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How martial arts affects the mind

A study conducted in 2012 and released in the Oxford Journal of Neuroscience showed that practicing martial arts helped build up white matter integrity in the cerebellum. The amazing physical feats that martial arts practitioners perform are actually more than that, they are feats of the mind too. The study revealed that karate experts hone their minds as well as their bodies, and in fact, their sharpened mind leads to sharper instincts, better motor coordination and increased physical ability. In other words, martial arts training has a significant impact on the brain.

It was in the 20th century that martial arts became so popular in the West. It has, however, been a way of life in the Orient for over 3000 years. It is interesting to delve deep into the history of martial arts. One can find the teachers, or rather masters of the discipline, focus on metaphysical teachings. It is the power within each individual that determines true strength and success. We often hear the term Chi (Qi), which we refer to as energy. It is more than of course. It is the force within us, the power of the mind that we use to excel and also train our bodies.

You can see the difference in thought here. Popular culture has always focused more on the physical side of martial arts across disciplines like Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Kung Fu, Aikido, Judo, and Tae-Kwon-Do. Fiction and films have perpetuated this belief, and we have often been awestruck with amazing and heroic feats that martial art experts have performed.

What we have missed out on is the mind-body connection. Here’s what we should know.

  • • Along with self-defense, it also teaches us how to cultivate and control the mind.
  • It also promotes good health and fitness.
  • It leads to mind expansion and spiritual development.
  • It aids in character training and helps build values.
  • It increases in self-confidence.
  • Several studies have also pointed out that traditional martial arts go a long way to reducing aggressive behavior and negative emotions like anger. By helping one inculcate physical and mental relaxation, it helps in better mind and body control. Hence, controlling emotions is easier. Martial arts training and its continued practice also help in reducing anxiety and depression. All these help in social and personal lives, brings in emotional stability and assertiveness along with greater autonomy of the spirit.

    All these stem from the inherent codes present in each discipline.

  • The pre-requisites of good Kung Fu are insight, patience, and calmness.
  • Shotokan Karate rules are set in moral values that stress on a positive frame of mind, right attitude, and virtues.
  • Tai Chi training seeks to stimulate and channelize a harmonious flow of energy through the body and out.
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu not only leads to higher energy levels but also an agreeable, composed, clear and confident mind.
  • Source: Oxford Journals

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