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The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Feb 23rd, 2011, 6:23pm

While the specific origin of martial arts remains elusive to historians, it is apparent that they have been around for a very long time. Over the years, fighting styles have been passed on from generation to generation, and from country to country. This adaptive radiation allowed the arts to emigrate from China into Japan and Korea, giving us the eclectic variety of styles we have today. Developed to improve self-defense and combative success, martial arts were created in the ancient cultures of Asia. In general, martial arts involve fighting techniques, mental discipline, physical exercise, and various philosophical components. Most of them embody intellectual concepts as well. The Taoist philosophy of balance, Buddhist meditation and breathing, and Confucian ethics have all greatly influenced martial arts. Our society has become increasingly interested in these martial arts over the last fifty years. We are finally beginning to realize all the wonderful benefits that martial arts have to offer.

My interest in martial arts stems from my childhood obsession with ninjas and Kung Fu movies. The media capitalized on the "mystical" and superhuman qualities depicted in the legends of the martial arts. Just like many of the boys my age, I wanted to grow up to be a ninja. It didn't take long to figure out that becoming a ninja was not a practical career choice. Either way, I still wanted to see exactly what martial arts were all about. I started taking Hapkido, a Korean fighting style, at ten years old and was able to get my brown belt just before my family moved. In high school I took Tang Su Do for two years, stopping when I got my first knee surgery. After my third, and hopefully final, knee surgery, I started training in Bando with the Montgomery County S.W.A.T. Team. Bando is a Burmese fighting style made popular in the United States by a man named Dr. U Maung Gyi. This was quite an experience and only fueled my thirst for knowledge about the arts. During my first semester at the George Washington University, I took advantage of the opportunity to take a class devoted to studying the history of Asian martial arts.

As an N.S.P.A. certified personal trainer, and a pre-medical biology major, my interest in the human body is also something that I devote a lot of time to. I am fascinated with how the body works. While my future career will require me to use American medical procedures, I am interested in what the East has to offer. Writing this paper presents me with an opportunity to combine two of my favorite things; martial arts and the human body. My goal is to analyze the positive effects of martial arts training. In this paper, I will discuss the basic elements of various fighting styles. While doing this, I will show that properly practiced martial arts can bring about a number of beneficial physical and psychological effects. This will give people yet another reason to start some kind of training. I am a firm believer that martial arts are for everyone, regardless of race, sex, age, or religious beliefs.

Many of the physical benefits of training resemble those achieved by any other form of exercise. A normal training session of taekwondo or Hapkido involves a period of warming up, stretching, then training. The exercise one gets from martial arts training improves balance, flexibility, stamina, and posture. Weight loss is promoted through extended cardiovascular activity. These are all results of long term martial arts training and can, for the most part, be achieved by doing any type of sport or exercise regimen for an extended period of time. These physical changes are easily noticed and often sought after so much that the more subtle health benefits are overlooked.

Qigong and Hypertension:

Taekwondo and Anaerobic Power:

Tai Chi and Taekwondo and the Elderly:

Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training:



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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #1 - Feb 23rd, 2011, 6:45pm
Martial Arts As Preventive Medicine

Martial arts training at peak performance levels is the best way to prevent disease, as well as to stimulate positive changes in the body's natural healing systems.

Our current lifestyle of Lazy-boy chairs, remote controls and S.U.V.s does not challenge us to move,  yet our biological need for physical movement is still the same as when time began. Martial arts training can strongly influence the function of most of the human organ systems and much of the chemistry of our brains and bodies. The changes brought about by martial arts training are dose responsive, but maybe not in the way you believe. In fact, twice as much is twice as good only up to optimal levels. Beyond that actually tempts an over training response in the body and a decline in physical and mental health. Martial arts training, as well as other exercise forms, dosage combines distance (or time), intensity and frequency -- how far, how fast, how often. An additional factor may be technique, which determines the muscle groups and total muscle mass used in the exercise. For example, kicks work your leg muscles but also increase aerobic capacity. Taking into consideration the type and dosage of martial arts training, it affects the body and its systems in numerous positive ways.

