Sports writer, Tobias Green, provides his top five reasons for taking part in the sport of martial arts

Written by Tobias C Green
English and Classical Literature and Civilisation 1st Year Student at University of Birmingham Muay Thai /Boxer/MMA martial artist training with K-Star and UoB Boxing
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Images by Tobias Green

There is a certain tranquillity to the ferocity that is martial arts. It has stood the test of time, centuries and millennia old; yet is still relevant today. Shaolin Monks won battles based purely upon the knowledge of Kung Fu, and today military across the world are taught the hand-to-hand combat of various martial art styles. Yet despite the name ‘Martial Arts’ meaning the ‘Arts of War’, there is far more to it than violence. With countless practices from copious countries and places, with teachings handed down by generations, each form of martial art brings with it a deep and rich culture. Here are the top 5 reasons for trying it out:

1. Fitness

For any martial art, whether Boxing, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, or MMA, comes with it a serious workout. Look at martial artists like Bruce Lee – if you’re doing martial arts, you’re getting shredded. It’s a full body workout that truly pushes you to your limits. Not to mention, letting out explosive energy in a flurry of punches is extremely satisfying. These workouts focus every muscle of your body, building lean strength and endurance. Almost all forms of martial art will train in short bursts of energy followed by low-level exertion, this is interval training and leads to an incredible increase in durability and strength. Pretty much: doing martial arts equals getting fit. I can honestly say if you turn up to any of the UoB Boxing or Muay Thai sessions, you will not walk away without feeling sufficiently exhausted.

2. Fat Loss

On top of just making you fitter, martial arts is one of the most effective ways to shred fat. Training is said to burn 36% more fat than regular aerobic exercises, such as running or cycling. Not to mention, interval training isn’t just good for your stamina and power; these short, intense bursts, followed by low intensity seriously boost your metabolism, resulting in your body being naturally cleansed of fat cells faster (and you don’t have to do anything).

'Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.' – Bruce Lee

3. Mentality

Stop. Think. Breathe. Despite a large bulk of martial arts being focused on fighting, hitting hard, moving fast, and beating your opponent, there is so much more. Even just starting, you’re challenging yourself to try something new, out of your comfort zone, to better yourself. An obscure form of peace that I have found through boxing and muay thai is the knowledge that I am safe when I go on a night out and some drunk triangle with road-rage is squaring up to me. Knowing you can fight makes it mentally easier to walk away from a fight. You’ll find no need to prove oneself in a testosterone filled pub brawl when you know you could win anyway. Even if you just feel insecure about walking home from a club on your own, it’ll help. Furthermore, as with any form of exercise, it leaves you feeling as though you’ve accomplished something, because you have.

4. Success

Walking out of the gym sweating like a waterfall never stops feeling good, when your body is successful, as are you. And with it comes appreciation of your body, seeing the progress and change in your body shape gives you drive to not only keep training, but to work in all aspects of your life whether that be doing more essays, trying new things or even just turning up to those pesky Monday morning lectures. With martial arts you’re taught to observe the situation, think of the best outcome and react fast. This is an invaluable skill for life. In addition, the way in which martial arts is trained has been medically proven as one of the most effective ways to increase your heart’s health. If you feel and think well – you do well.

5. It’s Awesome

Finally, martial arts are awesome. When have you ever watched a fighter knock someone out with one punch in a fight on TV, or James Bond take out 10 guys in a movie and thought ‘that was alright’. You hear about Monks in China doing incredible feats like balancing on spears or seeing a boxer dodge 10 punches in a row, doesn’t it just make you think wow. Martial arts are pretty cool, like wouldn’t it just be awesome to be a black belt, a master, a champion? Take UFC for example, chances are you’ve probably heard of Conor McGregor. Everyone loves Conor, he’s a champ; imagine being able to fight like him? Have you ever thought to yourself ‘you know what wouldn’t be useful, or cool? Being able to fight.’ No. Because being able to fight like some ninja would be insane. Martial arts… are awesome.