The Art of Martial Arts
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“Martial Arts” is a general term for various sports or skills—many of them of Japanese origin—that originated as forms of self-defense or combat. Today, martial arts are practiced for a number of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment and mental development.
There are many different styles of martial arts, some of the most well-known include: Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, Jiujitsu, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, kickboxing and MMA (mixed martial arts). Some other forms of martial arts that may be less commonly known are: Aikido, Hapkido, Mua Thai, Kobudo—and these are only a few of the hundreds of styles of martial arts.
“There’s not a style that’s better than another,” says Mike Proctor, Cooper Fitness Center Marital Arts Pro and a 10th Degree Black Belt Martial Artist. “Some people may be more comfortable with one style or another, but one is not more effective as far as self-defense as a style.”
One of the greatest aspects of martial arts is that anyone can learn and practice martial arts, no matter your age, physical or neurological limitations, or current fitness level. Martial arts do not require inborn abilities; they are learned, practiced and perfected. As a form of exercise, martial arts will naturally increase physical fitness, but being physically fit is not a prerequisite to begin learning martial arts.
“It’s a matter of psychological determination to learn and not give up on yourself,” says Proctor.
Martial arts are unlike other forms of exercise because martial arts are not a sport in and of themselves. Instead, martial arts are “more like playing the piano, but your body is the instrument,” says Proctor. ““Martial arts teach discipline, which is an important part of the psyche of young children and adolescents.”
Unlike other sports, “martial arts are healthy in every sense of the word—they benefit the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of the individual—in ways very few activities can,” says Proctor. Martial artists are training to improve physical and emotional well-being. The sport aspect of martial arts is in competition, Proctor explains. “The ultimate aim is not to win a fight, it’s the perfection of character—the physical part is important because you want to have a strong mind and strong body.”
Martial arts will make you more physically fit, but you don’t have to be to start. “In the practice of martial arts, physical fitness is a focus—even though it’s least important—because you must learn to be persistent and not give up,” said Proctor.
For children, martial arts help combat obesity. In a culture that has become largely sedentary, martial arts teach children the discipline of physical activity. Through hard work, children can grow strong, fit, and healthy. “The hardest part of any activity for children and adults is not giving up,” said Proctor. “If they stick with it, they will lose weight and get more fit, it’s just a matter of showing up to class and doing your homework—practicing what you learned in class.”
Martial arts are an individual activity, though they can be learned in a group setting, so parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings, and/or friends can learn martial arts together. At Cooper Fitness, martial arts classes are structured by rank (beginner, intermediate, advanced), or age level.
For children and adults, the greatest benefit of martial arts is not the physical component, but the mental and emotional growth that occurs when practicing martial arts. Martial arts build confidence, helps people overcome fear and encourages self-defense—not only physical self-defense, but emotional and mental self-defense against bullies.
Mike Proctor, who also has a degree in psychology, started practicing martial arts in 1962. He now teaches martial arts to youth and adults at Cooper Fitness Center. For more information on martial arts training, contact Mike Proctor at 972.233.4832, ext. 4428.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.