By Khristin Paisley, blue belt
Most often when people not associated with martial arts think about martial arts or martial artists they automatically think of pop culture icons from the Karate Kid movies, Kung Fu Panda, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris to name a few. Their perception of martial artists is based on these things and there is an almost automatic connection with board breaking,and yelling like a banshee while we go about kicking and punching. It is hard to see beyond the Hollywood construct to the benefits that are inherent to our art, and the unique benefits that adults experience as a martial arts student.
karate lessons, and has its own inherent benefits that are unique unto itself. We learn poomse, we learn kicks, punches and blocks all while improving our physical fitness. MSK Taekwondo is amazing at helping to improve adult fitness, however, the benefits aren’t just physical and to say that it is the primary benefit of our art would be painting it with a broad paintbrush with too little paint. The physical benefits are impossible to deny because we ask our bodies to perform feats that many would balk at and without proper training aren’t possible or safe for the average person to perform. Taekwondo takes a person from average to something more and like any artist, the more of ourselves we give over to it, the better we and it becomes. The physical benefits are not the whole picture. We learn to do things we couldn’t do before, we benefit from the practice inside and outside the dojang.
In Taekwondo or karate lessons, nothing ever is just one sided. When we kick with the left leg, our right leg is also involved as well as our hands. Through this we learn balance and gain an understanding that this also includes and requires balanced movements; not just the physical balance required to perform these tasks. We gain a real life understanding of for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, this is apparent through a balance of movement. Otherwise we would all be on the ground much of the time as we wouldn’t be able to keep our feet. A good block doesn’t just begin and end with your arm and requires whole body and whole brain involvement. This is why physical fitness is a secondary benefit and comes naturally with everything else we do.
Much of what we do involves cross body movements which has been linked to things such as improved cognition. In learning poomse we make our brains work in incredible ways that they likely have never had to before. Keeping one part of your body still, while moving another independently and with intention, requires a great deal of heightened cognition, focus, and determination well as mastery of the aspects of moving and breath. Without such control over the physical we would pass out constantly and therefore lack the physical and mental control and endurance to keep mastery of our body. It is just the surface of it because once you have the basics of the what, you learn the nuances that make it better. It is a mental workout.
Eventually we realize that if and when we apply these lessons to whole body and whole brain involvement, we see that we gain a better understanding of ourselves and achieve a greater mastery of our whole self. We learn that no matter how good we are, we have the ability to achieve more, to learn and improve more, and to become more. We never lose the sense of awe either, it goes from I could never do that, to I just did that, and wow you want me to do what? It is cyclical.
The secret is our goal is never fully reached. It is close enough to keep us going, to keep us pushing and determined yet just far enough ahead that we are hungry and determined to reach for it. The benefits are vast, varied and nearly limitless. This is perhaps the greatest benefit of all, because we learn to keep pushing . We learn to give respect and live respectfully and balanced. Through karate lessons at the Colorado Taekwondo Institute you become part of a team and part of a family, a benefit unto itself.