When you think of martial arts, one of the first things that comes to mind is self-defense. Yes, martial arts is great for the body but it is also great for the mind. There are undeniable benefits from hitting the gym everyday but the monotony of the treadmill or elliptical can lead you to stop showing up out of pure boredom.
Research has shown us that jogging can help life expectancy and yoga can increase our mood. While martial arts can help you defend and protect yourself, it can also boost your brain’s cognition.
Martial arts is a full body workout but the movements that you perform are not what you would find in your typical gym. There won’t be any dumbbells or stationary bikes in the martial arts school. Instead you will learn techniques that result in a more well-rounded level of strength and fitness that you can use in everyday life.
All martial arts disciplines require focus, control, and mind-body awareness. Repeated practice has been shown to build cognitive function, self-esteem, self-awareness, and respect of self and others. Studies have shown that martial arts practitioners of all ages and levels had significantly better performance on attention and creativity tests, as well as significantly higher levels of self-esteem. Other studies have shown that practicing martial arts improves behavioral outcomes for youth with autism spectrum disorders, including stereotypical behaviors, social-emotional functioning, cognition, and attention.
In a US study with children aged 8-11 years old were given traditional martial arts training that focused on respecting other people and defending themselves. The children were also taught how to maintain self-control in heated situations. This study found that martial arts training significantly reduced the level of aggressive behavior in boys.
There is far more to martial arts than just kicking and breaking boards. Martial arts has been practiced for both self-defense and spiritual development for hundreds of years. However, researchers have only recently had the methods to asses the true extent of how this practice affects the brain.
There is such a wide range of martial arts, some gentle and meditative while others physically intensive. With that said, there is a type for everyone to enjoy. Go see how it can boost your brain!