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Resolve to step out of your comfort zone with martial arts

Kandy Childress • Jan 16, 2020 at 9:00 PM

January is a time of resolution-making for most Americans. Sixty percent of us admit to making a resolution that involves making ourselves better in some way. As mid-January approaches, you might think you’ve lost the opportunity to begin anew in 2020, but you haven’t. I’m challenging you to step way out of your comfort zone and consider giving martial arts a try.

I had a scary experience in college where a man chased me up three flights of stairs to my apartment. Fortunately, I was able to get inside my apartment before he could catch me, but from that moment on I felt vulnerable. It was a few years later that I started my martial arts journey with taekwondo, followed by ho shin do karate, then kickboxing, and finally jiu jitsu. Being a student of martial arts gives me a sense of confidence and peace with the world around me because I know that I will never again be vulnerable.

Not sure if a martial arts class is for you? Consider these four benefits before making your decision:

Learn How to Defend Yourself

The basic striking techniques performed using your hands, legs, elbows, and knees during a martial arts class can be employed effectively in a self-defense situation. These techniques are practical movements that can be executed by regular people — like you and me — in street clothes. The goal is to be capable of defending yourself well enough to make a quick exit from a dangerous situation. Self-defense training is especially useful for women, especially young women, who are often the targets of predators.

It is a social activity

Joining a martial arts class connects you to others: friends, coworkers, and even folks who probably would have never crossed your path. The connection is meaningful because it produces a feeling of belonging, creates a shared camaraderie toward reaching the class workout goals, and gives you a motivational boost to move beyond your perceived limitations.

Build cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance

Martial arts gives you a total body workout. A single hour of kickboxing burns 600 calories for a 125-lb. person, 744 calories for a 155-lb. person, and 888 calories for a 185-lb. person. If you convert kickboxing to steps using Healthy Kingsport’s Walker Tracker, you amass 17,400 steps, or 8.7 miles, of physical activity for a one-hour class. That’s an incredible number of miles for just one hour.

Practicing a martial art also strengthens, tones, and enlarges literally every single muscle in your body. It is especially beneficial for your arms, legs, and core. Who doesn’t want a great core? And, if you desire better flexibility and balance, a martial art is an excellent choice as the sport increases your range of motion, which is something important for countering shifts in weight, especially as we age.

Anyone can do it

Whether you are a preteen, young adult, or mature adult, a martial art is a great choice because it is a sport that enables you to determine how hard you train and the pace at which you work out. There really is no better way to get a total body workout, socialize while exercising, and glean some basic striking techniques that could very well save your life.

Consider enrolling in a martial arts class in 2020. Don’t forget to grab a fitness buddy and literally kick it into gear!

Kandy Childress is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at kchildress@healthykingsport.org.