health & wellness

9 Types of Martial Arts to Help Your Mental Health

Sheena Joseph | Mar 04 2021
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Everyone knows that martial arts make you feel powerful. But something that a lot of people do not know is that it can make you feel powerful emotionally as well. While the training is physically demanding, it also needs commitment and courage. Martial arts pushes you to be responsible, determinant, patient, confident, and face your fears. While these seem like aspects of a personality growth course, they are significant parts of your emotional intelligence. 

Martial arts can prepare you to be mindful because being aware of your body and its movements is key to training. If you never had much luck with meditation, martial arts could be your key to mindfulness. It takes hard work to learn every discipline. This will give you a sense of achievement and boost dopamine production. Martial arts are a positive activity that will make you physically and mentally strong. Here are some of the most popular disciplines of martial arts.

1) Krav Maga

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Krav Maga is a self-defence fighting system developed by Israel's security forces. It has a combination of techniques sourced from aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo, and karate. Popular for its focus on real-world situations, Krav Maga is extremely popular among women. Some principles Krav Maga focuses on are simultaneous attack and defence, physical aggression instead of emotional aggression, continuing to strike until the opponent is incapacitated. This discipline recommends simple and easily repeatable strikes while maintaining an awareness of surroundings to look for escape routes or more attackers.

2) Kalaripayattu

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Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art that originated in Kerala dating back to the third century. It is popular for using weapons and techniques unique to Kerala. Unlike modern forms of martial arts, Kalaripayattu is designed for the battlefield. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms. Weapons used in Kalaripayattu are incredibly light and allow flexibility as well as mobility. Experts of the discipline make use of the knowledge of pressure points of the human body. Kalaripayattu is known for being practised by women of ancient Kerala as well.

3) Kung Fu

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Kung Fu is one of the popular disciplines of martial arts. However, contrary to popular belief, Kung Fu refers to Chinese martial arts including many forms like Wing Chun and Tai Chi. Each form of Kung Fu has its own principles and techniques. Two aspects that are common to all of them are quickness and trickery. Chinese martial arts consists of several hundred fighting styles developed over the centuries. Kung Fu also has a history of military training as well as being used for self-defence.

4) Taekwondo

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Taekwondo is a Korean martial art known for punching and kicking techniques. It is particularly popular for head-height kicks, jumping spinning kicks, and fast kicking. It has been recognised as an Olympic event since 2000. 'Theory of Power' is the basis of Taekwondo and it includes reaction force, concentration, equilibrium, breath control, mass, and speed. This discipline of martial arts also focuses on ethics, etiquette, justice, respect, and self-confidence. There are also hybrid martial arts that combine taekwondo with other styles. Some of them are extreme Taekwondo, Kun Gek Do, Han Moo Do, Teukgong Moosool, and Yongmudo.

5) Muay Thai

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Muay Thai is a practice that originated in Thailand which led to the name 'Thai boxing'. It is known for using stand-up strikes and clinching techniques. The combined use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins has given it the name 'art of eight limbs' too. Muay Thai is based on the traditional Thai martial art form called Muay Boran. Some other disciples related to Muay Thai are  Muay Chaiya, Muay Lao, Lethwei, Pradal Serey, and Tomoi. The discipline also has six groups of defences - blocking, parries, avoidance, evasion, disruption, and anticipation.

6) Judo

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Judo is a popular form of martial arts coming all the way from Japan. Even though it is considered a modern Japanese martial art, it was created in 1882 as a form of a physical, mental, and moral concept. Since then, it has become an Olympic sport. Judo has its roots in jujutsu which has lent its prominent competitive element. The main goal of Judo is to throw or takedown your opponent to the ground. Judo has influenced many other disciplines across the world including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Krav Maga, Sambo, and ARB.

7) Aikido

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The term 'Aikido' is translated to 'the way of unifying (with) life energy' or 'the way of harmonious spirit'. This modern Japanese discipline was developed as a culmination of Morihei Ueshiba's philosophy and religious beliefs. It is primarily designed for self-defence. Aikido encourages you to overcome your emotional obstacles instead of cultivating aggression. It has five fundamental principles - irimi (entering), atemi (strikes), kokyu-ho (breathing control), sankaku-ho (triangular principle), and tenkan (turning). Aikido uses three weapons called bokken, tantō, and jō. Over the years, different regions across the world have developed various forms of Aikido.

8) Karate

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Karate is one of the most popular martial art disciplines across the world. Hailing from China, it is developed under the influence of Kung Fu. However, it is developed from indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts. It uses striking methods like punching, kicking, knee strikes, and elbow strikes. However, it is popular for open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes. Some modern variations use grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital-point strikes as well. When the Japanese took over the Ryukyu Kingdom, Karate caught their interest. Later Okinawa became the centre of developing a Japanese style of Karate. Okinawa becoming a military site of the US after World War II was key to karate's popularity across the world.

9) Keysi Fighting Method (KFM)

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The Keysi Fighting Method (KFM) is popular for being featured in movies like 'The Batman series' and 'Jack Reacher'. It is a self-defence system created to act and react while defending. KFM originated in Spain and was developed by Justo Dieguez. Rooted in Spanish culture, KFM is known as a method of personal defence based on one’s instinct and personal growth. He focused on the life experiences of the street to develop Keysi.