Want to improve your focus, sharpen your mind, and hone your other mental skills? Martial arts is the way to go! No matter what style or system you study, the arts build mental focus in students of all ages.
This skill is great for children – developing strong mental focus at young age will help them achieve their goals both in and out of the dojo, dojang or gym. A previous article has covered why martial arts can be especially beneficial to children with AHDH or other attention disorders, but the truth is, everyone can benefit from better focus!
Read on to learn more about the importance of mental focus in this sport and how you can achieve it!
The Importance of Focus
Focus can help support our mental health and sense of balance in a busy world.
Focus can be the difference between success and failure. As humans, we need focus in every aspect of our life including school, work, sports and hobbies. It gives us the means to concentrate on the task at hand and reach our goals. Focus is essential for both short term goals (“I have to finish this homework by tomorrow,” or “I need to complete this report by 5,”) or long term ones (“I want to get into a good college,” or “I want to work my way up within the company,”). Martial arts helps you build both kinds of focus.
The Way Focus Affects You
Make mental focus one of your strengths, or the lack of it will likely be your downfall. Getting distracted at work means you could be left with unfinished projects and scrambling to catch up. Lack of focus in a meeting – or in a personal conversation – is rude to the other person and can cause strife.
Focus is an essential skill for school, work and life.
Martial arts teaches focus daily, in that you will be expected to memorize and repeat different moves throughout drills. Then, you will have the additional opportunity to practice focus if you spar/roll. A lapse in focus then can result in you taking a punch (which is not fun, even at half-speed!) or getting choked out!
Martial Arts Requires Focus
In order to succeed in martial arts, you need incredible focus. However, in order to practice the moves effectively, you need to pay attention to what you are doing. That means understanding how your body moves in the space around you and how each movement leads to the next. You must use your mental energy to exercise your brain and concentrate on the moves at hand.
The importance of mental focus is stressed in each discipline of this sport, with instructors constantly reinforcing the significance of focusing on the movement of your body. Once this is achieved, you can reach your goals in each lesson and movement.
Martial Arts Build Focus
It’s already been mentioned that focus is key to martial arts. That’s not to say you must have this skill when you begin training. Rather, it is something you build along the way. There are several ways martial arts builds mental focus:
1. Practicing kata.
These are pre-determined moves that your instructors can test you on. In order to pass, you must be able to complete these moves with expertise and coordination. Focusing on these moves and practicing them can build your concentration in small steps.
2. Setting and working towards clear goals.
Working in unison also requires focus.
Whether your goal is to become a black belt, get more fit through martial arts or learn a new skill set while having fun, setting goals can help you see the milestones you need to reach in order to meet them. Your instructors can help you re-focus on your goals whenever you lose sight of them, and your fellow students will also support you.
3. Repetition is key!
Practicing and repeating each move over and over again allows your body to adjust to the movements, as well as your mind. Your brain is like a muscle in that it requires constant exercise, just like your body, so teaching yourself to concentrate on a move until you master it can help build your focus.
4. Being conscious of your abilities.
Stepping into the ring, for sparring or fighting, requires extreme focus and self-control.
Being aware of your limits can play a huge role in your mental focus. You need to be able to know how your body moves in the space around you and how far you can reasonably push yourself.
If at first you can’t fully extend your leg during a high kick, concentrate on the moves and on stretching to slowly expand your limits to that point. Rather than seeing your physical limits as barriers or constraints, see them as boundaries to push past little by little.
Martial Arts Is All About Focus
No matter what your mental focus is like before you begin training, there is no doubt that it can increase with martial arts. Your instructors will remind you of the importance of mental focus whether it is to help you achieve your goals of perfecting a motion or passing a belt test. Never forget that martial arts builds mental focus, so don’t be discouraged if you think you lack the focus to join the sport. Rather, think of martial arts as an avenue to build your focus and expand your abilities.