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Combat Sports Training for Mental Health

Combat Sports Training for Mental Health

When trying to become healthier, we commonly associate this type of journey with the following: 

- Getting in better shape

- Losing weight, dropping fat 

- Gaining muscle, becoming stronger

- Increasing endurance and mobility

- Eating healthier, hydrating properly

The list goes on and on, and it should – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing everything you can to maintain your health!

All of the previously mentioned steps to improvement have one thing in common: they are all physical aspects. In other words, the most commonly shared ideas about becoming healthier focus only on the physical maintenance of your body.

But what about the mental aspect?

Mental health is an important – yet often overlooked – factor that plays a vital role in one’s overall health. If you’re in great physical shape, but not-so-good when it comes to mental shape, you’re missing out on the best you that you could possibly be.

That’s not to take away from the importance of physical fitness/health. Both are roots of the same tree and both must be maintained if you want to look, feel, and perform at your best. 

So what are some ways you can improve your mental health, along with your physical fitness? 

One of the most common and proven ways to improve both at the same time is through exercise. Lifting weights, walking, running – doing anything where your body is moving and you’re breaking a sweat is going to be good!

Our Recommendation

At Sanabul, we’re always looking to improve and be the best in every area we can. Our supporters are too, which is why we have to recommend one the best ways to improve your mental AND physical health (aside from conventional fitness):

Combat sports training, aka martial arts (hear us out)

Self Defense

Many people decide to learn a form of martial arts to learn how to defend themselves and gain the ability to protect others – truly, one of the most valuable skills you can have. When it comes to martial arts training, it’s better to have it and not need it, than not have it and need it.

Improvements in Discipline/Control, Confidence, Patience + Managing Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles

If you ask any martial arts practitioner what they developed from training, besides self-defense skills, they will more than likely say one (or more) of the following:

- Increased discipline (self-control)

- Increased confidence

- Increased patience 

- Improved ability to manage difficult situations and overcome obstacles

After training in martial arts (even for a little while), people quickly understand that these skills are really valuable for self-defense but could also really to damage to others if used for the wrong reasons. Understanding and experiencing the power that can come from these techniques causes self-discipline and self-control to become forged into their mind and life. More discipline and control from combat  sports transfers over to other areas of their life outside of the gym and can help them limit/eliminate unhealthy actions (ex. They know eating highly processed junk “food” will not help them to get where they want to be, so their discipline won’t allow them to have this “food”, while their control may look for a healthier alternative to have instead).

Along the same lines, having the abilities to defend yourself and others can set your mind and your worries at ease. All of the hard training done in the gym will make these techniques muscle memory so that you’ll be able to do them at a moment’s notice when you need to. You’ll worry way less about what you would do if you or someone you loved were to be attacked, since you possess the skills to handle a situation like this. When it comes to mental health, there’s very few things that will relieve this kind of stress and remove this type of anxiety.

When you first start out in training, you’re the beginner. EVERYONE who was ever good at something was a beginner and they understand what that’s like. They won’t (or at least shouldn’t) get mad, frustrated, or annoyed with a beginner. They understand that it takes time to learn these skills and will respect you even more for going outside of your comfort zone and taking on a new challenge + learning new skills. They show you the same patience they received as beginners, from more experienced practitioners. Patience is a skill that you can pick up quickly in this type of training, given the complexity of certain techniques.

The management of difficult, frustrating situations and the process of overcoming obstacles can both be very difficult. Both can take a toll on your mental health, but combat sports training can help with both. During training, things won’t always go according to plan – this goes for practitioners of all shapes, sizes, and experience levels. In those moments, you will develop the mentality to not give up, control your emotions, focus on completing the task at hand, bounce back when you fail (resilience), and figure out a way (if there isn’t a way, you’ll figure out how to make one).  

These characteristics are directly transferable to any situation in life, which is why martial arts can greatly help you to stay composed during stressful situations and allow you to focus on finding ways to overcome challenges. You will learn how to adapt to your environment and make the best of whatever situations you’re in. Knowing that you have  this ability can help to keep your mind at ease and calm your stress/anxiety of the unknown.

Building Physical/Functional Strength Leads to Improved Mental Fortitude

Martial arts offers a unique approach to fitness and presents you with challenges that you won’t find in a conventional weight lifting gym. Conventional gyms can do a great job of helping you develop strength in certain ranges of motion, but it does not do nearly the same job as combat sports training, when it comes to functional fitness. 

Functional fitness can be defined as fitness that focuses on conditioning the muscles we use for everyday tasks. Squats are a great example of a functional movement, as they train your body to be strong and mobile for daily tasks such as bending down to pick something up. When you’re in the gym with training partners, you can develop incredible functional strength that will benefit you in daily life and if you ever need to defend yourself from harm. Controlling not only your bodyweight, but the bodyweight from another person who is actively resisting is one of the BEST ways to build and maintain functional strength and endurance.

Think of it like this: you’re learning how to defend yourself (using tactics used by combat sports world champions), while getting in better shape faster than you realize! When you feel stronger and more agile, your confidence will receive a long lasting boost. You will feel a positive change in your mental health and happiness.

Finding a deeper sense of community with teammates and others in the gym

When you go to a combat sports gym or a martial arts training center,  you will meet some great people who may eventually become life-long friends. Just like you (as seen by your interest in and action by just walking into the gym), these are individuals who are focused on being the best they could be - mentally and physically. They seek out challenges in order to fail, so that they may learn and eventually overcome these obstacles to evolve from where they previously were.

Mentally and physically, you will become stronger and more resilient by training in combat sports. A strong work ethic will be further developed and reinforced during training, while you practice effective techniques on how to neutralize your opponent in a fight scenario or any attacker in a self-defense situation.  If some part of you is even remotely considering starting combat sports training, listen to your gut and do it.  Martial arts is for everyone!

Here are some articles that may be able to help you improve your mental and physical health:

Combat sports training info for beginners 

General fitness information

Combat sports for kids 

Thank you for reading - we hope this article has led you to consider the beneficial effects that martial arts and combat sports training can have on your mental and physical health!


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