A Guide to Martial Arts
If you are tired of the gym and looking for a new challenge, try one of the martial arts. Encompassing philosophical and spiritual dimensions, as well as physical exertion, those who practise martial arts derive both mental and physical benefits. As well as improved strength, suppleness, balance and co-ordination, martial artists believe their study promotes enhanced clarity of thought, improved mental focus and a greater sense of calm and inner peace.
Finding which of the martial arts suits you best will depend on a number of factors:
- Are you comfortable with close contact with your opponent? In some arts (e.g. kyudo) there is no contact at all, whilst in others, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you will be in close contact all the time.
- Do you want to engage in kicking or punching? Karate, taekwondo or kung fu may be the ones for you.
- Would you prefer to learn a weapon skill? Some arts simply use your body and others use swords, bows or other weapons.
- How much emphasis do you place on the spiritual and philosophical elements? Some arts are more akin to yoga in their emphasis on the focus and flow of executing techniques.
- Which suits your build best? If you are stocky and powerful you may find a grappling discipline more natural; if you are supple and long limbed taekwondo may be more suitable.
- How much are you prepared to suffer? Some martial arts can inflict pain and injury on your opponent (and therefore, in return, on you!) whilst others let your opponent defeat themselves.