As any martial artist will tell you, there are multiple benefits in martial arts training. Of course, the most obvious benefit is a knowledge of self defense which is one of the major reasons why systems were developed in the first place. Knowing how to defend oneself and loved ones in a potentially dangerous situation is an asset in today's world just as it was hundreds of years ago. Unlike often depicted in the movies, training is not just about fighting. Many people take up martial arts for the fitness benefits as well. Training in karate, tae kwon do, kung fu and other styles will improve one's cardiovascular fitness as well as tone the muscular system. Strength will increase from the calisthenics usually employed within training but although not to the same extent as working out with weights. But overall power of one's body will definitely increase since the techniques teach how to use strength effectively.
Most people will also improve their flexibility significantly while training since entire ranges of motion from the body are exercised. This is especially true with styles such as tae kwon do, Thai kickboxing as well as some schools of karate and kung fu where high kicks are used. All martial art styles will result in an improvement of one's coordination as well.
Unlike many other forms of physical activity, martial arts also have a mental and sometimes spiritual element which not only improves the mind's focus but also helps in self control. Emotions such as anger and fear are better controlled through training. Many martial artists can find an inner peace through their training. In today's hectic world, these particular benefits translate into one of the most effective stress management tools available. When training in a session or in a group class, all the day to day problems of the world seem to be forgotten. People come out refreshed, energized and ready to tackle the big world out there.
Training in martial arts usually involves many little steps and progressions. As one advances, the feeling of accomplishment comes with added confidence. This is especially beneficial for children who were not very confident in the first place. An increase in self confidence for kids (as well as adults) will have a cross over effect in other areas of life such as in other sports and general self esteem. Other challenges in life, both physical and mental, will be met with much less fear.
An important benefit of martial arts training for parents to note is that children will generally become more disciplined than the unique formalities of martial arts classes. This is one benefit that is often lacking in other sports. Former 'problem' kids with bad attitudes could become well behaved and respectful as a result of taking classes a few times per week. Respect is something that all instructors place great importance during their classes. Martial arts kids are often very well behaved children no matter what social economic backgrounds they come from.
Martial arts training has so many great benefits covering physical, mental and emotional aspects that it's no wonder why it has become one of the most popular activities for both adults and children. However, it is important to point out that not all programs will produce the range of benefits discussed. Programs that teach just combat fighting techniques may not result in the desired mental and spiritual benefits so it is important to search around for the right school that will offer the benefits one wishes to achieve.