There are many benefits to martial arts, one of those is increasing your attention span. That’s right, there is a lot more to martial arts than just learning cool techniques you can use to defend yourself. These ancient combat styles are designed to boost your mental and physical attributes.
There have been several studies conducted on how martial arts promote improved brain function. For example, the data indicates that the power punches karate masters are known for may be a result of improved brain control of muscle movements, not their physical strength. There have also been studies that indicate children who train martial arts exhibit better behavior and perform better in math tests.
These findings lead to a better question that ended up revealing just how much learning martial arts can improve a person’s mental equity. The question is; are people with desirable brain characteristics more likely to learn martial arts or does training develop these attributes? This article will explore what the research has uncovered.
How Martial Arts Promote Mindfulness And Meditation
Active sports like martial arts tend to encourage meditation and being mindful. Students are required to focus on the intricacies of the techniques being taught during class. It can be a handy tool for those who have a hard time focusing their minds on a single task due to conditions like ADHD.
The way martial arts classes work, students are shown one or two techniques that they drill many times over during class. Properly executing many of these moves comes down to the little details, and students become better at recognizing these intricacies the longer they train.
During a study that involved 21 adults who train a martial art and 21 who weren’t involved with any martial arts, both parties were asked to take attention tests. The tests were designed to measure three main metrics: how alert the subject was, his/her ability to shift his/her focus on to something else, and his/her ability to make the right decision when presented with conflicting information.
During the tests, those who trained martial arts scored higher than those who did not. They displayed a higher level of vigilance, which can be viewed as a sign of better cognitive control. The study also showed that those who had the most experience as martial artists scored the highest during the tests. This indicates that the longer you have been learning martial arts, the more cognitive improvements you gain.
The results also indicate that the improved attention span might be something that lasts for a long time, not just a small boost you get after training.
Taking this a step further, it appears that the cognitive enhancements that come with learning a martial art may be long-lasting, rather than just a short boost after training. The research shows learning a martial art is one of the few activities that equally boost a person’s physical and mental abilities.
Martial Arts Improve Problem-Solving Skills
It’s easy to underestimate just how much thinking goes on during martial arts training and competitions. When you spar or compete at a tournament, you are going against another competitor who is likely just as skilled as you are. The difference maker in such scenarios is often each person’s alertness and ability to quickly come up with solutions to counter his or her opponent’s moves. It involves thinking a few steps of your opponent, trying to anticipate his or her techniques and reacting to things you do not expect. It does wonders for your problem-solving skills. It makes you work out your brain while physically exerting yourself.
It Is Great For Self-Esteem
One of the great benefits that come with learning martial arts is the increase in confidence and self-esteem that it leads to. It comes from all the work you put in on the mat. You start as a white belt, and you gradually increase your skills with each training session. You get a new colored belt whenever you reach a significant milestone, and it serves as a reminder of all the things you have learned during your classes.
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Some of the techniques you will be taught might seem impossible to master at first, but they will eventually become part of your muscle memory. It reminds you that there is nothing you can’t do when you put your mind to it. You become more confident when you have to try new things in your everyday life or at work. You become confident that you will be able to handle any challenges life throws at you.
Low self-esteem or a lack of confidence can have a significant impact on your attention span. Instead of paying attention to important things going on around you, you end focusing on the negative emotions that come with a lack of confidence. It can take the fun out of many activities, and make it harder to focus your mind on a single thing.
A Healthy Body Is Also Great For The Mind
The physical benefits that come with training martial arts also increase your mental sharpness. The old saying, “a healthy body leads to a healthy mind” highlights this point. Learning a martial art provides a fitness routine that never gets tiring, and it is an excellent way to burn fat and tone all the muscles in the body.
The physical exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which helps to regulate your mood. Learning a martial art also gives you a productive way to manage stress. You get to let out all your frustration on heavy bags and pads, instead of letting them slowly eat away at you. It puts you in a better place emotionally, and that is also great for your attention span. Just as importantly, you get to sleep really well at night since training taxes your body and mind. You get a full night’s rest, and research shows that a well-rested mind focuses better than a tired one.
So if you sometimes find it hard to focus and stay productive, you might want to give martial arts a try!
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