man celebrating after winning brazilian jiu-jitsu match

The Seven Benefits of Martial Arts

the author smiling at the beach
Emma Whamond

#Martial Arts

Seven Benefits of Practicing Martial Arts: Why You Should Consider Joining Today

Are you thinking about joining a martial arts class? Maybe you’re curious about what martial arts can offer beyond the punches and kicks you’ve seen in movies. Well, you’re in for a treat! Martial arts offers a world of benefits that go far beyond self-defense. In this article, we’ll explore seven fantastic reasons why you should consider taking up martial arts. And why it’s a great investment that pays dividents your entire life.

Benefit # 1 - Situational Awareness

10 minutes and 30 seconds - that’s the average time it takes police officers to arrive on scene after a 911 call.  

We all know that in situations like this…seconds save lives. But these statistics reveal much more than an urgent need for personal self-defense skills or clamors for faster law enforcement response times. These situations demand more than a skill to save seconds, but one that would avoid counting in the first place. A first line of defense.

Understanding Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the ability to observe your surroundings in order to detect potential threats before they happen and act appropriately.

Former Navy SEAL, Chris Sajnog, describes exactly how the United States Navy Special Ops teaches situational awareness to Navy SEALs with a simple and easy-to-remember acronym - S.E.A.L.

“S” for Sense. Use your every sense to observe your surroundings, your sight, hearing, touch, or smell. This could be looking over your shoulder to make sure no one is following you, listening to conversation around you, trying the knob on your front door before unlocking it, or smelling an unusual smell e.g. gasoline, smoke, or rotten eggs.

“E” for Evaluate. After you’ve used your senses to perceive your environment, it’s time to evaluate whether you are encountering a threat. Accessing if the situation is threatening helps you better mentally prepare to act by reducing the freezing response.

“A” for Act. By now, you’ve observed, evaluated that you are in a threatening situation, and have decided what to do. Now you have to take action. Based on your evaluation of the situation, that could be to run, call for help, prepare to fight, or simply walk away if you’ve determined the situation was non-threatening.

“L” for Learn. Once the threatening situation has passed, it’s time to reflect and learn from your experiences. What went right? What went wrong? And what could have been improved?

Situational Awareness in Martial Arts

Like a Navy SEAL, practicing martial arts requires you to implement the S.E.A.L. situational awareness method, even without you realizing it…

While sparring with your opponent, you notice the angle of their back foot has changed your opponent’s stance and soon realize their weight is slightly shifting to their back leg (Sense). Having observed these body positions during training before, you evaluate the situation and determine that this is the exact stance needed to deliver a powerful kick (Evaluate). Now knowing that your opponent is likely to deliver an intense kick to your left side, you take action and move out of the way before they can strike (Act). After winning your match, you decide you’ll continue to note body weight changes and foot positioning in your next matches to continue improving (Learn).

By honing your situational awareness skills, martial arts training goes far beyond just physical techniques. Martial arts trains you to observe little movements that could change the whole dynamic of your situation - for better or for worse - before action has been taken by your adversary. Martial arts also prepares you to determine when it is necessary to use your skills and when to avoid confrontation altogether. Knowledge of situational awareness is especially crucial in today’s world, where personal safety can never be taken for granted. The self-assurance you gain from knowing you can identify threats before they occur and protect yourself is empowering and liberating.

man practicing self-defense

To learn more about situational awareness with Chris Sajnog, check out his video:

Benefit # 2 - Social Strength: Building Community and Connection Through Martial Arts Practice

With over 3 million martial arts participants in the United States alone and millions more around the world, martial arts isn’t a solitary journey; it’s a community. When you join a martial arts class, you become part of a tight-knit group of individuals who share your passion.

The bonds you form with your fellow practitioners can be some of the most enduring friendships of your life and with people you might never meet outside the dojo. On the mats, I’ve been able to spar with a firefighter, while a construction worker and doctor practice moves together on my right, and a police officer and stay-at-home mom bow in on my left.

The Martial Arts Community

The sense of community in martial arts is often likened to joining a world-wide extended family. The dojo, gym, or studio becomes a second home, and your training partners become like family. The camaraderie you experience in martial arts fosters a sense of belonging and support that extends beyond the training mat. In martial arts, there’s a strong emphasis on respect, humility, and mutual support. These values create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, can feel at home.

