Ask any martial artist and they will probably tell you that the most prestigious or coveted belt is the black belt. And it’s no surprise that this is the case. Most martial arts disciplines require anywhere between 3-10 years of continuous training to earn a black belt. That’s no small feat. As worthy as the black belt is of being held in such high regard, there’s another belt that is equally as important, if not more so…and it may not be what you think.
The most important belt in the martial arts is the white belt.
Wait, what? The lowest ranking belt is the most important? How can that even be true. Allow us to elaborate.
The martial arts is a practice rich in history and tradition. During the earliest days, a student of the martial arts put on a white belt for two important reasons. 1. To hold their pants up (yes, really). 2. To symbolize a new beginning.
Interestingly, while in some cultures the color white symbolizes purity, in Japanese tradition, it actually also symbolizes death. You see, when a student approached a martial arts master they wanted to train under, they were expected to leave their previous life behind to pursue something more. If the master accepted them as a student, they would tie a piece of white cloth around their waist to represent the death of the old self and the start of their new training and way of life.
Stories are told of how over time, the white cloth would change colors from the sweat, dirt, and even blood that would get on it during training. Eventually the white cloth would become so dirty, it would look closer to black than white. Because of this, the belt was held in very high regard as it was the visual representation of a students progress in their training and development. Great care was taken to ensure that belts were properly folded and stored when not in use. It was seen as highly disrespectful to place the belt on the ground since any discoloration on the belt had to be earned through training.
Many traditional and modern styles still incorporate belt rank colors in their disciplines. While every style has their own rank/color order and meaning, some of the most popular traditions base their color progression on the new life of a flower as follows:
White– new beginning, innocence, purity
Yellow– the seed
Green– the stalk
Purple– the flower
Blue– the sky
Regardless of what color belts your martial arts style uses, the most important aspect is that there is a clear and visible way to measure your progress. There often comes a time in every martial artist’s journey where they doubt themselves, even briefly.
Progress isn’t always linear.
Sometimes we don’t live up to our own expectations. Sometimes we regress into old habits that don’t serve our new goals. Fortunately, as martial artists, we know to expect these kinds of obstacles in life. We train to persevere through these obstacles and choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if and when our steps are less than stable.
During challenging moments like these, our belts offer a visual and physical reassurance that while we may not be perfect, we have made progress. And it all started when we made the decision to pursue a different way of life, with a different community of like-minded people…to say “yes” to transformation and growth, by receiving our white belt. So, we dust ourselves off, we tie on our current belt, and we begin again.
Ready to join our martial arts community? It’s easy to GET STARTED.
As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to establish a strong and positive relationship with them. But with the demands of a full-time job, managing the household, and the overwhelming commitment of after-school sports and activities, where do you even begin? Here are 5 simple ways to foster a stronger bond with your family that you can begin practicing today:
1. Spend quality time together
We get it. This can be easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be. Set aside regular time each week to do an activity together that you all enjoy. This can be as simple as making dinner together, taking a family walk, or even a movie night at home. While many activities designed for kids don’t directly allow parents to participate, martial arts in an unexpected exception. In fact, training in the martial arts as a family has been proven to help families establish good fitness habits, increase levels of trust and self-esteem, and decrease stress and anxiety.
2. Listen and communicate
Make sure you REALLY listen to what your kids have to say. Yes, even when it’s a 20 minute recount of their latest Roblox adventure. Listening and engaging with curiosity when it comes to the little things, builds trust and encourages open and honest communication. It’s more likely that they will come to you with the bigger, more challenging matters if they trust that you will listen to the seemingly less significant matters. Additionally, training in the martial arts as a family encourages open communication. As you work through drills and training exercises together, you learn to communicate and even work through conflict and frustration in a healthy and beneficial way.
3. Show affection
This one is probably obvious, but it’s also an area most of us could probably do better in. Of course, affection can be demonstrated through physical affection, (ie. hugs, high-fives, fist bumps, etc.) or verbal affirmation, (ie. words of encouragement or praise). It’s truly remarkable what a difference a reassuring touch or a kind word can do to help your child feel loved and supported. Having other positive and supportive mentors in their lives, like their martial arts coaches, is also key in helping them develop confidence in who they are and encouraging them to practice their own version of positive self-talk.
