Learning a martial art can bring you all kinds of benefits, and unfortunately, most of the great benefits it brings you don’t occur to most people. It’s a wonderful thing to put your energy into and can help you to develop yourself in many ways. And in fact, to many martial artists, the main reason for practicing a martial art is NOT simply to defend themselves. Rather, it’s to improve themselves as a person.
To encourage and inspire people to get into martial arts, I’m publishing this piece where I’ll list all the known benefits of martial arts, along with stories from different practitioners of different martial artists who are glad to have picked up martial arts. In my research I reached out to many people and also put out the following query:
What are the benefits to learning and practising a martial art beyond just being able to defend yourself? Personal stories & all other comments welcome. Your submission will be published in a piece intended to encourage people to pick up a martial art for the first time.
I got some fantastic responses to that, and am happy to be able to publish them below. The main points people had (beyond just the obvious case of martial arts helps you to defend yourself) are the following:
- Martial arts teaches you self control and discipline
- Experienced martial artists are often, in fact, less likely to get into a confrontation because of their self-confidence
- Practicing martial arts builds your confidence in all areas of life
- Martial arts teaches you self control and discipline
- Martial arts is humbling and good for your ego
- It’s great for stress relief. When you’re sparring, you don’t think of anything else
- Can be an opportunity to make new friends
- Makes you more detail-oriented and improves your focus
If you can also add to this list, please make a submission.
My name is Markus Horner and I have a black belt in two different martial arts. Tae Kwon Do and Wing Chun. There are a number of reasons why martial arts is a good idea. Particularly for someone with a low level of self-confidence or self-esteem or both. But before I get started I want to say that martial arts is not for everyone. It is not something for the casual, just check it out type of person. It takes dedication and a willingness to work at it. There is no certain body type that is the best. It just depends upon how dedicated you are willing to be. I am 5’4” and weigh 200 lbs. But I can still kick over my head with either foot.
Yes, martial arts is excellent for physical fitness and self discipline. It also teaches you self control. You have to be extremely aware of any situation that is potentially volatile. Anyone who is a red belt has to be aware of the fact that if you get into a confrontation on the street and cannot prove that it is self-defense. The DA can charge you with Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. By the time you reach the red belt level the law looks at it like you have enough knowledge and training to be able to kill. This is where the self-discipline comes in. You have to be able to turn around and walk away.
This is a subject that I could talk about at length. I was in Tae Kwon do for more than twenty five years. I am seventy one and still involved with Wing Chun. In fact I am heavily involved in the anti-bullying campaign. I recently wrote and published a book by the title of “My Do’s and Don’t’s for Bully-Proofing your Child.” In the book I specifically recommend six different martial arts because these are the ones that I believe to be the best for self-defense on the street if that becomes necessary. They are Krav Maga, Wing Chun, Muay Tai, Judo, and Aikido, and Brazilian Jujitsu. I strongly recommend using this knowledge only as a last resort.
I highly recommend martial arts as an overall lifestyle choice.
The number one reason overall that I recommend it is because an experienced martial artist is far less likely to get into a physical confrontation on the street because of the level of self-confidence that he has. He is well aware of his capabilities and does not normally feel the need to prove it to anyone. He/she can turn around and walk away with no hesitation and no amount of verbal provocation can push him into a physical altercation.
--Markus Horner, bullyingdosanddonts.com
Martial arts have literally changed my life.
I used to be a shy kid; considered myself an introvert, and was bullied in school.
At the age of 16, I decided to take up boxing, and then kickboxing and BJJ at 21.
There's an awesome feeling (in a non cocky way), walking into a room, knowing full well that you're safe, and if anything were to occur, you'll be able to handle yourself pretty easily.
Martial arts gives you confidence, and allows you the opportunity to be a better version of you. This confidence transcends into other areas of your life.
Personally - I wouldn't have the confidence to coach and speak on stage, if it wasn't for what martial arts taught me.
--Khabeer Rockley, The 5% Institute
I have been doing Martial Arts for over 10 years now. It hasn't been on a professional level but I do have 3 amateur muay thai fights. I did win a silver at the WKA (world kickboxing association) Here are some of the benefits coming from an amateur who is not practicing for fighting but for the mental benefits One of the best feelings of my entire life, is when I got into a ring with a way better opponent. I remember the total and complete fear. Once in the ring it all disappears in you get in the zone.