Mentorship and Leadership

As you progress in martial arts, you’ll have the opportunity to take on mentorship roles, helping newer students navigate their journey or looking for mentorship yourself. This not only enhances your martial arts skills but also develops your leadership abilities and empathy. Being a role model and guiding others can be incredibly fulfilling.


Engaging in martial arts isn’t just about perfecting your techniques; it’s also about building a community of like-minded individuals and within this community, a powerful sense of accountability flourishes. When you practice alongside others, you’re not only responsible for your own progress but also for the growth and well-being of your fellow practitioners. This accountability pushes you to attend classes regularly, strive for improvement, and support your peers in their journey. In this way, martial arts becomes a shared pursuit where everyone’s success is interconnected, fostering a strong sense of responsibility and camaraderie.

martial arts community and camaraderie

Benefit # 3 - Physical Fitness: Understanding the Comprehensive Health Benefits of Martial Arts

Martial arts is an incredible way to get in shape and improve your overall health. It’s not just about looking good; it’s about feeling great, too! The rigorous training sessions in martial arts help you build strength, flexibility, and endurance. You’ll develop lean muscle, burn calories, and boost your cardiovascular health—all while having fun!

Scott’s Story

Scott Andersen’s story is all too common. Scott struggled with his weight for most of his adult life thanks to his sedentary lifestyle and his job, which required him to wine and dine his clients. Eventually he weighed over 240 pounds and soon received a diagnosis for type 2 diabetes. Despite diligent management of his diabetes, Scott had a heart attack at only 43 years old. He was rushed to the hospital for open heart surgery where 5 stents were placed. The moment Scott woke up from his surgery, he vowed to get his health, and heart, in order. The day Scott was released from the hospital, he had his family drive him to the nearest Muay Thai gym and he signed up. Today Scott weighs 175 pounds, follows a low-carb diet, and has even been able to reduce his diabetes medications.

Physical Fitness

The physical benefits of martial arts are undeniable. You’ll notice improvements in your strength, agility, and stamina as you progress in your training. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a complete beginner, martial arts provides a challenging and rewarding workout that caters to all fitness levels.

Martial arts is a physical activity that caters to individuals of all ages, promoting lifelong fitness. Numerous research articles have documented its positive effects on physical health. A study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation (2017) found that martial arts training improved cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility in participants of various age groups. Additionally, an article in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity (2008) reported that older adults who engaged in martial arts experienced increased balance and mobility, reducing the risk of falls.

These findings are not limited to research; just like Scott, real-life stories of individuals benefiting from martial arts are easy to find. From young children developing strength and coordination to seniors enhancing their overall fitness, martial arts offers a holistic approach to physical well-being.

physical fitness and martial arts

Benefit # 4 - Beyond the Physical: Exploring the Emotional and Psychological Gains from Martial Arts Training

The benefits of martial arts go beyond the physical realm. Training martial arts helps you develop emotional and psychological resilience and teaches you to manage stress, anxiety, and anger, providing you with valuable coping mechanisms for life’s challenges.

A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2013) demonstrated that regular martial arts practice contributes to reduced stress levels and improved mood, ultimately enhancing mental well-being. Moreover, research in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2017) found that martial arts can effectively mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Emotional Resilience

As you progress in martial arts, you’ll face moments of frustration and self-doubt, but you’ll also experience the exhilaration of achieving your goals. This emotional rollercoaster helps you build mental toughness and the ability to persevere through difficulties, both inside and outside the dojo.

Martial arts training exposes you to controlled adversity. You’ll spar with opponents, face your limitations, and sometimes come up short. However, each setback becomes an opportunity for growth. You learn to bounce back stronger, knowing that failure is not the end but a stepping stone to success.

Psychological Well-being

Martial arts can be a form of therapy, allowing you to release pent-up emotions and find balance in your life. The mindfulness required during training helps you stay present and focused, reducing anxiety and enhancing your overall psychological well-being.