4. Be patient and understanding
It’s ok to admit it…every parent has experienced being frustrated with their child at some point. That doesn’t mean we love them any less. But it’s how me chose to deal with our frustration that matters most. It’s important to practice calm communication and a whole lot of patience. It can be challenging to remember that our kids are still developing, mentally and physically, and sometimes that means they don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to their actions. The more you can demonstrate patience and understanding, without compromising your family’s morals or ethics, the stronger your bond will be. And oh, by the way, martial arts is a great outlet for stress relief and getting some of that frustration out in a healthy way (we like to call it “bag therapy”).
Rewards work as a way of positive reinforcement and really lets your kid know when they’ve done something well, and encourages good and consistent behavior. Experts agree that rewards work best when they are immediate (given right away) and intermittent (not every single time). Remember, this is NOT a bribe…it’s a reward. And yes, there’s a big difference. And guess what? Rewards don’t always have to be material things (though, it’s ok if they are sometimes). In fact, there are four main types or rewards you can consider (pro-tip…you’re doing amazing, so make sure you reward yourself, too):
It’s common for new members to ask us why martial artists wear gis. Even if you’ve never taken a martial arts class, you’ve most likely seen a tv show or movie depicting a room full of people wearing white uniforms and belts punching and kicking. Most people understand that this practice is rooted in tradition, but the purpose of the gi (or uniform) is multifaceted.
The word “gi” is derived from the Japanese term “Keikogi” which means “practice clothing”. Gis can range in color from white to black or even blue. Most students beginning their training will wear a white gi symbolizing purity. Colored gis are typically reserved for students that hold a higher rank or position (ie. instructors) within the gym.
While there are several great reasons to wear a gi during martial arts training, we’re going to take a look at our top 3 reasons martial artists wear gis.
Dress For Success
Let’s face it. Some days are just plain challenging. The car won’t start, you’re late to school/work, you bomb an important presentation, and you can’t seem to catch up much less get ahead…the weight of the world can sit heavier some days and takes a toll on our mood. But, as a martial artist, you have a secret weapon…your gi! Sounds crazy, right? But something kind of magical happens when you shed the clothes you were wearing that day and put on your training gi. It’s almost like a reset of sorts. You get an opportunity to physically remove the worst parts of your day and put on new clothes that make you feel strong, confident, and ready to perform at your best. Couple that with a great martial arts class and you’ll leave feeling energized and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Get The Most Out Of Your Training
Nothing is worse than being mid-workout and suddenly your shorts start ridding up and your shirt starts sticking to you in ways that limit your movement. No one likes feeling self-conscious while they exercise. It’s hard enough to put yourself out there and commit to making healthier choices. You don’t need the added distraction of uncomfortable workout clothes. A good quality training gi will allow for easy movement for striking, kicking, and grappling. As a martial artist, wearing a training gi keeps your focus on your training rather than on what you (or others in your class) are wearing.
You Belong To A Great Community
Experts agree that when you feel like you belong to a supportive community, your physical and metal health improves. When you put on a gi that showcases your specific academy or gym, you feel like you belong. And when you’re surrounded by other people wearing the same gi it creates a synergistic environment where everyone thrives. Much like team sports like baseball and basketball wear matching uniforms, the same is true for martial artists. While martial arts is largely considered an individual sport, there is still an emphasis on working with partners for sparring and pad drills. Wearing matching gis fosters an environment that encourages teamwork and good partnership within the gym.
Ready to put your gi on and start training in the martial arts? At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.
Looking for martial arts for your kids? You’re not alone. Parents often chose to enroll their kids in martial arts because of the benefits of developing discipline, focus, and confidence. But did you know that martial arts isn’t just for kids? In fact, even if you’ve never trained in martial arts before, there are several surprising benefits to starting your training as an adult.
