How can Martial Arts Help You Lose Weight?

Activity is one of the most important aspects of any weight loss regime and martial arts deliver this in spades. But how exactly can martial arts help you lose weight and what are the best methods to follow?

The Basics of Martial Arts

martial arts for weight lossMartial arts can have a range of beneficial effects on the human body and their advantages don’t stop at physical concerns. Training and practicing involves a great deal of intense physical activity, which can be of great use to anyone looking to burn calories.

However, martial arts transcend pure exercise – teaching practitioners mental discipline, willpower, motivation, the ability to set goals and competitiveness. These assets can be of great benefit to those looking to lose weight, as well as being useful in day-to-day life.

Many popular forms originated in the east and as such, are intrinsically linked to spiritual elements and practices from the region. One prime example is the principle of Qi (also known as Ki in Japanese and prana in Hindu philosophy), which describes the life force or energy flow that moves through all living things. Many martial arts practitioners marry their physical regime to these metaphysical elements to great effect.

As you progress in your martial art of choice, you’ll also become more physically robust. This can be a great confidence booster and feelings of wellbeing will only multiply as you become more coordinated and capable of defending yourself from assault.

Choosing the Right Martial Art for You

While all martial arts offer benefits in one form or another, certain types lend themselves better to weight loss. Styles are broadly categorized into two groups – ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ martial arts.

Hard styles tend to focus on physical aspects, such as strength, power and endurance, whereas soft martial arts are typically concerned with techniques to deflect or redirect energy and tend to involve low levels of exertion. So what are some of the martial arts are best for those looking to shed pounds?

Taekwondo

This rampantly popular form has its origins in Korea and links self-defence with sport and exercise. The sporting format of the art came to prominence in the 1950s and has gone from strength to strength since.

Its gyeorugi sparring style has been included as an event in the Olympic Games since 2000 and was widely thought to be the world’s most popular martial art in the late 1980s.

Muay Thai

South-east Asia has birthed a wealth of kickboxing styles, taking influences from the martial arts of China and India. The practice of Muay Thai and its precursors reportedly date back thousands of years and have a rich grounding in folklore.

Muay Thai is unique among many forms of boxing, due to its use of hard points across the body, such as elbows and knees. In modern times, the format has been altered by western influences – with many fighters utilizing powerful hand-striking methods from boxing.

Karate

karateThis popular Japanese form utilizes kicks, punches and grapples and is taught in a variety of styles. Developed in the Ryukyu Islands (modern-day Okinawa), the style came to prominence in mainland Japan in the 1920s.

Psychological concerns are of paramount importance in karate, with much emphasis being placed on the concept of kokoro (which translates as attitude). Karate training is typically broken down into three sections – the fundamentals (kihon), forms (kata) and kumite (sparring).

Why Martial Arts?

Despite their varied origins and forms, these martial arts all promote aerobic and anaerobic exercise in their execution. As well as being ideal for weight loss, these disciplines emphasize coordination and balance – with many utilizing exercises like push-ups and sit-ups.

Similarly, the execution of kata will see practitioners repeat kicks, punches and other moves until they are honed to perfection. Karate and Taekwondo, as well as Judo, Jujitsu and KravMaga, place great emphasis on grappling techniques and throws, which can strengthen a practitioners’ core muscles exponentially, as well as aiding weight loss.

The sparring element involved in these martial arts also provides a great format for exercise, encouraging participants to go all-out in high-intensity, two-to-three minute rounds against opponents.

Ramping Up

martial arts fitnessMartial arts are unique among exercise many techniques in that beginners will benefit from training to a similar degree as veterans. The sheer amount of physical activity involved will help practitioners burn calories and improve endurance, regardless of their base level of fitness.

However, as time goes by and experience is gained, you’ll be able to ramp up the intensity of your training and the amount of calories you burn in a session. This self-regulation means that you won’t be hampered by a lack of fitness in the early stages.

The Price is Right

In addition to the demonstrable physical benefits of martial arts, they will also take less of a toll on your wallet than many other types of exercise.

For instance, joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer tends to be much more expensive than the modest monthly fee charged by the vast majority of martial arts schools and dojos.

The need for equipment also tends to be light, with most formats requiring only a uniform and in some cases, gloves or pads.

How about Your Diet

A good diet will not only promote fitness and help with your weight loss regime, but is also a vital concern if you’re looking to progress with your martial arts training. By looking at food as fuel for your practice, you’ll bolster weight loss efforts, speed recovery time and aid muscle growth.

Some key foods to invest in include:

  • Fruits and vegetables (particularly berries, bananas and dark greens)
  • Grains
  • Lean meats (such as beef, chicken, salmon and tuna)
  • Water (for hydration)

Martial arts are a brilliant option for those looking for a straightforward and engaging way to lose weight and boost their physical fitness, but their benefits don’t stop there. For many, they become a way of life as much as a hobby and can have a range of positive effects on a holistic level.


About the Author

This article was brought to you by FightShop, a purveyor of some of the finest martial arts supplies in the UK.

Noah Mark

Hi, this is Noah and thank you for reading this post. I hope you learned something here. Rest assured that I will continue to bring you the best weight loss information in this site to help you overcome all your weight gain endeavors. Please follow me on Google+ and Twitter to learn more.

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