The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when they think about martial arts is a bunch of kicking, punching, and grappling. This common notion about these different combat styles comes in large part due to the many action films that depict martial arts primarily as an effective way of dispatching would-be adversaries.
While many of these martial arts systems were developed in part to serve as efficient fighting systems, the core values of martial arts as a whole have little to do with inflicting damage on others. The core values of the many different martial arts are self-control, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, valor, nobility, and chivalry. A true martial artist is a person who exudes all of these values.
A quote from one of the most respected generals – and martial artists – in human history drives that point home perfectly.
“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.” – Sun Tzu
Martial arts are about people living together in peace and harmony. It’s about respecting others, empathizing with others, and striving to be your very best physically and morally. When issues arise, a true martial artist will seek a solution that doesn’t require the use of force.
The goal of every properly guided martial artist should be to enlighten and strengthen your body, spirit, and mind.
How martial arts reduces anxiety
Nowadays, we all have so many things to worry about. We are constantly bombarded with all sorts of issues that leave us feeling stressed out on a regular basis. Stress does a lot more than just leave you feeling unsatisfied with yourself. It also causes your body to secrete higher levels of cortisol – a hormone that can negatively affect your mood and lead to feelings of anxiety.
High cortisol levels can eventually lead to depression, especially when you are bombarded with all sorts of problems that leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
Cortisol also causes your body to store more fat in your mid-section. That can lead to significantly more serious issues than a cute muffin top. Belly fat is considered to be the most dangerous type of fat, and it has been linked to many serious issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Fortunately for people who find themselves dealing with high levels of stress or anxiety. Martial arts training is a very effective way to get yourself back to a good place mentally. Here are three ways martial arts combats anxiety.
1) Helps you relax
That’s right, martial arts training can be pretty zen. At any given time, everyone has their own set of issues to deal with, but we sometimes forget to take a break away from our problems. Martial arts training provides an opportunity to stop thinking about the things that are bothering you. You won’t be worried about the huge project that’s due next week or an argument you had with a close friend when you’re busy executing techniques in the gym.
Furthermore, many martial arts programs utilize all sorts of breathing and stretching techniques that are borrowed from other ancient arts like yoga which have been proven to be effective at reducing stress and anxiety for millennia.
2) Provides opportunities to sharpen social skills
This is actually one of the primary reasons why martial arts are increasingly used as a form of unconventional therapy for adults and children with social anxiety disorders. Those with this condition often have a hard time interacting with others due to their constant fears of being judged. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder typically have a hard time making friends.
Martial arts training gives you an excellent opportunity to work on your social skills. It does it in more ways than one.
For starters, martial arts, in general, are a great way to meet people. Secondly, during your training, you will learn self-respect as well as the importance of treating all those around you with respect.
Thirdly, as your abilities as a martial artist improve with time, you become more confident as a person. It comes naturally when you find yourself executing techniques that seemed almost impossible when you first started training.
That means martial arts training goes beyond just giving you an opportunity to meet cool people. It also gives you the confidence and self-respect you need to create lasting bonds with your training partners. That confidence will also carry over into your life away from the dojo.
3) Makes you feel and look good
Martial arts training is one of the best ways to burn off all those extra calories you consume. There are very few activities that can be compared to it. You can burn up to 1,000 calories in a one-hour Muay Thai session — which is almost half of the calories many adults consume daily. Compare that to running which only burns 400 calories per hour or lifting weights at the gym, which only burns around 150 calories per hour.
Unlike these other activities that work off significantly fewer calories, martial arts training doesn’t get boring and repetitive over time. Every day at the dojo is unique. A different mix of faces, different drills to warm up with, different techniques broken down by your instructor.
That makes it easier to stay motivated since you’re always looking forward to the next class and the new things you’ll learn. As you improve, you learn core values like confidence, perseverance, and discipline. These values will make it easier for you to deal with any problems that come your way.
The physical intensity of martial arts training also causes your body to release dopamine — which is your body’s natural feel-good chemical.
The results: you will be happier, more calm, more motivated about the future, more confident about your social skills, and, most importantly, you won’t feel a need to become anxious when things aren’t going as smoothly as planned.
Dealing with anxiety? Book a complimentary trial class and find out more about how martial arts training can help reduce your anxiety.
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