MMA is beneficial for all ages

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By VICKI BROWN

It is important to stay active as children, adults, and even seniors in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and older.
Being active keeps the body mentally and physically healthy, but walking around a track or regular visits to a gym can grow stale and boring.
That’s where Toe 2 Toe MMA can make a difference. They are the only martial arts dojo in town that offers more than one style of martial arts for all ages.
MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts. It is a combination of Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts that dates back to the ancient Olympic Games in 648 BC. It was the combat sport of ancient Greece that combined wrestling, boxing, and street fighting. The sport followed Alexander the Great into the orient where it was adopted and modified.
Currently, MMA is the fastest growing sport in the United States, according to Toe 2 Toe’s owner, Matt Avant, who uses the Kakko-ha Goshin Jitsu style for his classes.
According to Avant, Kakko-ha Goshin-Jitsu has movements that are over 1000 years old and reach back to martial arts of China and Japan, but the art has been modernized and streamlined into an easy to learn system that focuses in on the needs people have today.
Kakko-ha Goshin Jitsu focuses on threat-based training for personal self-defense. Aspects of traditional Karate, Muy Thai, Kempo, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Kali, and more modern aspects of wrestling, boxing, and MMA make up what works best as a collective whole. “It is a true self-defense science, but basically I give you the tools to protect yourself,” Avant said.
Mixed Martial Arts techniques include striking with kicks, knees and punches, and grappling with clinch holds, pinning holds, submission holds, sweeps, takedowns and throws. MMA competitors cross-train in a variety of styles to counter their opponent’s techniques.
It sounds aggressive and painful, but it doesn’t have to be. Some trainees don’t compete with other combatants; they just enjoy the training.
“I tailor the training to the person,” said Avant. “No one has to participate in full contact unless they choose to. Some just enjoy the other elements of training.”
How is the sport beneficial to senior adults?
Martial arts and aging are a perfect match: Both are a combination of strength, experience, and wisdom.
The practice of martial arts is an activity that can significantly reduce these effects of aging. The body starts to weaken during senior adult years, especially when trapped into a sedentary lifestyle.
Balance declines over time as muscles tighten and become weaker. Physical strength is also affected and leads to muscle atrophy mostly through inactivity.
According to the Institute on Aging, a study conducted on men and women over 90-years old revealed that after six weeks on a specific routine or exercise regimen, the participants achieved an almost 200 percent increase in strength.
As people age, bodies become brittle.
Bruce Lee, one of the world’s most beloved martial artists, once said, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” The stiffer the joints, the easier it is to break bones.
The body also loses collagen. Muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and tissues become stiff resulting in a decrease in flexibility.
Regular martial arts training increases the heart rate, lung capacity, endurance, burns fat, improves cardiovascular health and muscle tone, helps avoid common illnesses, improves arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
There is also a link between keeping active and staying mentally alert. During the aging process, the brain does not function as quickly as it did during the younger years. There is a slower reaction time and minds become less sharp. All forms of martial arts combine aspects of meditation and concentration.
Another problem for seniors is their circle of friends decreases. Taking martial arts classes allows them to make new friends with people who share the same interests.
Martial arts give a person a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being independent, eases boredom and mundane routine. It builds confidence and self-esteem, and learning how to defend themselves is empowering.
It’s a great cardio workout that exercises the entire body from head to toe, builds muscle without needing to lift weights.
And that’s not bad for $10 a class.
When starting any form of martial arts, check with a doctor beforehand to make sure it’s advised. Begin slowly and build up to more activity.
How is MMA beneficial for children?
Researchers at Harvard Health found that the martial arts has a significant impact on childrens’ resilience and on their academic, social and emotional well-being, and enables them to cope with bullying. The goal is to avoid using self-defense tactics with other children, but taking MMA classes gives them confidence and the ability to protect themselves if necessary.
According to Avant, MMA focuses on discipline and respectful behavior that transfers to all walks of life. “I especially enjoy working with children and teaching them to grapple. The sport can teach them a lot,” Avant said.
Introducing martial arts classes can effectively control a child’s weight. According to estimates from Harvard Health Publishing, a 125-pound person burns about 600 calories in an hour of martial arts practice — a standard length for most classes.
If a child practices three times a week and eats an appropriate diet, that child can burn approximately two pounds of body fat a month, meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) physical activity recommendations. For adults, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week is recommended. But the DHHS actually recommends 60 minutes of physical activity daily, plus at least three days of muscle- and bone-strengthening activity per week for ages 6 to 17 years of age.
Another positive effect of MMA is the improvement of multiple symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, including social interaction and communication skills, self-regulation, memory, cognitive function and postural control.
“I went with a friend to a Jiu-Jitsu class for the first time in 1979. The instructor told me that if I gave him one night of learning the sport, he would change my life. He was right,” said Avant. “If you come to a class and give me one chance, it will change your life.”

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