Health checkup: More than self-defense

Tony Morris; photo courtesy of Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is one of several featured in this week’s Wellness, Part 1 issue. Additional Q&As will appear in next week’s Wellness, Part 2 issue. 

Tony Morris, the owner of Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts and an eighth-dan grandmaster instructor, speaks to misconceptions about martial arts, as well as the physical and mental benefits of the practice.

What’s a misconception about martial arts?

There are many, the biggest of which is the idea that martial arts in and of itself is going to produce specific and predictable results within the student/practitioner. Martial arts has the reputation in our culture of developing character, creating confidence, increasing awareness and producing effective and applicable self-defense skills among other expectations. That said, the degree to which these expectations/potentials are realized is completely dependent on the quality level with which the practice is facilitated. And that varies immensely from school to school.

What are some of the greatest physical benefits of martial arts?

Properly facilitated, an authentic martial arts practice will help the practitioner develop in the following ways: increased strength, stamina, coordination, range of motion, reflex, special awareness, energy level, stress relief, hormone regulation, appetite regulation and understanding of physiology/anatomy, in addition to the accrual of physical self-defense skills.

Could you speak to some of the form’s benefits to an individual’s mental health?

Properly facilitated, an authentic martial arts practice improves mental health through a combination of relieving stress, increasing confidence, developing self-awareness, cultivating clarity, creating relationships through community, acclimating one to goal setting and achievement, as well as creating the ongoing experience of the process of progress.


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