If you haven’t tried out any martial art yet, you might be curious about what draws people to it. After all, martial arts have been popular literally for centuries. But most people who practice will never actually get in a fight. So, why is it important to learn martial arts?
Here’s what I’ve learned from decades of practice:
Learning martial arts is important because not only do practitioners learn invaluable self-defense skills, but it also boosts confidence, builds resilience and focus, and improves strength, flexibility, coordination, and awareness.
But, the benefits are a lot more than that.
In fact, learning 1 or more martial arts is one of the “secret” weapons of most successful people. I have been involved in martial arts on and off all my life and seriously for the past seven years. In this article, I’ll share a few vital benefits including the 1 that’s more important than any of the above.
Let the fun begin…
Some Martial Arts photography by the beach at sunset pic.twitter.com/Ym8oCUjb02
— Random Pics (@RandomBestof) October 23, 2018
What are the benefits of martial arts?
The benefits of martial arts are so many, but here are the most important ones:
- Increased confidence
- Better health
- Self-defense skills
- Increased resilience to work through challenges
- Improved focus
But let’s explore a few of those in greater detail.
Training to be a martial artist requires being devoted and disciplined at practicing certain techniques and habits over the course of years. And this is done in a social context. So, at the same time, the martial artist is learning how to work effectively with others in a spirit of harmony.
The regular practice of martial arts elicits a sense of accomplishing something of great value in the practitioners, and that increases their self-confidence. This is carried over into other domains. Being a martial artist increases the odds that you’d be successful in other pursuits. In addition to being confident, you’re also learning how to focus better and how to be resilient.
Martial arts are physically demanding. A lot of energy is consumed at each training session. In Muay Thai, for example, about 1000 calories are burned for an hour of training. Martial arts are a great way to keep fit. You’ll become more flexible and stronger.
Did you know that Karate could help you lose weight?
Find out how in a recent article of mine. While I don’t think weight loss should be any martial artist’s #1 goal, it actually does a great job and it’s a little surprising how quickly you can drop the weight.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
In an effort to perform at their best, the practitioner also eats better and gives up habits such as smoking and excessive drinking. Because they know the stronger their bodies are, the greater the chance they’d be able to excel in the arts.
Meditation is also encouraged or practiced in many martial arts, and this helps you to focus better and to have better self-control. So, it’s easier for you to make better health choices.
One could argue that this is the most vital benefit — the one most people think of when they think of martial arts. And, it makes sense because having martial arts skills could be what could save one’s life or that of loved ones.
For example, there are spots in the human body that a trained martial artist can target to easily incapacitate their attacker if they are in danger.
There are also ways they could hold the assailant that would have the same effect. So, it’s really smart to have these skills. Even if one lives in a relatively safe city, it’s still advisable to be able to defend oneself.
We never know when bad people can surprise us!
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— Wolf Martial Arts (@martialartswolf) June 18, 2020
Why do we need to learn self-defense?
You need to learn self-defense skills because it’s better to have the skills and not have to use them than to find yourself in a situation where you need them and don’t have them.
“Self-defense is not just a set of techniques; it’s a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending.” – Rorion Gracie
In an ideal world, there’d be no bullies and criminals. Everybody would only do what makes others happy and safe. It’s sad, but the world is not like that, right?
Truth be told, there are bad people who enjoy inflicting pain on others, even when you’re simply minding your own business. There are those who like to hurt others.
You have so many wonderful experiences ahead of you.
The last thing you need is for a bully/criminal to hurt you so bad you have to go through the rest of your life with scars or disabled. Yours is a precious life you must learn to protect. If you become skilled in self-defense, you may also be in a situation where you get to protect somebody you love.
Even if you may never face a dangerous situation, it’s always smart to be proactive.
Even if you never have to use them, learning the skills encourages you to adopt healthier lifestyles that’ll help you become fit and help you have better focus.
Martial arts are a full package. In addition to being able to defend yourself, you’ll also learn how to control your emotions, improve your situational awareness, and stay calm under pressure. Those skills help most martial artists avoid the fight before it even begins.
Have you ever wondered which is better for self-defense, BJJ OR Judo?