Typical types of martial arts training

Martial arts training movements are generally classified as aerobic (kicking or forms training) like in Taekwondo, strength or stretching as done in Yudo. Two more categories can also be added: Martial art exercises of skill and exercises for fun. Some martial arts exercises/sports are, of course, multidimensional. Of the five categories, only the martial arts cardiovascular or aerobic group changes metabolism and chemistry in enough ways to bring about a wide range of health gains in the martial arts practitioner.

The definition of aerobic exercise is straightforward: sustained, rhythmic use of large muscle groups in a weight-bearing manner at sufficient frequency, distance and intensity. Other than martial arts, the qualifiers include running, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, skating, aerobic walking and a few others. Frequency is three to four times a week. Distance, most easily measured in time, is 40 to 50 minutes. As to intensity, the workout must feel like a workout -- 13 to 14 on the Borg scale of perceived exertion. If you are just starting a training program, begin with a shorter time and lower intensity, gradually working up to target levels. The long-term benefits of such training can be seen in such notable martial artists as Taekwondo icon Jhoon Rhee, creator of martial ballet and Korean Ki Master Seok Kyu Lee, founder of ShimKiDo. These individuals have physiques comparable to men 30 to 40 years their junior because of a lifetime devotion to proper martial arts training.

Positive body changes

After about three weeks of true martial arts training, a wide range of physiological changes take place. Practitioners will exhibit improvements in blood sugar, blood pressures, blood lipids, brain neurotransmitter balance, blood supply to muscles, and capacity of somatic muscles and the liver to store carbohydrate in the form of glycogen, calcium metabolism and other basic parameters. The changes are not mutually exclusive; interactions among systems and their functions are the rule.

These changes translate into better functioning of the body and brain, and overall risk reduction for such diseases as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, osteoporosis, obesity, anxiety states, mild to moderate mental depression, chronic fatigue, and breast and colon cancers. An increase in breathing exercises and forms training helped me recover from type 2 diabetes and I am no longer insulin dependent because of it.

The brain and nervous system.

Martial arts training brings about remarkable changes in brain chemistry. The concentrations of various neurotransmitters that are responsible for facilitation or inhibition of nerve impulse transmission in the central nervous system -- acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), glutamic acid, endorphins and others -- are changed so that a new balance is attained. The clinical signs and symptoms that ensue are easier to record than the actual neurotransmitter levels, and many studies are in agreement on the emotional, behavioral and physiological changes that accompany martial arts training. A few recent investigations, however, have pinned down the neurochemical changes, as well. Eighty-nine year old Grand Master Yong Woo Lee, founder of JungDoKwan Taekwondo credits his years of martial arts training for his good health and mental sharpness at his age.

Among the early changes seen when individuals engage in a martial arts training program are mood elevation, heightened energy levels, enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem, lower anxiety levels, resistance to depression and improved coping ability. Changes in blood pressure and heart rate, which are, to a large extent, mediated by the central nervous system, occur soon afterward. Heart rate is slowed, and hypertensive blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) is reduced toward normal. Hapkido Grand Master Gary Pointer says: "Martial arts training keeps me going strong with a smile on my face! It is the ultimate mental and physical health program."

These physiological changes are a function of the rebalancing of the sympathetic (fight and flight) and parasympathetic (rest and repair) halves of the autonomic nervous system. Studies by the Inchon Sports College of Korea have found increased parasympathetic tone in martial arts trained subjects, and ascribe the slowing of heart rate and reduction in blood pressure to this increased tone. Others have recorded lower plasma catecholamine levels associated with lower blood pressure following martial arts training. Resting heart rate is largely controlled by the parasympathetic fibers of the tenth cranial nerve (vagus) to the heart's pacemaker (SA node). But blood pressure is much more complex, and more body chemistry, especially hormonal chemistry, is involved. The bottom line is that martial arts training reduces hypertensive blood pressure, and that the response is distance/intensity-graded.

Returning to the neurotransmitter connections with training, higher levels of serotonin and dopamine have been recorded following intense martial arts training. These would account for the mood elevation and antidepressant effects equal to those of regular aerobic exercise. Keep in mind that changes in GABA, endorphins and other neurotransmitters may well contribute to these psychological effects. There have been improvements in the physical capabilities of Parkinson's disease patients following six to eight weeks of martial arts training. (Dopamine levels are commonly low in people with Parkinson's disease.) In one patient, a 69-year-old Korean female, Soo Yong Kim of Shi-Hung City, anti-Parkinson medication was discontinued after martial arts training greatly improved her aerobic capacity while training at the JaeIl JaeYook Kwan school owned by ChungDoKwan Grand Master Jong Song Kim.

