Exercise in general has been regarded as a great means to help with mental health. You can not argue with this as there has been many great research articles done and anyone that has suffered with poor mental health will clarify this if they had enough energy to put it to the test.
In this Blog I will relate it to Maslow Hierarchy of needs. A very quick overview of this is that Maslow designed a theory in the form of a pyramid in what makes people happy and the things that they can do to achieve that aim. The purpose was that to achieve fulfilment in ones lives, you must start at the bottom and work your way to the top. If you miss any steps then you would not be able to achieve the next step and so on. Maslow first introduced this in 1943 but is still very current in psychology today.
On the bottom of the pyramid is what we need to be able to survive like food, water, shelter and breathing.
Obviously breathing is a big part of staying alive, without it, we are not going to be alive for more than a few minutes but in martial arts, Learning to breathe correctly is a big part of training, we learn to breath into the diaphragm which is the way we initially did when we were first born, before we started to get stressed or anxious and shallow breathe. Breathing correctly enhances oxygen to the brain, it calms you down and really helps with learning to deal with anxiety.
- Health and Well-being
The 2nd stage of the pyramid is about security and safety needs. We feel safe when we are feeling good about ourselves. Martial Arts teaches us about the mind and body connection, just movement will enhance our well being. The trouble is when we are really suffering mentally, we don’t feel like moving but when we start to feel better and get motivated, its like, “why didn’t I do this before” There is also the added bonus of learning how to protect yourself which helps with confidence and will definitely help you to feel more safe.
Moving on up the pyramid and we move on to belonging. We all want to feel like we belong to something, its why cults work! The biggest thing that I love about our school is the community that we have created. I have spoken to students that have told me that they need our club in their lives. It was one of the hardest things during the lockdowns. Luckily we still managed to keep the community feeling going online.
When Maslow was talking about esteem, he was relating to humans feeling the need to accomplish, feeling respected and worthy. Martial arts has all of this and more. The graded system of belts was brought into martial arts so students can feel they are progressing. The first thing that should be taught in a martial arts school is respect, you learn to respect the training environment, your fellow students, coaches, and the founders of the style.
- Fulfilling your Potential
The last on the pyramid and right at the top is fulfilling your potential, quite often referred to as Self-Actualization. This certainly fits into our school perfectly as our slogan is “Reaching your Full Potential” I chose that slogan because I truly believe it can. Martial arts is the only activity that works on self -development. I can not think of any other activity that has so many different reasons and benefits that people could chose. I was going to list them all, but that will be for another blog I think.
Our school has never been solely just about gaining your Black belt, that is a great goal to have but not everyone wants to commit themselves to the rigorous training it takes to achieve it. Our school is more about doing the best that you are capable of and your coach/instructor will do his/her best to get you there too. We have people from all walks of life and achieving their own personal bests.
I was taught a long time ago, do not compare yourself to anyone else, its a human condition in so many of us, the media doesn’t help but its funny that we never compare ourselves to the ones that are not as good as we are!
We are all on our individual journeys and at different stages. The great thing about our community, its great for our mental health, no one judges you in where you are at. Our culture is one of support and helping each other out. As the Chinese proverb goes “When one person teaches, 2 people learn”
Have a great weekend 🙂