We’ve all gone through those long days of work where it feels like time has suddenly slowed down and each minute feels like a gruelling hour. I’ll be honest, most days I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for work to end and it’s such a relief to get home and veg on the couch. But trust me, the worst thing you can do for your physical and mental health is to flop down inactive.
Kung fu is actually a great way to relieve the tension and stress that’s piled up on your shoulders throughout the day. It concentrates on building mental and physical strength so you can have energy to conquer the following day.
1. Unload negative energy and anger through exercise
Not everything in our lives goes smoothly which is frustrating and annoying. Honestly, I get tense any time things don’t go the way they should. My grandma used to call me a little spitfire as a child, and I haven’t changed much since then.
When I’m angry, all I want is something to give a good beating to. And nothing’s better to do this then having some punching bags readily available, or even better, a sparring partner. Normally, just the movement of a form is enough to calm a spirit.
Aside from being able to kick and punch however much I want, kung fu is not just about physical power. The smooth, graceful movements of the forms are calming and are a great distraction from any negative thoughts.
2. Un-kink tight and tense muscles
Being stressed will have a physical affect on your body. Your breathing becomes rapid, your muscles tighten and cramp, and you may find yourself in pain. Just getting yourself moving seems exhausting.
If right now, you feel tense and are breathing rapidly, first take a few deep calming breaths and try to relax. Consider joining some kind of martial arts.
Most of the forms in kung fu are aimed at improving oxygen levels in order to balance your heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing right is a crucial element of any martial arts – or any kind of exercising for that matter. It helps circulate the blood around your body to loosen your muscles which can help you unwind after a long day.
3. Give you physical and mental focus
Meditation is a key part to any martial arts training. It helps you find the proper balance between body, mind and spirit and will also help you find peace in everyday life. Martial artists are trained to release negative thoughts and emotions by pushing it from their body and allowing good energy to enter within them. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of negative thoughts, but the movement and focus gained through kung fu can help to “clear the mind”.
4. Improve your decision-making skills
Having the quick reflexes of Bruce Lee would be an awesome skill to have, but realistically, most people are physically unable to obtain that speed. However, kung fu will actually improve reaction time, not just physically, but also mentally. In kung fu, you are trained to respond to fear. During a battle, you are expected to be able to react instantly with precision and effectively without letting fear hold you back or control you. You don’t have the luxury of taking your time to think about a stressful decision while in the middle of a fight, so your actions have to be instant.
While your body goes through rigorous training to move instantly when attacked, your mind also has to be taught to respond to difficult situations. Is this a situation where you have to do harm to your opponent? The decisions that you make in a single moment can have a dramatic affect on your life and others so the mind has to be trained to calmly respond accordingly and judge a situation as quickly as your body can move.
I am terrible when it comes to stut-stut-stuttering through an argument. I still have a long way to go when it comes to my kung fu training, but I think I have improved on being able to make my own decisions.
5. Conquer your fear and communicate power
Fear can be a very visual emotion, whether you want it to be or not. There is a lot of truth to the saying “animals can smell fear”. But they don’t just smell it, they see it and feel it. Trembling of hands and wide eyes are just two of the tell-tale signs of someone who is nervous and afraid.
Kung fu is great for teaching people how to defend themselves. It is a huge reassurance to be able to act and move with confidence – take it from someone who knows. I used to be stressed all the time because I was awkward and weird in my movements, and I know I wasn’t the only one who was like this.
Being fully in control of your body and emotions will help you communicate exactly what you want to other people. Whether you are in a physical or verbal spar with someone else, it is important to show that you are confident and in control of your body. You are stronger than you think. Kung fu teaches you to understand fear and how it affects us, and also how to not let it control our reactions.