I shared the answer in a recent article of mine. Both are great, and Judo is actually an offshoot of Jiu-Jitsu. But I clearly think one is better than the other for self-defense.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
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— Rachel Raphael (@rachel_raphael) September 26, 2012
Do martial arts make you violent?
Martial arts do not cause someone to be more violent than they were before training. In fact, the most accomplished martial artists in the world are rarely, if ever, in a real fight. The skills they’ve learned would certainly prepare them if they were, but those same skills also help them avoid danger, to begin with.
Being disciplined comes with the territory.
Martial arts are actually a way of being in the world. They’re not essentially about fighting. They are a way of refining oneself. That’s to say, a way of making one a better human being. And, you’ll agree that being violent is not a part of being a better human being.
Some martial arts were developed in the monastery and for a long time were known only to monks, who, you’ll agree, are highly peaceful and disciplined people. So, it won’t make you violent.
In fact, there are martial arts, such as Aikido, that could even make someone who is prone to violence more peaceful. In fact, living in peace and harmony and avoiding injury to others are key parts of the Aikido philosophy.
In a recent article of mine, I wrote an in-depth guide on its philosophy, including the 1 really surprising way an Aikido practitioner could trounce an opponent.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
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— SMA DESIGN STUDIOS (@smadesignstudio) June 18, 2015
Which martial arts is best for discipline?
A traditional Japanese art such as Karate probably provides the greatest discipline in its teachings. Students are required to address the Sensei not unlike a cadet addressing a Drill Sergeant. And students are expected to practice endlessly without complaining.
But, the truth is that it’s difficult to say which martial art is best for discipline. But honestly consistently practicing anything, and not giving up when it gets challenging will build self-discipline.
Most martial arts require doing the same set of things over and over, at the same time, and in a particular manner. If you pick any martial art and follow what the instructors say, you’ll invariably become a more disciplined person.
You’ll probably reach a point where you’ll start practicing the techniques on your own.
Martial arts foster a spirit of perpetual improvement and devotion. They foster a habit of committing to doing something for a long time. This will naturally make you more disciplined.
If you’ve ever wondered what might be the best martial art for teenage girls, I’ve got you covered in a recent article of mine.
In it, I suggested that Krav Maga and Jiu-jitsu are two of the best martial arts for teenage girls because it helps boost their self-confidence, increase strength, flexibility, and awareness, and trains them to defend themselves against attackers who may be bigger or stronger than they are.
And, amongst other issues, I looked at the question of whether martial arts could make females overly aggressive. Just click the link to read it on my site.
Photography of Martial Arts by a Martial Artist ..#martialarts #karate #photography pic.twitter.com/HPX8HoVplj
— Paul Ives MA FBIPP (@PaulIvesPhoto) January 11, 2017
What are the negative effects of martial arts?
The biggest downsides to practicing martial arts are accidental injuries. Even practicing safely, on padded mats and with the expert supervision of a Sensei, most long-term martial artists will occasionally injure themselves. Usually, the injuries are minor and do not require medical assistance.
But all dojos have probably had a broken bone or two if they’ve been open any length of time.
For myself, I’ve sustained the following, relatively minor injuries over the past 20 years:
- A bruised rib (doing Judo)
- Sprained ankles (doing BJJ)
- A minor tear in my rotator cuff (doing BJJ)
Luckily, none of my injuries required me to go to a hospital or doctor. Usually, over the counter braces work great for ankles or wrists, and arnica gel is your friend. For the rotator cuff, I did see a chiropractor and acupuncturist.
Having said all that, I’m still here and ready for the next class!
Aside from injuries, martial art training can be a tad expensive. After all, most will involve a registration fee, uniform costs, sparring gear, and a monthly tuition that’s likely at least $100. Multiply that over a period of years, and it’s not cheap.
It is, however, well worth it.
In the preceding paragraphs, we looked at the benefits of martial arts.
Specifically, we looked at whether it makes one violent and the best one if one wants to be disciplined. There are numerous benefits, mental, physical, and even spiritual. It doesn’t promote aggression.
In fact, the opposite is the case. And we wrapped things up by looking at their negative effects.