Also related to dopamine changes, some cigarette smokers can quit with few, if any, signs and symptoms of withdrawal. Ordinarily, nicotine addiction is difficult to break because high dopamine levels drop precipitously upon smoking cessation. Rigorous martial arts training can greatly elevate dopamine levels, and cases of smokers who quit easily may be taken as initial evidence that optimal levels of martial arts training can prevent a drop in dopamine with smoking cessation.

Continuing in the realm of psychological effects, a number of cognitive improvements have been documented in older adults who train rigorously. These include quicker mental reaction time and improved fluid intelligence quotients. Incredibly, Jae Son Myung (101 years old) of Inchon, Korea credits his sharp mental focus and quick reaction ability to his 90 years of classical Yudo training. It has been proposed that such changes may be the result of improved acetylcholine levels. Acetylcholine is a universal nerve transmission chemical in both the brain and somatic nerves. If acetylcholine is responsible, martial arts exercise should also benefit Alzheimer's disease, which exhibits chronic acetylcholine depletion.

At the base of the brain is the small pineal gland, which releases melatonin, a hormone that influences such widely diverse functions as sleep/wake cycles and immune system integrity. The production of melatonin, related chemically to serotonin, is upset when people travel across several time zones. A marked reduction in jet lag can be achieved when a martial artist's training schedule is optimal for frequency, distance and intensity.

Thyroid and parathyroid glands.

The next stop in the body is the neck, where the thyroid and parathyroid glands are located. The thyroid controls metabolic rate, and the parathyroid are involved in calcium metabolism. Metabolic rate is influenced by any exercise form with an aerobic component such as Taekwondo foot-work drills, and calcium metabolism by both cardiovascular and strength training exercises.

Lungs. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) results from years of exposure to particulate and chemical pollutants in the air. The result is breathlessness (dyspnea) with mild to moderate physical exertion, and reduced functional respiratory volume. There is less elasticity of the air sacs and of the entire chest wall. Rigorous martial arts training such as Hapkido falling and tumbling drills results in less dyspnea and increased respiratory capacity.

Another chronic respiratory disease is asthma, but asthma, with its three components of allergy, inflammation and anxiety, is more complex. Asthma is characterized by constriction of the bronchioles, the smallest tubular passages before the air sacs, and expiratory wheezing. Asthmatic distress has been widely noted in exercises of shorter duration and higher intensity. Former asthma sufferer Master Mi Yi says that her poor health and breathing problems as a child is what convinced her parents to let her attend martial arts classes. "They didn't think it was lady-like" says Master Yi. "But I told them that being sick all the time wasn't lady-like either, so they allowed me to go to Taekwondo and Kumdo classes with my brother."

Occasional asthmatic individuals on medication have participated in TaeGukKwan forms and Ki-Kong training programs I have instructed. I have observed the medical progress of eight such individuals as they reached and maintained improved cardiovascular levels of exercise. Without exception, they reported reduced incidence and severity of symptoms, and less need for bronchodilator medication.

Heart and blood vessels. The working muscle of the heart, the myocardium, is structurally and functionally different than the voluntary muscles used for movement. Heart muscle looks different under a microscope, uses a different mix of biochemical energy cycles and responds to exercise differently. One thing that the myocardial and somatic muscles have in common in response to Kardio Kickbox exercise is an increased blood supply. Even in coronary heart disease, where one (or more) of the coronary arteries is partly blocked by lipid deposits, Kardio Kickbox class, in combination with a low-fat diet, results in increased opening of the blocked vessel(s).

Without going into what is known about the complex biological mechanisms involved, here are some heart benefits of optimal levels of martial arts training: regularity of heart beat at a slower rate; improvement of blood lipid factors (decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides, and increased high-density lipoproteins); diminished atherosclerosis of coronary and carotid arteries; increased stroke volume; greater total blood volume with decreased viscosity; decreased platelet aggregability; and increased blood flow to cardiac and somatic musculature on physical effort.

