Is Martial Arts a Path to Better Fitness?
Tired of your same old routines? Just not feeling the gym anymore? Don’t let your fitness program fall victim to the boredom of monotony. Instead, change up your routine with a different pathway to fitness. Consider martial arts! There are multiple benefits to practicing a martial art – physical, mental, and spiritual, and with so many to choose from, there is almost certainly something that will capture your interest.
Some Benefits of the Martial Arts
If you’re looking for one of the all-around most wholesome, satisfying and just plain cool forms of exercise, look no further than martial arts. Practicing martial arts has so many benefits to your overall physical, mental and spiritual health that it’s hard to list them all! But we've got a few for you.
The Short List
- Total Body Workout – Few forms of exercise are as all-encompassing as the practice of a martial art. Martial arts provide a high-aerobic workout that hits every muscle group in the body. You’ll increase your strength, build endurance, build balance, improve flexibility, and tone all your muscles.
- Self Confidence – It is well-documented that practicing martial arts boosts self confidence and helps build self esteem and respect. Almost every martial art espouses the virtues of peacefulness and respect for human life. This, paired with spiritual practices and the gradual building of strength, helps contribute to a sense of balance and self.
- Quality of Life – Martial arts aren’t just total-body in nature; they’re total-life, as well. That means that martial arts are not just physical practices, but mental ones too. The principles and philosophies behind martial arts are meant not only to be practiced in the dojo, but in all other aspects of life.
- Weight Loss – Even just one hour of moderately intense martial arts can do wonders for that flab you’re trying to get rid of! Each high-impact session of martial arts is a great calorie burner. Before you know it, you’ll be pounds lighter, much healthier, and much happier to boot!
- Improved Cognitive Function – A big part of practicing martial arts takes place in the mind. Martial arts teach not only fighting techniques, but morals, values, and mental focus. You will learn principles of concentration and performance that will serve you well throughout your life. You will learn to better yourself in ways you never thought possible. After all, the true martial artist’s only enemy is himself, someone he is constantly competing against.
A Few Types of Martial Arts
There are thousands of types of martial arts practiced around the world and within each are different techniques, styles, and schools of thought. You may be wondering what your choices are and which discipline is best for you. Here are some of the most common.
- Karate – Quite possibly the best known martial art, karate originated in Japan and is still considered one of the most “classic” of martial arts. Karate is primarily practiced for sport and spiritual enrichment. The main focus is on deflection and rerouting attacks against you back to your opponent.
- Aikido – Translating to “the way of harmonious spirit,” Aikido is another Japanese martial art form, designed mainly for self-defense. It is one of the most peaceful forms of martial arts in that it shows a person methods they can take to defend themselves without causing injury (or excess injury) to the other person.
- Taekwondo – A Korean martial art form that is also highly popular all over the world. It combines both offensive and defensive principles into a martial art form that serves both as exercise and self-defense. Taekwondo focuses heavily on kicks and quick hand movements.
- Judo – Judo is a competition-based sport that also originates from Japan. It is similar to wrestling in the sense that the main objective is to throw down or takedown opponents for points. “Maximum efficiency, minimum effort” is the cornerstone of this martial art, which uses clever techniques and sweeps to knock opponents off their feet.
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an intense and rather ruthless martial art form that uses aggressive moves such as choke holds, joint locks, eye gouging and more to overwhelm and take down opponents. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes using gravity to manipulate the opponent’s body and throw them off you. Then the objective is to immobilize the opponent so that a torrent of attacks can be unleashed. Brutal, but fun!
- Krav Maga – The national martial art of Israel, it has a fiercesome reputation. Designed for street survival and defense, Krav Maga is arguably one of the most “practical” of martial art forms. You’ll learn a combination of kicks, punches, Jiu Jitsu-style grappling, ground fighting, and more. Krav Maga may also involve training in the use of weapons, such as gun defense and hand-and-knife combat.
- Muay Thai – The “Art of Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai is a martial art that originated in Thailand. Combining western style boxing with kicks, knees, elbows and unique moves, it is a source of inspiration for MMA style fighting.
Do Your Homework
As with just about everything else in the fitness universe, if you choose to go down the martial arts path with your fitness routine, there are choices to be made. To begin, know your goals. If you know where you want to be, that will make figuring out how to get there a lot easier. Learn about the various disciplines involved and what they are best suited to accomplish. Then, pick the one you think will get you to your desired goal. See? Piece of cake.
Need Some Help Getting Started with Martial Arts?
If you're considering martial arts as a part of your fitness program and would like to discuss your goals with a professional, we work with hundreds of martial artists, personal trainers, and fitness coaches and we'd be happy to offer a referral to one that suits you. If you're looking for a great selection of fitness equipment and accessories, we carry the top brands to fit every goal and budget and we're here to make your fitness routine more productive. Stop by our store in Thousand Oaks or give us a call. And don't forget to check out Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, available at Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store.
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