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Martial arts are an excellent way to improve your physical and mental health. Not to mention the obvious benefit of teaching you how to defend yourself. However, with so many different styles out there, you might be wondering which ones are best for you.

With Blue Monday firmly behind us, we wanted to do our part to help our readers stay on track with their (hopefully not waning) New Year fitness resolutions.

So, below is a selection of the best martial arts for achieving and maintaining a healthy mind and body:

  1. Tai chi
  2. Kickboxing
  3. Capoeira
  4. Taekwondo
  5. Brazilian jiu-jitsu
  6. Boxing
  7. Judo
  8. Karate
  9. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

We hope you find this helpful. So, without further ado, let’s jump on in!


1. Tai Chi

Tai chi is an excellent way to improve your health without sweating buckets.

This martial art is all about focus and meditation. And with its slow and graceful movements, tai chi can feel more like practising yoga than a fighting style.

But that’s not an attack on tai chi by any means. Many prefer this martial art because of that more gradual, relaxing pace. It’s excellent for older folks or those with physical disabilities that can’t do other martial arts practically.

Plus, research suggests that tai chi can significantly reduce anxiety and stress.

So, if you want a martial art that helps you unwind while improving your physical well-being, try tai chi.


2. Kickboxing

Jab! Cross! Front kick!

If you want to try kickboxing (and you should), get ready to hear those commands often.

This martial art is all about building endurance. Its intensive workout structure involves tons of repetitions and is sure to leave you soaked in sweat.

Plus, all the kicks and punches generate power from your core muscles. As a result, kickboxing is an excellent way to burn that tummy fat and get shredded abs fast.

You might only manage a few kicks the first time you try it before getting tired. But if you stick with kickboxing, you’ll be throwing impressive combos in no time.


Black and white photo of two people doing capoeira outside

3. Capoeira

Capoeira is an exciting martial art that combines fighting, dancing, acrobatics, and music.

Need we say anything else?

In addition to looking downright stunning, capoeira has numerous health benefits. Research has shown that it bolsters cardiovascular health and increases endurance.

This Brazilian martial art is also downright fun to do. It incorporates flying kicks, spinning, and tumbling, often to the beat of music. It truly puts the art in “martial art.”

If you like a style that’s challenging but fun, capoeira is for you.


4. Taekwondo

Originating from Korea, taekwondo isn’t only a martial art: it’s a way of life.

Beyond punches and kicks, it also teaches you the ideals of the martial art. Which include discipline, patience, and focus.

Taekwondo utilises a belt system. The more you learn and longer you practice, the higher-ranked belt you earn.

As a result, this martial art provides a sense of pride and accomplishment as you climb through the ranks. Which can be a major boost to your mental health and confidence.

Not to mention the acrobatics and aerobics involved make it quite the fat-burner.


5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Want to learn a martial art without the punches and kicks?

If so, you’re in luck: Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a style that’s all about grappling. It’s often jokingly referred to as ‘the art of folding clothes with people still inside them.’

While BJJ may look relatively uneventful to those who don’t understand it, appearances are deceiving.

This highly technical martial art helps you develop your cardio and core strength. And the non-stop pace also builds up muscular endurance.

BJJ is generally considered among the most practical and beneficial fighting styles. Combined with the low risk of injury, you can’t go wrong trying it out.


Person wearing boxing gloves throwing a jab, black background

6. Boxing

Few fighting styles are more synonymous with conditioning than boxing.

Boxing turns you into a cardio machine due to all the running, drills, and sparring involved. It’s also one of the best ways to get the coveted and appealing “boxer’s muscle.”

And despite only allowing punches, there’s a surprising emphasis on footwork and leg strength. You can expect your calves to get just as defined as your arms.

While boxing isn’t for the faint of heart, it is gratifying to do and beneficial for your overall health. Not to mention it just feels good to punch stuff sometimes.


7. Judo

Japanese for “the gentle way,” judo teaches you that fighting doesn’t have to involve punches or kicks.

After all, why not throw your opponent instead?

Judo is about using your opponent’s momentum and weight against them. The throws, trips, and joint locks you learn help develop coordination and strength.

Beyond the physical benefits, judo is also good for your mind! According to one study, practising judo can significantly improve mood and overall happiness.

When you combine all the benefits, you get one of the most balanced martial arts out there. Judo truly has something for everyone.


8. Karate

Karate is among the most popular martial arts in the world, and with good reason.

The flashy high kicks are bound to improve your flexibility and balance. And the various stances help your legs build the strength and definition you always wanted.

Plus, training in the dojo with other students can give you a sense of belonging. If you ever struggle with a move or milestone, your classmates can give you that extra push.

However, karate is also worth practising solo. Many practitioners find that doing it gives them a sense of focus and tranquillity.

And you have to admit, nothing will give you confidence like chopping a brick in half.


9. MMA

MMA is arguably the ultimate martial art for improving your physical health.

That is, assuming you’re only doing it for the health benefits and not fighting in the octagon!

Many people don’t realise that MMA (mixed martial arts) is its own style. And as the name implies, it’s a mix of the most practical moves from other martial arts.

Since it incorporates numerous techniques, striking and grappling, you’ll need to use almost every muscle in your body. Training sessions alternate between cardio, strength training, and technical drills.

It’s one of the fastest and most fun ways to lose weight and get in shape.

Plus, MMA is excellent for self-defence!

So, if you want the physique and confidence of a world-class fighter, look no further than this martial art.

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