Gastrointestinal tract. For the gastrointestinal tract, exercise shortens transit time for food as it enters the stomach and then passes through the colon and rectum. The reduced incidence of colon cancer is doubtless a consequence of decreased transit time, combined with increased immune system competence.

Liver. The liver, in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, serves several functions, including participation in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Foods digested in the small intestine -- carbohydrates, fats and proteins -- are absorbed by a network of veins and carried to the liver. When the liver receives a fresh supply of carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, it has a few choices. It can (and generally does) release some glucose into circulation, it can store some as glycogen and/or it can convert a generous amount to fat for storage. The capacity for the storage of liver glycogen is greatly increased in martial arts practitioners.

Pancreas. Just across from the liver is the pancreas, which functions as a digestive organ supplying enzymes to the small intestine, and as an endocrine organ with its specialized islet cells, which produce the hormones insulin and glucagon. Insulin can activate receptors in all cells of the body to metabolize glucose; glucagon, conversely, acts to release glucose from glycogen storage. Martial arts training increases sensitivity in insulin receptors throughout the body.

Adrenal glands. A little lower in the abdomen are the paired adrenal glands, one atop each kidney. The adrenals are the source of two classes of hormones, the gluco- and mineralo-corticoids. The former, or cortisol group, can be released in response to stress -- physical, chemical, bacterial, viral, radiation and intensive exercise. Long-term stress may result in chronic, high levels of cortisol, followed by depletion, resulting in lowered resistance to infection. Adequate, but not excessive, aerobic exercise training keeps resistance levels high, and hastens recovery from injury or illness. The adrenals and the kidneys have a strong hand in blood pressure regulation, and martial arts exercises, such as the DanJun HoHup Breathing drills of Hapkido made famous by Grand Master Ji Han Jae, is known to reduce hypertensive blood pressure.

Mid-body muscles. Conditioning exercises such as Hapkido kicking drills and weapons drills improve the tone of three muscle groups: the pelvic-support muscles, the lower-back muscles and the gluteal muscles that splint the neck of the femur. Three disparate conditions, incontinence (especially in older women), chronic low-back pain and the risk of "hip" fracture, are thus improved.

Calcium metabolism. Exercise also improves the body as a whole. Calcium metabolism, a complex balance of many influences, is improved by martial arts strength and cardio training. In women young enough to have adequate estrogen levels, both types of exercise increase bone mineral density. In post-menopausal women, such exercise will inhibit the bone density decline that commonly occurs with passing years.

Connective tissue. Another whole-body effect is on connective tissue, since martial arts training creates more physiologically active fibroblasts and a more youthful balance of collagen and elastin fibers.

Body fat. Still another whole-body influence of rigorous martial arts exercise such as Taekwondo forms training is the strong effect on body fat percentage. Optimal levels of Kardio Karate training have consistently resulted in a lowering of fat-to-lean ratios. The Kardio Karate Program promoted by NAPMA (National Association of Professional Martial Artists) and Billy Blanks "TaeBo" have been instrumental in popularizing this type of training. Many people think of whether they are too fat in terms of weight, but the effect of Kardio Karate style exercise is on fat storage, rather than on weight, per se. Individuals who are relatively lean before starting an exercise program often report losing inches (thighs, waist, hips, waist, chest, upper arms) without change in weight.

Kardio Karate exercise does not bring about its fat-loss effect merely by caloric expenditure. It also involves multiple biochemical changes, including changes in lipoprotein lipase, brain cholecystokinin, glucocorticosteroids, leptin, c-reactive protein and other peptides, as well as an increase in resting metabolic rate.

Immune system. Another generalized effect of martial arts forms training such as the maximum physical fitness form of Yudo is on the immune system. This type of exercise affects both the cellular and humoral processes of this complex defense system. Different changes occur during a workout, after a workout and long term, if forms exercise is practiced on a regular basis. New balances are achieved among the various immune mechanisms and chemicals.

The immune system reacts differently depending on whether the exercise is at optimal aerobic levels, exhaustive distance and intensity, or at over training levels. The overall effect of exercise on the many components of the immune system can be judged by the clinical picture. That bottom line is that ideal levels of aerobic exercise translates into greater resistance to infection (bacterial and viral) and to lower risk for breast cancer and colon cancer. An indirect path to these benefits is the increased ability to tolerate stressors. Over training -- generally acknowledged as more than 90 minutes at a hard pace for one exercise bout, or 35 miles (or equivalent) per week at workout pace -- can result in an opposite effect. Over training, like chronic stress, results in a reduction in immune system competence.

