“Martial arts are practiced for many reasons, including; self defence, military and law enforcement applications, mental, physical and spiritual development, as well as entertainment and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage” – Wikipedia’s Martial Arts article
I firmly believe that everyone reading this article should go onto google, search ‘Martial Arts near me’ and join a club, right now!
Martial arts, whichever style you choose, are first and foremost a brilliant way to build confidence. Regardless of the art, you will always find yourself more confident after a while at any club.
In every single martial art, there is some form of partner work, even if it’s as simple as practicing a Kata (a choreographed set of moves) together in time. When you find yourself practicing moves against someone else, there is an extra sense of urgency; you don’t want to hurt them, and they don’t want to hurt you.
So you form a sense of trust with your peers as you train together, and a new sense of confidence in yourself and your ability, especially when you get that shiny new belt (or learn that brilliant new technique).
Whichever reason, confidence is gained. But what else can a martial art teach?
How about physical autonomy.
What if you never had to worry about your body and it’s limitations. Imagine always being prepared for any physical activity, no matter when it’s sprung on you.
Are you limited by your strength, flexibility or control for the things you want to do?
Physical autonomy is about these traits, and having enough of each to do whatever it is you want.
When you practice a martial art often, you’re constantly working on stances that you wouldn’t do in normal life. You’re working muscles that normally, don’t get much attention. You’re working on your flexibility, doing stretching at the beggining and end of every class. You’re working control, when you punch at your peers faces with restraint. You’re working on so many things physically it’s hard to write all of them down.
The list goes on, but ultimately, practicing a martial art will hugely benefit your level of fitness, flexibility and control. After a while, you’ll notice that you no longer struggle so much when practicing that certain move, and you’ll see the benefit a time in a club has had.
If you want proof, just walk into your local Judo club, and look at any of the players stomachs. They all have six packs!
I’m only joking, anyway, apart from hugely improving yourself physically, what else can you gain from a martial art?
What about mental fortitude.
Grit, toughness, whatever you want to call it, is about your habits. Say 100 newbies join a club today, in 2/3 years, maybe one of those 100 will still be there.
Perseverance, dedication, diligence are all great qualities, and committing yourself to a martial art even once a week, will slowly build on those skills.
It also takes a strong mind to be able to punch, aiming for the head, a person that you like and know you will either stop your fist as it touches, or tap them extremely lightly when you hit…
.. and it takes an even stronger mind to stand perfectly still and let that happen!
So, practicing a martial art can improve your fitness, physical autonomy, mental strength and confidence.
Let’s quickly list a whole bunch of other stuff that practicing a martial art can improve;
- Spirituality: Many martial arts are similar to religions, and while this may not be for everybody, the spiritual side of some of these arts is always worth investigating.
- Timekeeping: You can’t be late for class. Well, you can be late for class, but don’t expect your teachers to be okay with you being 30 minutes late every lesson. Practicing a martial art will teach you to be on time, all the time.
- Self defence: You’d think this would be the primary reason people join a martial arts club, and you’re probably right, but being able to defend yourself well in a ‘life or death’ situation is a huge benefit for anybody. Fighting is difficult, but no textbook or article online can teach you how to take a punch. Only actually being punched in the face will show you. Martial arts schools often teach their students never to start a fight, only to defend yourself if attacked, which is in a way, another self defence technique!
- How to relax: Weirdly enough, one of the main techniques in any martial artists arsenal, is relaxation. Being able to relax is part of every technique, because looseness makes you faster! If you start every technique tense, it’ll only slow you down. Martial arts clubs will show you how to breathe properly, and other ways to relax your body, while also teaching you the proper time to tense.
- How to teach others: As you progress in a martial art, you’ll have to practice the same techniques over and over again. Sooner or later, a newbie will come along and need to learn those same techniques. Who better to teach them than you, the most recent ex-newbie! You will undoubtedly teach many people techniques along the way, as you will be taught even more. You may even be asked to lead the warmups, and if you’re at a club long enough, maybe even instruct!
Martial arts are exhilarating, exhausting, exuberant and a whole lot of effort. They will take up your time, your energy, and they will leave you with so many things that I shall reiterate the point of this article. If you are reading this, go join a club near you, right now.
There are so many reasons to join a martial arts club, but the main reason for me, was fun.