De-stress In Style
Any fitness routine is great for relieving stress, but add punching and kicking to that routine and you’ve got a super-powered program to get you feeling strong while you melt away that stress. Martial arts training combines two great benefits: 1. it reduces stress hormones and 2. it stimulates the production of endorphins. So, after a stressful day at work or a tense day at home with the kids, there’s no better feeling than being able to disconnect for a bit while you punch and kick a bag. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life throws your way.
Kick Those Unhealthy Habits
Even though parents tend to enroll their kids in the martial arts for the discipline and self-control, adults can also benefit from developing these character traits. We’ve heard time and time again how adults who start training in the martial arts are finally motivated to adopt a healthier diet and even quit smoking or drinking. The expectation to train multiple times per week in the pursuit of the next belt rank keeps adults accountable and on track to achieving their fitness goals.
Strengthen Your Mind
Training in the martial arts is both physically and mentally challenging. Whether it’s strengthening your body to punch faster, kick harder, or perform more reps of a physical exercise like push-ups, training in the martial arts challenges your mind to overcome temporary physical discomfort in the pursuit of self-improvement. There’s also a focus on problem solving under pressure, especially during sparring. Developing a strong mind, even under adrenaline stress, is a skill that directly translates into any career setting.
Improve Balance & Coordination
As we get older, our ability to balance slowly declines. The more we focus on exercises that target our stabilizer muscles and joint stability, the more we can maintain and even improve our balance and coordination. Martial arts styles like kickboxing and Muay Thai that focus on kicking while balancing on one leg, help adults learn to control their bodies and improve their balance as they strengthen their muscles. Additionally, most of our stability comes from a strong core. The majority of techniques in martial arts directly impact the core. This isn’t just limited to the abdominal muscles but also includes the lats, gluten, and lumbo pelvic hip complex.
Love Your Body Better
So many adults begin an exercise program with the goal of loosing weight and feeling better in their bodies. The typical standard here is that if they look better, they will feel better. The challenge is that it takes consistent training and time to achieve results that are visible when it comes to physical transformation. People will often get impatient with their perceived lack of progress and give up their fitness goals before they have a chance to benefit from their efforts.
Training in the martial arts helps shift the focus from what our bodies look like towards what our bodies are capable of doing. Of course, as we build strength in our bodies, we start to feel better and after a few months we start to see the results, too.
Ready to start training in the martial arts as an adult? At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.
A common desire for most martial artists is to increase their strength and performance. Many martial artists incorporate strength and conditioning exercises in their training sessions. But did you know that you can feel stronger through stretching? It’s true! You can actually stretch yourself strong.
You’ve undoubtedly heard how important it is to stretch. When we stretch consistently, we maintain our mobility and overall strength. Here are a few ways stretching makes us stronger:
Joints: stronger joints yield improved range of motion
Ligaments: stronger ligaments increase stability
Muscles: stronger muscles help us with better balance
Body: stronger bodies help lower our risk of injury
There are three basic ways to feel stronger through stretching: dynamic, static, and assisted stretching.
Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements that prepare your muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues for performance and injury prevention. This type of stretching improves speed, agility, and acceleration of movement. As such, dynamic stretches are ideal for pre-workout warm-up. Examples of dynamic stretches include arm circles to help with shoulder mobility and straight leg swings to help with hamstring muscles.
One of the most popular and familiar types of stretching, static stretching involves stretching a muscle as far as it can go without feeling pain and hold it for 20 to 45 seconds. This type of stretching is great for increasing flexibility. As such, static stretches are ideal for cooling down after a training session. An example of static stretching includes reaching to touch your toes from a standing of seated position.
Also called partner stretching, assisted stretching allows your body to move in ways that it is not able to when stretching alone. This type of stretching can help reduce muscle tightness, increase flexibility, and improve our range of motion. While you can achieve some of these benefits with the help of a trusted friend or exercise partner, it is recommended to seek the help of a trained professional for maximum results.
So, how does any of this improve our performance and make us stronger martial artists? For one, as your flexibility improves, you lower your risk of injury. Additionally, the more flexible you become, the better you will move. Your muscles will work together more efficiently and your techniques will become more effective.
