Mental martial arts
A lot of us have been unable to train in the Martial arts we love because of the covid restrictions. We have been able to train alone but as we know most martial arts require a partner to practice the things we learn, whether it is sparring, boxing, one step, locking, disarming, self defence or just holding the pads for somebody. We normally will have someone to train with.
Martial arts are not just about self defence and learning things; you go to classes to meet your friends and people who you have a shared common interest with. You have a sense of belonging and trust, where friendships have been built up over many years. It can also be an escape from your daily routine and a chance to enjoy some time to yourself away from a demanding work schedule and family life.
Our mental well being in the martial arts is not always talked about; yes we all know about the physical benefits but martial arts are so much more than that. As humans we find it easy to mask things and to ignore things and hope that they will go away or become better on their own. Mental health is an illness and like any illness we must do something to improve it or it will become worse over time. A lot of martial artists and people are struggling with their mental health at this time.
Some of the signs of mental health problems are;
- Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety.
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability.
- Extreme changes in moods.
- Social withdrawal.(very difficult in this current climate)
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping
Myself I have been so sad that I have not been able to travel abroad this year to help all the wonderful students with their training. Also I have been unable to receive any visiting instructors from around the world to my dojo. We have also postponed the summer camp until 2021.We understand why but you still have to deal with the mental implications of this.
For me it is about still doing something of value and still contributing to someone, something or to yourself. You could learn a new language, play a musical instrument. So don’t despair and head for the wine and beer to console yourself try instead to do something positive while you have a little more spare time on your hands.
One major thing is to keep your fitness levels up. It would be so easy to slack off, slump in front of the telly and add to that covid belly like a lot of people have. Physical health and mental health go hand in hand and when you exercise it improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and when you exercise a lot you sleep better too! So keep your fitness up even if it is just a long walk in the park in the fresh air listening to the birds.
New research confirming the power of music helps to reduce stress. Last month, researchers found that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. They were not sure about the Sex pistols as the jury is still out on that one. (ha ha)
During this time we could also use it to study more, you can dig out all those old martial arts DVDs and books and any martial arts material you have in order to learn more about the pressure points, nerves or anatomy or just to give you some martial arts ideas that you may want to try on your return.
I have nine books on breathing alone! It is really important how you breathe. I use the box method of breathing but there are many more besides. Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, involves exhaling to a count of four, holding your lungs empty for a four-count, inhaling at the same pace, and holding air in your lungs for a count of four before exhaling and beginning the pattern anew. It is important to breathe in and out through your nose. It will be more efficient, you have all seen when fighters become tired they start breathing out heavy through their mouths so learning to keep your breathing nasal will really pay off.
Breathing is also another way of benefiting your mental health as when you’re breathing in a shallow fashion your anxiety levels will tend to rise. You must ensure that you keep your posture upright to allow for maximum lung expansion and this will help you breathe more naturally.
Now has been the perfect time to take stock of yourself and to do things that will give you more benefit when you return to full training with the other students. Don’t think of it as a wasted time think of it as a learning productive time. Good luck
Keep well everyone