Tuesday, July 24, 2018


To those who train constantly in martial arts, the positive benefits are not surprising - good health, feeling good, and self-confidence. And now, scientists are just beginning to study the benefits of these effects.

For instance, some scientists are now looking into links between emotional well-being and physical health. Its vital to note that martial arts has been shown to improve a person's emotional well-being, according to a recent 2018 article from Bangor University in Wales. In one study, older adults, aged 67-93, were asked to take part in: (1) Karate training, (2) Cognitive training, or (3) Non-martial arts physical training over a 3 to 6 month period. The results showed that the "older adults in Karate Training had lower levels of depression and greater levels of self-esteem after the training period, compared to the other groups".

In one Italian study, a sedentary group was compared to a group which trained in karate. The Italian researchers found that "taking part in karate improved a person's working memory".  

Researcher, Dr. Ashleigh Johnstone at Bangor University reported - "There is far more to martial arts than its traditional roles. Though they have been practiced for self-defense and spiritual development for many hundreds of years, only relatively recently have researchers had the methods to assess the true extent of how this practice affects the brain".

Now that scientists are performing imagining scans of people's brains, I suspect it is just a matter of time until a study is done to compare increases in size of the hippocampus by karate practitioners compared to other groups. This is because karate provides an constant influx in oxygen to the brain through intense training, and traditional (non-sport) karate practitioners are constantly being challenged by learning new techniques (waza), applications (bunkai) kata, kobudo and samurai weapons. In addition, these are taught to both sides of the body providing a means to enhance both sides of the brain. Even after training in martial arts for 55 years, I find I'm still constantly learning. It's been said by previous grandmasters in Okinawa karate that there is "No end to learning in the martial arts". And we are now seeing the scientific fruits of our labors.