Do you want a new hobby that can improve your life? Reap the physical, emotional, and social benefits of martial arts training.
If you are looking for a new hobby, there are many from which you can choose. For example, you might opt to take up knitting, jigsaw puzzles, or gardening. However, some hobbies are more physically, mentally, and socially stimulating than others. If you want a hobby that can get you out of the house and improve your life in multiple ways, martial arts is a top option to consider.
You have probably seen various forms of martial arts displayed prominently on television and in films. It is possible you may have even passed multiple martial arts studios in your local area while running errands. However, you may think martial arts is only for certain types of people. For example, children are often encouraged to start martial arts training. Strong, young adults are also often commercially depicted as martial artists. The reality is martial arts is appropriate for all ages, experience levels, and strength levels. It is simply a matter of choosing the right martial arts style for you and starting out at a beginner level.
What is Martial Arts?
The term “martial arts” refers to many different styles of hand-to-hand fighting. In fact, “martial” is derived from “Mars,” the God of War in Roman mythology. Most countries developed their own hand-to-hand fighting styles over the centuries, which are technically all martial arts. Yet, modern references to martial arts typically refer to styles of fighting and self-defense originating specifically in Asian countries.
In the United States, various forms of Asian martial arts are quite popular. In fact, prior to COVID-19, 2019 statistics listed martial arts as a 9.92 billion dollar industry. That popularity is partially due to the influence of popular culture. In particular, martial arts movies like “The Karate Kid” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” gave rise to spikes in martial arts studio openings and enrollment in the 1980s and 1990s. Then the general popularity of martial arts in the United States continued to expand to the present day.
What Are Some Common Types of Martial Arts?
Karate is one of the most popular forms of martial arts in the United States and around the world. In 2021, it was added to the sports showcased at the Olympics. It is a style of martial arts that combines fighting skills with mental discipline. The type of karate practiced influences the practitioner. For example, goju-ryu is a primarily defensive form of karate. Shotokan, which is one of the most popular forms of karate, emphasizes fast, efficient strikes usually meant to disable an opponent. However, it is meant to be performed only in self-defense or defense of another person. Some of the many other types of martial arts are described below:
Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing that also incorporates other movements, such as elbow strikes and clinch grappling.
Kung Fu is a family of Chinese martial arts. It is based in discipline and patience. In fact, the term “Kung Few” originally referred to performing any tasks requiring patience and discipline, not specifically martial arts. Kung Fu martial arts derivatives often include quick strikes and unusual stances designed to encourage discipline.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a particular type of wrestling-like fighting that involves grappling with and holding opponents. It is a derivative of Judo. The purpose is to make opponents submit and admit defeat. In some cases, it is used to render opponents unconscious.
Taekwondo is similar to various karate forms. However, Taekwondo incorporates more moves that require practitioners to spin and kick. Use of hands is allowed but downplayed.
What Are the Physical Benefits of Martial Arts?
Martial arts provides a physical workout, regardless of the form chosen. The full body workout provided by practicing martial arts is an excellent way to build physical endurance. The cardio workout provided by many types of martial arts also burns calories. Therefore, many types of martial arts are useful for weight loss. Many studies have shown martial arts can also improve motor skills and reaction times among practitioners.
Another physical benefit of martial arts is improving or maintaining flexibility. Often, some flexibility is lost with age. Practicing martial artists typically experience more longevity in terms of their abilities to move freely. More flexibility is also directly linked to benefits like reduced pain and lowered injury risks.
Martial arts also rely on particular stances. Combined with improved flexibility, those stances encourage good posture. Such posture reduces the risks of spinal issues with age. It also improves balance and weight distribution. Therefore, such issues as joint pain and tension are typically reduced.
What Are Other Potential Benefits of Martial Arts?
One of the top benefits of martial arts is the ability for practitioners to defend themselves, loved ones, or strangers, as needed. Approximately 821,182 aggravated assaults occurred in 2019 in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Martial arts skills provide an added level of self-confidence that allows practitioners to feel safer in all types of surroundings.
Martial arts is typically practiced with classmates in training facilities. That environment provides an additional benefit of helping practitioners learn how to work well in pairs or groups. The team-oriented nature of martial arts can also help practitioners become more at ease in a variety of social situations. Children who start martial arts training early are particularly more likely to do well in social situations later in life.
Another martial arts benefit is mental relaxation. Many martial arts disciplines emphasize controlled breathing and focusing on singular tasks. Both can help relieve mental tension. Often, students use martial arts practice to reduce stress due to those focused and calming influences.
Where Should You Learn Martial Arts?
When you are ready to start martial arts training, you may wish to sign up at the closest training facility to your home, but do so with caution. You must make sure the facility you select is operated by trained professionals. Also, see if it offers the type of martial arts training you want. Additionally, you need to select a studio based on class sizes, schedules and formats. For example, some studios require enrollment in a full ongoing martial arts program. Others may allow you to sign up on a class-by-class basis. It is potentially worth traveling several miles away from home to find a studio that suits your needs.