Perhaps you've thought about taking up a martial art, but feel you’re not fit, young or healthy enough to fight others? You may not want to go head to head with a large, muscly young man to win your belts. However, not all martial arts are about fighting, especially those that base their principles on self-defence. Some welcome all ages, whatever your ability, as long as you have no serious health issues.
The benefit of taking up a martial art later in life, is that you can slow the ageing process, some even say you can even reverse aspects of it. You also get to have lots of fun and do things you never thought possible. I started Kuk Sool Won™ in my 30's and still enjoy teaching and training now I'm in my 50’s. Yes, there are some things I cannot do, but there are many more things I can do I’m also now a 4th degree black belt, something I never thought I would ever achieve.
It is said that martial art training slows the ageing process, I think there are a few extra benefits some of which I have described below:
• Emotional Well-being: There is a fair amount of research outlining the benefits of endorphins on the body and mind. People who have fun, challenge themselves and keep active, always feel better. They lead healthier lives and have a greater sense of achievement. When you find a friendly martial art school, you may find yourself having lots of fun and the benefits can be long lasting.
• Physical Strength: In Kuk Sool we focus on body posture or stances, practice self-defence techniques and body conditioning movements know as hyung or forms and learn how to fall safely. This activates a variety of muscle groups around the body, even some you never thought you had, making everyone stronger over time. Muscle burns more fat, and can help to lower cholesterol levels. Everyone benefits from the strength and cardio training for better health and fitness and women can reduce the risks of osteoporosis in older age.
• Mental Growth: Taking up any new hobby stimulates the mind. We know doing crosswords and Sudoku slows memory loss in older age. Challenging yourself by taking up a new sport can help maintain or even build mental agility. A martial art with an extensive amount of material to learn, can be the best thing for improving that fading memory that happens as we get older.
• Spiritual Healing: Through the practice of meditation and body conditioning movements, known in Kuk Sool as hyung, the mind can be calmed and stilled. The stilling of the mind is difficult in our very busy lives. By practicing martial arts, we can focus on being present whilst meditating and still our minds in the movements we learn. Self-defence martial arts are really good at creating a life that is much calmer, less stressed and freer to make those important decisions.
Martial arts are great for kids but we are often asked how old do they need to be to start training. Normally, kids need to be 6 or 7 to join a kids class. However, we have developed a specialised programme for 5 year olds which we offer at our Kuk Sool Won™ school in Pukekohe. Here are 5 great reasons why your 5 year old will benefit from our Kiwi Dragons™ programme in the Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™.
1. Respect and discipline: Kuk Sool Won™ specifically focuses on creating respectful citizens. We gently encourage our 5 year old students to develop self-discipline and show respect to their instructors, fellow students, parents, and themselves. We do this through individual and teamwork drills and exercises, as well as by role modelling good behaviour.
2, Focus and memory: 5 year olds have a short attention span. By using repetitive exercises and breaking martial art elements into small components, we capture the attention of our young students and gradually improve their memory. We supplement this with various reward systems to keep them focused and motivated.
3. Control and balance: By breaking down martial art elements into smaller components, young students gradually gain control over their developing bodies. They develop co-ordination and balance through exercises that encourage development of the left and right sides of their brain and body.
4. Self-defence: Self-defence is at the core of Kuk Sool Won™. From their first class our 5 year olds learn how to get away if someone grabs them. They consistently practice getting away quickly so that it becomes second nature.
5. Fitness and fun: With plenty of age-appropriate exercises, drills and body conditioning, 5 year olds gain strength and fitness. They also have a lot of fun, which is an essential part of the learning process with young children.
6. Spatial Awareness: Kids spend a lot of time on digital media these days and from an early age. Flat screens and no interaction with others and real objects will not help them learn about depth perception and spatial awareness. By participating in a group activity with real objects, kids get to experience 3 dimensional play.
Caroline is a 5th degree black belt and Jane is a 2nd degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.