I was in a store picking up a loaf of bread the other day after class and while I generally don’t parade around in my gi (uniform), I didn’t have a change of clothes and let’s face it, if the wife wants you to pick up something on your way home from work, you pick it up! So this gentleman sees me and during the course of engaging me in small talk, asks me how he, as an adult, could benefit from taking martial arts. After pondering several quick replies, I determined that really, the question should have more appropriately been posed as…
How could I NOT benefit from taking martial arts?
Understand that while the obvious answer of “to learn how to defend yourself” is always a tempting and obvious response to that question, there are many benefits of taking a karate class. Some of these reasons may be obvious, some maybe not so much, so I offer these five reasons that an adult should take martial arts and why I’ve devoted myself to karate:
- Stress relief: We all have stressors in our life. Getting rid of bad stress in your body through a karate program is an excellent way to stay healthy and improve your fitness, not only physically, but also mentally! Maybe you have a bad day and snap at somebody that you didn’t mean to. A martial arts program can take a lot of that negative energy out of your body and get rid of it. They say massages relax your muscles, well karate relaxes your brain!
- All ability levels: In most sports, you have a superstar on a team. Or you only have one player that has the ball at a time. What about the person without the ball? What if you are on the bench because you are not good enough? In karate, it doesn’t matter if you have never taken a martial arts class before, or ever played any sports at all. Everyone who engages in a proper martial arts program gets the same benefit. There is a saying that every one, even the greatest karate master, was once a white belt. It’s true! Every one of the millions of martial artists had a first day wherever they started training, where they first learned how to punch and how to kick.
- No one left behind: In karate, all ability levels are always practicing at the same time, so everyone is getting the benefit of the workout and simultaneously increasing their skill level. And while ability levels are different for different people, EVERYONE has a technique that they are good at. And while some individuals are more naturally talented physically than others, no one is great at everything. But you CAN be really good at a lot of things!
- Health benefits: You might think that you can just assume that martial arts training is good for your health. But do you know why? Martial arts increases your flexibility, balance, hand-eye coordination and your natural strength without weights. It is great for adults and for kids fitness. Building strength without weights means you decrease the risk of injury. Karate uses principles of isometrics and plyometrics to increase natural strength and power. The long term health benefits of a proper karate program is immeasurable. It is not uncommon to see excellent karate students practicing well into their 70’s or even their 80’s! The 86 year-old woman pictured here was 72 when she got her black belt.
- Fun, fun, fun: Look, karate training is just fun. Period. All of the benefits that you get from karate you get from engaging in activities in the karate school that you enjoy doing. As everyone knows, the more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to stick with it. Why do you think so many people fall of the wagon on their diets? Because eating healthy isn’t fun! If eating healthy were fun, we’d all be a lot thinner! Fortunately, we can counter the “fun” eating with a safe and healthy karate workout. Karate can help you maintain your weight goals and if you are one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to worry about weight goals, then you can come and punch and kick your way to a healthier lifestyle just for the fun of it!