The World Taekwondo Grand Prix 2018 hits Manchester from the 19th to the 21st of October. 250 of the world’s fastest and most disciplined athletes take to the dojang for some seriously explosive sparring. Head-kicks, spinning kicks, reverse kicks – speed, power and agility define this martial art. It’ll be a spectacular three days – teeing up the world’s best for the 2019 world championships.
Martial arts – like Taekwondo – have their origin in the combat practices of East Asia – mostly from China, Japan and Korea. They bring together a bunch of physical, mental, emotional – and some even say spiritual – benefits. And the good news is you don’t have to be Bruce Lee to enjoy them. They kick in from the first day of training. And if a full-on contact martial art like Taekwondo or Kyokushin Karate doesn’t appeal, don’t be put off, there are plenty of medium and light contact forms. And if you don’t fancy touching a soul, there’s always the grace and ease of Brazilian Capoeira – as much dance as martial art.
Martial arts offer a whole-body work out. Here are just some of the health benefits:
Martial arts are among the most acrobatic sports. High kicks, blocks, swerving and dodging all need flexibility. Warming and stretching are core parts of any good martial arts workout – bringing long-term benefits and reducing your risks of injury.
You don’t need to look like Hercules. Martial arts are as much about brain as brawn – women enjoy them every bit as much as men – but they will rapidly improve your overall strength, power and muscle tone.
Martial arts give you that all important cardio workout. Both sparring and training hike your heart rate, giving your cardiovascular system a vital boost.
Increasing muscle mass and tone can improve your body’s metabolism – which can help you manage your weight. Martial arts are also a calorie-burner. Depending upon the martial art and how hard you hammer it, you can burn anywhere between 350 and 900 calories in half an hour.
Stability and co-ordination
Martial arts keep you on your toes. Balance, core-stability and a strong upright stance are essential. Training can iron-out postural problems – and help you keep your head high.
There is nothing quite like sparring to improve your concentration – keeping your eyes peeled to block the next attack wonderfully focusses the mind. And what better way to forget about work, family or whatever else is ramping up your stress levels?
We know that exercise can improve mental and emotional wellbeing – it can banish the blues, dissolve stress and help keep anxiety in check. But martial arts are more than just a repetitive exercise. They involve heightened attention, mental discipline, life-long learning and structured interaction with training partners. Martial arts also involve learning respect – both for yourself and for others. It may sound hokey, but martial arts have their roots in ancient traditions. If it takes your fancy martial arts can teach you about an awful lot more than your body.
Doing it in the gym
You don’t have to be in the dojo or dojang to reap the health benefits of martial arts. Whether it’s karate, jujitsu or taekwondo, a couple of hours in the gym a week doing any of the following will boost your performance.
Pull-ups – great for building upper body strength, they put your back muscles to work. And if you can’t yet manage one, use a step to get your chin above the bar and slowly lower yourself down.
Burpees – or squat thrusts – a great full-body workout good for overall strength and aerobic fitness.
Barbell squats – helps build that critical leg strength, using quads, glutes and hamstrings. Also activates your core.
Push-ups – the building block of martial art strength – push ups are perfect for developing striking power.
Whatever your health or fitness needs, you’ll find something that fits in the martial arts.
Try it. Inspired by martial arts, you’ll punch, kick and kata your way to improved health and cardio-fitness. Check out a body combat class at a venue near you.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to learn a specific martial art, contract your nearest venue to discover what’s on offer.