Why are the martial arts one of the fastest growing activities in America? What have older folks as well as kids and people of all ages and both genders discovered? They’ve found a new way of life. A way to become healthier, happier, more self-confident, and much more. This pamphlet explains what martial arts can do for you, regardless of whether you’re 7 or 70.
We often hear that martial arts is a dangerous sport, practiced by young males, for the purpose of intimidating and inflicting injury on each other and the rest of society. This totally erroneous idea is often emphasized on TV, either in newscasts or in third-rate martial arts shows. Naturally, such a definition of an activity scares a lot of people away. It’s really an activity which can be practiced by the very young and very old alike, by women as well as men. Here are a few of the benefits that students in our school acquire.
1 – Weight loss
Many people lead relatively sedentary lives. As a result, they tend to accumulate a lot of unwelcome pounds as they grow older. Also, they do not need as many calories as formerly. Martial arts training is often a low-impact, highly varied aerobic exercise, ideally suited to give most muscles a workout. Students who are serious and come to class at least three times a week are often delighted to find that flab has changed to muscle after a few months.
2 – Muscle tone and strength
As most of the muscles of the body are used in our workouts, they become firm and well defined, with a noticeable increase in strength.
3 – Flexibility
Many people, as they go through their 40’s and 50’s, discover to their dismay that the flexibility they once had is gone. They often look upon this as an unalterable sign of aging. However, that is not at all true. One clear benefit of martial arts training is a phenomenal increase in flexibility. Sincere students in our school regardless of age who work out at least three times/week report a completely unexpected improvement in flexibility. This is very important as one gets older, as it helps prevent injuries from unexpected movements (i.e. falls).
4 – Self confidence
In our society we often feel threatened or insecure because of forces or happenings that we feel are beyond our control. One of the most marked changes that comes over a student of the martial arts (and one, that is most frequently commented on) is a remarkable increase in self confidence. This has nothing to do with being able to physically establish supremacy over others. It is an inner acceptance of our selves as worthwhile components in society. Yes, we do make a difference. Yes, we can make independent, thoughtful comments on issues pertaining to us. No, we do not need to go along with ideas that do not suit us. Or people who offend our dignity. Why we feel this increase in self confidence and self reliance we don’t know. However, there are many things in this universe that we do not understand, yet they work just the same.
5 – Overcoming fear and self-doubt
Many people are unaccustomed to the limelight. They would rather die (well, almost) than stand before a group and be noticed. They think they don’t know how to speak, or perform, or discuss something or …..etc. etc. etc. This is tied in with the previous section on self confidence. The dojang (workout area) is the perfect place to overcome the fear and self doubt that plague adults. We are required to perform singly before the instructors and other students from time to time. We are also required to practice self-defense moves with the other students. Often we feel intimidated and create enormous obstacles in our own minds. Fear creeps in and takes over. Fear can only be vanquished by experience. The experience of performing, or of practicing the self-defense moves with sometimes bigger and more experienced opponents. In the setting of the dojang and amongst our friends, we learn to handle fear and make it a useful ally. One that makes us strong and able.
6 – Great Stress Reliever (anxiety, hostility)
One of our students, who handles great stress in his professional life, recently commented on how the martial arts is a great stress reliever. This is really true. Many of us have discovered the same thing. In the dojang we must focus totally. There is no room for absentmindedness, for shallowness or lack of concentration, which would permit us to dwell on work-related problems. We can’t afford to focus on our anxieties and hostilities at the same time that we must memorize new moves or ideas. It simply is not possible to concentrate on two things at once. Even after a typically stressful day, after a good workout, with congenial people, you feel renewed, you feel tranquil.
7 – Acquiring focus, self control, concentration and calmness
With enough dedicated practice the focus and self control mentioned above will follow you throughout your ordinary daily activities. Even during emergencies or potentially threatening situations, you will feel that you are in control. You will be much less likely to panic or make unwise decisions on the spur of the moment.
8 – Ability to defend yourself
In addition to the above benefits, you will also learn how to avoid physical conflict. And, if you can’t avoid it, how to fight successfully. By constant practice of concentration and calmness in the dojang, we also acquire a much heightened awareness of our surroundings, which is one of the most important aspects in self defense. Be aware of the other persons intent and thoughts, before he is even aware of them himself! This final aspect is not just for the 18 – 20 year olds. In our school we have very excellent students of all ages who would be more than a match for an adversary.
9 – Camaraderie
We have a great group of students of all ages. They come from every walk of life you can imagine (and some that you can’t). One of the very rewarding features of martial arts is the great time we have during the workouts and during the occasional school social events.
TO GET STARTED
Come and visit us and take part in a free class. No strings attached!
Wear a sweat suit or loose-fitting clothing.
You can find our locations and class times here.
Master John W. Rankin