We all need to remind ourselves not just to look after the things we can see & feel, but also the things we cannot. People often focus on the physical benefits of martial arts (what they can see or feel):
Toned & bigger muscle mass
improved weight management
This, of course, is all on top of the self-defence skills that you will learn & the great sense of community & friendship you get at Family Martial Arts Centres.
There are, of course, other less-tangible benefits of martial arts training. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is also not one that should be ignored.
Think confidence is just for kids? Think again. Studies find a strong correlation between adults with self-confidence and career advancement, success in relationships and productivity. Martial arts programmes help, because as you make progress through the belts, you become more confident in your ability to defend yourself. And this confidence comes through in the workplace as well as the street. Our martial arts programme also helps you build confidence by encouraging you to succeed. This is one of the great benefits of martial arts at any age. When you’re self-assured, you approach more challenges with a can-do attitude, and as we all know, confidence goes a long way in breeding success. Confident kids do better at school and will often find themselves getting into less mischief.
We also get a lot of people who come to us not to learn to be a ninja, but to try to improve confidence - improved confidence improves self-esteem which in turn can lead to improved mental health. It seems to be ‘a truth universally acknowledged’ that modern lives leave many people struggling with feelings of anger or anxiety - for these people, the martial arts can be a channel to redirect their energies. I speak from personal experience in saying that a couple of hours hitting a pad and focussing in on what I was being taught often helped me to cast off the black dog of a rubbish day at work and have some quality ‘me’ time.
A Place of Calm & Refuge
Modern lives are busy and feel even more so with people working & living in the home environment. It may strike people outside of the martial arts world as odd, but martial arts can actually help people to lead calmer lives. For example, in order to be good at martial arts, you must pay very close attention with to what your Instructor tells you and to what you are doing. This helps to foster concentration skills in people, especially the young, and can be especially helpful for people who struggle with attention or focusing (eg: ADHD type disorders). Also, because of the sometimes complex nature of martial arts training, it can help people perform better in tasks that divide their attention (Think ‘Block, Punch & Kick’!). Learning martial arts helps people learn to avoid fights as it can give people the skills to manage their adrenaline and control their fight or flight responses, something which can be an issue when people struggle to control their emotions.
I know I hold my training time ‘sacred’ (woe betide anyone that disrupts or disturbs it) - this is because it is a place where I can put all my worries of the day aside & focus on something just for me. It clears my head & allows me to ‘reset’. It’s a bit like a ‘safe space’ for me.
It’s well-known that people who suffer from depression can benefit from physical exercise and there’s no better physical exercise than the martial arts; exercise can release feel-good chemicals in the brain that lift mood. Other mood-boosting benefits of the martial arts are similar to those that come from completing a task or mastering a hobby.
Being in Control
Public health professionals often speak of the importance of the need for human beings to be able to have good control over various factors in their life and to be able to have high levels of self-determination - these factors can have a huge impact on mental wellbeing. What the martial arts can do is help people to feel empowered - learning martial arts can help people process their trauma and redirect feelings of powerlessness (it was a huge help when both of my parents passed away suddenly); learning a martial art can help someone who was previously victimised feel more in control; and martial arts also teach people to establish and defend healthy boundaries in their personal life (worry about what matters - what doesn’t matter shouldn’t worry you).
So if you want to benefit your whole health, not just your physical health, make sure martial arts is on your list of things to try