9 Benefits of Martial Arts

Being a martial artist improved my mental health and made me a better human.

Chris Teutsch
Jan 12 · 7 min read
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Photo by Leslie Jones on Unsplash

Martial arts saved my life.

I was bullied when I was younger horribly. I didn’t have the skills to fight back or the confidence to face my fears. Each day, I was petrified of going to school and dreaded the thought of being picked on.

Thankfully, I took karate. That changed everything.

In my life, I have gone on to study multiple styles of martial arts. I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I’ve thrived as a result.

If you’ve never taken up a martial art, I highly suggest you do. Here are nine benefits of training in the martial arts.

It Teaches Self-Discipline

First and foremost, martial arts teaches you self-discipline.

If you don’t have self-discipline, you will never become great. Talent does not get you a black belt. Talent doesn’t make you a world champion.

You can’t control what talents you may or may not be born with, but you can always maintain the level of discipline you exercise in your life.

Discipline is doing the thing you said you were going to do regardless of how you feel.

Martial arts can make you a disciple of discipline.

It Makes You Flexible

Have you ever seen the famous Jean-Claude Van Damme’s splits?

How do you think he got that flexibility? Hint: It wasn’t from sitting on his ass at a bar.

It was years of training as a kickboxer.

When you train in a martial art, you stretch — A LOT. The more flexible you are, the higher you can kick, and the lower your injury rate will be.

This is a lesson we learn in the dojo that can be applied in life: Be flexible.

Think of an oak tree versus a palm tree. The oak is strong and grounded. The palm tree seems flimsy. However, when a big storm comes, the oak is uprooted while the palm tree sways as it always did.

The lesson: Flexibility allows us to evade and maneuver through the storms that life throws at us. If you are fixed and immovable, you will get destroyed.

It Gives You Confidence

Any style of martial arts is built with challenges. Whether it’s learning katas or sparring, trials are a part of the training.

Day in and day out, you practice the habit of facing fears, being tested, and getting out of your comfort zone.

When you can finally break a board or tap someone out, you feel one of the greatest feelings we can feel: pride!

You will become confident that no matter what challenge life throws at you, you will study, train, and sweat. And as a result, you will overcome it.

It Helps With Mental Health

When we are moving through life, we are pulled in a hundred different directions. Our minds race all over the place, and we cannot focus properly. This experience can cause anxiety for a lot of people.

When you study martial arts, it forces you to focus on one task.

You have a Sensei or a coach watching you, assessing what you’re doing. If you aren’t doing it right, there might be some consequences. Like 50 nonstop push-ups on your knuckles.

When you spar, if you aren’t present and in the moment, you’re getting knocked out.

The more you train, the better you become at staying present and living in the moment.

And this moment is all we have.

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Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

It Teaches Self-Defense (Duh)

Life can be very unpredictable.

Tempers can flare-up. Emotions can get the best of people, and they will lose all logic and reason. You have to be able to defend yourself.

God forbid anything ever happens to you, but if it does, you’ll know how to handle yourself.

And for the record, self-defense is not about kicking ass, taking names, and walking away in slow motion with explosions going off in the background. It’s about safety.

Run away if you can, but if you can’t, and you’re scared, you know how to move and handle yourself. Disable the assailant and then run away.

You Learn About History and Culture

When you take a martial art, you’re learning aspects of different cultures.

Styles like Karate, Kung fu, Judo, and Muay Thai have specific moves in the language of the country they came from.

When you’re obsessed with a particular style, you build a bond with its country of origin.

You learn about the history and culture of places that are a world away. That opens your mind up and fills you with wonder and awe about what’s out there.

It will inspire you to travel and see the world.

Friends of mine have gone to China for Kung Fu. Other friends went to Thailand for Muay Thai and never came back! They live there now.

When you’re obsessed with a style, you’re going to want to visit its homeland. That only helps you grow more as a human.

