Lifeskills: Martial Arts and Balance (literally, figuratively)

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Howdy, folks! Here’s another entry in my 2015 blog series on “Lifeskills.” In other words, what are the skills that we teach our martial arts students that transfer over and apply to other areas in life?

  • Respect, performance skills, confidence, resilience, leadership, balance, the ability to handle pressure, etc. ALL of these can be used ANY time to meet school, work, and life goals.

Today, I’m going to talk about martial arts balance. Literally. Figuratively. Click that “more” link!

One of the first moves students learn in martial arts is the front kick.

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Learning to balance on one leg while kicking can be quite a challenge. Kicking is a complex skill, and we take care to break it down into pieces before speeding it up and trying full power.

Becoming better at balancing means a few things.

  • By learning to kick, they are learning to chunk a large task into bits. If each part is good, the whole will be good.
  • Students practice the skill of mentally zoning in on each chunk of the task–which transfers over into life as a better ability to focus.
  • Mastering balance leads to self-confidence. (And you look cool by being able to perform feats such as “The Bean Bag Challenge”)

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Balance is also good for you, literally. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve stumbled and caught myself from falling (or fell correctly) on a few occasions. Without my martial arts training, I probably would have hurt myself.

So there’s that.

But there’s also the fact that “life balance” is addressed in most martial arts programs–at least implicitly.

What do I mean by life balance?

  • The work/school/play balance: We encourage students to take time off martial arts to address other areas of their life if needed. We also encourage our adults and older students to recognize that martial arts training is a good outlet for stress.
  • Exercise balance–stretching, focusing on a wide variety of muscle groups, encouraging students not to train through injuries.
  • A variety of skills are taught, and students learn what they like and don’t like, but develop all skill areas. Through our expectations, they learn that there is plenty to be gained from doing things they don’t like.
  • Finally, respect. By fostering environments of respect, martial arts training makes disrespect stand out. Students learn the skills they need to stand up for themselves, and to choose better friend groups or work environments. Making better choices can lead to an improved quality of life–a happier, more balanced life.

With the right sense of balance, you can do amazing things!

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tree pose

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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