There are many benefits to learning martial arts. The martial arts are perfect! They offer a life-long opportunity of growth. Beyond the physical movements that are intrinsic to the martial arts (i.e. punch, kick, block, etc) - it is one of the few life-long endeavors that enhance your physical being, as well as your mental and spiritual self.
Studying the martial arts can become as physical or cerebral as you want. After 30+ years training in the martial arts, I can say that there have been many times in which I have cut back my physical practice to only replace it with books about theory and history which have contributed to my growth and martial arts persona. Both forms of study offer tremendous benefits.
I am not denouncing main-stream sports. In fact, I personally love baseball, volleyball and wakeboarding. My kids play soccer, basketball, football and take ice skating. The martial arts will never interfere with their ability to play any sport or learn new things. A great martial arts program will reinforce how to learn. Great martial arts experiences make your mind and body receptive to constantly learning new things.
Benefits of Martial Arts
1. Physical Strength - Most schools today offer a strong conditioning component in their training. The martial arts can be as physically active as any other sport, therefore enhancing your fitness level. It also focuses on body weight movements, which teach you how to leverage your own body, which is highly functional. In other words, your fitness regiment will leave you with a real skill.
2. Develops the Right & Left Side - Modern martial arts comprehensively trains the body. In other words, it is one of the few physical sports that will train both sides of the body. You practice movements on both the right and left side. It will develop strength, endurance, explosively, balance and flexibility. Despite that most people still have a dominant side, most martial artists are coordinated on both their right and left sides.
3. Offers Gender Equality - Women and men, girls and boys are equal in the martial arts. Girls do not have disadvantages in learning and excelling. Today, girls have all the same opportunities to excel. Because the modalities of training included in learning martial arts are so vast – I do not believe that women have any disadvantages. Not only can women/girls progress as quickly as men/boys – today, they have equal opportunities to teach, compete and lead others.
4. Builds Brain Power – The martial arts are widely accepted as a practice that enhances focus. In fact, it is supported as a great activity for children with various types of ADD and ADH. The martial arts improve focus, discipline and self-control. One layer of this enhanced focus and discipline is that it is exercised at even various speeds. You will learn to apply the skill of focusing to long and short-term goals.
5. You Will Toughen Up. This is not a bad thing. Sometimes feeling tougher and being tougher will help you stand up for yourself. Great instructors help to cultivate an appropriate and responsible use of this confidence so you are not a reckless person with your confidence. Keep in min, that arrogance is often mistaken for confidence.
6. Teaches you to Breathe – Not a lot of sports focus on the importance of breathing. Learning how to use your breath to enhance your self-control, your focus, your exertion and your recovery is very powerful. When you know how to breath correctly – you can control many physiological changes/stresses in your body.
7. Offers Structure – Almost all martial arts program have some form of structure. Their structure is consistent and it is built into the rituals of the school. This etiquette is unwavering. In fact, when you do not comply with the rules of a school, you will most likely experience what I consider to be an appropriate form of alienation. This is a healthy experience. Rules are important. Learning how to follow rules is even more important. Most sets of rules express some combination of responsibility, manners and organization. This is the foundation of being part of any group dynamic or society.
8. Goal Oriented – The martial arts is excellent at setting short and long-term goals. Whether it is a belt rank or new content that is dangled in front of you – you must earn the knowledge. This knowledge is progressive. They are structured like building blocks. Having, setting and meeting goals is an important part of becoming a productive individual. One could argue that without setting goals for yourself- you will never evolve as a person.
9. The Doors are Always Open- Unlike most sports, the martial arts is one that keeps its door open for everyone. There are no age limits or restrictions. You can take a hiatus and then return when you feel ready again. You can learn a martial art at any age. Some of course might be better suited than others, but the martial arts are perfect in that – you are always welcome to learn and participate.
10. There is Always More to Learn – Like everything, there is always more to learn. This may not be unique to the martial arts, but it is amazing to think that you could study something for 10, 20, or 30+ years and there is still something out there for you to learn. I think when people believe they have learned it all- complacency kicks in- this leads to degeneration of skill and knowledge.