The importance of martial arts throughout life
An ancestral practice
The martial arts have in common to combine the practice of self-defense and spiritual development. The Japanese martial arts that appeared in the middle of the 19th century are called budo. In Japanese bu means “fight” and do “the way”. The best known in the West are Judo, Karate, Aikido and Kendo.
In their ancestral form, budo are imbued with Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Shintoism. The creators of martial arts schools wanted to educate young people in traditional values and respect. The basis of the practice was based on notions such as Ki, the vital energy of breathing from the belly, which is the seat of the center of energies.
To teach values such as honor, generosity, sincerity, loyalty, or wisdom, they used spirituality and could use metaphors: the moonbeam, the water flowing and bypassing the obstacle in the middle of the river…
Today more than ever, martial arts seem to be an answer to the various ills from which our society suffers. Major imbalances lead to suffering in individuals, which is reflected in families, businesses and society as a whole. This period of confinement underscores many aspects of these imbalances.
Researchers have been interested in the impact of martial arts practice on the brain and have noticed an improvement in cognitive, emotional and physical functions in both adults and children.
At the physical level, the body becomes stronger and more flexible. Posture changes. At the cognitive level, we notice an improvement in concentration and memorization, a better lateralization. At the emotional level, one notes a lower level of depression, a better self-esteem, and especially a better stress management.
The emphasis on breathing and meditation provides benefits that are no longer to be emphasized: in fact, the fact of mastering breathing and being able to enter into a state of meditation is strongly linked to a feeling of calm and makes it possible to better manage anxiety-provoking situations.
Therapists have taken these findings on board and are using martial arts as a powerful tool for resilience. In fact, it is very easy to establish links between certain methods of brief psychotherapy (of which hypnosis is one) and martial arts.
A hypnosis session begins with a preparation, an induction and then works on breathing… Aikido training also begins with a meditative preparation based on breathing… In both cases, the art of change is cultivated every day, working on the balance between body and mind.
Practicing from an early age will therefore help the child to structure himself on solid foundations. Being in the movement, with the right gesture, having to adapt to the rhythm and distance of one’s partner, while working on lateralization and breathing, are all factors of great efficiency!
A better management of one’s emotions is also quickly observed on the tatami as at home, as reported by the parents.
Children learn first by observation and then by practice, this reduces impulsivity: they must observe and memorize a movement in order to be able to reproduce it later. Therefore, they also work on the ability to accept to fail! Many children are in real pain in their daily lives when faced with mistakes and some even devalue themselves or panic at the thought of not succeeding! All this is worked on the tatami under the watchful eye of the Sensei.
Aggressiveness emerges in human beings between one and two years in response to frustration. Anyone who has seen children grow up has seen this scene; a child rips off another child’s toy and uses it to hit him! All parents or educators will then, with infinite patience, help the children to domesticate this aggression and to express this frustration in other ways.
Let’s observe this in children who are described as “too nice” who accept everything from others and sometimes have difficulty defending themselves. We quickly notice that having expressed and transformed this aggressiveness, these children change their posture, stand upright and become more self-confident. And are no longer the prey of the strongest…
The etymology of the word aggressivity is “aggredior” which certainly means to attack, to act with violence but also to set oneself in motion, to undertake… Thus, martial arts integrate this aggressiveness inherent to each human being, allowing for its orientation and liberating expression. They ultimately contribute to a better protection of oneself, and give each person “weapons” to fight against harassment in particular.
What is good for the child is naturally good for the adult. Because once this own strength is discovered, the self-esteem is reinforced whereas the feeling of depression decreases.
Finally, by promoting a better relationship with others and a better respect in relationships, we observe that young people develop a feeling of altruism and protection of others: children will tend to intervene more easily when someone else is being bothered.
Because by developing the essential ability to listen to one’s partner, one ultimately teaches a certain form of discipline and respect: one learns to adapt to one’s age, size and strength. All the particularities of the adversary-partner become sources of teaching rather than worry.