There are more martial arts types than letters in the English alphabet. One hundred ninety of them, to be exact. Some involve striking such as boxing, capoeira, karate, Muay Thai, and taekwondo. Some martial arts teach you how to take down an opponent, like Judo or Aikido. If you want to learn takedown and submission, your best bet is ground-fighting martial arts like wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
While those mentioned require intense movements, there are also martial arts that are meditative in style, with Tai Chi being the most popular. In contrast, if you want some action like the ones you see in movies, you can try weapons-based martial arts or combine one or more fighting styles.
Ever heard of Krav Maga, Shuai Jiao, or Luta Livre? How about Russian Sambo, kali, American Kenpo, or Baguazhang? Perhaps it’s time to head to a local martial arts gym and learn more.
No matter what style or specific type of martial arts you plan on learning, you’ll surely have a lot of fun. There are tons of terms to know and techniques to master. There’s also a black belt waiting for the most dedicated student and perhaps one or two competitions.
A bonus: martial arts don’t just come with a punch. It’s packed with health and wellness benefits that some regard as a lifestyle on its own.
Most people picture martial arts like the stuff they see in movies—kicking, punching, takedowns, and, at times, weapons. When they join a class, all they have in mind is to learn a few self-defense techniques.
They don’t realize that martial arts can teach them a few tips to staying healthy. In truth, it’s more than a fitness routine; it also translates into an active lifestyle. Want to know more? Here’s a detailed list of the fitness benefits you can expect from practicing martial arts.
We all know that getting some exercise is good for the heart, but martial arts take it to a higher level. Drills increase your heart rate and allow blood to circulate throughout your body. The more you continue martial arts training, the more efficiently your heart pumps blood.
Besides keeping your heart healthy, high-intensity martial arts can also help lower your blood pressure. Continuous workout strengthens your heart, reducing the effort it needs to pump blood.
In addition, martial arts workouts can reduce proteins that carry bad cholesterol to your bloodstream. On the same line, it can also increase good cholesterol levels. Your heart health improves if there are no blockages in your arteries.
Martial arts also reduce stress. When you’re not stressed, your heart works well, and you prevent anxiety and depression from happening.
Do you want a toned body with six packs and all? Martial arts target all muscle groups, particularly those in your arms, legs, and core, to give you the body you’ve always dreamed about.
Complex martial arts movements and exercises improve various muscles in the body. Punching helps you develop your biceps. Kicking strengthens your leg muscles and requires your core muscles to work hard.
Repetitive actions also help build muscle mass, making those rock-hard abs or boxer arms a reality. Oh, and do you want a better bum? Kicking drills will help tone your butt—another reason to try this kickass routine.
Martial arts aren’t only great cardiovascular exercises. They can also double as a weight loss routine. That’s because your intense workouts can help you burn up to 500 calories in just one lesson.
Continued training won’t only make you sweat, but it’ll also help you achieve your desired weight. Apart from burning calories, intense workouts also reduce your cravings and help you control your appetite. When you don’t crave fatty or sugary foods, you reduce the risk of diabetes—what a sweet and fun way to tone your body.
Faster reflexes also count as a martial arts advantage. Sparring sessions, competitions, and even countering your opponent help improve your reaction time. Martial arts come with a combination of moves not just for defense but for offense as well.
In addition, repetitive movements such as katas and other drills hone your reflexes. They serve as ‘muscle memory’ that helps you move faster and more efficiently. You learn how to anticipate your opponent’s moves and counter them effectively.
Martial arts require considerable strength and power, especially the standing and grappling styles. You’ll need to make your core muscles work hard so you can deliver solid punches and powerful kicks.
Standing martial arts styles like boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts (MMA) are forms of high-intensity interval training. Also known as HIIT, these workouts develop your upper and lower resistance. They also improve your coordination skills as most include footwork combinations. Drills also strengthen your endurance.
Aside from developing a toned physique, martial arts also do wonders for your mental health. Exercises and drills help the body release endorphins to boost your mood. Moreover, these good vibes remain even after several hours, making it an excellent way to start or end a day.
Martial arts are also great stress relievers. Classes and training sessions clear out distractions and even allow you to release your frustrations in a good way. There’s a satisfying feeling to beating your opponent, even if it’s just the gym’s training mannequin. It gets even better when you do well during your sparring session or a competition.
Martial arts may seem like a flurry of actions. In truth, martial arts are a series of carefully coordinated moves. You get to learn self-development to identify your weaknesses and improve on them.
A trainer or coach can correct your form and help you achieve your goals. This applies to gym sessions and those who want to enter competitions. Training improves your concentration until you reach your goals.
Several martial art schools also teach their students principles that help them become better individuals. Martial arts may seem violent to some, but they train students to become less impulsive and tolerant of others. After all, its primary purpose is self-defense through proper fighting techniques.
Some may even prescribe rules of conduct inside and outside the class. Martial arts can instill discipline, character, and other desirable values that translate well in different settings. You develop patience and resilience, values that you can apply at home or even at work.
Martial arts are empowering for men and women of all ages. Most people engage in martial arts to learn self-defense tactics that they can use to protect themselves and even their loved ones. By participating in group classes or one-on-one training sessions, you can learn new things and become confident in practicing them.
But that’s not all. Martial arts also provide opportunities for you to excel. Taekwondo and karate have a belt system that recognizes students who demonstrate advanced expertise. Coaches can help you advance from one level to the next, while competitions offer additional recognition.
Last but not least is a sense of belonging. Martial arts classes operate on group-based learning. This setup is effective because it helps students learn through experience. They develop and master their skills independently and through the help of fellow students and their masters.
Although achievements are largely individual-based, students can rely on their classmates’ and mentors’ support while they continue to train and improve.
As you can see, martial arts provide physical and mental health benefits. They help you develop a better physique, keep your heart healthy, and help you lose weight. Martial arts likewise relieve stress and help you become confident.
Living a healthy lifestyle is perhaps the most significant benefit you get from martial arts. After all, martial arts include your time at the dojo and your commitment to living an active lifestyle.
Training helps you become better in many aspects. You may find yourself making better health choices. You eat better and take every opportunity to rest and recover. You also understand that the proper form and technique can reduce injuries. You learn moderation is critical for an effective time on the mat.
The lessons you learn in the gym also change your life perspective. You learn that purpose and discipline are keys that help achieve your goals. You learn to become patient and tolerant, which allows you to deal better with life’s challenges. In trying times, the skills you know can help you defend yourself and even your loved ones.
In sum, practicing martial arts comes with a wealth of benefits. Whether the fast and furious kicking punching type or a style that features calm and mindful moves, you’ll have a well-toned body and a healthy heart. Continuous training helps you become well-coordinated, strong, and self-confident.
Martial arts are also forms of mental practice. Precise, coordinated movements require focus and determination. It also takes discipline and skill to master various fighting techniques.
Apart from developing self-defense tactics, martial arts also help you build a positive outlook in life. They keep you grounded and motivated to achieve your goals—whether it’s for fitness or living a healthy and productive lifestyle.