Learning a martial art will make you even stronger – inside and out.
Taking up a martial art doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a dragon headband and do finger push ups.
Of course you can if you want, but the main reasons for getting into martial arts are that the physical and mental benefits are fantastic.
Even if you join a class just once a week you’ll enjoy improved coordination and agility plus better overall fitness and mental strength.
Learning a martial art gives you an exciting challenge. New skills to learn that can be practiced anywhere.
It will keep you mentally alert and is a formidable stress reliever.
Plus you’ll look (even more) awesome shadow boxing in front of a mirror and who can honestly say they haven’t wanted that?
The best thing is that there’s a style to suit everyone regardless of age, physicality and temperament.
Here’s a peek at some of the best ways to punch, kick and block.
Let’s not quibble about where boxing originated from, it’s ancient.
It’s also one of the best known sports for physical conditioning.
Plenty of athletes from sports as diverse as rugby, basketball, soccer and tennis regularly use boxing as an excellent way to keep in shape and add variety to their workouts.
Plus – it’s fun. Really. Until you’ve learned to throw the perfect right cross, you haven’t really lived.
The first thing you’ll notice is your endurance levels will soar. Boxing uses the entire body and seriously works your cardio so is a massive calorie burner.
As you get used to the physical side you’ll start putting together combinations which really brings your coordination, balance and power into play.
Most satisfying all is the “WHACK!” you’ll be able to produce on a heavy bag or mitt when you unleash a sweetly timed straight right.
There are plenty of options available to join a boxing class. Most major gyms offer fun beginner boxercise classes which teach basic boxing moves with plenty of cardio.
If you want to really get into it there are plenty of studios and gyms offering boxing classes that focus on techniques and sparring based sessions.
No matter what your fitness needs or goals are, boxing is an excellent option.
Kickboxing / Muay Thai (Thai Kickboxing)
If you enjoy boxing then chances are you’ll love kickboxing. Like boxing, it delivers a mighty whole body workout and takes your cardio fitness and strength to new levels.
The big plus of course is that you get to kick. Kicking utilizes pretty much all of your lower body muscles such as your quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles).
Putting punch-kick combinations together is not only a mighty workout but it feels great.
Who cares if you broke a $50,000 copy machine at work or if your ex won the lottery? Your left jab / right kick combo eliminates all stress.
One of if not the most well-known martial arts originating from East Asia. When you think of karate you might envisage breaking a pile of bricks with your bare hands or stretching your leg up so your foot touches your ear.
While both are great party ice breakers, karate is a fantastic martial art to learn at any age.
It works the entire body and builds greater flexibility, coordination and balance. You’ll develop more power and strength and will discover muscles you didn’t know you had.
Karate is also mentally rewarding.
You’ll learn excellent self-defence skills which bring confidence and calmness. Stronger concentration and memory are further benefits from practicing and perfecting the techniques or “kata”.
Unlike boxing and kickboxing, karate has a belt grading system. Beginners to the sport start on a white belt and progress up to the hallowed black belt.
Karate is at least an excuse to buy a cool uniform that you can wear while shopping, regardless if you have a class that day or not.
Jujitsu is a very popular grappling martial art that originated in Japan. It led to the development of similar sports such as judo and Brazilian jujitsu.
Jujitsu is based on using an opponents energy against them in a series of highly effective locks, throws and take downs.
While it doesn’t have the flashy kicks or punches of kickboxing or karate, jujitsu gets you seriously fit.
You’ll develop incredible flexibility and excellent overall strength as you have to manipulate your body into various positions.
Jiujitsu also requires a lot of concentration as you are constantly thinking up of strategies to out-maneuver your opponent.
This originated in Israel and is widely regarded as one of the best self defense systems you can learn.
Krav Maga practitioners range from the FBI to Matt Damon in the Bournse series to that friendly lass who works at your favorite café.
You get plenty of bang for your buck. It combines techniques from a range of disciplines such as boxing, judo, karate and aikido.
Why learn 1 when you can learn 5 at the same time!
Krav Maga was originally developed for the Israeli army in the 1950s and has become extremely popular due to its effectiveness and variety of skills.
You’ll learn strikes, kicks, take-downs as well as how to get out of holds and how to avoid strikes. The whole package.
These are just a taste of the many martial arts out there.
Go with a buddy and try a few. There’s a style out there for everyone.
Martial arts schools or gym classes are very welcoming and instructors are delighted to share their specific knowledge.
Best of all, getting out of things also becomes easier.
Instead of “Sorry but I’m reading a book to my pet bird” can be replaced by the far cooler “Sorry but I’ve got a karate class.”
Find your inner dragon!
Dear Hamish Austin,
I am enjoying your blog posts and this one has me thinking that even at my ripe old age, perhaps there is something even I could do in the way of martial arts.
Whilst I have great images in my mind of doing some punch/kick/elbow routines or a bit of kick-boxing, it’s probably more realistic for me to consider Karate of some sort in an age-appropriate class? I also like the fact that these all deliver mental as well as physical benefits.
Thanks for your comments! Yes Karate is ideal in that people of all ages can take their time to learn the techniques and then start practicing with a partner.
It’s up to you if you want to practice on a beach at sunrise but it does make a great photo.