Martial arts: The application vs. the health benefits

Almost every class, Mr. Aldus makes the point that he’s trying to balance showing his students the health aspects of the martial arts and the practical application of the martial arts.

Some students, he says, are there solely for health benefits.  While he hasn’t specifically mentioned health benefits, I could take a stab at some of them given the generally older demographic of the class – better joint mobility, increased awareness, mental quickness, and just getting up and moving around.  To some of the students, some of these moves may mean nothing more than body motions and patterns.

And then there are the martial aspects, which I’m especially into.  It’s amazing how many tai chi movements I’m seeing that look very similar to karate movements, but how different the application of each move is.  I’ve gone all but one Tuesday over the last two months and I’m still struggling with myself to try and recognize it all.  On the other hand, I’m trying to “dump” some of my karate knowledge for a bit, if only to mix it back in later what what I’m learning at tai chi.  Maybe not dump, but put on the side so I can pretend I’m a new student all over again.

Anyway, one of the ladies – Judy – made an excellent point last night…

In order to fully understand the health benefits of the martial arts, it’s necessary to know the applications of the moves.

For our class, that means we should be learning the applications of the short form (and in time, adding more sections to create the long form) to maximize the health benefits of tai chi.  And Mr. Aldus is doing a great job of showing us those applications.

Since I’m the youngest person in the class, Mr. Aldus generally picks me to work on.  I think we have an unwritten and unspoken understanding that I’m the youngest in the class, can take some more brutal hits than the older women may be able to, and I know he genuinely respects my black belt rank from another school.  Martial artists just like to beat up on each other.

The great thing about martial arts is that they allow to a multitude of opportunities.  Students shouldn’t be in them just to learn one part because they might miss something that would really interest them.

I already have inspiration for next week’s blog, but if there is a topic you’d like me to address at some point down the line, or if you’d like to talk about this topic, please leave me a comment.

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.