Fighting Fit – Martial Arts and Weight loss

If your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight but you need to do something more exciting than jogging on a treadmill to keep you motivated, perhaps you should consider doing a martial art like boxing, kickboxing, karate, or judo.

In this article we list the top 10 reasons to consider doing a martial art for fitness and weight loss to help you decide if doing one is right for you.

1. Doing martial arts for weight loss

It’s no coincidence that gyms, personal trainers and producers of exercise videos and DVD’s are now heavily incorporating training techniques and exercises from a wide variety of martial arts in their workouts.

Boxercise, Tae Bo, Cardio-Kickboxing, Kung Fu Aerobics, and personal trainers using punching bags, focus mitts and kicking pads in their sessions are just a couple of examples of how martial arts training is being used in cardio workouts for fitness and weight loss.

Because martial art training is typically high intensity and usually lasts for at least an hour in most cases, it burns a maximum number of kilojoules or calories per workout and is therefore great for anyone who wants to lose weight and lose it fast.

2. Doing martial arts for fitness

Most martial arts incorporate exercises and drills that improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, help build muscle strength and improve muscle flexibility so they are perfect for anyone wanting to improve their overall fitness.

Cardiovascular fitness improvements require us to regularly elevate our heart rate for extended periods and most martial arts training can help us do that.

Improving the strength, size and shape of our muscles requires us to regularly subject them to some form of resistance training. Martial arts training helps provide this training by requiring us to perform exercises like push-ups and squats using our own body weight for resistance.

Improved flexibility is a natural byproduct of martial arts training because most, if not all styles of martial art incorporate stretching exercises in their workouts.

As a result of providing all of these fitness benefits, martial artists like boxers and kickboxers are widely regarded as being among the fittest athletes in the world and practitioners of karate, judo, etc are considered among the strongest pound-for-pound and most flexible athletes in the world.

3. Doing martial arts and self-defense

One of the most obvious benefits of doing a martial art is that it provides us with the fitness, strength, skill and techniques necessary to protect ourselves from being attacked by others who are out to harm us if the need should ever arise.

Like an insurance policy, we hope you’re never in a position to have to use your martial arts training to defend yourself, but it’s great to know this ability is there just in case.

Because they are primarily concerned with elevating our heart rates to burn energy and improve our fitness, many of the workouts listed above like Tae Bo, Boxercise, etc don’t really provide this benefit to the same extent as doing martial arts training with a dedicated teacher in a martial arts school that only provides one service – to teach you a specific martial art.

Many people mistakenly believe that because they punch a focus mitt 50 times during a session with their personal trainer that they know how to punch properly and can therefore defend themselves if they need to. This is a big mistake and we hope these people never find themselves in a situation where this belief is tested.

Unless they’ve had many years of martial arts training themselves, most personal trainers and gym instructors will not be able to offer advice about your punching and kicking technique, they are only really qualified to hold the focus mitts or kick-pad for you while you punch or kick them.

Remember, while probably great at what they do, these trainers are more like aerobics instructors than specifically qualified martial arts instructors.

4. Doing martial arts and self-confidence

In addition to providing us with the ability to defend ourselves, one of the greatest personal benefits that martial art training provides is a high degree of self-confidence.

This self-confidence partly results from the knowledge that we are much better equipped to defend ourselves given that we have done some martial arts training, but it also comes from a sense of achievement once we begin to master the techniques taught to us and the new confidence that results from feeling fitter and stronger and looking fitter and stronger.

Given that one of the first things to suffer, and one of the hardest things to reestablish afterwards, when we become overweight is our self-confidence this benefit is of particular value to those of us who have a weight problem.

5. Doing martial arts to improve body balance and coordination

As well as helping us to become fitter and stronger, martial art training typically involves the mastery of a range of techniques that requires us to be well-balanced and have superior body coordination.

In learning to master these techniques we naturally improve our balance and our coordination which helps us with other aspects of our daily life.

6. Doing martial arts for variety

Martial art training provides great variety in two ways.

Firstly, martial arts training sessions themselves have great variety built into them by including warm-ups and cool-downs, stretching exercises, strength building exercises, cardio exercises and exercises designed to improve and teach us a wide variety of techniques.

This variety is great for our mind as well as our body.

Secondly, there are such a wide variety of martial arts to study that we should be able to easily find one that suits our particular goals and interests.

Whether we prefer to do a martial art that primarily revolves around striking or grappling techniques or a perfect mix of both, or we want to study a highly technical or very simple style, the choice is great.

7. Doing martial arts teaches discipline and provides motivation

Everybody knows that studying a martial art requires and teaches discipline.

Because it is also goal orientated, training in one of the many martial arts also provides a great deal of motivation.

Lack of discipline and motivation are the most often quoted reasons for weight loss failures and for this reason, doing a martial art for weight loss and fitness may help many of us who lack the required discipline and motivation to achieve our weight loss goals to overcome these common barriers to success.

8. Doing martial arts for spirituality

One definition of spirituality is “Activities which renew, lift up, comfort, heal and inspire both ourselves and those with whom we interact.”

Martial art training has been practiced by millions of people over many centuries because among other things, it has a great ability to spiritually uplift us.

As well as forging a better connection between our mind and body, it also has the ability to forge a better connection between us and our world and us and others.

9. Doing martial arts training is relatively inexpensive

Compared to joining some gyms and hiring some personal trainers, training at a martial arts school or dojo is relatively inexpensive.

Many martial arts schools charge a very modest monthly fee for training and the beauty of this is you can train when and as often as it suits you.

