Body Benefits From Martial Arts, Part 1

By EricComments Off on Body Benefits From Martial Arts, Part 1

Recent fitness crazes and concerns about health have prompted a new surge in martial arts like never before. Scores of people flock to the neighborhood dojo or training hall to take part in the excitement, adventure and exercises taught within. But what can you actually expect to gain from training in centuries-old martial-art styles?

You should expect to see results in three main areas: mind, body and spirit. A good martial arts school will focus on all three. They may be worked separately, but generally they will each flow into the other to help fuse you into a more cohesive practitioner.

Most classes start with a light warm-up to get your blood moving. A warmer body will be better able to exercise and stretch than a cold one. And after a day at the cubicle, you’ll need to rediscover your corporal shell. Jumping jacks or other brisk exercises that work major muscle groups will get your heart pumping.

Flexibility may be one of the first areas you see signs of improvement. Using gradual stretches to lengthen the tendons and ligaments will help you perform kicks, rolling, punching, and moving through postures you may not have ever done before. Plus, a looser body is able to handle the pressures of martial arts training better than a tightly coiled ball of stress. Most schools will stretch hamstrings, calves, shoulders, back, thighs, head and neck through a variety of yoga-like positions or movements. While you develop your flexibility, the most important thing to keep in mind is your breathing. Gentle, deep abdominal inhalations work to release stress better than high chest breathing most people use. When you feel a degree of resistance with the stretch, exhale and try to push a little past it. Be careful not to push too much and stop immediately if you feel undue strain.

Strengthening exercises like push-ups and crunches may also figure into your regimen. You might cringe at the thought of doing stuff you used to do in the military or high-school gym class, but these exercises are valuable because they work a wide range of muscle groups and again, help bring your body into better condition gradually.

Basic up-and-down movements also better fuse your upper and lower torsos together for dynamic movements. Along with the basic push-up and crunch.

Plyometric exercises like squatting down and coming up with a kick develop explosive power and strengthen the muscle groups as well.

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