Martial arts are a total workout described as a “mind-body-spirit” healthy body healthy mind practice. The level of exercise required to become skilled in any martial art, combined with the level of concentration needed to achieve various movements, develops agility, endurance and the ability to stay focused.
Martial arts include many disciplines from Tai Chi, Judo, Tae Kwan Do and Karate, which are all unarmed varieties to Kendo; a Japanese-style using sticks. A number of styles emphasise the spiritual aspect of the art, common in Korean styles, which reflect the fact a number of styles have religious origins.
People of any age can practice a martial art in order to maintain their wellbeing. Tai Chi is an excellent style for all ages and fitness levels, particularly for older generations as it has slow, controlled movements or postures which are gentle to perform but strong on benefits. Central to Tai Chi is the belief in Qi, life’s essence, and maintaining its even flow through the body. If the flow of Qi is constant, it can combat many disorders such as arthritis, anxiety, stress and fatigue. This style is the most studied in terms of health and wellbeing and is attributed to stress reduction, improved agility and balance, posture control and lower leg strength. It also appears to be cure insomnia in elderly individuals. The decline of the muscular-skeletal system associated with ageing is also slowed with regular practice. An attractive aspect of Tai Chi is “no pain”; if it hurts it is not being done correctly.
Meditation is an important aspect of both Japanese and Korean styles which teach a calm mind and inner peace are required to execute the movements effectively. The health benefits of meditation have long been recognised. Yoga which has a significant focus on meditation is actually derived from martial arts. Anxiety and stress can be controlled and even eliminated when meditation is practiced routinely.
Many devotees of martial arts credit the practice with developing their self-confidence and self-esteem, not only because they are able to defend themselves but they because they enjoy increased mental strength and serenity.
All the martial arts styles engage several muscle groups, strengthening the back, legs, arms and most importantly the body’s core. The gluteal and inner thigh muscles or the pelvic muscles, in particular are used frequently, which are key in any sexual activity for both males and females, enhancing balance and endurance.
Endurance, balance and flexibility all enhance the physical aspects of the sexual experience. Self-esteem, self-confidence and a healthy body image are key to being desirable and desiring a sex partner. All of these are achieved with regular martial arts practise. An interesting part of the Kama Sutra, advocates that women should regularly “practice with sword, single-stick, quarterstaff, and bow and arrow,” linking sexual pleasure and prowess with martial arts practice. Certainly practising a martial art would keep the body in a condition to sustain the many and varied positions in the Kama Sutra.
With benefits for good body condition, flexibility and agility, improved posture, weight control, stamina and good mental health, martial arts is the ultimate activity for health and wellness.