Ready to start experiencing the benefits of incorporating more stretching into your martial artists training? At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.
Teens today face so many unique challenges. From bullying and stress to anxiety and depression, as a parent, it’s difficult to know how to help. Now more than ever, it’s so important to ensure our teens are surrounded by a positive and supportive community to keep them on the right track.
Martial arts programs have long been praised for their many benefits among people of all ages, such as improved focus, discipline, and confidence. Unfortunately, most traditional martial arts programs are more geared towards serving younger children, leaving older teens feeling left out and under-served.
After over a decade of developing and leading martial arts programs, we understand the need for a comprehensive mixed martial arts program designed to get teens moving, connecting with other like-minded individuals, and having fun…OFF their device of choice.
We’ve put together a quick list of benefits of MMA training for teens to get you started:
Physical Fitness & Strength
If given the choice, many teens would much rather sit in front of a device all day than even think about doing any kind of physical fitness training. This can make motivating them to get involved in school sports that involve early mornings and long practice sessions multiple times per week. Most of our teens train in MMA two to three times per week…because they LOVE it! There’s something about getting to punch and kick a bag or pads that doesn’t feel like working out and is just plain fun. Plus, it builds both mental and physical strength which helps combat any negative self-talk they may be dealing with as a result of bullying.
So many teens struggle with a lack of self-confidence due to their lack of maturity and perspective. On top of that, bullying and cyberbullying are still a major problem in many of our middle and high schools. Rather than focusing on all the ways they “fall short”, training in MMA gives them a place where they can focus on all the ways they excel. With opportunities to earn new belt ranks and learn new and challenging techniques, MMA training will have your teen feeling motivated and proud of themselves and their accomplishments.
Motivation & Work Ethic
One of the most challenging things about raising a teen can sometimes be just keeping them motivated. As they inch closer to adulthood, parents begin to worry about their future success when it comes to higher education and even careers. Martial arts training teaching the importance of committing to a goal and following through. Experienced martial arts trainers and coaches will know how to hold teens accountable for their class attendance and weekly practice time. This helps them build a strong work ethic which will serve them tremendously in their future.
While the focus is typically on how they are being treated by others, it’s important for teens to understand that having self-respect will help other to see and treat them with dignity and worth. Having a healthy level of self-respect will enable them to have the confidence to set firm boundaries that align with their values. Martial arts training consistently reemphasizes the concept of respecting themselves as well as respecting others. Teens quickly learn that when they demonstrate good respect towards others, they are deserving of being treated with respect in return. Understanding this, they are much less willing to settle for anything less when interacting with their peers at school or other social situations.
A Sense Of Community
With anxiety and depression being so prevalent among teens, it’s so important to make sure they have a supportive community they can rely on. Martial arts communities are some of the tightest-knit groups of kids, teens, and adults. It feels amazing to see teens surrounded by people with common interests and goals that will support them on their good days and bad. It’s easy for them to make awesome friends that they actually enjoy hanging out with. It’s no wonder so many parents choose martial arts training for their teens!
Ready to start seeing your teen benefit form martial artists training? At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.
According to the CDC, a staggering 25% of U.S. adults are considered physically inactive. The health repercussions of not getting enough physical activity can be severe: obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Of course, the benefits of physical activity are numerous including a decreased risk of chronic disease, improved mental health, and better sleep to name a few. Bottom line, as adults, we need to get moving.
There are several reasons adults don’t exercise. The most cited reason is a lack of time. Also noted are a lack of support or lack of desirable options. Let’s face it, the idea of spending half an hour on a treadmill isn’t exactly inspirational.
So, what can adults do to get moving that’s fast, effective, and includes a positive and supportive community?
Martial arts training is an ideal solution. Surprisingly, only 5% of adults have ever trained in a martial arts discipline. With so many benefits, we want to do our part to share our passion for mixed martial arts training and grow that number.
There are a variety of physical, social, and emotional benefits to training in martial arts. Need to loose weight? Want to feel stronger? Could you use a confidence boost? Is a lack of accountability crippling your progress? Regardless of what your fitness goals are, you can completely transform your life with martial arts training. We’ll show you how!
