Feeling stressed out? No need to look beyond martial arts! Psychologists have found positive correlations between training in a traditional martial art and lower levels of hostility, aggression and higher levels of self-esteem and positive outlook compared to any other sport. Cutting stress and learning to handle yourself both physically and mentally are gifts of the martial arts that you can take advantage of.
Choose a martial art that suits your needs.
There are many kinds of martial arts, so spend some time reading about the different kinds and their underlying philosophies. What is important though is to focus on traditional martial arts, as the studies show benefits in terms of well-being and reduced hostility result from participating in the traditional forms only. If you have the chance, do trial lessons in several different types of martial arts to get a feel for the one that you enjoy doing the most. Keep your focus on the martial arts likely to bring you the most stress relief; some are not as likely to do this as others but again, it depends on you. Some of the martial arts in particular to check out include:
Choose between Hard Style and Soft Style: Hard Style arts teach striking and blocking in various combination. Some focus on speed and precision, others on power and toughness. Hard Style training involves a lot of time training with an inanimate, padded, target. Soft Style arts teach grappling and throwing. Some focus on receiving attacks, others are more similar to wrestling. Soft Style training involves lots of time spent with a partner.
Choose a culture: Traditional Martial arts are traditional because they are passed down through some culture. Japanese martial arts have become popular with our culture because of their presence in many movies and television shows, but they are not exclusive. The Chinese have several distinctive and interesting styles, as do the Philippines, Korea, and there are also some schools of traditional European Martial Arts. Different cultures place emphasis on different aspects of training, and also advance different visions of what it means to be a good person.
Choose a specific group: Each training group interprets the tradition which they come from differently. Some groups are very competitive, constantly comparing the students and forcing improvement through tension. Others are supportive and have great compassion for mistakes. There will also be differences between the interpretation of the actual techniques. Because no one can teach every aspect equally, some things will be taught more, and others less.
Visit a class: You can't know if a training group is right until you experience the class in action. Some groups make visitors watch, others invite you to join them right from the start. Even if invited to join, you can decline and watch from the sidelines anyway. Remember when visiting a group to be respectful. If sitting and watching, the goal is for the students not to know that you are there. Don't be secretive, just be unobtrusive. If you are training as a guest, be humble. You have no rank and therefore everyone is your senior. Always assume that they are right when they explain how to do a technique. If you think that they are so seriously wrong that you will injure yourself or another student by complying, plead ignorance or weakness, and don't do that technique. Do not correct them. You may, however, ask a student of senior rank for clarification. Once again, claim that you do not understand, not that you think that they are wrong.
Several types of Traditional Martial Arts