Most people know the physical benefits of training in Martial Arts but do you know all of the mental benefits? According to A review of the effects of martial arts practice on health, “Benefits from this practice include better overall health and balance, as well as an improved sense of psychological well being.” Today we want to take a deep dive into all the ways Martial Arts benefits mental health.
I know, we said mental health, not physical health, but hear us out. Did you know that physical exercise has an impact on mental health? According to A Meta – analysis of the Relationship Between Children’s Activity and Mental Health, “Clinicians, school-based professionals, and parents should encourage physical activity in children, not only for the physical health benefits, but for the positive mental health outcomes as well.” Exercise produces endorphins which are known to boost your mood and make you happier. I don’t know about you but a workout always helps to clear our minds and put us in a better mood. Physical strength and endurance are both key components of Martial Arts.
Have you ever kicked or punched a heavy bag as hard as you can? We strongly suggest it! Take whatever is on your mind and turn that negative energy into power. Classes and learning new techniques also help to occupy your mind with something new and positive. Sometimes you just need to shift your focus. Speaking of…
Sometimes we just have too many tabs open in the browser, if you know what we mean. It can be hard to complete tasks and even stressful when your mind is racing. Martial Arts instructors help their students to focus in order to learn techniques and properly perform those techniques.
This is something that many of us struggle with. We are not talking about seeing a cookie and not eating it. We mean understanding a feeling and taking a minute to decide how to react. We practice this all the time in Martial Arts. The reason we are able to train in sparring and weapons safely is because we teach students the importance of self-control.
Students are expected to treat people respectfully in and out of the karate school. We are courteous to each other but we expect that to extend far beyond the school. Even though karate is an individual sport, we as a school are a team. We encourage each other and mentor each other.
Feelings of loneliness or isolation can have serious effects on one’s mental health. Martial Arts offers a community of people who share a common interest and who work together to support each other. Students are all working towards the common goal of Black Belt Excellence. You feel a special bond when you are working hard together towards a goal. In addition to that, many friendships are made at a karate school.
“The more you practice, the better you get”, is a phrase heard often at our karate school. No one decides to be a Black Belt one day and becomes one on the same day. As much as getting a Black Belt may be the goal, all the growing and learning takes place during the journey to get there. When you reach the goal, it’s that much sweeter because you know you never gave up.
Every new technique learned, every new belt, every Martial Arts tournament competed in, raises your confidence a little more. That same confidence will stay with you through all of life’s challenges. If you have a big tournament coming up, you practice because you know you will feel more confident when you compete. That next week when you hear about your big math test, you will know you will practice for that same feeling. Proper planning prevents poor performance. Also, it lessens nerves.
According to the article, Positive Psychology in Martial Arts, “Martial arts training forms the foundational base for establishing a healthy work ethic.” Feeling like situations in your life are out of your control can be a cause of anxiety for many. Understanding that you control the actions you take and the work you put into a task, can help to alleviate some of that anxiety.
You are probably wondering what could be creative about Martial Arts. Sure, we teach techniques and katas that are memorized but that is just the foundation. Once you understand the movements and their purpose you can build from there. If you have ever sparred you know that you have to think quickly and be creative with the moves you choose to use. Many students love to compete in the Creative Forms division at tournaments. They are able to take the moves they have learned and use them to create their own kata. Just like in real life, you learn your basic principles or virtues at home. You determine how to use them through life. You might be faced with challenges or difficult decisions but your virtues help guide you down the best path for you.
We could go on forever on all the ways that Martial Arts can benefit you, body and mind, but we will stop there so you have time to get some training in. If you are ready to begin your Martial Arts journey but you are not sure how to start, check us out at Amerikick Delran!
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, you can find resources at the National Institue of Mental Health (NIMH).