In addition to low ongoing training costs, buying a uniform and any equipment you may need to train in most cases will be relatively inexpensive as well.

10. Doing martial arts has a social aspect

Many people who start doing martial arts training for weight loss, improved fitness or self-defense end up enjoying it most for its social aspects.

As well as training and learning with others with similar goals, many martial arts trainees help encourage and motivate each other and end up becoming very good friends.

Many martial arts instructors too have very friendly dispositions and foster a fun and friendly environment in which to train which endears them to their students who typically also become close friends.


If your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight but you need to do something more exciting than jogging on a treadmill to keep you motivated, perhaps you should consider doing a martial art like boxing, kickboxing, karate, or judo.

In this article we listed the top 10 reasons to consider doing a martial art for fitness and weight loss to help you decide if doing one is right for you.

Success Tips From The Martial Arts – How To Avoid Envy

Today’s article is about envy both in the Martial Arts and in life in general. Envy can be a huge obstacle on the path to success. Wikipedia describes envy clearly:

Envy is an emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.”

Recently, I went to a martial arts seminar in Redhill, Surrey in the UK.

The rain and traffic were both heavy on the M25 motorway as I drove there in my ancient car but the trip was worth it because of several insights it gave me. One insight in particular was especially valuable.

I discussed with a fourth degree black belt the problem of envy in the martial arts. There is lot of it! I was once appointed Vice-President of a large martial art organisation.

One blackbelt rushed up to me and asked me why I deserved to be the Vice-President! He may have thought he deserved that honour more than me. Maybe he was right but I was the Vice-President and he wasn’t!

Some students look at a blackbelt and think that they deserve a blackbelt more. They may believe that they can kick harder or fight better etc. etc.

My friend, the fourth degree blackbelt, said that such people had no need to be envious.

All they have to do, to draw level with the person above them, is to take one grading after another. If they progress onwards step by step, they will achieve their own blackbelt.

A blackbelt is a white belt who never quit. There is no need for envy. Just keep training and taking each grading when you are ready and don’t give up. You will eventually become a blackbelt and your white belt will turn black much sooner than you think.

If you become distracted by envying the ranks that other people achieve, you may give up early and never achieve the belt you aspire to.

I mentioned this insight to a class of mine this week. At the end of the lesson I asked what key ideas had been remembered. ‘Don’t be envious’ was one of them.

The same principle applies to making money. Some people spend their time thinking about how unfair life is. They envy the rich. Why should some people make money so quickly and easily while they find it a continuous struggle just to keep the creditors away from their door?

Envy is usually a complete waste of time. People who appear to make money easily have put in hours of hard work to develop the skills they can now use to make money making seem easy.

All we need to do is copy them by working hard and developing the skills they have developed. They may well have written a book or manual telling us how to do what they have done. We just need to follow the recipe they give us.

Strangely, few people will do this and probably the complainers will be the ones least likely to take any kind of productive action. They are too busy being envious and making excuses for themselves.

This quote sums up the most productive attitude towards the riches of others:

“Don’t just envy another’s good fortune; emulate the work that helped earn it.”

Of course, we are all born with different abilities and skills. There will always be someone who is better than you or me at all kinds of things. I was thrown out of the school choir at the age of eight for ‘growling’ and it was never likely that I would make a career as a singer or choir master.

Grand Master Kwang Jo Choi, the founder of Choikwangdo, once described the fact that not all martial arts students will be equally agile or flexible. Some are like a Ferrari; others are like a Ford.

According to the Grand Master, the Fords should not be judged by the same standard as the Ferraris but if they put in the same effort as the Ferraris, they are equally successful and should be graded accordingly.

The business world may not be as generous as the Grand Master but it will still reward the effort of a diligent worker even though the reward may be less than that given to a hard working genius.

Of course there are plenty of geniuses who do not work hard. They may well be outstripped by those of mediocre ability who work very hard.

In any event, there is no need for the Fords to be envious of the Ferraris. It would, again, be a waste of time and effort. The Fords may, of course, be like Ferraris in some other area of life or they could put in enough extra effort to become Ferraris themselves. Very hard work can create its own talent.

In the second week of Wimbledon 2007, Martina Navratilova said that attitude was the most important attribute she would look for in a young tennis player. We cannot always control what abilities we are given but we can control our attitude and this can make all the difference between winning and losing.

Even if we are Fords for life, we can achieve our own goals and look back on our lives as successful. Incidentally, I reached Redhill through the rain in heavy traffic and returned home through the rain in heavy traffic. I arrived at both destinations safely in a Ford.

A Ferrari would have been quicker, but the Ford was running well enough to help me reach my goals.

Don’t ever waste time being envious if you are not a Ferrari. Just focus on dealing with all the tasks you are faced with on your way to your goal.

It is well worth remembering that the quickest way to deal with an overwhelming number of tasks is to do them one by one.

Let others get on with their own goals while you get on with yours. Take one step at a time and deal with one task at a time and your own progress will astonish you. None of us need to be envious of any one else.

Envy has been well described as “counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”

Instead let’s start counting our own blessings and opportunities. Many of us have the opportunity to achieve a blackbelt or become rich or achieve the dreams we most desire. If we focus on such opportunities and work hard, we will not have the time or the desire to be envious.

I will finish with a great quote from Helen Gurley Brown (1922 -) the American writer and editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. In the sixties she made it clear that women could have it all if they were prepared to work hard with what they had i.e. themselves. She wrote:

“The only thing that separates successful people from the ones who aren’t is the willingness to work very, very hard.”