Martial Arts is a sport which has often been ignored, especially in India. It refers to any practice or training designed for combat. The term is derived from Mars, the Roman God of war. Martial art styles have developed in many countries, and several theories suggest that it originally developed in India. In fact, yoga is considered to be the forerunner of several martial arts styles, one of them being kung-fu!
There are many types of martial arts, the most popular being the standing and striking styles. In this style the person is primarily on her feet and uses her hands and legs to deliver punches, blocks, and kicks. Knees and elbows are used too; the usage of each aspect differs among the styles. Karate, kickboxing, kung-fu, taekwondo are included in this type. Grappling styles are a variation of wrestling, where the user is required to achieve a dominant position over her opponent. Perhaps the most well known art in this type is Ju-jitsu, made popular by Sherlock Holmes who was a master fighter.
Throwing styles include judo, the main objective of it being to throw your opponent to the ground. Weapon based styles are also used across the spectrum of martial arts. Although karate means ‘empty handed’, these days’ people often learn to wield nan-chaks and wooden sticks. Nan-chak is a weapon made of two short wooden cylinders, connected by a chain.
Martial arts is typically perceived as a violent and dangerous activity. The reality is quite to the contrary. Practitioners of martial arts will tell you that their art is a wonderfully calming and spiritual activity. For one, the goal of martial arts is not to hurt your opponent, a slight touch is sufficient to gain a point in a fight. Additionally, breathing constitutes an essential practice of any combat sport. When you hit, punch, kick, or block, you exhale air to increase your power. Sometimes people also shout out to expel air. Breathing exercises are frequently practiced with intense concentration. Often, after a session, people spend some time meditating to relax the body and clear the mind. Martial arts have historically been closely associated with spirituality and purity. Masters of kung-fu describe their art as a way to ‘purify the art and calm the spirit’.
The benefits of martial arts cannot be stressed enough. Of course, every sport will lead to a healthier life, but martial arts have multiple health benefits. They tone the muscular system, improve your stamina, and increase strength. In just a few months of regular practice, I found myself climbing mountains with an ease I had never experienced before! Flexibility of the body is important, and it improves significantly. Stretching the body is a great stress reliever and provides a sense of satisfaction. Balance and coordination of the body are important. It developed and consolidates personal strength, speed, sensitivity, and endurance. Watching a martial arts master practice is being witness to an art of great power and beauty.
The mental element of martial arts is as important as the physical. Concentration is improved, and the focus of the mind sharpens. The movements provide a channel for venting out aggression and frustration; at the same time, strong emotions need to be controlled and mastered to train better.
Since it provides great benefits to overall fitness, you’ll find that other sports also become easier to pick up once you’ve trained in a martial art. And of course, learning this sport equips you with the skill to protect yourself, for the knowledge of self defense is the primary reason why the sport was developed in the first place. If you are worried about injury, you do not necessarily have to fight with another person. Practicing on your own can also
The physical, emotional, mental and spiritual elements are all combined together in the noble sport of martial arts. I have personally found it to be a very rewarding experience, and urge anyone who finds it interesting to try it out for some time; it could change your life.