Ready to become part of the 5% of adults that consider themselves martial artists? It’s time to get moving and start getting the results you deserve. At Invictus, we help you do just that! And it’s easy to GET STARTED.
There is no shortage of benefits when it comes to training in the martial arts. But, as a concerned parent, you want to be confident in selecting a program that will be most beneficial to your child. Allow us to grant you the gift of going second.
We hear all the time how much parents love martial arts and we’re excited to share what they have experienced!
Here are the top 5 reasons parents LOVE the martial arts for their families:
1. It Keeps Kids Active
It’s easy to see that martial arts is great exercise and, unlike less engaging workouts, the process of training in martial arts is more exciting and fun for kids of all ages. We hear time and time again, “I never thought I’d get my kid off the couch and willingly attending a fitness class…but they LOVE martial arts!” That’s because every class is different and progress is easily measurable. Students love being able to learn new techniques and earn new belt ranks as they improve over time. Being able to consistently celebrate their progress keeps them engaged and excited to come to class keeping them active and fit.
2. It Teaches Discipline
Parents often notice the immediate focus on practicing good discipline habits during martial arts classes. From requiring students to use respectful responses like “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” when addressing their instructors and peers to practicing the martial bow, the importance of demonstrating good discipline during class is hard to miss. Perhaps even more important, an emphasis on self-control and self-discipline is also evident. Students learn to move on command, manage their emotions, and control their power when working with their peers.
3. It Teaches Confidence
Martial arts sets kids up for success by giving them a series of short-term goals that they can attain quickly while keeping them focused on the long-term goal of black belt. As parents, it’s so encouraging to see them develop stronger voices, carry themselves with more pride, and become advocates for themselves as they grow as martial artists. Through the course of their training, their confidence improves and they learn to believe that, with hard work and commitment, they can accomplish great things.
4. It Helps Them Avoid Dangerous Situations
Unfortunatly, parents today are no strangers to the idea that violence is a part of life. From bullying to child abduction, and even sex trafficking, keeping our kids safe is a major concern. One of the most important things martial arts teaches kids is how to be more aware of their surroundings and how to avoid putting themselves in potentially vulnerable situations. Clearly, the best way to avoid being a victim of violence is to not be there in the first place! Having said that, as responsible martial arts instructors, we also equip our students to be prepared to protect themselves from tricky people, if avoiding the situation is no longer an option. A solid martial arts program includes comprehensive self-protection training giving students the confidence they need to feel safe in everyday life.
5. It Creates Community
We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child and any parent who’s ever struggled to find their tribe knows how true this can be. As parents, it feels great to see your kid quickly making friends during class. What is often unexpected is how quickly parents will befriend other parents within the academy community. Pretty soon, everyone is just as invested in seeing your kid succeed as you are. Imagine being part of a community of instructors, parents, and like-minded kids dedicated to helping your child become the best versions of themselves. It’s more than a village. It’s family.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and we’re taking a look at how a brain-boosting activity like martial arts can help offer support.
While dyslexia is most known for challenges related to reading ability, it’s actually much more involved. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. (Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003, p. 2).
In fact, current research shows that over 2.8 million school-aged children struggle with dyslexia. Fortunately, martial arts offers a unique way to help!
Here are just a few of the benefits individuals with dyslexia can experience through martial arts training:
Develop Motor Skills
Individuals with dyslexia often have difficulties with fine motor skills which can make activities like writing more challenging. Additionally, kids with dyslexia are often challenged with crossing the midline of their body. Martial arts drills designed to encourage crossing the midline help fire up neural pathways between brain hemispheres making it easier to recall previously learned material. Such drills include common warm-up exercises like bicycle crunches or crab toe-touches as well as pad drills that incorporate strikes from opposite hands and feet. Additionally, martial arts drills like sparring often require the use of both sides of the brain which helps develop new neural pathways and increases processing speed and problem solving.
These martial arts drills gradually work with and improve motor skills through repetitive combos and movements. Each new strike or skill might initially come as a challenge for a child with dyslexia; however, through patient instruction and encouragement, they can experience tremendous success in the martial arts. And this success will have a lasting impact on their cognitive skill development as well.