Benefits: - Aside from the obvious health benefits I would like to focus on the mental benefits
1) It completely punishes your ego. You will never be the best in the gym and when sparring you always experience that. It is super important not to give too much power to your ego and martial art helps me alot.
2) It builds a lot of discipline! Very often you have a bad day, problems stress... etc and you come up with excused not to go to class (for me it is typically 7pm). The voice in your head is very loud and it makes clear sense. However, once you override it and you go to practice.. you come out a better man/woman! You have confidence, when that voice comes back again telling you that you shouldn't do something.
3) It is the best stress reliever. During practice of a contact sport you don't think of anything else! I take it as a form of meditation and since I just recently started playing with actual mindfulness, you definitely see the similarities now.
4) It truly humbles you! I feel that we are like batteries and if you don't exhaust that energy you are rude to people. I live in New York and I have 2 businesses with combined revenue of over 5 million. I am stressed most of the time and I do see that sometimes I am rude with people. However, after practice I am the most humble person ever! I
5) You are able to protect yourself and very often you don't even need to use it. If there is an altercation, you are confident in your skills and you try to always, always avoid it! You don't need to proof anything to anyone and this is a great feeling, again talking about the confidence builder that it is.
Although I don't have much time and I am already 32 and a bit older to allow myself to get hit on the head I cannot emphasize enough how important martial art is for men and women! I provided my side but I am sure for women it is even more important knowing that they can protect themselves!
--Teodor Panterov, centralparktours.net
Choosing Mixed Martial Arts to me was a hobby that turned into a life saver and a lifestyle I am grateful for. Being in MMA was first for the sake of having a fun hobby that can also help me as a teenager in self defence. Nevertheless, I then started to read more about the sport, and save money to buy magazines that can help me identify the best international MMA champions (That time it was Anderson Silva and Jon Jones) and why they are famous. I was amazed to know that I can actually shift into boxing and still keep the MMA techniques in the back of my mind whenever I need them. I believe, after more than ten years now in the field of Boxing and MMA, I was lucky to start at a very young age. I have to admit that at the teenage period your mind gets easily distracted to anything that would bring you attention, be it drugs, alcohol or anything that would boost the person’s self-confidence. In my case, MMA saved my life from diving into that toxic lifestyle and gave me self-confidence and even popularity at a very young age.
I fell more in love with MMA at that time and was eager to learn something new everyday. I looked for championships and despite not being a popular sport back then, I could register in a few ones on the national level, and it helped me find a goal in my life, and grow a feeling of persistence in training to reach that goal. The reputation of being a champion has started to spread at school and I felt accomplishing something and slowly becoming a role model to others in my circle of friends. Not only does MMA help in self-defense and having fighting skills, but it has also other advantages on the personal life as it sharpens one’s personality, growing in something straight forward characteristics accompanied with skills, fitness, strength and conditioning, as well as a strict diet etc. which turns to be a lifestyle. As an MMA fighter, I wake up at 5 in the morning to run 5km, daily. This comes from a mindset that I believe MMA has grown in me.
Taking care of your health and body becomes a norm and part of your daily routine. I believe this sport is more mentally than physically. MMA helps you focus, and trains to mind to be healthy. It is an aggressive sport and while being in a Fight, your mind is trained to focus on every step you make, it practices your whole body to read your opponent intended step; it hence increases your attention span, and your sense of appreciation to the little things in your life; MMA has taught me not to take anything for granted. It helped me know the importance of a balanced life, and it has now become my lifestyle, job, and also happened to choose a wife who shares the same passion.
--Helal Jr., helal.jr on Instagram
In my many years of learning and practising a martial art - I started with Wing Tsun and then switched to other similar martial art systems - I discovered many benefits and hidden gems in it.
In my opinion it first and foremost trains your focus, presence and body awareness. Whenever I trained with a partner after a long day at work, I was present. No thought was wasted on the next day's to do list but I was 100% in the present moment. The martial arts demand all of you or you'll miss your chance to break through your partner's defense or receive a hit yourself.
Having said this I need to say that training MA is FUN. People take care of each other and know how to control their bodies to not hurt anybody. If this is not your experience, change the school.
It is also sport that trains you in endurance, strength and speed. In addition to that MA trains your reflexes which lets you trust your body's reactions a lot more. I know that when something, maybe an opening door, is about to hit me in the face, my arms are up in no time shielding me in a smart way that not only protects my nose but also won't hurt my fingers. I am also a master in catching things that fall off the table or out of the fridge.
