By: James Davis - MMA Station
Learning a martial art can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding activities you can do. You can spend a lifetime studying a discipline, with always more to be learned and new techniques to be added to your arsenal.
If you’re on the fence as to whether to take up a martial art or not, we’re going to go over 5 top reasons why you should start learning a discipline today.
Lets’ get to it.
Of course, one of the primary benefits of learning a martial art is that it provides you with the tools and knowledge needed to effectively defend yourself should such a situation ever arise. Admittedly, avoiding confrontation is the best method of preventing any physical conflict, however this is unfortunately not always possible.
With this in mind, knowing a form of self-defense is an invaluable skill, one in which the vast majority of people do not spend the time learning. Even if you attend a class just once a week, you will still possess more fundamental self-defense knowledge than most people.
In terms of which martial art is best for self-defense, it’s fairly hard to distinguish one particular discipline. That being said, defensive martial arts such as BJJ and Judo, which are designed to utilize techniques and your aggressors’ momentum in your favor, are perhaps better suited than offensive, striking based martial arts.
One of the most common by-products of studying a martial art is enhanced levels of fitness. A typical martial arts class provides an intense physical activity due to the fact that they’re usually comprised of a warm up period, learning and drilling certain techniques, sparring and a cool down.
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘well… that doesn’t sound too bad’, you could be in for a fairly nasty surprise. Even the warm up periods in martial arts classes tend to be fairly hardcore (depending on the gym of course) and often involve a variety of different bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, sit ups and squat thrusts. Once you’ve made it through that, you’ll more than likely face a period of sparring, and although these are typically carried out with roughly 60% intensity, they are still extremely physically demanding.
The physical nature of the class will also largely depend on the type of martial art itself. I’ve found that striking based disciplines tend to be more cardio based, often incorporating a period of skipping into the warm up. Whereas grappling martial arts, while still developing cardio, will have slightly more emphasis on muscular endurance, hence the inclusion of body weight exercises.
Considering that it’s recommended that an adult partake in roughly 150-minutes of exercise per week, and with martial arts classes typically running anywhere from 1-3 hours in duration, they’re a fantastic way to make sure you’re hitting your weekly requirement.
Heading down to a martial arts class is a brilliant way to meet like-minded people that share a common interest with you. Gyms tend to have a brilliant sense of community and comradery, as you all learn from one another and continue to improve your skill level as a team.
There’s no bond quite like the bond you make with fellow martial arts practitioners at your gym or club. After hours of potentially blood, sweat and maybe even some tears, you’re sure to make some great friends with your fellow brothers/sisters in arms.
Although the chances are, you’re going to spar against each other at some point, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition, as it’s in these sparring sessions you’ll put your knowledge to the test and learn the most.
At some point in your life, you’re going to be in a situation where you feel uncomfortable. This could be at work in the office, in a social situation or even in an interview for a new job. If you’ve never put yourself out of your comfort zone, finding yourself in such a position can be tough and difficult to overcome.
Fortunately, martial arts force you out of your zone of comfort, as no martial artist, whether an amateur boxer, professional MMA fighter or even a world champion can go a career without facing set backs (either in training or in competition).
The chances are your first few classes will most likely be the toughest, as you’re getting to grips with a wide array of different techniques and the etiquette that comes with studying a martial art. However, with a bit of persistence and determination, you’ll soon learn the ropes and feel a sense of accomplishment that you were able to power through an uncomfortable situation.
Similarly, when sparring you’ll most likely find yourself against people of a higher skill level than yours. Take BJJ for example, you’re sparring (rolling as it’s referred to) against a person of a higher belt and a far greater understanding of different techniques. You’ll most likely spend the majority of the roll being submitted, which of course, isn’t the most comfortable of situations. You may even be able to pull off a submission of your own, allowing you to leave the class not only knowing that you can handle uncomfortable encounters, but you can prevail and achieve some form of success when the odds are against you.
All in all, not only do martial arts prepare you to handle these situations, they equip you with the knowledge that you can indeed power through and overcome such adversity.
Seeing yourself progressively improve class after class, week after week is a fantastic way to improve your self-confidence and discover the potential you never knew you had. Performing your fist submission, escaping a submission attempt or even seeing an improvement in your hand speed are all milestones that can be achieved by regularly attending a martial arts class.
Some of the more traditional martial arts such as BJJ feature a belt system, where you’re awarded a new belt as your skill level improves. While progressing from belt to belt can take years, it’s a great way to appreciate how far you’ve come and be rewarded for your dedication.
Who knows, you may even become a black belt martial artist, something in which very few people can claim to be.
There’s no denying that studying a martial art provides a ton of different benefits physically, mentally and even socially. You get to meet some new people, get into the shape of your life and learn how to effectively defend yourself.
While learning and progressing in a martial art is no easy task, it can, and will be one of the most rewarding and empowering tasks that you undertake.
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