Mixed Martial Arts has been a respected lifestyle for decades. Teachers and students studied MMA for cultural, religious, and for meditation principles. In addition to that foundation, people are training in MMA for physical and mental benefits. MMA has also been a positive influence in children’s lives. It has helped many with disabilities and even saved some lives. Not only is MMA a fun and competitive way of life, it is also known to be a way to relief stress.
From generation to generation, Mixed Martial Arts has carried on certain traditions. Respect, Honor, Integrity, and Courage are the traditions followed by all in the academies. It is also how a martial artist is expected to conduct them self in their daily life.
The increase in a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally is notable. Some physical benefits from training in MMA are increase in strength, balance, and endurance. A martial arts exercise program will target all major and core muscles. Some exercises include: punching, kicking, and kneeing. These engaged all your core muscles. Well developed core strength can help prevent against many degenerative conditions like osteoporosis or any weaknesses associated with aging. Brazilian jui jitsu is a great contributor to improved balance and flexibility. Increased reaction time and environmental awareness is also an attribute from training MMA. You physically and mentally feel amazing and refreshed after a training session. The stress release from MMA has been known to reduce high blood pressure as well.
“The bottom line is that martial arts training reduces hypertensive blood pressure, and that the response is distance/intensity-graded.” (Studies by the Inchon Sports College of Korea)
“Among the early changes seen when individuals engage in a martial arts training program are mood elevation, heightened energy levels, enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem, lower anxiety levels, resistance to depression and improved coping ability” (www.fightingmaster.com/articles/medicine/medicine.htm)
The mental enhancement correlated with MMA is not to be underestimated. Confidence is one advantage from training. This is obtained through feeling and looking physically fit, empowerment in self defense, and gaining self respect through discipline. Discipline and honor codes help maintain respect and focus. Focus helps in goal setting and in return to confidence, helps in obtaining your goals. The camaraderie or brother/sisterhood in the academy in essence, is a family. You spend a lot of time together and grow to support each other, motivate, trust, and respect one another. This helps mentally and emotionally. There is also a part where you can get stress relief with martial arts. You learn to balance your body and your mind, which gives you the energy to manage stress in your life. You release any negative energy you have and feel refreshed and refocused when you leave.
Children are no acceptation to the benefits of MMA training. They are encouraged to be Respectful, Confident, Positive, and to be leaders. This encouragement helps them to never accept less from themselves and it makes them aware of their true potential. These children tend to put an extra effort in everything they do. Due to improved concentration, focus, self control, and expectations, students’ grades are higher than the normal. This also reflects there behavior.
MMA saves lives of underprivileged children. Many troubled children that enter into an academy learn to refocus, respect themselves and others, and set out for a better life with better decisions. They veer away from drugs, gangs, and jail and focus on positive goals.
“After I was abandoned, I lived on the streets. I was only seven, yet every day I had to hunt for food so I wouldn’t starve. I often went to sleep with nothing in my stomach. When I didn’t sell enough dumplings on the street for the gang, they burned me with cigarettes and whipped me with a belt. I would wake up each morning with nothing to look forward to – no family, no love, no dreams and no hope. And I was only a child. I did not want to live. Looking back, living on the streets gave me great suffering, but also taught me many great life lessons. I shed many tears, but I am grateful. I would not change anything about my past because it made me who I am today.” (Yoddecha Sityodtong)
“Poverty toughened my mind, but it is muay thai that truly taught me how to beat my fears. It strengthened me physically and spiritually.” (Yoddecha Sityodtong) (http://www.menshealth.com.sg/guy-wisdom/mh-interview-yoddecha-sityodtong)
Yoddecha Sityodtong is now World Champion in muay thai and an Instructor at Evolve MMA. Muay Thai saved his life, literally and figuratively.
“Around the world more and more psychologists, doctors, counselors and therapists recommend Martial Arts training for disabled children and adults who want to achieve and maintain optimum physical and mental health” (International Disabled Self-Defense Association or IDSA)
There are many people with disabilities joining Mixed Martial Arts. It is now being used in physical therapy. The memorization, focus, and fun have patients showing an increased in quality of life and daily functioning.
A study was done at The Graduate College University of Wisconsin-Stout, April, 2002. There were 20 individuals with disabilities that participated in this study, THE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF MARTIAL ARTS. Areas that improve Respondents were then asked to list the areas that they felt were improved as a result of their training.
These included: balance (65%); mobility (45%); breathing (45%); walking (25%); stamina (70%); standing (20%); sitting (15%); strength (70%); flexibility (50%); concentration (40%); blood pressure (15%); and environmental awareness(45%).
8 individuals indicated that they could do things as well as individuals without disabilities, and 14 individuals reported an increased sense of self-worth. Overall, 18 respondents indicated that they had a more positive attitude toward themselves after
participating martial arts. All 20 respondents reported increases in their quality of life as a result of their martial arts training. 4 individuals felt that their quality of life was somewhat improved while the remaining 16 respondents indicated that their quality of life was greatly improved as a result of their martial arts training.
(Richard A. Martin – www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2002/2002martinr.pdf)
My personal experience in starting MMA and how it has benefited me is some what unique. I BROKE MY BACK TWICE. Doctor’s told me I would never compete in sports again. They also told me I would risk being paralyzed if I continued working out and if I ever were to have children. I now have 2 children. When I was pregnant both times I went up to 174lbs and that added more stress to my back. A business partner at the time, now my sensei, Master Renato Tavares, challenged me to lose the baby weight. In less then a year I dropped down to 125lbs. Here I am, stronger than ever. MMA has strengthened my core with all intense training from bjj with Master and with my muay thai coach, Prof. Joel Garcia. It actually helped support my back so it finally healed. I became fit mentally and physically. Training to me and many others is very therapeutic. I also became confident, happier, and I have a new zest for life. Most importantly, I am not in pain any more. My desire to compete also increased. I now compete in bjj tournaments and have fought in muay thai. Through all the exercising I tried to get well, the only style that healed me and works is MMA.
MMA training is an effective way to exercise and strengthen the body and mind. It also assists in focusing and stress release which helps you to be more pro-active in your daily life. It is a positive lifestyle for all ages improving overall health, confidence, focus, and better life choices. MMA has proven to help the quality of life for anyone in participation. Sometimes, it even saves lives. Martial Arts is a way of life that enables a person to become the best possible individual they are destined to be.
Jillian “Starfire” Bunin