The practice of Martial Arts is not how it's portrayed in movies.
IT IS SO MUCH BETTER.
Some sports require certain muscles to work much more than others. Pitcher's shoulder and tennis elbow are two common ailments that result from repetitive use. Martial arts require and train all the major muscle groups without stressing just a few.
A strong core is essential to everyday healthy living. With it comes a strong and well-supported back, good posture, ease in doing other physical tasks including gardening, walking up and down the stairs, playing with children.
In martial arts, the brain is constantly managing tactile and visual signals to keep us stable. There are so many small moving parts that we're not consciously aware of what our bodies are learning. As these connections become stronger, we are much less likely to lose balance in every day situations.
Flexibility and mobility have to do with a person's ability to move through the range of motion. A good range makes day-to-day activates much easier as well as prevents injuries. With so much of our day spent in a seated position. we need to make sure we move regularly in ways that not only keeps our current flexibility and mobility but also strengthens them.
Strength-training is not only for body builders. It is an essential part of a healthy life. We need our muscles to be strong enough to carry a baby in a car seat, hoist bags of groceries, move furniture. Stamina is not only important in making sure we can finish removing the mulch from the side of the road before neighbors complain but also that we can run away from dangerous situations.
The practice of martial arts require the mind and body to work together. The movements are only the tangible part of it. With consistent repetitions, a dependable structure, and concrete goals, it helps both adults and children develop this important skill.
Many people choose martial arts because of its challenging physical requirements. Even more demanding, however, is what takes place in the mind. Disappointment and doubt are part of the process of acquiring mastery and dealing with them develops resilience and strength.
Do you notice how often your mind is pre-occupied with what's coming up next instead of what's going on now? Our minds race and scramble so often that we feel life passing by without our noticing. The very nature of practicing martial arts forces our minds to focus on the present without losing sight of the next step.
Proprioception is knowing where we are physically in space. Learning to gauge the distance to reach a target or to evade a sparring partner's moves develops this sense that helps us navigate our spaces in everyday living.
Martial arts began as a way for people to defend themselves. Today, its numerous other benefits--physical health and discipline and as a way to de-stress to name a few--have drawn many people to it. Self-defense, however, is still the underlying concept, whether in sparring, board-breaks, or practicing kata. Being aware of our surroundings is a major part of self-defense and its importance is woven into everyday practice.
Do you associate "discipline" in martial arts with forced obedience or standing still in a horse stance for hours? Perhaps some martial arts senseis still hold onto these harmful traditions, but true self-discipline is not instilled this way. It is the stable structure and the periodic assessment provided by the belt ranking system that help students learn what it takes to achieve goals and over time, internalize the mindset and work ethic.
Respect underscores all the interactions in martial arts instruction. From the beginning, bowing and other behaviors that show respect are incorporated into everyday practice. While outward actions don't always become true intentions, it does provide a concrete model of what's expected. We absorb the culture of our community, whether we realize it or not.
If pubic speaking induces more fear than death, how much more intimidating it is to perform? Martial arts take this fear and the fear of being hurt physically and make them regular occurrences. Doing something that causes discomfort and becoming better at managing it on a regular basis in small doses is how lasting confidence is built.
The ability to recover from setbacks is one of the strongest indicators of a successful and happy life. The study of resilience tells us that connections, clear goals, health, and confidence are the top ingredients. Martial arts practice provides a safe environment in which to experience setbacks: not passing a test or breaking a board can be disappointing but the stakes are not high. In addition, the strong community surrounding a dojo, the emphasis on health, the inbuilt goals of ranks are exactly how students can develop this important skill and mindset.
Even though chess or STEM programs often come to mind when we think of problem-solving skills, they are frequently employed in the practice of martial arts. How do I improve this kick? What is it about this opponent that makes it hard to counter? Using our cognitive power together with our physical body helps us learn in a way that can be more direct and longer-lasting.