and home.
2. Full-Body Workout
Martial arts training involves the entire body. Your legs must be strong and have stamina for stances and footwork. Your core is constantly engaged in bending, leaning and body rotation. Your arms must perform blocks and strikes or manipulate weapons. All of these have to be constantly coordinated.
In addition, your mind and spirit get a workout through martial arts. You have to motivate yourself to practice and train. When you do that, you regularly overcome challenges and obstacles that, in turn, toughens your spirit as you strive to be better.
3. Body Coordination
In martial arts, you have to constantly synchronize your movements, from head to toe. This is where the mental and physical align. Your brain directs you and your arms and legs respond. Not only that, you also have to navigate your physical environment, which requires spatial awareness.
Together, these things require you to constantly be aware of your balance and timing. When you stop to think about it, its amazing how many things you must do at once when you train, spar and defend yourself!
4. Muscular Strength & Flexibility
Flexibility is the ability to move muscles and joints through a full, normal range of motion. There are two types of flexibility: static and dynamic.
Static flexibility involves holding a position within your range of motion. For example, when you hold a position while stretching before or after you train, that’s static flexibility.
Dynamic flexibility is determined through your range of motion during movement. When you spar, for instance, your dynamic flexibility can be observed by how high you can kick or how much your spine rotates.
Martial arts training improves both static and dynamic flexibility.
5. Personal Growth
Through martial arts, you learn how to control your body and mind. And a long-term commitment to training teaches you to be patient while working towards your goals. In the end, persistence pays off. This is a great lesson that can extend to other aspects of your life.
Martial arts training gives you an excellent opportunity to learn to get through difficult situations. Instead of avoiding adversity, you learn to face challenges. As the saying goes, “Get knocked down six times, get up seven.”
Training in a martial art is an activity where growth is achieved through individual effort. At the same time, when you achieve a goal that success is due to your hard work. Each personal achievement provides a sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-confidence.
Adults and children alike can gain confidence through martial arts. Trying something new is challenging and can be a bit scary. But by engaging in new activities we all have to accept failures and continue working toward our personal goals. As we do, confidence grows little by little.
7. Self-Defense Skills
Martial arts is grounded in learning new skills. Learning how to be as calm as possible and unafraid to protect yourself is not easy at first. Through martial arts, however, you learn how to deal with verbal and physical attacks and aggressive behavior.
Learning and pressure testing self-defense techniques is very empowering. But self defense involves more than just techniques. It also includes the mental aspects of situational awareness, maintaining your composure and controlling your emotions. And, of course, there are the physical aspects of maintaining your balance, avoiding strikes, kicks and take downs, and being familiar enough with physical entanglement that you don’t panic and “gas out”.
Martial arts can improve your existing relationships and help you make new friends. Personally, some of the strongest relationships I’ve developed began in the training hall.
Also, martial arts is a great way for your children to meet other kids they probably wouldn’t get to know outside their neighborhood or school.
Participating in martial arts provides opportunities to develop friendships with people of different ages, races, creeds, and individual backgrounds. I’ve made strong connections with people around the globe through a shared interest in martial arts. And I communicate with some of them nearly every day!
9. Stress Relief and Increased Longevity
The mix of cardio, strength and techniques training in martial arts stimulates the production of endorphins in your body. These hormones are manufactured by your brain, spinal cord, and other areas, and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
According to Dr. Debra Bruce, endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. The receptors in your brain that endorphins bind to are the same ones that some pain medicines bind to, and they make you feel good.
Like me, have you ever felt tired and lazy before a martial arts workout, but afterwards you feel revitalized and ready to take on the world again? That’s thanks to the endorphons that get released when you train!
Physical activity and social interaction have both been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and cultivate good mental health. A 2018 study found that socializing through physical activity can even add years to your life!
Attention and focus are critical to learning martial arts. And one of the largest benefits of martial arts for both adults and children is improved concentration. To learn new moves and sequences, you must practice active listening and learn how to observe your instructor(s) as he or she directs you on important aspects of the training.
A martial arts technique or form can have dozens of different movements in it. Each move must be broken down into steps to make the learning process easier. You must learn gradually, repeating and adding steps as you go and anticipating which step comes next. Eventually, everything comes together for you in the form of continuous, fluid movements.
Global Martial Arts University
To help you achieve your resolutions for greater physical fitness, self-confidence, and mental well-being, the GMAU has many martial-art programs for you to consider. Check out our videos at the GMAU YouTube channel to see what we offer.
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