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When it comes to structured exercise programs, many people are turned off by calisthenics, weight lifting, aerobics, and other activities. Many view these as repetitious and even boring. Worse yet, in their minds, participating in such disciplines , a lot of discipline with no return other than good health and physical fitness.
No kidding! Some people want to see progress, experience rewards for accomplishment, and get some tangible, or at least semi-tangible feedback for their efforts.
Many also want to get more than just fitness out of their efforts. They may want to learn a skill, improve self confidence as well as appearance, and become a member of a somewhat elite group of participants in some activity.
Walking and jogging just doesn’t fill the bill for these people. Some actually go so far as to try things such as roller derby lift their quest for health, fitness, accomplishment, reward, and recognition out of the mundane levels of most exercise programs.
Many decide to try one of the many martial arts as their fitness program of choice.
And, there are many to choose from.
When we think of martial arts, we tend to think of those such as Karate, Kung-fu, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu, which come to us from Asia and which are often familiar to us through TV shows and movies.
However, many people, men and women of all ages, are not only choosing these somewhat “traditional” disciplines, but are trying lesser known practices such as Capoeira (from Brazil), Savate (from France), and Krav Maga, the official self defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces,
The United States is also represented by boxing which is becoming more popular for fitness and self-defense among many groups previously assumed not to be interested in such things…including women of all ages!
People from all levels of society can participate in many of these martial arts programs. Many seniors enjoy practicing some of the more demanding disciplines, but even many with health and joint problems find that the regular practice of Tai Chi provides a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, including stress reduction, stronger bones and muscles, increased confidence, and better balance.
As with many activities, the “exercise” is not limited to the practice of the particular moves of the martial art itself. Specific exercise regimens are also generally a part of the training and conditioning necessary for proper execution of the various positions, throws, blocks, and punches.
Once involved, the participant generally finds himself or herself fitter, more confident, and a part of a very exclusive club. Many find that, as they become better in their chosen activity, they not only acquire more interest in it, but often decide to take on other martial arts disciplines as well. Many also find themselves not only interested in other physical activities but more willing to accept, and accomplish, challenges that they would have avoided or failed at previously.
Many different people have many different views concerning how to get the exercise they need. I am generally happy with my combination of bodyweight exercises, weight training, yoga, resistance bands, and walking, but that might drive another person crazy. Many will find that pursuing one of the martial arts may be the perfect exercise program for them.
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