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As anyone who has ever put on a gi can suitably attest, training in martial arts doesn’t just benefit physical health but also one’s mental health — and perhaps not for the reasons you may think.

Firstly, training in martial arts — and indeed several other sports — can hugely benefit a person’s confidence, particularly in youth. Climbing up the belt tree in, for example, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires countless hundreds of hours of training and contemplation before it truly begins to stick and it is that degree of focus which can be hugely beneficial to children.

BJJ is a difficult skill to master. But it is exactly for this reason that it can prove so vital in the development of young minds. Of the many skills you learn connected to the sport, dogged perseverance comes in tandem and the recognition that self-improvement isn’t always easy and nor should you acquiesce to giving up when the going gets tough.

In addition, martial arts can also have a more direct benefit to the formation of the brain in a child’s developmental years. A study has shown that Karate experts’ punching technique isn’t down purely to brawn, but the control of muscle movement in the brain. Another test has show that children who study Taekwondo showed an improvement in their understanding of mathematics, as well as noticeable behavioral improvements.

In another study recently published by TheConversation, attention network results between a group of martial artists was compared to another group of people who have never practiced martial arts to determine the effectiveness of their attention. While there are core philosophical differences between the martial arts, the group of people who trained outperformed those who didn’t in the battery of physical and psychological tests administered.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, it was found that the focus of the martial artists greatly exceeded that of the other group. Not only that, the more experienced martial artists in the first group also outperformed their less experienced peers which shows that with continued training comes greater rewards.

Essentially the study shows that few physical activities are as productive as various martial arts when it comes to bridging one’s physical and mental health and, dare we say, that’s something that all of us are looking for.