Have you heard someone say that practicing Martial Arts has transformed their life? Maybe you’re wondering if you can change your life too. According to many health experts, Martial Arts has a wide array of health benefits, not just limited to our physical bodies, but also our emotional state.
So, why are Martial Arts particularly beneficial for our minds? We delve deeper to find out more!
Researchers say that there are two ways to improve attention, through attention training (AT) and attention state training (AST). AT is based on practicing a specific skill and improving at that skill. Whereas, AST is about a specific state of mind that allows a stronger focus. This can be done by using exercise, meditation or yoga, among other things.
It has been suggested that Martial Arts is a form of AST. Recent research has shown a link between practice and improved alertness. Backing this idea up further, another study has shown that Martial Arts practice – specifically Karate – is linked with better performance on a divided attention task.
A individual’s working memory is most likely to hold onto new information when they are able to pay attention and focus on a task or subject. In a typical Martial Arts class, students must give their full attention to the instructor as they demonstrate new skills with accurate technique.
A student’s brain must work to match the instructor’s words with their movement; focusing on replicating the movement when the time comes. Students must learn when the movement is appropriate, what it is called, and how to do it; all at the same time. This process helps with both short-term and long-term memory.
Self-control is the ability to regulate one’s own impulses and behaviours. This quality is essential for children, as it helps them resist temptation and make good choices, even in difficult situations. Students are taught to control movements and emotions which, can help develop self control. For example, learning to stay calm and focused, even when faced with a challenging situation, such as sparring with a partner or competing in a tournament.
Self control is about delayed gratification, working towards a goal. You can’t expect to reach your goal in the first class. Doing kata’s over and over again, or repetitive sparring sessions, exercises your self control mentally. Martial Arts will help regulate student’s thoughts, emotions and behaviour through its systems and traditions. It will help students to make cognitive decisions to avoid or resist temptations that can derail them from reaching their long term goal. Once goals are achieved, students will experience a boost in self-confidence and self-esteem. This will motivate them to start setting their next long term target and working hard towards achieving it.
Practicing a Martial Art offers a nice boost of ‘feel-good’ chemicals, like endorphins, that lift your mood. As you master the craft, you’ll likely get a boost in confidence too.
The confidence to defend yourself against a potential attacker
Any Martial Artist will tell you that the confidence they feel knowing that they are able to defend themselves in any compromising situation is incomparable. The self-defence skills you learn – from sparring to defence techniques – prepare you for real life situations.
The confidence to perform under pressure
When you study a Martial Art, you will eventually find yourself joining competitions. Everyone is aware of the immense pressure one feels whenever one competes. The fact that you are competing shows the world how much you believe in yourself and your skills. It also proves that you are ok with whatever the outcome may be. You know that win or lose, you will learn something from the experience.
The confidence to achieve anything you set your mind to
When you first take up a Martial Art, you may feel daunted by the number of techniques that you must learn, as well as the strength of your opponents. However, the more you practice, the more you realise that you are capable of matching your opponents in strength as well as technique – or sometimes, even do better than them! The fact that you are able to do so gives you the confidence in knowing that, you can achieve anything as long as you train hard for it. Nothing is impossible – it is just a state of mind!
The confidence to know that you look great!
Martial Arts help you to look great without, potentially, even noticing it. While you’re busy doing drills and sparring, you’re actually burning hundreds of calories at the same time. Looking great is just one of the few perks!
The confidence to socialise with others
Martial Arts is taught in a group setting. As practitioners, you will often come across many different students at any given time and, will inevitably be exposed to a bigger group of people who, share the same love for Martial Arts. At its core, Martial Arts teaches us the importance of socialising and it increases our social circles tenfold.
Martial Arts often involve facing challenges and obstacles that require students to think critically and come up with creative solutions; even whilst under pressure. This can help both adults and children develop important problem solving skills that, can be useful in all areas of life. It’s all part of the process of learning a Martial Art.
The first weeks are dedicated to learning new techniques and positions. As your arsenal of moves grow, you will begin learning how to combine all the techniques together as, you look for ways to defeat your sparring partners. The Martial Arts experience is unique for everyone. There will be some techniques that come naturally to you, while others seem impossible to learn at first. Some skills will prove to be very effective on most people you spar with. While others will be virtually impossible for you to pull off on resisting opponents. It’s all part of the training process.
Problem solving leads nicely on to ‘adaption’. Martial Artists learn to adapt to specific situations and, with time, begin to have a better understanding of which technique is effective for each scenario. As their understanding of the most opportune time to use certain moves improves, students will learn how to set traps for opponents to execute their moves. That’s what a Martial Arts sparring session consists of. Two people trying to outthink one another!
Whether you’ve just started Martial Arts or are a seasoned practitioner, the self-confidence you develop is unrivalled by any other activity. There’s no doubt that Martial Arts truly brings out the best in all its practitioners when it comes to mental health.
Is Martial Arts For You?
Now that you’ve read all about the mental benefits of Martial arts, it’s time to get started. Make the decision today to push yourself to a new level of personal performance. In no time, you’ll be reaping all the benefits of learning Martial Arts!
Read our handy tips and guides on choosing a Martial Arts club or look further into the benefits of Martial Arts for children.
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