Martial Arts – Good for Everyone!

If you mention ‘martial arts’ to your average Joe, it’s likely that images of Jackie Chan or Kung-Fu Panda spring to mind.  What most people don’t know is that martial arts can be a fantastic form of exercise; working out not just the body but also the mind.

Martial arts are a spectrum of combative systems which originate from a range of countries across the world, including Japan (karate, kendo and judo), Korea (taekwondo) and China (kung fu and tai chi).  Due to their unique requirements for physical strength, flexibility, mental discipline and meditation and controlled breathing, martial arts offer much more than just self-defence.  If you or any member of your family is looking for a new challenge, here are a few great reasons why that challenge should be a martial art.

Good for Kids

Discipline and Respect – While your child might think he or she is a simply being enrolled in a fun after school activity, what they’re really doing is being taught the valuable principles of discipline and respect.  Each class will require your child to tackle new skills, requiring concentration and careful practice.  During the class your child will be expected to be respectful to the instructor; waiting quietly whilst instructions are given, and bowing to the teacher at the conclusion of the class.  These are lessens that will serve your child well for the rest of their life!

Fun and Friendship – Most martial arts are taught in groups and your child will have the opportunity to make life-long friends.  Before enrolling your child in a martial arts class, take some time to meet the instructor and other parents enrolling their children.

Good for Girls

Learn Self-Defence – It’s a big, bad world out there and although you hope never to need them, self-defence skills are something every girl should have.  Learning a martial art is a fantastic way of equipping yourself with some valuable skills to defend yourself against an attacker.  Jiu jitsu, a Brazilian martial art, is perfect for women as it teaches how to get away from a stronger attacker.  Similarly, wing chung, a Chinese system, is specifically designed for women and specializes in close-range combat.   Many women find that knowing that they have the skills to defend themselves gives them more confidence and determination, regardless of whether they ever need to use them.  Not to mention, practicing those skills can be a great form of stress-release.

Get Long, Lean and Flexible – Martial arts are a great form of exercise and can help with weight loss, toning and improved flexibility.  Martial arts provide a unique combination of aerobic exercise, meaning your heart rate is elevated,  resistance training, meaning you’re strengthening your muscles and flexibility, leaving you with long, smooth muscles.   A vigorous 1 hour class of taekwondo can burn 600-800 calories, the equivalent of running over 10km!

Good for Guys

Learn How to Kick Ass – Modern men don’t often get the chance to flex their muscles and fight.  Just like the fairer sex, being able to defend yourself is incredibly important and practicing a martial art will stand you in good stead if you ever find yourself in sticky situations of that nature. Furthermore, the act of merely being able to say that you are a black belt in karate might act as a self defence mechanism in itself.

Let off Some Steam – Practicing a martial art can be a great method for stress release.  What better way to wind down after a tough day at the office than throwing a few good, hard punches and kicks?

Good for Oldies

Reduced Falls Risk – Learning a martial art is a great form of exercise with one particular benefit being improvements in strength and co-ordination.  This is particularly important amongst the elderly as it helps to reduce the risk of falling.  While a fall in a young person is no big deal, a fall in an older person can easily result in a broken bone or lengthy hospital stay which can have considerable negative health repercussions.  Tai Chi is a fantastic choice for older people thinking of taking up a martial art as the practice is low-impact and non-competitive whilst offering significant improvements in balance and co-ordination.

Keeps the Mind Happy – There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that practicing a martial art is associated with reduced anxiety, aggression and hostility and improved self-esteem, self-confidence and independence.