BENEFITS OF MARTIAL ARTS
Contrary to Senegal next door, Martial Arts have a bad name in The Gambia. They are associated with fighting, violence, and aggression as portrayed in the movies. In fact, a question that is often posed to the few who practice Martial Arts is: “who are you going to fight?” conveying the message that those that engage in this activity do so because they have scores to settle. This is so far from truth. As we embark on the adventure of contributing to the expansion of Taekwondo in The Gambia, it is important that we provide information on the many benefits of Martial Arts, of which Taekwondo is one of the many disciplines and styles. Some of these benefits are listed below. The reader is encouraged to read them carefully in order to gain a better understanding of what he/she can get out of his/her involvement in Martial Arts:
Improved physical fitness, strength, coordination and balance:
Make no mistake. Martial Arts is a great workout! It is a total body workout — your stamina, muscle tone, flexibility, balance and strength will all show signs of improvement. Because taekwondo depends on kicking, practitioners learn to balance their weight on one leg to leave the other one free to strike. This also helps strengthen the muscles of the torso. Taekwondo can also help improve coordination. Arm and leg muscles become stronger as you practice strikes. Needless to say, Martial Arts are a high-aerobic workout that uses every muscle group in the body.
By participating in Martial Arts, you can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass you have in your body. The higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolic demands will be, and subsequently the more calories you will burn each day, thereby helping prevent obesity and promote weight loss. High levels of muscle mass also lead to increased agility, thereby preventing falls as you age.
Improved cardiovascular health:
Research has found that the only real way to improve the status of the cardiovascular system is by participating in activities that stress the heart, such as martial arts.
For those who have weight issues and would like to shed off some unwanted kilograms, it is estimated that a one-hour session of moderate intensity martial arts can burn up to 500 calories.
Research has found that by participating in Martial Arts, you not only improve your reflexes while performing the activity, but actually experience faster reaction times during all activities of your life. This is very important in a number of daily activities, such as driving.
When you first start your Martial Arts training try not to worry about your lack of flexibility. This is like anything you do and is just practice, irrespective of age. Taekwondo training does require a certain level of flexibility but this will come with time and your instructor will help you and tell you the stretches you should be practicing to improve your flexibility.
By learning Martial Arts skills and improving your physical condition, you become more comfortable in all situations — whether you’re in danger or simply doing a task that takes you beyond your comfort zone. and you’ll discover you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. You develop a new sense of self confidence, making you virtually “bully proof.” As you dedicate yourself to a goal in Martial Arts — say, learning a particular strike, earning a belt or practicing how to break a board — you gain confidence as you observe your own progress and increasing mastery. This self-confidence can then be carried over into other areas of your child’s life.
Increased focus, concentration and stillness:
From the very first day of class, Martial Arts students are challenged to think as much as they act. Learning the patterns and sequences of taekwondo requires concentration and attention, and sparring requires focus on both one’s self and one’s opponent. Taekwondo teaches breathing and meditation techniques to assist in learning focus. As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. As a martial artist, your will learn what it is to be still, challenged and focused. It is known that the majority of people favour one side of their body when it comes to writing, throwing a ball or turning around for example. For example, in Taekwondo students are taught to use both sides of their body exactly the same way which improves balance and coordination.
Increased social skills:
Martial arts strongly emphasize self-discipline and self-control as core components of its teachings. Self-leadership and the ability to deal with others in a mature way is the result.
Kicking, punching and screaming are a great release, no matter what your age.
Respect for values:
Honesty, courtesy, integrity, perseverance and excellence are some curriculum areas of focus in Martial Arts. These qualities help both children and adults become great leaders. Martial Arts students must learn to follow directions from an instructor and are expected to show respect to him/her. Students are also expected to show respect to their opponents before and after a sparring match. Martial Arts practitioners are generally polite. Martial arts wisdom has it that after consistent practice, one becomes less impulsive and aggressive towards others, contrary to what is generally believed. Most importantly is the fact that Martial Arts celebrate humanity, by bringing together people of all walks of life, irrespective of their social and income status, race, gender, etc. In a Dojang, both rich and poor, men and women stand side-by-side united by Taekwondo training and spirit.
Due to the total-body nature of a Martial Arts workout, tons of calories are burned during every class. However, you’ll also find that your natural eating signals become better regulated, so food cravings will disappear and you’ll eat less as a result.
Researchers have found that participating in a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to improve your mood. Performing Martial Arts is not only a good way to relieve stress and frustration, but may actually help to make you happier. The endorphins released by physical activity appear to be active in your body for as many as four hours after exercise.