Kids with dyslexia often find it challenging to concentrate. Fortunately martial arts is great for practicing and encouraging self-control and focus. In fact, focus-oriented drills that require a student to hit a specific target with a specific strike can help focus their mind and body simultaneously.
Ultimately, developing self-discipline is crucial of kids with dyslexia. Working through learning challenges can be exhausting and discouraging. Strong character traits cultivated by martial arts training like discipline, focus, and perseverance, can make all the difference when academic challenges arise. Kids who train in the martial arts are well-equipped to tackle challenges head-on rather than giving in to distraction or giving up entirely.
Another common challenge for individuals with dyslexia is sequencing. Sequencing refers to an individuals ability to perceive items in a specific order as wells as remember that sequence. Tasks like learning the days of the week, months of the year, a phone number, the letters of the alphabet, and even counting, can be significantly challenging. Being able to sequence effectively is of great importance.
Martial arts helps develop sequencing skills through the instruction, memorization, and practice of combos and long forms. Remembering long series of movements that combine opposite hand-leg techniques help to develop critical brain skills required for being able to sequence effectively.
Typically, kids with dyslexia can struggle with self-confidence. Martial arts training boosts confidence and helps normalize their experience. While kids with dyslexia can struggle with academic performance, they often excel in extracurricular activities. Participating in martial arts training helps equal the playing field. They may experience being “slower” than other kids in their class when it comes to reading, writing, or even math, but in martial arts, everyone learns at the same pace by belt rank. Each new belt rank offers an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in an environment where they feel supported and celebrated. They’ll feel more confident and begin to see themselves as more than just dyslexic…they’ll see themselves as a strong and confident martial artist.
Ready to get your kid training in mixed martial arts? Try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
If you’re currently hitting the snooze button multiple times every morning, walking around like a zombie during the day, reaching for the nearest energy drink to get you through the afternoon, and unable to unwind and get good quality sleep at night, you’re not alone. Fatigue is a common complaint for many adults. General fatigue is caused by several issues including: poor sleep, poorly managed stress, poor diet, poor life/work balance, and yes…poor fitness habits.
It may sound counterintuitive, but experts agree that expending energy by engaging in regular exercise actually pays off with increased energy over time. This is because regular exercise raises blood oxygen levels and increases endorphins, which helps us feel more energized.
So, which are the most effective exercises at increasing oxygen in the blood and boosting energy? It turns out, aerobic training, like mixed martial arts, is best!
Here are three ways to fight fatigue with martial arts:
Focus On Cardio
Training in mixed martial arts is fantastic for cardiovascular strength building and endurance. Martial arts drills that incorporate bag or pad drills are great for developing enhanced aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Additionally, mixed martial arts is great for increasing stamina and endurance. The best martial arts training sessions start with a warm-up designed to get your heart pumping and your muscles conditioned. Additionally, sparring drills focus on developing your cardiovascular endurance. Consistent training improves heart health which helps the body regulate oxygen levels more efficiently, resulting in better energy management.
Full Body Workout
One of the greatest benefits of mixed martial arts training is that it trains the body as a whole. Whether you’re working on the fluidity of your practice combos on a pads or refining the technical aspects of your kicks on a heavy bag, mixed martial arts training will have you experiencing the benefits of a full body workout. The more you focus on conditioning your body as a whole, the more you’ll realize the benefits when it comes to feeling more energized.
Get Better Sleep
While exercise helps boost your energy, it can also help you wind down. In fact, a recent study showed that exercise plays an important role in improving the quality of your sleep. Experts suggest that people who get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week sleep significantly better at night and also feel more alert during the day. Mixed martial arts training requires both physical exertion and mental focus which helps ready the body for a better night’s sleep. So, while you’re putting in the time on the mat, you can be confident that you’ll be falling asleep faster as well as sleeping through the night more consistently.
So, instead of pouring another cup of coffee when you hit that afternoon slump, hit the mats for a quick 30 minute training session! In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.
Ready to feel more energized? Try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?