Stress management is another essential aspect of martial arts training. The discipline and mindfulness cultivated during practice can help you handle stress more effectively. Many martial arts incorporate techniques like controlled breathing, mindfulness exercises, and meditation into martial arts training, enabling you to stay calm and focused in high-pressure situations. These practices teach you to quiet the mind and maintain mental clarity. Over time, these skills can positively impact your mental health, making you more resilient and better equipped to handle life’s challenges.

“Physical strength (hard work), mental strength (perseverance) and spiritual strength (love & acceptance) are the keys to continuous growth.” - Rickson Gracie, Brazilian 9th-degree red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

emotional and mental well-being in martial arts

Benefit # 5 - Resilience: How Martial Arts Training Teaches Handling Defeat and Coming Back Stronger

In martial arts, you’ll taste both victory and defeat. It’s an essential part of the journey. Learning how to handle defeat gracefully and use it as a stepping stone to improvement is a priceless life skill.

Handling Defeat

Setbacks in martial arts teach you resilience, humility, and the importance of continuous self-improvement. Each time you get knocked down, you’ll find the strength to get back up and come back even stronger. This determination isn’t limited to the dojo—it permeates all aspects of your life.

Martial arts emphasize the concept of “losing battles but winning the war”. In other words, it’s not about avoiding defeat altogether, but about learning from it and becoming a better martial artist and individual as a result. This attitude of continuous improvement can lead to profound personal growth. Either you win, or you learn.

The Path to Success

Martial arts teach you that success isn’t always linear. It’s a journey with ups and downs. This mindset can be applied to your personal and professional life, helping you navigate challenges with resilience and come back stronger when faced with adversity.

Resilience is undeniably intertwined with the path to success in martial arts. One remarkable example is the story of Ronda Rousey, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion. Rousey faced adversity early in her MMA career. From difficulties in transitioning from Judo to MMA, her devastating knock-out by Holly Holmes and a brutal defeat in just 48 seconds by Amanda Nunes. But Ronda continuously displayed exceptional resilience, bouncing back from defeats to become a dominant champion and a vocal advocate for women’s equality in sports and beyond. Her story exemplifies the importance of perseverance in martial arts.

Ronda Rousey fighting mixed martial arts

Another inspiring tale is that of Nick Newell, a fighter born with a congenital amputation of his left arm. Despite his significant physical challenge, extreme skepticism, and bouts of his own self-doubt, Newell’s unwavering determination and resilience propelled him to become a professional mixed martial artist, achieving notable success in organizations like World Series of Fighting. His story highlights that martial arts success is not limited by physical limitations but rather driven by mental resilience and dedication. His achievements have inspired countless individuals and demonstrated that with dedication and a resilient mindset, one can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve success in their chosen field.

Nick Newell kick opponent

In martial arts, setbacks are inevitable, but it’s how practitioners respond to them that defines their journey. The stories of Ronda Rousey and Nick Newell serve as potent reminders that resilience is a crucial element on the path to martial arts success.

Benefit # 6 - Harnessing Focus and Concentration: How Martial Arts Training Enhances Mindful Awareness

Martial arts require intense focus and concentration. You’ll need to be fully present during training, blocking out distractions and honing your awareness. These skills extend to your daily life, helping you become more mindful and attentive in everything you do.

resilience in martial arts

Enhanced Focus

The ability to concentrate is a valuable skill that can enhance your productivity and problem-solving abilities. Whether you’re at work, studying, or simply enjoying quality time with loved ones, martial arts will help you stay in the moment and make the most of it.

Focus and concentration are essential elements of achieving success in your martial arts journey. Martial arts requires precision and technique, which demand unwavering attention to detail. Whether it’s executing a complex kata, sparring with an opponent, or perfecting a submission hold, maintaining focus is crucial for mastering these intricate movements.

Moreover, martial arts involves mental discipline and situational awareness. To anticipate an opponent’s actions, a practitioner must remain fully engaged, keeping their concentration razor-sharp. As we’ve established, success in martial arts is not just about physical prowess; it’s about harnessing the power of the mind. By developing and sustaining focus and concentration, martial artists can elevate their skills, enhance their performance, and ultimately excel in their martial arts journey.