Martial Arts training as medicine

Martial arts training affects the great majority of the body's tissues, organs and systems to bring about homeostatic stability and normal function. Training at optimal levels of frequency, distance (time) and intensity can markedly reduce the risk of developing many of the chronic diseases commonly seen. As such, the public health implications of establishing widespread martial arts programs are important for society as a whole.

About the author: Multi-arts Grand Master Richard Hackworth is the owner of the American Dragon Martial Arts Academies school in Ocoee, Florida and Co-author of the "Martial Arts Profits & Success Manual" and the "Authentic Korean Hapkido Manual". Hackworth is the International Chapter President of the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association. He can be reached at or
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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #2 - Feb 23rd, 2011, 6:59pm
Psychosocial Benefits of the Martial Arts: Myth or

There is often controversy about whether or not the practice of martial arts leads to positive or negative
psychological changes in the participants. There are many who claim that practicing the martial arts
develops beneficial psychological changes and encourages good moral and ethical development. Some
martial arts, such as judo, were developed with this goal in mind. In contrast, some claim that participating
in socially sanctioned, combative activities facilitates violence and aggression. Most images of the martial
arts in popular movies and television shows probably help spread this second claim. Certainly the popularity
of pay-for-view, no-holds-barred, martial arts tournaments gives the general public a one-sided view of the
martial arts and a cause to rally around for legislative regulation related to these arts. The changes in Asian
martial arts through history could support either view. While the Asian martial arts grew out of an
environment where one killed or was killed, in more recent, peaceful times the goals of many martial arts
have changed to address more diverse goals such as personal growth and self-discipline.

If martial artists are concerned with becoming better people and reducing violence in themselves and in
society, it is important to know which of these claims is true. They should also be prepared to defend their
ability to practice the martial arts against social pressures and legislative bans or limitations. While there is
substantial anecdotal evidence to support the positive and negative aspects of practicing the martial arts, it is
important to assess whether scientific research substantiates one claim or the other. A primary goal of this
paper is to summarize the empirical evidence in this area of research. Several other important questions that
will be addressed include: a) Are the psychosocial changes gained from participation in the martial arts
different from those gained from other activities? b) What specific aspects of martial arts training affect
psychosocial changes? c) If martial arts practice is psychologically beneficial, is it an effective means for
psychological treatment?

Are the Martial Arts Beneficial for Us?
It is likely that there are both short-term and long-term psychosocial changes from practicing a martial art.
There are only a few studies assessing the short-term effects of martial arts practice. In contrast to the lack
of research on the short-term effects of martial arts training, there is a growing body of literature about the
longer-term effects of martial arts practice. The findings of most of these studies show that the practice of
martial arts leads to positive psychosocial changes in the participants. In general, there is an inverse
relationship between belt rank or length of time practicing a martial art and anxiety, aggression, hostility and
neuroticism. There is a positive correlation between length of time practicing or belt rank and selfconfidence,
independence, self-reliance.
One cross-sectional study controlled for self-selection and attrition by studying both current and former
students of karate, tae kwon do or jujitsu. They found an inverse relationship between rank and aggression
in students studying in "traditional" settings. Former students also had these lower measures of aggression.
This suggests a decrease in aggression can be attributed to training, not attrition. Martial arts practice
cultivates decreases in hostility and feeling vulnerable to attack. They also lead to more easygoing and
warmhearted individuals and increases in self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-control. The style of martial
art may be relevant.

Are the Benefits from Martial Arts Practice Different From Other Activities?
Asian martial arts have much in common with other physical activities (such as exercise and Western
sports) including: physical activity, physical fitness, skills acquisition, and social activity. However, there
are also points where they differ. Many Western sports tend to emphasize competition and winning while
Asian martial arts have traditionally emphasized self-knowledge, self-improvement, and self-control. Unlike
Western sports, Asian martial arts usually: teach self-defense, involve philosophical and ethical teachings to
be applied to life, have a high degree of ceremony and ritual, emphasize the integration of mind and body,
and have a meditative component. While exercise and physical fitness has a role in producing psychological
benefits, it is likely that the non-physical aspects of the martial arts have a unique influence on the longterm,
psychosocial changes seen in participants.
A number of studies support the hypothesis that the benefits from martial arts training are different from
other activities. When assessed one year after they finished a one semester class, martial arts students
showed an increase in their scores for feelings of self-control and lower scores for feelings of vulnerability
and likelihood of attack. Physical fitness students showed no changes in these measures. One semester of tae
kwon do increased self-esteem which was not observed in the control subjects.

