Mindfulness can be described as the practice of bringing focus, intention, and awareness into whatever thoughts are arising in the present moment. This simple definition, when taken seriously, can have remarkable effects on our everyday waking experience. Mindfulness allows us to live more fully in each moment than if we were simply on “autopilot.”
Practicing mindfulness can help you reduce stress, increase productivity, and even make you nicer to be around!
Importance of Mindfulness for kids:
Following are just some benefits of practicing mindfulness for kids:
- Improved academic performance
- Stress reduction and emotional regulation
- Increased empathy and “people skills.”
- Healthier relationships with friends and family
- Enhanced creativity and problem-solving ability
- A more positive sense of self.
- Prevention of Mental Disorders: Recent research has shown that mindfulness practices might help prevent mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
How Martial can arts training help with mindfulness?
In my many years studying and offering TaeKwondo classes in Dubai, we have found that the formal practice of mindfulness is emphasized in certain types of martial arts more than the others. It seems to be a common-sense assumption that anyone determined enough to master specific technical skills must also be at least a bit mindful.
It so happens that Taekwondo has been one of our primary martial art practices for the past ten years. As a result, we have found many ways of combining Taekwondo training with mindfulness practice. This combination can improve both aspects and make you enjoy practicing more.
TaeKwondo and Mindfulness:
Let’s start with a short description of the Taekwondo forms, which is one way that we practice mindfulness in our TaeKwondo classes. They consist of prearranged sets of movements. Poomsae are set movements that could be applied to many different attacks or defense situations in Taekwondo.
We work towards the perfection of each specific movement through these sets of movements and try to improve our understanding of how to perform them correctly. We also aim to learn how they fit into Martial concepts such as energy (Kihap), limberness (Keubi), stances (Seogi), and the use of the body as a whole.
When learning TaeKwondo, we often practice by repeating them many times until they become imprinted in our muscle memory. This process is known as Chon-Ji (천지), which means “heaven and earth.” The actual number of repetitions depends on the level of the student but is often between 25 and 100 times.
How can Taekwondo improve focus and concentration?
Many other martial arts often focus on physical conditioning (weight training, push-ups, etc.), and the practitioners of different styles usually emphasize their technique training. That is not a bad thing per se, but it does mean that they often spend less time practicing how to combine their techniques in creative and useful combinations correctly.
The result is usually that they can perform each technique perfectly in isolation but fail when using them together in different situations (i.e., sparring, self-defense, etc.).
On the other hand, Taekwondo focuses heavily on creative combinations of skills. Because of this, most Taekwondo practitioners are far more capable of switching between different techniques to react to changing situations.
This ability to adapt is very much related to the development of mindfulness. Many people often experience their thoughts becoming repetitive and stale when they engage in long periods of concentration by repeating a single activity repeatedly (for example, when they practice a Kata for long periods).
So, what is the best martial art for mindfulness?
Tai Chi is often considered the best martial art for mind & body connection. TaeKwondo is just as good, if not better. It has added advantages such as self-defense and combat training.
It is not an exaggeration to say that every repetitive Kata training session in Taekwondo is a lesson in mindful concentration. Unfortunately, this opportunity to learn how to concentrate is often wasted due to the lack of knowledge about how to do it correctly.
The ability to adapt is very much related to the development of mindfulness. Many people often experience their thoughts becoming repetitive and stale when they engage in long periods of concentration by repeating a single activity repeatedly (for example, when they practice a Kata for long periods).
For this reason, practicing Taekwondo has improved kids’ focus and concentration to a great degree. After they start practicing, they will stop themselves from getting distracted by information or thoughts that are not directly relevant to the task at hand.
When to start learning Taekwondo?
One of the best times to start practicing Taekwondo is in childhood. Of course, it is never too late to start. And if you’re an adult and want to empower yourself with the ability to defend yourself and improve your concentration, then Taekwondo is an excellent choice for you as well.
However, if you start practicing when you are older, it might take longer to see good results.
Like anything else, you will not become truly proficient at it without putting in the time, effort and practice. And the older you are, the more time it will take to learn new skills.