Martial Arts for Fitness

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There are plenty of benefits for using martial arts for fitness reasons. Martial arts training increases flexibility, strength, coordination, and endurance. Moving, bending, kicking, and punching all tend to get the heart going. Any person who has taken a grappling art knows that it’s a good workout just practicing how to fall. History tells us that the earliest Kung Fu was taught to Shaolin monks as a exercise program so the idea of using martial arts for fitness is not a new idea.

Besides using traditional martial arts for fitness, there are exercise programs which incorporate some martial arts techniques. Cardio-kickboxing is an exercise program that exists in most fitness clubs and main-stream martial arts schools. This workout is often very intense and will definitely burn the calories. Typically, the workout involves punching and kicking combination that are performed against pads or targets. Some cadio-kickboxing classes do use targets, but only practice punching and kicking the air. Either way will make you sweat, but hitting actual targets can be more of a workout because resistance is applied. Cardio-kickboxing should not be confused with full contact kickboxing or Muay Thai kickboxing which are martial arts that involve kicking and punching other people, not just inanimate targets.

Some martial arts have been promoted recently more for their fitness benefits than their combat effectiveness, none more so than Tai Chi. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you may have seen a group of people in a public park performing the slow moving techniques of Tai Chi. The slow movements are done in a way that gives the practitioner an effective workout by requiring relaxed muscle control. All movements are done with bent knees from a relaxed posture. This reliance on muscular support instead of the skeletal support allows Tai Chi to provide a wonderful exercise that burns calories. Plus, if you get an instructor who shows you the self defense applications of Tai Chi, you will also be getting the martial arts benefits as well as a good workout.

Martial Arts for Fitness

Another martial art that has been gaining popularity for fitness reasons is Capoeira. Capoeira is a martial art that was brought to the new world by slaves brought from Africa. In Brazil this martial art was used by slaves in several rebellions and therefore, its practice was outlawed. To continue training in this deadly martial art, its practitioners had to disguise the art as a folk dance using tribal music. This art set to music is what exists today as modern Capoeira. This martial art involves techniques that require great flexibility and balance. It builds coordination and strength through full body movements like back flips, handstands, and cartwheels. The art is set to a rhythmic music and is practiced in a circle called a “Roda” so it is often thought of as an athletic dance instead of a martial art. Make no mistake; although they may not be obvious to the casual observer, the combat techniques are present just as they are in Tai Chi.

The bottom line is that whether you practice martial arts for fitness purposes or not, you will most likely get some good exercise either way.