As we have discussed previously, the world of martial arts is diverse and unique, with individual benefits to each specific art or theory; while one technique may focus principally on disarming an opponent, another may focus principally on early strikes and preemption. Regardless of specific focus or intent, almost all martial arts share a common roster of physical and mental benefits, which are as diverse as they are intense. Below are some of the more common physical and mental benefits of martial arts training.
1. Injury Prevention. While each art focuses on entirely difference aspects of self defense or preemptive strikes, almost every form of martial arts includes training to reduce injuries and damages to the body. Principally, this prevention comes in the form of a more limber and strong body; the stronger and more limber the muscles of the body are, the easier it is to react quickly to an impact or fall, allowing recovery or, if recovery is unachievable, reduction of damage. In addition, the healthier a body is, the more damage it can absorb, and the quicker the body will heal in the case of major damage. You won’t be a superman or Terminator, but your body will be able to handle the rigors of combat and everyday life with much less incident.
2. Situational Awareness. Martial arts tends to promote the concept of situational awareness, or being aware of the area around you and of potential threats. Each art does this slightly different – while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu incorporates active guarding much in the way boxing does, Tae Kwon Do and Karate focus principally on sparring matches, training muscle memory for when combat is unavoidable. Regardless of methodology, being aware of the immediate area surrounding you has several benefits. Prime of these is the ability to think about combat tactically, allowing you to find escape routes, avoid ambushes or conflicts, or react to multiple enemies effectively. By being aware of your surroundings, you can take control of the situation, as opposed to allowing the situation to take control of you.
This awareness is not limited to combat however – being more aware in every day life can be incredibly helpful as well, allowing you to spot an uneven sidewalk, a car running a red light, or a potential overhead before you bump your head.
3. Community of Students. Community is important – scientists have long thought that being part of a community results in increased longevity and mental health, and no community is tighter knit than the community of students and teachers that comprises a dojo. To reduce damage exchanged by student and teacher, as well as by student and student, a certain level of trust and understanding of the sparring partner is needed, so that one knows when to pull punches and when the partner is injured. The sense of community within the martial arts world is such that it promotes healthy lifestyles and diets; fitness is required of all adherents to minimize damage and increase dexterity, resulting in a culture of health and fitness challenged by few and desired by many.