How do the Martial Arts Lead to these Changes?
In order to apply these results to one's own practice, it is important to understand how martial arts training
might lead to these positive changes. It is also important to know if these changes occur with all styles of
martial arts and all styles of instruction. It can be argued that what we get out of the martial arts is what we
bring into the practice. Nonetheless, there is also the possibility that martial arts training makes us grow
beyond what we bring. Some studies have tried to demonstrate the importance of class content on the
changes observed in subjects.
Nosanchuk and MacNeil (1989) examined the aggressive tendencies of participants at 7 schools offering
karate, tae kwon do, or jujitsu. At each school, they evaluated the relative importance of meditation in the
class, the amount of respect the students showed towards the sensei, the dojo, and each other, the level of
contact allowed to vital areas of the body, and the relative importance of kata. Based on this evaluation, they
classified 4 of the schools as "traditional" (more meditation, respect and kata, less contact to vital areas)
(FEAR KNOT is considered a traditional school) and 3 of them as "modern". More advanced students in
the traditional schools showed lower scores for aggression than beginning students. There was no change in
the scores of the students at the schools with the "modern" emphasis. Egan (1993) found that both
traditional and modern styles of training led to improvements in general mental health. However, the
traditional martial arts students showed significant increases in scores for self-acceptance which were not
reported for the students with a modern emphasis in training. Most research supports the hypothesis that it is
the training environment and style of instruction influencing these differences.

Are the Martial Arts Effective as a Means of Psychological Treatment?
Recreational and fitness activities have been shown to be helpful for various special needs populations.
Since martial arts practice can have beneficial outcomes, a number of people are looking to the martial arts
as a means to treat psychological problems. For instance, Guthrie (1997) found that women recovering from
psycho-sexual abuse, eating disorders, substance abuse and growing up in dysfunctional families reported
that karate training was helpful in their recovery.
One of the most cited studies in this area was conducted by Trulson (1986). Adolescents identified as
juvenile delinquents were assigned to one of three groups. The first group received traditional tae kwon do
training (involving meditation, warm-up exercises, brief lecture about tae kwon do, and the physical
techniques of tae kwon do); the second group received modern tae kwon do training (only the physical
techniques were taught); and the third received a program of increased physical activity not involving the
martial arts. All groups were taught by the same instructor for the same amount of time and in the same
room. At the end of six months, the students in the traditional tae kwon do group showed a decrease in
aggressiveness and anxiety and an increase in self-esteem. In contrast, the modern tae kwon do group
showed an increased tendency towards delinquency and an increase in aggressiveness. Students in the
exercise group showed an increase in self-esteem, but no other significant changes.
Aikido has been successfully used as an intervention strategy for middle and high school students with
severe emotional disturbances (Edelman, 1994) and other research indicates that martial arts may help
reduce behavioral problems in children (Gonzalez, 1989).
Perhaps the positive results should not come as a surprise. There appear to be a number of parallels between
psychotherapy and the martial arts including the concepts of energy (ki or chi), distance, timing, and
positioning. In addition, blending, centering and pre-empting have a practical usage in mental health
therapy. The concept of giving way (ju) to use the strength of your opponent is similar to concepts found in
the writings of Erikson and others regarding methods of therapy. One of the central goals of both
psychotherapy and many martial arts is knowing oneself and the world around us. As Master Sun says,
"know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril". These battles can be
waged both inside and outside of ourselves.

