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Why Martial Arts Are a Great Way to Get Fit

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Participating in one of the martial arts not only improves one physically, but also mentally. From the physical aspect, participants lose weight, tone and firm muscles and increase strength. They also gain flexibility, agility, hand-eye coordination and balance.

From the mental aspect, if you lose weight, and firm and tone muscle, you are going to have a better feeling about yourself and that feeling exudes to those around you. You’ll start to get questions about what you are doing to look that good. That further increases your self-esteem.

But martial art training does other things too. It increases your mental sharpness, decreases stress, improves your overall health and in the end, you live longer. Who would not want these health benefits from their exercise program.

Plus as a bonus, you learn both offensive and defensive moves that could not only help you defend off an attack, but could actually end up saving your life. The world today is a dangerous place and you must be prepared; there is no reason to be the victim when you can get fit, healthy, lose weight and learn how to protect yourself.

Types of Martial Arts

While there are many forms of martial arts, here are four of the more popular types:

Krav Maga

Developed by the Israeli military, this form is a full-body workout. Warm-ups include sit-ups, squats and lunges in preparation for the twisting, turning and punching required in the application part of the class.

Kickboxing

Because this martial art form concentrates heavily on kicking and punching, it works all major muscle groups, but especially the abdominal core and lower back. An hour-long workout can burn as much as 1,000 calories.

Mixed Martial Arts

Made popular by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it is a martial art form that combines judo, jujitsu, wrestling, kick boxing and Muay Thai. While it is a very violent in the ring, learning the techniques is not and can be learned in a non-threatening class-style format. Typical training includes time on punching bags, kettlebells, doing burpees and performing arm building drills using heavy ropes.

Judo

Judo uses the bodyweight of others to burn calories and fat. It is more of a bodyweight style of training. Balance, coordination and leverage are learned making it useful for a smaller person to take down someone larger. Training involves students using controlled holds, locks and throws on each other to avoid injury.

There are several more martial art forms that are good forms of cardio exercise that burn lots of calories and body fat. Other fitness programs combine cardio and strength training to burn calories, body fat and tone muscle, but they fail in that they don’t teach any self-defense moves. Martial arts training does all of this and more and you’ll have fun interacting with others instead of training in a boring gym by yourself.

Which Martial Art Is the Right One for You?

You probably have never seen an overweight martial artist. This is because training for these sports means a lot of aerobic exercise. You also develop muscles while burning fat, improve your strength, balance and mobility, and promote a healthy heart. Whether you want to become the next world champion black belt, or simply want a great workout, martial arts fit the bill.

If you’re considering taking up one of these fitness disciplines often steeped in ancient, Far East history, you are probably wondering which one is right for you. They all provide wonderful health benefits, but they have some distinct differences as well. Here are few tips to help you choose the perfect martial art for your situation.

Jiu Jitsu for Self-Defense

Self-defense is cited as the number one motivator for taking up a martial art. Jiu Jitsu is the perfect self-defense trainer, as it emphasizes breaking holds and other defensive-minded techniques. You learn to use your opponents strength and force as a weapon against him or her, which means you can effectively subdue a larger attacker.

Kung Fu for Physical Fitness

Probably the second most common reason for taking up a martial art is to get in shape. If you want to burn fat and build muscle, improve your coordination and balance and receive an “all around” workout, Kung Fu is the martial art for you.

Upper Body Workout

Western-style boxing is perfect for working your upper body. You will learn how to develop a proper base with your legs and your lower body, but most of your exercising will involve your waist up. Japanese Shotokan Karate is another excellent choice as a martial art that works your upper body well.

Lower Body Workout

Tae Kwon Do emphasizes leg strength and agility. All martial arts will promote stronger legs and a healthy base. However, practices like Tae Kwon Do focus more on building your lower body than your upper body.

Building Self-Confidence

Exercise regularly and your self-confidence and self-esteem will improve. This is true of all forms of regular physical activity in general. Concerning the martial arts specifically, Naginata is an art form which teaches and promotes self-confidence, respect and etiquette. You build muscle, burn fat and get in shape while also learning important life skills and boosting your self image.

Explore Different Cultures

If you want to explore the martial art of a particular culture, you can do that as well. Krav Maga was developed in Israel, and is a no-holds-barred, hard-core self-defense strategy that is used by the Israeli military. If Korean culture interests you, take up a Tae Kwon Do practice. A desire to learn more about Japanese culture means studying Sumo Wrestling. Karate was brought to China by a Buddhist monk, so you could learn more about those cultures by practicing that particular martial art.

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