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By patricklee2006 23 Jul, 2015

Contrary to popular opinion, learning and practicing a martial art will not make you overly aggressive. On the other hand, martial arts teach practitioners to value the importance of balance and harmony in their life. Read on to learn the many physical and psychological benefits of practicing martial arts.

  Heart Health

Martial arts enhance heart rate and raise blood flow to various parts of the body. They make the heart muscles stronger, and keep blood vessels clear and flexible. A weak heart can cause lethargy and fatigue, so practice a martial art to improve your heart health.

  Improved Coordination

Martial arts boost balance and coordination, and quicken reflexes. They focus on developing physical agility combined with mental concentration. You can learn how to change directions easily and move effortlessly. You are sure to improve your hand-eye coordination with constant practice.

  Better Flexibility

Consistent practice of a martial art can make your joints and muscles more flexible. This has a positive impact on motion range as well as body posture. Seniors can thus benefit from martial arts as they can help them to age in a healthy and graceful manner.

  Psychological Health

Practicing a martial art can have a rejuvenating effect on your mental health. You can learn to improve your focus and become single-pointed. Your mind will become disciplined and less susceptible to negative thoughts. Martial art experts learn to stay calm, and exercise their will power to persevere with their tasks.

  Martial arts train practitioners to become more responsible and observe mutual respect.You can learn to control your aggression and gain inner strength. Regular practice helps to relieve tension and frustration, and improves emotional health. The training releases feel-good endorphins in the body, which elevates mood and breeds happiness.

  Self-Confidence

Learning a martial art can boost your physical and psychological confidence. Martial arts teach effective self-defense methods as well the presence of mind to implement them smartly. You are sure to remain calm even in crisis situations, as you know that you can take care of yourself. So, learn and practice a martial art to protect yourself against crime and violence.

  Research on the Benefits of Practicing Martial Arts

Martial arts can be practiced by anyone, of any age. A research study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that middle-aged practitioners of martial arts were physically much fitter compared to those of similar age who led a sedentary life. The martial art practitioners had better balance, and improved flexibility and strength, compared to the sedentary study participants.  

Another study indicates that practicing tai chi, a mild form of martial art, reduces the generation of stress chemicals like cortisol. Practicing this martial art helped seniors increase their brain size. This is essential for the elderly as a reduction in brain volume can lead to dementia and similar neurodegenerative ailments. A third research project reveals that practicing tai chi helped people suffering from Parkinson's disease to improve their balance and reduce falls.

  Summary

You can learn and practice a martial art according to your fitness level. It is an effective way to combat physical and mental stress. So, boost your energy levels and psychological well-being with consistent martial art practice.

By patricklee2006 23 Jul, 2015

Martial arts masters are among the most extraordinary physical specimens the human race has produced. Remember, Jean-Claude Van Damme was fifty-three when he performed his famous split between two moving trucks and Jackie Chan still performs many of his own stunts as he pushes towards sixty. These men aren't far from qualifying for a senior discount at Old Country Buffet and they can still break bricks with their feet. Say what you will about fad diets and sports training; if you want health that lasts, martial arts can provide it.

The chief benefit of picking a martial arts class over a personal trainer is that it can be just as effective, and far cheaper. A personal trainer can run you fifty dollars an hour, whereas martial arts dojos tend to charge around sixty dollars per month. Obviously, you get what you pay for. There are good dojos and bad dojos, and you should always do research before signing up. See if you can observe a class or two before diving into training, maybe get some testimonials from other students. Also, consider the different styles of martial arts to see what best fits your body type and constitution. Karate is popular for good reason, and its black belts are rightly feared. Krav Maga is brutal, aggressive and opportunistic, a favorite amongst MMA fighters. Hapkido's grapples and throws tone the legs and strengthen the back. It's all about finding the right match.

Once you've signed up, donned your karate gi or sweatpants, and started the laborious process of improving your striking speed one punch at a time, you may find a sense of accomplishment and progress that a simple trip to the gym can't always match. A gym is a torture chamber. A dojo is a place of learning. Like in a sport or dance, martial arts are about building a skill set through physical conditioning. You have a clear goal, a carrot to dangle as your body pleads with you to quit. The sweat is the same, the carbs are still burning, but the attitude, the energy of the activity is very different. You're not just getting thinner; you're becoming a warrior.

A typical training session will involve cardio and flexibility exercises, often in conjunction with the actual routines of punches, kicks and grapples. As your elbow strike improves, so does your spinal rotation. As your kick gets higher and higher your tendons become looser and better for jogging. It's a full body tune-up. Classes will often involve a healthy dose of pushups, sit ups, crunches and squats, the same as any personal trainer would have you do. Except this time there's a prize. Do your squats and you get to punch something. Channel the anger and tension and wail on a sandbag. It's all practice. It's all improvement.

Of course, a martial art is best used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Sadly, there are no cheat codes for weight loss, and a weekly jiu-jitsu class does not replace the need to jog once in a while. Fortunately, martial arts instructors possess a wealth of fitness tips they're only too willing to share. The monthly fee comes with classes, training, and a fountain of knowledge, a deal few personal trainers can hope to match.

But most importantly, martial arts have one key benefit over other fitness regimens: the sense of focus and confidence it instills. A martial artist's "inner peace" is not just Hollywood fluff. Knowing how best to break someone's nose can do wonders for your self-confidence. Insults don't hurt when your knuckles are bleeding from fifteen minutes of jabs and crosses. Of course, you should never instigate violence if it can be helped, nor lord your newfound martial prowess over strangers in the hopes someone will throw a punch and give you some practice. That is contrary to every martial art philosophy in the world. And yet, understanding violence robs it of its power. Knowing what to do and how to react removes the uncertainty. Suddenly, you feel in control .

As Bruce Lee said, "There are no limits. There are only plateaus. And you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Print that out and put it in front of your treadmill and watch the pounds roll off.

By John Keefe

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