Martial arts has a host of benefits that go beyond simply being better prepared to defend yourself (though that does remain an important part of why it is great to learn a martial art style.) Let’s explore the mental benefits that are enjoyed by those who have begun practicing a form of their choice.
It Reduces Stress
Stress is something that affects all of us today. Whether that stress is coming from school, work our family members or relationships, many struggle with maintaining healthy stress levels these days. It has in fact reached epidemic proportions, with stress related conditions estimated to have cost the U.S. over $300 Billion last year in health care and lost productivity.
In martial arts, you are taught to be still for long periods of time. This gives your brain time to relax, analyze the situation and respond appropriately. Regulating your breathing and taking time to introspect and reflect are both excellent ways to counter stress. In addition, focusing your energy and effort into your training will help your mind to avoid dwelling on negative experiences or stressing and ‘over-thinking’ situations that you have no real control over.
Build Self Discipline
One of the key factors of any martial arts is adherence to its tenets or ‘code’. To learn a martial art is to practice ‘mastery of the self’, not only of your body (though that is a big part of it) but of your mind. Setting specific incremental goals and working to meet each of them keeps you focused on achievable targets.
Like any skill, martial arts needs a great deal of practice to master. These hours of training to build muscle memory and stamina requires both patience and uncompromising perseverance. Through mastery of the form, you will naturally develop a greater sense of focus and be better able to resist becoming restless or distracted
It Makes You Feel Good
Like all physical exercise, practicing a martial art can help you de-stress by prompting the release of mood lifting endorphins in your brain. Martial arts training in a controlled environment also lets you focus any frustration or anger into a positive outlet. Not only will it keep your stress levels in check, but you can use that stress as a motivator to help you when training or sparring with a partner
It Builds Confidence And Self-Esteem
Confidence is simply self-belief (“I can”). This is something that cannot be picked up by reading a book or attending a workshop. It happens naturally, as a direct result of conditioning. Those who have had more rewarding experiences find themselves higher on confidence than others.
In the dojo, gratification is instant. If you do something the way your instructor tells you to do, the result (such as being able to throw your opponent) can be seen immediately. A series of such ‘rewards’ for following instructions correctly boosts your confidence subconsciously. This is apart from the tangible rewards, such as colored belts that indicate a higher level of proficiency, that are handed out by the instructor for doing things correctly in the dojo.
When you combine these benefits with the already significant physical advantages offered by engaging in regular practice; taking up the dedicated practice of a martial arts form promises to be a win-win situation for anyone willing to make the commitment in time and effort.