Kickboxing doesn’t just teach you self-defence, but it also shapes you for a better life.
Jab! Cross! Left body hook! Right front kick! Left side kick! Right roundhouse kick! Beads of sweat drip down people’s faces as they finish round six. The beats of heavy metal rhythms provide the beat everyone’s punches and kicks. Your legs and arms feel heavy and numb. Your heart feels like it’s going to explode. “Come on, let’s go! Faster!” the coach is by your side, encouraging every person to not give up.
You might feel fit going into the first session, but once you start learning different punches and combinations, you feel like your brain has no control over your body. The sweaty gloves restrict you from doing anything but punch. You think to yourself, how am I supposed to drink water? Or scratch my back? Then you finally start to get a hang of that last combination when the buzzer goes off. By the time you pull off your sweat-filled gloves and high-five your new partner, you’re hooked.
Like any other form of martial arts, kickboxing helps coordinate your mind and body making them ready for offense and defence. It can convert your body into the effective fighting machine that your mind imagines it to be, giving you strength, flexibility and confidence to take on those physically stronger than you.
But besides kickboxing just teaching you how to defend yourself, it also comes with a range of hidden benefits that can shape you for a better life. Experts who have studied the sport say nearly everyone – even older people who might shy away from such things – can benefit from throwing a punch.
In addition to the physical aspects, kickboxing heals you mentally. With all the other stresses in your life, it is difficult to maintain a healthy mindset. However, not being in your regular and healthy mindset drives stress to just pour out of you. By punching and forgetting about everything for an hour, kickboxing helps relieve muscle tension and to get your emotions into balance. Within time, it has the potential to turn you into a mentally and physically stronger person.
“Mentally, it’s just a really nice thing to focus your energy into because when you’re training all you’re focused on is the routine and the steps.”Millie Burlace
“I normally get a really big energy rush after the sessions, I feel like you get a lot of endorphins from exercising and because you’re doing it with your friends, and it’s a really fun and relaxed environment it just makes you feel good mentally – as well as your body feeling like it’s been worked hard and you’ve actually been productive,” says Millie.
So, if kickboxing already has a lot of meditative powers, could it be a secret weapon in the fight against anxiety and depression?
“I’ve got a couple of clients who suffer from anxiety/low self esteem and their confidence has just propelled and they seem like different people! I wouldn’t say it’s acute but has definitely helped aspects such as confidence which might contribute anxiety,” says Michael Lucy, kickboxing coach at Gym 01.
Not to forget, the art of kickboxing also strengthens your memory. With every round of different combinations of punches and kicks, you enhance memorisation skills through repetition and practice. Through this, your memory becomes increasingly strengthened in everyday life, helping with any tough situation you’ll come across with. Through the skill of quick thinking and decision making, you learn how to think on your feet, literally and figuratively.
“Full contact martial arts teaches you a number of different qualities ranging from discipline, respect and patience.”Michael Lucy
It’s a sport that offers a sense of community in comparison to basic aerobics. “Combat sports is actually a team sport, with other members and friends pushing you to go further and reach limits you didn’t know you had which you just don’t get in your standard gym with classes or lifting weights,” he says.
In our cushioned world of high technology comforts, it’s so easy to fall into a physically idle routine of avoiding any demanding physical activity. There’s no need. It’s easy to just concentrate using your keyboard and touch screen. We pay bills to survive and then strive to get more money to pay more bills. But in our 200,000 years of human history, this lifestyle is a very new one. What lies ahead of us could mean even less physical activity as automation takes over. The imbalance between mental and physical workload has consequences – obesity, depression, loss of confidence, etc.
On the other hand, there’s just something primeval about training for physical combat, especially within a group hungry to achieve the same purpose – to stay on their feet, to give it everything they’ve got, to not give up, but to survive.
What you practice and learn here is sure to prove invaluable in dealing with all that life will throw at you when you walk out the door.