If you have never tried mixed martial arts training, you must be wondering how it can benefit you. The training can be beneficial for everyone regardless of gender or age group. Even kids can benefit, too. Unlike what some believe, martial arts is not just for people who want to participate in competitions to demonstrate their power and strength.
It is for anyone looking to get into shape mentally and physically.
In this article, we highlight the many benefits of martial arts. But there is a caveat---you need to pick martial arts that are hard and from an instructor that will teach you real skills. And in order to reap the benefits we discuss in this article, there needs to be intensity in the training with real world simulation (sparring). Do not join a McDojo.
Anyway, with that caveat out of the way, here are the 9 benefits of training martial arts.
1. Improve Overall Body Coordination and Proprioception
When you are fighting an opponent, you must ensure that your kicks, jabs, punches and any other movements you make all flow together. A good fighter must judge things such as distance and timing quickly to deal and dodge kicks and blows effectively. Any miscalculation can leave you exposed and vulnerable.
Because martial arts is such a dynamic sport that requires your body to work together quickly, you develop coordination throughout your kinetic chain. You learn how to make your whole body work in unison. And as you keep training, you will enhance proprioception, which is the ability to sense your body's balance and relative position; it will make you more lithe and agile thus allowing you to execute body movements with ease.
Even if you are clumsy or are in your twilight years, training martial arts will undoubtedly help you with your coordination and proprioception.
2. Improve aerobic and anaerboic conditioning
Aerobic conditioning, commonly referred to as cardio involves exercises that help train the heart and lungs to pump more efficiently ensuring that more oxygen gets to the muscles. Hard martial arts training usually includes some of the best cardio workouts such as punching a bag, skipping rope, running (roadwork) and boxing. They all help to improve your overall endurance.
Aerobic conditioning will enable you to take control of your health. Its many rewards include better health and protection from diseases such as coronary artery diseases, improved mood, and overall feeling of well-being. It also decreases stress by reducing the stress hormones in the body.
But martial arts training is so much more than cardio. It will also improve anaerobic conditioning. Unlike aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning is not about endurance it will enable you to perform better by participating in shorter, more explosive exercises. Some martial arts training, such as MMA training, involves particular strength and speed that engage the anaerobic energy system of your body on all levels imaginable.
Anaerobic conditioning will not burn as many calories as aerobic exercise would. It may also be less important to your cardiovascular fitness. Its main focus is to build your overall strength and muscle mass. It will improve your endurance and your ability to withstand fatigue. MMA anaerobic workouts include weight lifting and sprinting.
3. Improve strength
One the many benefits you will notice during training is increased strength. And you will not just feel it during weight lifting. You will see in your daily life too. Legitimate martial art training will improve many structural muscles that become weak due to prolonged sitting, and some activities will start being easier with time.
Many sporting activities require one set of muscles to be used ignoring the others. Swimmers tend to have strong shoulders; soccer players will have stronger lower bodies while cyclists will have strong quads. On the other hand, martial art is a full body workout.
But how does martial arts enable you to develop such strength? Well, the workouts in some martial arts (especially MMA) are designed to involve practically every muscle in your body. Kicking will make your legs incredibly strong. As you punch, your arms and lats develop the same strength. Grappling will help build your core muscles. The nature of martial arts improves core muscles and muscles that are not worked out regularly during regular strength training
4. Improve confidence
Martial arts training will not just make you stronger physically; according to studies, it will boost your self-esteem too. Studies going all the way back to the 1970s have shown that martial arts is great for building self-esteem and confidence. The table below obtained from a review study showed the different studies showing the positive impact of martial arts on self-confidence and self-esteem.
Knowing that you can effectively defend yourself in the face of a physical confrontation will make you a little calmer and freer. Nothing is too much when you can easily break someone’s hand or choke them unconscious. With so much strength and confidence, you will learn to become more humble and will choose to walk away rather than enter into unnecessary confrontations.
Training can build confidence in women. After learning several defense techniques, you will boost your confidence immensely. You will start walking with your head held high and start feeling like you can take on any challenge that life throws at you. The confidence you gain during training will follow you into your daily life. You will carry it with you to the office and into your relationships. You might even uncover leadership skills within you that you didn’t know existed. You can finally conquer presentation. People will start to notice the difference as the success flows to other aspects of your life.
