Building endurance, mental discipline, balance flexibility, and strength.
Playing sports as a kid gave me some of my fondest memories growing up. The thrill of competition; the camaraderie among teammates; and, the reward of self-improvement are more often found in sports than not. I grew up participating in basketball and football games. I ran. I jumped. I caught. Still, I have yet to find an endeavor as physically and mentally rewarding as martial arts.
I’ve been in a karate uniform since I was 14 years old. I started off in karate, then Tae Kwon Do, Kali and etc. Practicing martial arts has not simply made me better at kicking and punching. The endurance, mental discipline, balance & flexibility, and the strength I’ve gained from martial arts have tremendous carryover to my performance in other sports. Endurance is important when practicing martial arts. In practice, in competition, and in self-defense situations, having the endurance to execute techniques is vital to safety. Martial arts emphasizes endurance with cross-training and technique drills.
Martial Arts classes will typically start with about 10-15 minutes of exercises to increase heart rate and warm up the muscles. Endurance is also improved through technique drills. Hitting pads and shadowboxing for prolonged periods increases heart rate and, over time, improves overall endurance. This endurance translates well to sports that require lots of footwork such as soccer, basketball, and tennis. Martial arts teaches mental and physical discipline.
In most schools, students are discouraged from picking fights, abusing drugs, and bullying others. Students are rather encouraged to be humble, to live a healthy lifestyle, and to work hard. Competitive Edge Karate had its own honor system, with rules that emphasize the values of good character and good work ethic.
The values and discipline learned through martial arts follow students to school, work, and other sports. Martial arts training requires focus inside and outside of the dojo. Being attentive and obeying instructors is crucial to martial arts education. Success only follows consistent hard work and focus towards one’s craft.
The discipline gained from martial arts makes an athlete more coachable and disciplined in other sports. Athletes will be able to pick up techniques more quickly and have greater focus on the court or field.
Many of the techniques in martial arts require great balance and flexibility. Both of these skills are often emphasized in schools with drills, and static and dynamic stretching. Static and dynamic stretching is a key part of every warm-up. Front kicks also require great flexibility to bring the kicking foot to appropriate height. The consistent repetition of techniques like this will improve flexibility and balance over time.
Another benefit of martial arts training is strength. In martial arts, core strength is the base of every technique. The power generated for every kick, punch, and throw goes through the core. The core is also responsible for keeping proper posture and breathing. Many classes will emphasize core strength by doing core workouts such as planks and crunches.
While the core is the primary focus of martial arts strength training, the rest of the muscles are not neglected. Drilling techniques make the body more efficient at channeling its own strength. For example, an inexperienced martial artist may only throw punches using their arms. But a more experienced artist understands how to use the entire body to punch. Core strength is important for any sport, especially ones requiring a repeated exertion of force. Martial arts core training will help anyone’s performance in kicking a ball, throwing a ball, etc. Martial arts will also improve an athlete’s efficiency in using their own strength. Being more efficient will conserve energy and increase output in any sport.
Martial arts is one of the most challenging and rewarding sports there is. Training requires a serious amount of focus and athleticism that will not only make a better martial artist, but a better overall athlete. The passive skills such as endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance cross over to almost every sport. The mental discipline will help out in sports, school, and every activity in between.
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