Martial Arts training is a long proven means of attaining physical fitness. Beginners are coached so that they can reach to their full physical potential in order to supplement the technical aspects of their training, and eventually they learn to push themselves.
Exercise and by extension, Martial Arts training is for everyone! Muscle strengthening activities and flexibility development tend to reduce the risk injury in every day life, from 'pulling' a muscle, to fracturing bones. Even as a person ages, physical activity can also decrease pain in joints from arthritis and increase bone mass to ward off the bone-thinning condition called osteoporosis. Increasing bone strength is even possible in adults over ninety years old!
Vigorous exercise also boosts the heart's function as a pump, making it a larger and more efficient muscle. Moderate activity can even boost good cholesterol, aid the circulatory system, and lower blood pressure. These effects can translate into reduced risk of heart diseases, heart attack and stroke, improved endurance and help in weight control.
When a person is physically active or exercises for a certain period of time the body releases endorphins, proteins in the brain that act as the body's natural pain reliever. When endorphins are released, a person may experience a feeling of euphoria, a natural high.
A reduction in stress, anxiety, depression and an improvement in concentration, self confidence and self esteem are some of the proven mental health benefits.
However, there are many more benefits to training than just physical and mental fitness. A sense of community and making new friends are, on their own, good enough reasons to get involved in any group activity. At Jikan Dojo we consider training to be meaningless without fostering good relationships.
Training can also have a remarkable impact on the developement of children. Problems with aggression, low self-esteem and shyness, bullying, hyperactivity and poor discipline are often confronted in the dojo. Children, even more so than adults, thrive on friendships and often benefit from having a positive influence and guidance in the form of their instructor. Martial arts training also teaches the value of hard work and devotion, that is, the need for students to stick at things and not give up when the going gets tough, or when experiencing disappointment.
The manner in which we react to difficult situations defines our characters and affects how successful we are in the long term. Japanese budo teaches us to keep a good attitude and a calm mind in the most difficult of situations.
Altogether , martial arts training at any good dojo should be more than just a means self defence instruction. It should be a means to good physical and mental health, and aid in the development of sound characters by promoting healthy psychological traits and good moral values. In the bigger picture it would be fair to argue that good consistent training equates to living healthier, happier, longer lives.