Empirical evidence supports anecdotal reports about the positive psychosocial consequences of martial arts
practice. Numerous investigations into this topic over three decades show that the practice of martial arts
promotes positive psychosocial changes. Only three studies report no changes promoted by martial arts
training. It is not entirely clear how the martial arts lead to positive psychosocial changes. Nonetheless, it is
likely that inclusion of the non-physical aspects of the martial arts during training or the instructor acting as
a positive role model or both play a role in promoting long-term changes. Despite the unanswered questions
about how these changes occur, the martial arts are finding a niche in the treatment of psychological
disorders and will likely prove to be a useful complement to verbal therapy. It is gratifying to know that
research is beginning to support the claims of the old masters: the martial arts can help develop both better
bodies and better minds and may lead to a better, more peaceful society.
*Please note that all Footnotes, References and Acknowledgments have been removed for space considerations.

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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #3 - Feb 26th, 2011, 1:05am
BRAVO Soul!!!!!! brilliant article!!!!  easily among if not THE best perspective on the positive physical,physiological and psychological aspects of many folks looking for the magic bullet or pill in search of a better healthier self fail to realize that ONLY a complete overall 'regimen' is the way to a better more well rounded long and healthy quality of life.
 fantastic Soul! thank you  Wink

Vivat Grendel!
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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #4 - Mar 23rd, 2011, 6:09pm
Smiley soul Smiley

Smiley Superb article highlighting mental and physical discipline, regenerating and maintaining positive energies.

Smiley   ...

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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #5 - Jan 11th, 2012, 4:12am
bone density,,

Breaking is a martial arts technique that is used in competition, demonstration and testing. Breaking is an action where a martial artist uses a striking surface to break one or more objects using the skills honed in their art form. The striking surface is usually a hand or a foot, but may also be a fingertip, toe, head, elbow, knuckle, or knee. The most common object is a piece of wood, though it is also common to break bricks or cinder blocks.

Breaking can be often seen in karate, taekwondo and pencak silat, Spetsnaz are also known for board, and brick breaking, but not all styles of martial arts place equal emphasis on, or use, breaking. In styles where striking and kicking is less important and there is an emphasis on grappling or weaponry, breaking is less prominent. Traditional Japanese martial art schools place little, if any, emphasis on board-breaking, although the art of breaking objects was known as tameshiwari, while the similar practice of Tameshigiri or 'test cutting' is used in sword arts.

Competitive breaking can be based on artistic impression, number of items broken in a given amount of time, number of items broken with a single strike, or time to break a number of items. There are several certified breaking categories in various journals of world records such as the Guinness Book. In a demonstration, a martial artist exhibits his or her skill by executing an impromptu or choreographed sequence of breaks for an audience. Martial arts schools sometimes demonstrate challenging breaks in order to gain publicity and inspire enrollment or attendance.

During promotion testing, many styles of martial arts require that students demonstrate their skills by executing breaks; the difficulty of a required break depends on the rank for which the student is testing. Failure to execute a required break is often sufficient grounds for failure of a promotion test.


Wooden boards are the most common breaking item in most martial arts, Individual boards used may range from nominal sizes as small as 6"x12"x1" to as large as 12"x12"x1" (a board with a nominal width of 1" has an actual width of 3/4"). The typical adult testing board is approximately 10"x12"x1".[1]

The grain of the board must be cut so as to be parallel with the striking hand.

Children may use narrower and thinner boards with 4 and 5 year olds sometimes breaking boards as small as 4"x12"x1/2".
[edit] Technique

In general, breaking is used both as a method of measuring force of strikes for martial artists, as there was no other way to do this and only recently have devices such as accelerometers been used in martial arts, and as a measurement of mental fortitude, the ability of the mind and body to overcome.

Generally, a martial artist engaged in breaking practices hitting something hard. Masutatsu Oyama, a famous breaker who was known for breaking the horns off bulls,[2] would use trees. In karate, a device called a makiwara is used; this device has found more popular use by practitioners of other martial arts today. In the past, Shaolin and other earlier martial artists would use many different types of devices in order to condition themselves, not always for simply breaking, but using the same concepts used today. For instance, there is Iron Palm, Iron Shin, Iron Shirt, Iron Head, and other types of training which center around conditioning various parts of the body so they could withstand or give blows such as what is seen today in martial arts breaking. Many Chinese systems also are of the school of thought that "internal energy" or Chi is used when breaking, which is not dependent upon muscle strength and body weight.

