Is Martial Art training for me?

(This article was provided by Master Callum Forbes, 6th Dan, Chief instructor, Hapkido New Zealand. Callum is also the instructor for the Upper Hutt Hapkido Academy).

YOU can learn effective self-defence skills at ‘self-defence seminars’ but while the techniques taught at these are effective, they require repeated practice over time to ensure that you can employ them under stress during an emergency. Learning these skills through regular training in a traditional martial art increases the probability that you could use them effectively in a self-defence situation.

Training in a traditional martial art has many benefits aside from self-defence skills, so the question is not “do I need martial arts to keep myself safe?” but “what might I gain from martial arts training?” In addition to the self-defence aspect martial arts training also has the following benefits:


A fit body is more able to defend you, as well as more able to get you through the day with energy, resilience, and enthusiasm. Martial arts are a very good way to get fit. Even within one martial art there is a lifetime of techniques and skills to master: it’s easy to stay interested and motivated. And there is a place for everyone, regardless of his or her level of fitness.


Martial arts are unparalleled for helping your body get stronger. Most arts include exercises and warm-ups designed to work the large muscle groups (such as triceps or quadriceps). And martial arts fall into the category of “weight-bearing exercises” – in other words, they make your bones stronger and help forestall and reduce the effects of osteoporosis.


The intricacy of many martial arts challenges body awareness and helps you learn about how your body moves. Many people experience a marked increase in overall coordination that carries over to other sports and activities.


Training in a martial art is demanding, no doubt about it. Knowing you have prevailed in a strenuous and difficult activity can give you the emotional strength to accept other challenges in your life. Moreover, many martial arts include some degree of physical contact; learning to deal with this contact can help you keep your head in an attack situation.


Martial arts training requires a high degree of concentration. Students must pay attention to every muscle at all times, at the same time they are paying attention to the teacher, to their partner, and to their own attitude. After a while, the ordinary demands of work or study seem easier!


Martial arts are usually a group activity. You’re sure to meet people who share at least one of your interests! The shared demands of training can build friendship and camaraderie.

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