Martial arts might be considered child’s play to some. Schools and pro grams have sprung up around the county in response to the campaign against bullying. However, martial arts are for people of all ages, and are far more than classes to learn kicking and punching. There is no doubt that martial arts are used for self defense. Buyer beware though, a sense of false confidence can get you in a lot of trouble. Generally speaking, it has been my experience that martial artists are humble, caring people who train, not for that one big fighter, but instead to prolong their life. The healthy lifestyle encouraged by martial arts training is worth considering. While the philosophy of the arts should not be overlooked, there are many benefits that can help improve your physical and mental acuity.
In this article let’s look at the advantages to your physical being. Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your physician before beginning any exercise routine. You may have different conditions that would important to discuss with your martial arts instructor before beginning any program. As you begin to train in any activity, start out slow. In most martial arts classes, you will stretch; in some you might do light movements that will help your body remember what it’s about to do. Different professionals have different opinions on the “warm up,” however, in my experience, none suggest going from zero to sixty as a start to your routine. Stretching feels good, and if it doesn’t, you should tell your instructor.
Every morning, that first stretch of the day feels great. There are many stretching routines that help “wake up” your body before training. These stretches have been around for hundreds of years and involve stretching both the outside and inside of your body. Don’t think of stretching just your muscles; think of stretching your entire body. For more information, research “Moo Pahl Dan Khum.”
You’re going to feel clumsy; it takes many months before you even start to get comfortable, and years to feel that you are approaching proficiency. You will probably even mix up your left and right! Don’t worry, it’s normal. The more you train, the more you may see improvements in your balance and your focus. You may even start to feel better as you strengthening the muscles that keep everything in place. Focus on your posture. If you are doing things right, you will notice that you walk taller as you muscles better support your spine. Your research should include another martial arts poem called the “Sip Sam Seh” which states, “Hold the head as if suspended from a string.” Consider this as you try to improve your posture.
Improved endurance is another benefit you should start to feel as you continue your martial arts training. As you body gets used to doing certain movements, and you start to flow better through those movements, you might find that you attack that set of steps a bit better. You might find that your breathing is better controlled. You might also find that you don’t lose your breath as easily. There are many positive side effects of martial arts training. Your awareness should improve. You will examine your surroundings differently, and hopefully avoid problems before they occur.
Through martial arts training, you might even lose weight. But be careful you could gain weight just as easily. Talk to a nutrition expert and consider your diet. Make martial arts a “whole body” experience. Although we didn’t address any of the philosophical benefits of martial arts in depth, perhaps that is an area that will reveal itself to you after some years of training. Ultimately, when you train in martial arts, you are trying to prolong your life. Whether you use your new skill to avoid conflicts, or to extend your life through maintaining a better physical body, the goal remains the same. As the martial arts poem says, the purpose and philosophy behind the martial arts is the “rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span.”
John Maihos has trained for 25 years in martial arts, and hold his “O Dan” (5th degree black belt) in the traditional Korean martial art of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan.