Martial Arts For Mental Focus
Over the next few weeks it will be my goal to write about the importance of Mental Prowess in your martial arts training. As martial artists (style aside) there is one universal training truth. Most of us can never know with 100% certainty if what we train will save our life or the lives of our families. I hope that none of my students ever have to find out. As Dan Inosanto said “All you can do is trust that it will”.
Regardless of your style of martial art – traditional or pugilistic – most will not see what the creators of the art saw often which was the need to use that martial training to save their life in hand to hand combat on a battlefield. Sport fighting does not give you the intensity that exists in a true combat situation and traditional martial training has no substitute for the real aggression that exists in a life threatening attack.
In order to do your best to prepare for such realities in your martial arts training you have to enlist your imagination. Before I spend the next few (hopefully just a few) blog posts discussing creation of your fighting identity/philosophy, replacing negative mental perspectives with positive ones, and how to use mental visualization when training to increase your skill, we should talk about ALL OF THE BENEFITS of mental training in your martial arts.
EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
There is little ability to argue that exercise is good for your body. Looking good is a huge part of mentally feeling good. Confidence that comes from knowing you are physically capable of protecting yourself is one of the best reasons to train martial arts. What is discussed less is how great your martial arts training is for your brain. It improves your overall mood, self-esteem (that confidence again), and your ability to think well under stress and strain. In the case of activities such as martial arts you learn to perform techniques on both the left and right sides of the body. This activity helps increase the use of both the left and right sides of the brain. This is the type of daily grey matter weight lifting that will help keep you mentally sharp for years to come.
Exercise Produces Endorphins:
These puppies are like natures natural drug. Releasing into your blood stream during high stress moments. Blocking pain and giving you that workout “high”. Think of them like all natural cocaine.
It Makes You Feel Good About Yourself:
A good workout (in a group or solo) makes you feel like you have accomplished something. You put forth effort and walked away with positive change.
It Raises Your Testosterone Level:
A hard training session, especially if you add in some heavy lifting, makes you feel in a better mood by adding in a little extra testosterone in the mix. (Don’t worry ladies…not enough to make a mustache)
It Releases Anti-Depressant Chemicals:
Your elevated workout will cause the body to push other happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine elevating your mood.
Reduces Anger and Stress Tension:
Martial arts can be a great way to let out all of the negative stress you have built throughout your day.
Training Consistently Helps Your Thinking:
20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise adds more than an increase in lung power. It also increases the blood flow to and through the brain brushing away “cobwebs” and waking your focus skills.
It Can Possibly Even Make You Smarter:
Working out not only helps you keep your brain function stronger as you age, but there have even been studies that show that it can possibly help create new brain cells.
It Can Be A Form Of Meditation In Motion:
Use your training to let go of that voice in your head. Stop thinking about whatever may be bothering you and focus on your training because that break helps!
It Improves Your Sleep:
We all know we need good shuteye. It aids in weight loss, stress reduction, focus, and overall mood. So take the time to train and help yourself get those 8 hours of rest you richly deserve!
Now that we have discussed how martial arts can help hone your brain (and by doing so benefit your entire body/attitude) we need to start talking about how to use that new brain power to increase your fighting!