Martial arts also demand and train mental flexibility. There are constantly new movements to be learned and trained which keep your brain active and creative. Yes creativity is part of this wonderful package as well: martial arts invite you to use you full toolbox of skills to apply it in unconventional ways and to experiment with your body. This is especially true when training with different partners. A large training partner needs a different approach than a small one and this constant adaption to different persons and scenarios challenges your wits, skills and creativity.
Last but not least, this hobby opens doors to new friendships. You get close to other people, learn your and their strengths and weaknesses on a whole new level and learn to trust each other. If this isn't a wonderful foundation of a solid friendship, I don't know what is.
I am a huge fan of martial arts and can recommend it wholeheartedly to anybody. No matter how long you train, you will learn something about your body, your mind and of course also some cool moves 🙂
--Maria Hubmann, mariahubmann.com
First of all, it's important to clarify that the type of martial art is important that you decide to pursue makes a big difference in your journey. There are a lot of fake martial arts or martial arts that don’t really work in real-life situations. Finding out if you want to train in a striking or grappling martial art would also be important. Things you’ll quickly learn in both a grappling and striking martial art is how vital technique is, and how a smaller or weaker individual with better technique and more experience can defeat a larger opponent.
*Gain Transferable Skills*
People can learn techniques that will carry over to real-life situations. The interesting thing is you rarely find individuals who train in martial arts seriously getting into physical altercations on the street. Training martial arts gives you confidence while teaching you humility. Knowing how to handle yourself in a fight and being confident in your abilities makes you talk less on the street because you have nothing to prove. You prove it all the time in the gym. It also teaches you humility. When a small guy beats you in the gym you learn that anyone can take you out and anyone you bump into on the street can be a better-trained fighter than you. If you find yourself in a situation on the street you will be calmer because you won’t need to think about fighting. You’ve fought countless times in the gym, you can assess a situation with a clear mind that allows you to handle yourself. This is only true if you train in a real martial art that does sparring. I recommend Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over any other martial art. Any accredited BJJ gym would be a great place for anyone to start learning how to defend themselves through the martial arts.
--Timothy Bigknee, SightsAndInsights
I’ve been a martial artist pretty much my entire life. I started training when I was about three years old, first in Long Fist Kung Fu, and then Wing Chun Kung Fu. Years later, I moved to Thailand for almost a year, just so I could study Muay Thai.
There are a lot of benefits to studying martial arts outside of defending yourself. A few of these include stress relief, increased strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance. Nothing is of course like people see in movies, but it still superbly beneficial nonetheless. For example, at the height of my training, I could run an entire city block in about 30 seconds, and I was able to run a mile in just over six minutes with my pulse rate retuning to normal rather quickly. There's definitely discipline to be had when studying martial arts as well, which I think would help just about anyone with stressful situations. I've been able to stay with more calm amidst situations that would normally cause debilitating anxiety in most people, in my opinion.
From Kung Fu to Karate, I believe that anyone could benefit from studying martial arts, no matter what age they are. I owned a martial art school a long time ago. My oldest student at the time was about 53 years old. Neither he or his wife (who had joined him) had never studied a martial art before. They trained with me for about three months, and they both said how much the training had benefited them, in that they were able to keep up with their grandchildren better, being able to do simple things like cartwheels (it was part of my curriculum) with them. They also started to notice weight loss, and found themselves with significantly more energy, which they expressed had helped them out in the bedroom. Needless to say, I didn't really need to hear the last thing, but I was happy for them in any case.
I can honestly say that if someone has thoughts of trying out martial arts, they most certainly should. There are hundreds of styles in the world, and if one doesn’t immediately interest them, I’m sure that they’ll find one that will.
--Rajan Dominari, rajandominari.com
*Makes a person detail-oriented*
Learning martial arts needs attention and discipline to learn it properly. You have to keep an eye on every major to minute move to master this skill. It develops the habit of paying attention to details, making a person detail-oriented, which is beneficial in learning every skill.
The hidden benefit of it is increased focus. By going through the comprehensive training of martial arts, a person becomes a better learner as it requires aligning mind and body. This increased focus makes you do your tasks early and saves a lot of time.
*Keeps a person away from being cynical *
Martial arts learner needs a master and listens to him attentively to learn the moves. It programs the mind that it needs to listen to someone’s instruction for learning a thing for its own benefit. Learning it makes the listening skills better by evolving the listening stamina gradually. A person who is resistant to listening to other people's point of view becomes flexible and saves himself from being cynical.
--Daniel Demoss, dumbbellsreview.com