You Learn Hard Work

You might think you work hard. Maybe you do. Perhaps you’re training in the gym, or you’re a routine runner. That’s great.

Now, take it up a notch. Train in martial arts.

I work out a lot. I can deadlift 405lbs for reps and can do over 1,000 push-ups in under an hour. I’m not saying this to boast. I’m saying this for this next thought: Martial Arts is more demanding than any other physical activity I’ve done.

If you think I’m joking, take a jiu-jitsu class and roll on the mat for 3 minutes. You will be exhausted. An hour of jiu-jitsu destroys me. Still. To this day. It ruins me.

Kung Fu was no better. We would practice kicks but not just kicking pads or a bag. We would go across the gym, moving through the kicks in slow motion.

Do you have any idea how your body screams, holding your leg out in front of you for 30 seconds?

And if THAT isn’t enough, you fight! You spar with someone else.

You do drills, train, learn new forms, refine old ones, and then you fight with someone else!

It’s hard, and you wind up falling in love with it.

It Can Help With Weight Loss

Take a look at a boxer’s physique. 99 out of 100 are shredded.

Ever see Bruce Lee? If not, culture yourself and look at his abs.

I’m not saying every martial artist is in shape. Sure, some are overweight. But, I guarantee you that they are in better condition than they were.

When you are training in martial arts, you burn a ridiculous amount of calories.

There’s a ton of focus on cardio because, essentially, cardio can make or break a fight.

If you’ve ever watched an MMA fight, cardio is king. If no one gets submitted or knocked out, the winner is the one who has the best cardio. They will outlast their opponent until they’re gassed and have nothing left.

When you train in a martial arts style, you’re doing a lot of conditioning. The inevitable byproduct is weight loss.

It Improves Focus in All Areas of Life

I mentioned earlier how martial arts training causes us to focus and be present.

What’s beautiful is that in every class you show up to, you practice focusing.

The repetition of focusing cultivates the habit of concentration. So much so that when you leave the dojo, you bring it into life.

Ask any martial artist what they do for work. It could be everything from a carpenter to a sushi chef. I guarantee you they will tell you they improved at their craft after taking up martial arts.

It teaches us to become detailed oriented.

It Gives You an Extended Family

My favorite part about all the styles I’ve trained in is the camaraderie from the men and women training with me.

They become family.

In a great school, everyone empowers each other to grow and improve. The value given because of the knowledge exchanged creates an unbreakable bond, especially with the teacher.

Your coach, sifu, or sensei eventually feels as if you’ve adopted another parent.

It’s as if you gain brothers and sisters too because you all go through the war together.

The bond is so unique, and it stays special for life.

I’m so grateful and honored that my teaches have passed the lessons on to me. I’m not only honored by their generosity, but I’m a better human as a result.

Final Thoughts

There are so many options when it comes to martial arts today.

My advice is to go and observe a class. Check out the class size to make sure there aren’t too many students. Get a feel for the overall vibe and energy of the dojo. Then, ask some questions.

Do they seem happy? Are they working hard? How is the teacher? Is this place legit, or is it just focused on making money?

Do your research, read reviews, and make sure you take a free class! Most locations offer them.

Will it be hard? Yes, but I promise you that you will experience these benefits:

  • You’ll learn self-discipline
  • It’ll make you flexible
  • You’ll gain confidence
  • It will aid your mental health
  • You’ll learn how to defend yourself
  • It’ll make you more worldly by learning history and culture
  • You’ll learn hard work
  • It helps you lose weight
  • It improves focus
  • It gives you an extended family

Now, I realize we are still in a pandemic but don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of free resources you can utilize and put into practice at home for now.

Then, when things improve, start the journey.

Join my email to get a free eBook and to stay in touch.

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In Fitness And In Health

Inspiring stories related to health, fitness and the pursuit of well-being.

Chris Teutsch

Written by

Actor. Motivator. Martial Artist. Fitness Freak. Creator of Hustling4Happiness.com

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