5. Develops and Improves Mental Toughness and Resilience
Studies have linked martial arts training with mental training. Your mind becomes tougher by virtue of training martial arts and gaining confidence.
I remember when I first start MMA, I was so scared. I didn't know anything and everyone can have their way with me. During even light sparring, I would get cornered and cower. I would avoid sparring. But the more I did it, the more confidence I gained. I saw myself transform through learning how to defend myself. The ability to defend myself gave me a sense of confidence and taking so much punishment as I got better gave me the ability to persist, whether it is to get through a 2-hour roll or a tough 10 rounds of sparring. I got through it because I saw light at the end of the tunnel---I saw that this punishment will make me better. That is what separates the mentally tough from the mentally weak...the outlook. I knew that any punishment I was taking was making me better, not weaker.
As you learn new things and push your body to new limits, you adapt a can-do attitude that will carry over to other aspects of your life. Your mind goes from "I can't do this" to "I can do this."
6. Improves Physical Toughness
Martial art training exercises will increase your level of physical fitness. The techniques will help you build stamina, strength, endurance and agility. To acquire excellence, you will require robust physical fitness which is only possible after going through intense body training.
The level of physical toughness you can achieve in arts like wrestling, judo, or muay thai is equal to none. For example, sparring or grappling for 3-5 rounds can only be described as brutal cardio. No stair-master or treadmill in the world can compare to that level of physical punishment.
Certain martial arts, such as karate or muay thai will induce trauma to toughen up your body and increase your tolerance for pain. You often see karate guys punch their training partners repeatedly with their bare knuckles in order to toughen the body.
7. Stress Reliever and Effective Treatment for Certain Mental Disorders
There are many mental health benefits associated with martial arts training. Some studies suggest that people who suffer from bipolar disorder may benefit from the training significantly. Anecdotal reports from MMA athletes and veterans reveal the positive effects of the training in treating psychological conditions including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, it is still unclear how martial art is able to alleviate the emotional distress caused by combat. Some researchers believe the boost in self-esteem and social connectedness. Others believe that it all has to do with the ability to experience an emotional catharsis by physical means. Regardless of how it works, the benefits are clear for everyone to see.
Exercise helps to improve our mood and banish stress. Martial art training is no different. Prolonged stress can lead to heart disease, chronic headaches, anxiety and much more. Certain martial arts demand intense cardio and focus. Practicing it will enable you to forget your daily worries as you concentrate on your body movements only. Movement and physical activity help to release tension in your mind and body.
8. Develop Bond and Friendship with Great People
There is a misplace misconception that paints those who train in certain martial arts as unfriendly and extremely violent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Other than toughening the muscles, many martial arts also incorporates a lot of values including discipline and self-control, qualities that all trainees have to embrace.
Martial arts place a lot of emphasis on respect. You learn to respect your fellow trainees and your instructor. This mutual respect will enable you to forge a bond and to have a personal relationship with everybody in the gym. Those you train with will be more than friends; they will be family.
Your instructor and your fellow trainees can push you when you lack the motivation to push yourself. This is unlike regular exercising where training may start to feel like a chore that you’re being forced to do. Martial arts classes are something to which you can look forward.
9. Lose weight
Training martial arts is perfect for those looking to lose weight. When it comes to burning calories, regular exercising can’t compare. While you would only burn 600 calories running on a treadmill for 60 minutes at a medium pace, you can burn 700 to 900 calories in the same time in a class. You put more muscles at work when grappling and striking than you do when cycling on a stationary bike or running on a treadmill. Martial arts training combined with a healthy, balanced diet will make you lose more weight than you could have imagined.
If you pick the right instructor and right martial art, it can be a high-intensity work out whose benefits go over and beyond regular exercising. Contrary to popular belief, it is not violent and is appropriate for people who wish to get in shape both physically and mentally. Is regular training just not doing it for you? Do you have a hard time motivating yourself to go to the gym? You should sign up for martial arts training. You will be glad you did.