Wellness, fitness, health —words that are liberally peppered in every conversation, never mind if the conversation is between adults, teenagers, children or even the elderly. Denizens are taking stock of the negative effects of increasingly stressful lives, long working hours and a sedentary lifestyle, and are taking control of their lives. One of the most preferred ways is to join a gym or workout in your swanky apartment or villa complex. But, the recent years have seen an increasing tribe of youngsters practising martial arts for defence, fitness, better stability and mental health, as well as for improving their confidence levels. Anyone who has made martial arts training a daily part of their routine is bound to know the dedication, discipline and passion the various forms demand.
The state is witnessing a boom in terms of the number of people who are opting for martial arts courses and stand-up combat sports. Boxing, kickboxing, karate, Muay Thai, krav maga, Ju-Jitsu, Judo, wrestling and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) have a lot of passionate patrons, some as young as five years old, rooting for the health benefits, not only of the body but also of the mind.Bivin K., a software engineer by profession and a martial arts practitioner by passion, runs a martial arts academy — The Legends — at Kakkanad. He sheds more light on the effects of engaging in martial art forms and combat sports. “Most physiatrists now advise martial art forms like boxing, krav maga and kickboxing to release stress. The idea is to release your pent-up anger and frustrations,” he begins, mentioning that there is no age bar for these sports. The younger one begins, the better, he adds. The benefits of practising martial arts are two — strength and cardio.
“A gym routine may turn boring after a while with the same set of exercises, but a mix of many martial art forms can never be boring. Most of our martial art forms are aimed at strength training along with the benefits of cardio.”
Bivin stresses that martial arts not only have benefits on the body, but can help one increase their mental strength, too. “A practitioner of a martial art form is way more confident and stronger. There are sparring sessions between two people, after which our belief in our strength rises several notches. I have noticed my students transforming from timid to fearless warriors.”
Bivin coaches students from ages five to 50 years. For those with medical problems, there are workouts specifically designed to work through that, he adds. There are some well-documented facts about kickboxing. It is an incredibly efficient workout that helps melt fat fast since it is a combination of martial arts techniques and heart-pumping cardio. This high energy workout is guaranteed to burn calories almost 750 calories an hour.
“I found that after several days at the gym, I started getting bored with the routine activities,” begins Sanjitha, a businesswoman who has been kickboxing for the past two years. “Earlier, whenever I used to kickbox, I used to do it with a lot of anger inside me, but Bivin here advised me that it is not anger that is needed in kickboxing, but an aim. One cannot hit one’s target if they are angry, but minus the anger that can be achieved.”
Boxing helps increase the release of endorphins, which can diminish with stress. There is also a large toning component to kickboxing because it forces you to engage all the muscle groups in your body. Since a lot of core power is required, there is also the advantage of working your back and trimming your waist. Sanjitha staunchly believes that kickboxing has definitely influenced her character and even her attitude to life making her more confident about herself.
Mixed Martial Arts, popularly known as MMA, is a combination of striking and grappling moves that has become popular over the past couple of years. Today, the techniques, which have a lot of takers, are contemporary forms that include techniques from kickboxing, Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu, Judo and wrestling. Starting from warm-up exercises to full-contact sparring, this martial art form makes sure that every muscle in the body is utilised. MMA techniques make you use your body weight to increase muscle strength resulting in uniform development of muscles.
Midhun Jith, a former two-time World Kickboxing Federation Champion, is the only Indian to hold the World Kickboxing Championship and the International Karate Championship at the same time. An MMA expert, who is familiar with every martial art form, he mentions that it is in the last five years that a shift to Midhun Jith martial art forms as a form of fitness was seen. “Cardio is the major benefit of any martial or combat sports. A person who works out in the gym for three to four hours will achieve the same effect in one hour through MMA or combat sports. Normally, my sessions are only of one hour duration and in most cases, by 45 minutes my students are tired. The reason is that my students burn more calories through MMA. Also, these techniques are safe for anyone from a five-year-old to a 70-year-old.” Midhun, however, adds that the programmes designed for each group is different depending on whether it is for combat training or for body shaping.
While other training styles teach you one particular skill such as punching and kicking, MMA brings all these styles together under one roof and is a full body workout....