Martial arts tend to be grouped together as tough, even manly sports however, this is not the case. There are so many diverse styles and they will all teach you to defend yourself. Whilst this may seem daunting, in reality, all clubs will be friendly and willing to teach a complete beginner. One of the secrets of martial arts is that no one cares how good you are, you will always be welcome at any club so long as you want to learn. Not only are they great physical exercise but they also benefit your mental health and wellbeing:
- Increased Mobility & Co-ordination
Physically, through a combination of slow, controlled movements and fast reaction based sparring you can increase mobility and bodily co-ordination. Both traditional and modern martial arts require stretching in class, allowing you to greatly improve your flexibility and joint mobility regardless of what level you start at.
- Greater Confidence & Improved Mood
Building confidence is central to martial arts and this confidence carries through into your daily life. You may feel safer walking home or more confident in group situations. However martial arts also improve your general mood. A study in 2014 by McCafferty examined the effects of grappling on mood and general wellbeing. It shows that those who trained regularly in Brazilian Jujitsu were shown to have higher energy levels and were more confident and clear-minded than non-martial artists that trained regularly in the gym.
- Better Concentration
All styles of martial arts involve pattern repetition to some extent as well as some form of sparring, whether that is light or heavy. Through a combination of learning new techniques and light technical sparring martial arts improve your cognitive ability as you are able to focus on the way in which you use your body and your mind as situations unfold around you. This increased concentration impacts every sphere of your life not just your training sessions.
- Decreases Stress and Improves Overall Stress Response
As students we all suffer from some stress, martial arts provide a healthy way to physically express stress in a safe, controlled environment. Modern disciplines are good for those who need a fast paced outlet whereas traditional styles can provide a more settled atmosphere. By doing a martial art regularly you provide your body with a consistent outlet for stress thus improving your overall stress response by stabilising your serotonin levels. A study by Konzak and Boudreau shows the social benefits of this type of stress relief, especially the relationship between regular martial arts practice and reduced aggression.
- Improves Body Image
Body image is a difficult issue to tackle, after all we all see ourselves in very different ways however martial arts have been shown to improve self-esteem as they are focused on becoming stronger, faster or more flexible rather than being thin or losing weight. Having a more health related focus, as opposed to an aesthetic one, helps participants to develop a more positive body image over time as well as becoming healthier and stronger.
Here at Royal Holloway we are really lucky that we have five diverse clubs on campus; Ninjitsu, Karate, Judo, Thai Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. If you want to find out more about joining a martial arts club or you want to see us all in action, then come along to A Night At The Dojo on 1st February in the SU Main Hall where you will get the chance to learn a little more about the styles we practice on campus.