Martial Arts Techniques

The journey of Georges St-Pierre, a former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion, showcases the importance of concentration in martial arts. St-Pierre is known for his meticulous approach to training and competition, often analyzing opponents’ strengths and weaknesses with exceptional focus. His dedication to honing his skills and staying focused inside the octagon led to a highly successful MMA career.

Training with focus and concentration is training responsibly

In martial arts, the importance of training responsibility cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to techniques that have the potential to cause harm. Martial artists must prioritize safety and ethical conduct throughout their training. Proper instruction, supervision, and adherence to established rules and guidelines are essential to ensure that potentially dangerous techniques are used responsibly, sparingly, and only in controlled training environments. Training responsibly not only safeguards the well-being of practitioners but also upholds the integrity and respect that are fundamental principles of martial arts.

focus and concentration in martial arts

Benefit # 7 - Discipline and Determination: Learning Life Skills Through Martial Arts

Last but not least, martial arts instill discipline and determination in a way few other activities can. The structured nature of training and the pursuit of martial arts mastery require consistent effort and dedication.

BJ Penn

BJ Penn, a legendary figure in mixed martial arts, has exemplified discipline and dedication throughout his illustrious career. His journey began on the small island of Hilo, Hawaii, where he trained tirelessly to become a world-class fighter at a young age. Penn’s unwavering commitment to honing his skills led to his early successes, including becoming the first non-Brazilian to win the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship. But what truly set Penn apart is his remarkable resilience and determination.

What are some examples of his incredible disciple? Well here’s a great one: Penn would often practice a submission 500 times on each side, mastering the move to perfection.

Despite facing setbacks and challenges, he consistently returned to the octagon, demonstrating a level of commitment that few can match. Penn’s enduring legacy in martial arts serves as a testament to the enduring power of discipline and dedication in the pursuit of excellence.

BJ Penn training


You’ll learn to set goals, work towards them with unwavering determination, and celebrate your achievements along the way. This disciplined approach to life can help you excel in your career, education, and personal pursuits, making you a more accomplished and well-rounded individual.

Martial arts training is inherently disciplined. It requires commitment to a regular training schedule, adherence to a code of conduct, and respect for your instructors and fellow students. These principles translate into a strong work ethic and a disciplined approach to all areas of your life.


One inspiring story of determination in Judo is that of Rusty Kanokogi, also known by her real name, Rena Glickman. Rusty Kanokogi’s journey is a testament to unwavering determination in the face of adversity.

Rusty was passionate about Judo from a young age, but during the 1950s and 1960s, women were not allowed to officially compete in Judo at the international level. Undeterred, Rusty disguised herself as a man to enter competitions and pursue her love for the sport. She would often bind her chest and wear a wig to conceal her identity.

Her determination to break gender barriers in Judo led to a historic moment in 1959 when she competed as “R. Kanokogi” in a men’s Judo tournament and won a gold medal. Her actions sparked change in the sport, eventually leading to the inclusion of women in international Judo competitions.

Rusty Kanokogi’s relentless determination to fight for gender equality in Judo not only changed the sport’s landscape but also inspired countless women to pursue their passion for martial arts . Her story serves as a reminder that determination, in the face of adversity, can lead to transformative change and pave the way for future generations of martial artists.

Rusty Kanokogi practicing Judo


Martial arts teaches you that success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of continuous effort and dedication. This determination isn’t limited to the dojo—it becomes a driving force in all aspects of your life.

The journey of mastering martial arts can be long and challenging, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with each milestone is incredibly rewarding. This determination and perseverance become ingrained in your character, helping you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals, whether they’re related to your career, education, or personal aspirations.


So, if you’re on the fence about joining a martial arts class, remember that it’s not just about learning to throw a punch or execute a perfect kick. It’s a transformative journey that offers self-defense skills, a supportive community, physical fitness, emotional strength, resilience, focus, and discipline.

Martial arts can change your life in ways you never imagined. It’s an adventure that will shape your body, mind, and spirit, providing you with a toolbox of skills and virtues that you can carry with you through every twist and turn of life’s path. So, why wait? Take that first step and embark on the incredible journey of martial arts today! Your future self will thank you for it.

discipline and determination in martial arts