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  • Writer's pictureSAS Martial Arts

Improve Mental Wellbeing with Martial Arts

I strongly urge families to stay active and get themselves and their families into an activity that they enjoy. I am beginning to see many negative effects because of the 9-month lockdown. We now have seen many parents and families stop attending Martial Arts classes due to the COVID crisis. My sports partners have also said the same.


Although we fully understand and support their decision, there is an underlying issue that society today is not addressing, and that is the detrimental effect on the mental health of adults and young people alike.


Addressing the issue is difficult due to the stigmatization of mental health, and the poor availability of mental health treatment. So many individuals do not seek assistance for mental health problems until it is too late.


Parents are protecting children and their families by keeping them home and physically safe. However, new scientific studies show that it is damaging to social communication skills, mental wellbeing, and self-esteem.


School children, I am told, have “fallen behind their studies and have no time for sports.” This adds more psychological pressure, plus the need to do well in school. But how much mental concentration can a child take without having the physical stimulus to rejuvenate their growing minds? 


Martial Arts training is an ideal positive solution, as it incorporates unique characteristics including an emphasis on respect, self-regulation, meditation, and physical and mental health could be viewed as a sports-based mental health intervention before a psychological breakdown. 


Studies on the Positive Psychological impact of Martial Arts report that Martial Arts training had a positive effect reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. E.g. training in Tai Chi reduced anxiety and depression compared to non-treatment of depression and/or anxiety. Kung Fu students were less prone to depression compared to reported norms for male college students.

Kung Fu and Historical Stress Reduction in Hollywood!

It is widely accepted that Bruce Lee introduced Kung Fu to America as the first Chinese instructor to teach the art to Westerners. Bruce Lee taught many famous actors of that era, including Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Dean Martin, and James Garner.


Studies show that famous actors are highly stressed due to the media attention and scrutiny they received. Bruce used the ethos of the Martial Arts to help them find balance in life with Kung fu training and teaching the philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism.


Back to Reality

Now we're out of lockdown and teaching in mainstream schools and several of my London academies, I have prepared a new training syllabus to reflect the government guidelines and safety for all my staff and members.


I teach traditional Martial Arts that focus on respecting other people as well as themselves, and building tolerance towards others.


The physical combat aspect was paused to fall in line with social distancing rules, but we kept in the “Fun factor” as it is so important, especially for the younger children.


Incorporating new Tai Chi and Kung Fu exercises to challenge my students and pupils to improve on concentration, coordination and resilience.


I have already witnessed the past month a reduced level of aggressive behaviour in boys, and found that they were more likely to step in and help someone who was being bullied in school than before they took part in the training programme. That is a positive outcome and one proud to witness in a short space of time.

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