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There is no denying that the human species has a tendency towards violence. From countries at war to the bullying problems in our schools, violence is a part of who we are, some might say it is written into our DNA.
Violence is a form of energy, it is a reaction which triggers a series of actions that result in destructive behavior. In some cases it is premeditated, where violent thoughts evolve into the planning of violent actions. But in many cases, and I would even say most cases, it is a spontaneous reaction, a loss of control that we often regret. Violent actions are not always committed by violent people. In fact, spontaneous violent actions are often the result of an accumulation of negative energy within our bodies, an energy that we can also refer to as stress.
Stress, tension, anxiety, all of these words tend to describe the same type of negative energy which leaves us feeling on edge and rather volatile. It is this volatile tension that often leads to our violent outbursts when the right trigger or stimuli is presented. The longer we allow the tension to build, the more volatile and sensitive we become.
When a reaction turns to violence, more often than not one of the resulting actions is to hit. We see it in young children and adults alike. We can hit another person, punch the wall, slam a door, kick an object lying in front us. Why does this happen? Simple, we need to release the physical tension accumulated inside our bodies. The secret to controlling these reactions is to prevent the physical tension from accumulating, to release it before the levels rise too high. Martial arts training is one of the best ways to do that.
I personally train in Muay Thai (a form of kickboxing) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). On a daily basis, I hit, and I hit, and I hit some more. I hit pads of all kinds and punching bags. I spar with others in a safe controlled environment where hitting is part of a sport and has nothing to do with anger or frustration. I use my fists, my elbows, my knees, my shins and my feet. I do striking sprints where I can throw up to 100 punches in 30 seconds! In an hour session, I will hit thousands of times in many different ways. It is exhausting, it is exhilarating, and it leaves me feeling amazing with huge amounts of endorphins coursing through my body. But most importantly, it releases every bit of tension that I may have. Whatever problems I had on mind when I walked into the gym are long forgotten by the time I leave the gym.
When you practice martial arts, you learn to respect violence. You learn what your body and mind are capable of and this in turn creates a sense of confidence and self-awareness, so much so that knowing what you can do is enough. You don’t need to prove it to anyone by bullying or threatening, you become better than that. If you need to test yourself, you can do so in competition, with fellow warriors, who live by the same code of honor as you. Also, the energy you create within yourself tends to repel violence. People around you will sense your inner confidence and know that violent energy or unwarranted threats are wasted on you. The regular release of stressful negative energy leads to a tension-free life.
Martial arts training is a form of therapy. In adults, it can help relieve stress, build self-confidence, calm the spirit and of course, whip you into tremendous physical shape. In children, it can teach discipline, respect of others and my experiences have shown that it can be a great asset in dealing with bullying issues, both for the bullied and the bullies. It is, in my opinion, the anti-violence, and if its practice were to increase around the world, I have no doubt our future would be one of peace rather than violence.
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