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Psychological Benefits Unique to Kungfu

29th Jul 2017

It is well known that there are as many psychological benefits as physical benefits when it comes to practicing sports. Studies continue to show how engaging in a fitness activity, especially one like kung fu, can improve self-confidence through a better body image, and enhance the practitioner’s self-esteem. However, other psychological benefits of martial arts that fly under the radar include increased focus, discipline, and serenity – characteristics also attributed to other mainstream Asian practices. Distinguishing between the uniqueness of the practices is important, especially for beginners and amateurs curious about beginning their journey within the martial arts.

"Is Kung Fu to China what Yoga is to India?”

These psychological benefits have been more closely studied over the last 30 years, as mixed martial arts have gained popularity in Western cultures. The attention given to psychological benefits might also explain why martial arts and other Asian sporting trends have spread through all over the world. However, for an amateur, these benefits might seem confusing and similar to that of other famous Asian practices known for their physical and psychological benefits, such as yoga. Recently an article featured in Quora asked the question, “is Kung Fu to China what Yoga is to India?” and the answer has not been appropriately addressed by those who have some knowledge about both cultures.


High Intensity; Deep Focus; Linked to Honor, Sincerity and Observation

To answer this question, it may be wise to look at some of the facts, including the psychology behind it. At first glance, there might be some similarities; both practices involve continuums of passive and inactive states to high intensity training and performance. They require deep focus and attention to detail and technique, which is generally true for most sports. A very important one: both practices prepare athletes to undertake physical challenges in the future. However, Kung Fu is unique in its own way, and this has to do with the fact that it recognizes an opponent, whereas yoga is a spiritual practice that focuses on the “self” while commanding respect for the “other”. Kung Fu is linked to honor and sincerity, as well as observation. This might be why some of the athletes might say they feel more “disciplined” and “level headed” after adopting the practice.

While Kung Fu is a more selective practice, just in terms of number of people who take part in it (an estimated third of the Indian population practices yoga, while less than 10% of the Chinese population is skilled at Kung Fu), it is growing both nationally and internationally. The focus on psychological benefits is one of the drivers, as well as one of the main reasons why the practice should continue to be promoted and adopted in all its mixed varieties.

Written by Monica @

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