Balance training may be a new term for you, but it has been around for many years in various dance and sports training programs. When I was younger, I didn’t really need to do a lot of balance training because I was very active in sports in school. But balance training is important to master martial arts “karate” or most any sport. Balance training includes strength, flexibility, agility and mental discipline. That is one of the reasons you hear about football players taking ballet classes. These skills help many athletes in sports. Here are the main skills you should focus on to be a better athlete.
Strengthen Your Core
Strength is a key component that every martial artist needs. Everyone starts at different levels when they first enter the dojo. Don’t worry about being stronger than the other guy! Improving your strength is what is important. Martial arts is very much like ballet in the sense that it helps to improve strength throughout your whole body. What parts of the body specifically does it help? Here is how I have found it helped me.
Okay, pretty much the whole body, but my core strength has improved dramatically in the past 4 months of getting back into martial arts training. This is key as you get older, core strength weakens and you become susceptible to injury easier. When I did martial arts in my 20’s this was not really an issue, because I was super active and involved in many sports from martial arts to dog sledding, etc.
Improve Your Flexibility
Being more flexible really does help in many ways. Increased flexibility benefits the whole body. When you sit for great lengths of time, it affects your back, legs, and neck. These areas become stiff and often leads to muscle aches, strains, and skeletal alignment issues. Believe me, I know as a computer programmer sitting is really bad for your body. Flexibility is one of the best benefits that comes from martial arts training. In class you get a great workout that warms up the body and regular stretching helps to improve your flexibility. Increased flexibility also helps to reduce the risk of injuries.
Sharpen Your Mind
One of the other benefits that I find martial arts training improves is mental focus. Martial arts like other sports like ballet lowers your stress, stimulates you intellectually. It helps you to recognize and deal with patterns, spacial issues and sequences and hand-eye coordination. All of these elements are essential for martial arts training, but more importantly, they improve your overall health and wellbeing. Martial arts stimulates a connection between your brain and your body and it helps your body to do your best in all activities, not just martial arts.
When I helping teach the children’s martial arts classes in my 20’s I found this to be very true for children. Martial arts really helped kids to focus in martial arts, but also in academic school classes. We saw an improvement in behavior, attitude, concentration, grades and athletic ability for many students.
Over the course of my life, I have participated in many sporting activities from hockey, soccer, baseball, track, cross-country running, dog sledding, hiking, mountain biking, downhill skiing, but out of all the sports the only one that truly has helped me as a lifelong skill mentally and physically is martial arts. Here’s how martial arts affected me throughout my life so far:
- Courage to help others in need
- Confidence in who I am
- Improved physical health
- Respect for others and life
- Drive to improve myself
These are just some of the many ways that martial arts helps anyone. On a side note, martial arts is for anyone and everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are young or old. Martial arts is for anyone of any shape and size that desires to improve their health and overall well-being in life!