The general principles used in martial arts breaking training is similar to the same principles used for most athletics. The body adapts to stress. There are generally three areas a martial arts breaker wishes to force their body to adapt to: the bones, the skin (calluses), and muscles (for both mass and speed). The general principle here for instance, for the bones is found in Wolff's law, which states that the skeletal system will, after healing, be stronger if injury is put to it.Craig Edmunds demonstrates this theory after breaking hand in seminar measuring bone density then measuring bone density after healing. In this manner the breaking practitioner operates not unlike a bodybuilder who works out with weights, then takes a period of rest to heal and allow the muscles to come back stronger.

This kind of training is called "progressive resistance training"; see Weight training for more information. Often differences in body structure can be seen in the form of calcium deposits between a breaking practitioner and a non-practitioner.Mike Reeves, a champion breaker, advocates in his book the usage of a makiwara and knuckle push-ups. With knuckle push-ups, he recommends starting on softer floor material and working your way up to concrete.[3]

USBA/WBA Founder Drew Serrano, producer of the documentary "Breaking All Records",[4] encourages practitioners to gradually increase the difficulty and amount of a material to avoid injury. He suggests that beginners should start with wood boards and increase the amount as technical prowess increases. Once a level of comfort, both physically and mentally, is reached, harder materials such as concrete can be attempted.

There are safety concerns with martial arts breaking, so one should seek out an instructor. There are many small bones of the foot and hand which need to be very carefully and slowly conditioned for safety. Repeated damage to the extensor capsules of the knuckles can lead to long term problems with dexterity

Speed vs. Power vs. Impulse

There are generally two common classifications of breaks: speed breaks and power breaks. There is a third lesser-known classification known as the impulse break.

Speed breaks are breaks where the striking object is not held in place. The only way to break the object is to strike the surface with sufficient speed at a focused point of impact. Sometimes a board to be broken is held lightly between two fingers by a person; an advanced dan test may involve an attempt to break a board as it falls through the air. Regardless of the strength of the striker, the board will only break if it is struck with sufficient velocity.

Another type of "Speed Break" is that which involves breaking a number of objects over a given amount of time. A common time span is 1 minute, but this can vary depending on the material and venue. In competition it is very common for a speed breaking category to limit the time to 810 seconds, enabling more competitors to participate. Records and specifics are kept track of by leading martial arts breaking organizations such as the USBA/WBA (United States and World Breaking Associations) and the ISKA (International Sports Karate Association).

Power breaks are breaks where the striking object is supported. Either the break will employ human holders for horizontal, angular, or upward vertical strikes, or the break will require that the objects be stacked for downward vertical strikes. For a stacked break the object is placed on sturdy supporting objects, such as concrete blocks, that are placed on the ground. Many color belt (belts before black belt) promotion testing breaks are power breaksit is substantially easier for an inexperienced person to muster sufficient energy to break a wooden board with a power break (Note, this is not true for all breaks). The vast majority of these employ human board holders. Often a stronger or more powerful striker may substitute some strength for technique and successfully accomplish the break. Most records that are catalogued are for power breaks. It is very common for black belt tests to use bricks, concrete patio blocks, or several boards stacked on top of supporting objects for challenging downward strikes.

Taped boards are sometimes used to lessen the amount of human influence from the holders for a break. It is very difficult to hold a stack of boards more than 4 inches steadily enough for challenging break. Therefore, some strikers will tape a stack of boards together to make a "brick" for their holders to hold. Usually however, test breaks at promotions and events are done without taped boards.

Both the speed and power breaks deliver the energy required to overcome the tensor and flexion forces of the board through mass displacement, where the kinetic energy is given by 1/2 m*v2. That is, either the speed of the striking implement (hand/foot/etc) has to be high enough, or the striker must be strong enough to increase effective mass brought into the break (i.e. his or her body weight) to exceed the brick/board's threshold. For single boards, it is generally easy (as in the casual person has a sufficient reserve of mass) to reach this threshold through a power break.

Though fundamentally different, the third kind of breakthe impulse breakis often confused with a speed break, because the striking implement can (but need not) reach a high speed. But that is where the similarity ends. The energy transmission from an impulse break derives not from mass displacement, but from wave transmission. (As an ocean wave hits a beach) The mass of the hand/foot/etc does not travel much further than necessary to deliver the wavethis results in an extremely brief contact with the brick or board face (as opposed to going "through it"), and the wave itself causes the striking surface to flex and buckle. The less flexible the striking surface, the more likely to break.

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