Martial Arts Not Just for Kicks

By Lorrie Ward Jackson,

martial arts not just for kicks

Photo caption: Chris Velez, chief instructor and owner, Martial Arts Academy.

Often when people think of signing their children or themselves up for martial arts classes, they think of the most extreme cases where self-defense might be needed, such as bullying or other intended bodily harm. But according to Chris Velez , owner of Martial Arts Academy in Owasso, the principles learned through martial arts can be beneficial in the most basic areas of life. One of the most advantageous disciplines learned is self control.

“Self control is a little different than self-discipline, which is another thing learned through martial arts,” says Velez. “Discipline has more to do with behavior, whereas as self control is about mindset.”

According to Velez, there are three important areas of self control concentrated upon through martial arts training that overreach into everyday life. The first of these is controlled attention, which he describes as mental stamina or an intense focus on the task at hand. This is especially important for children to learn, as their minds tend to wander quickly. “Martial arts helps youngsters develop an early mindset that is ingrained, as they to accomplish their goals,” he states. “They really don’t need more time—they need more intensity.”

The second area deals with self possession. “A person who is self possessed is calm, collected and composed in their outward expressions,” Velez explains. “These are the attributes you would want to see in a leader or someone you would simply look to for direction in a crisis are still developing and don’t have to change their thought patterns,” he says. “When they leave home, they will not deviate from this—and parents can trust they will be able to handle themselves.” Velez points out that even though it is harder for adults because they have to change established thought habits, they too can establish new focus. “People young and old think they need more time situation.” To learn self possession, one must learn to control their mannerisms, putting to rest such nervous activity as fidgeting and nail-biting.

“After you develop a level of control in these areas, it leads to self-awareness,” says Velez. “It makes you aware of your chosen words and teaches you to think before you speak.”

Velez goes on to explain that fulfillment of these two areas leads to the third and possibly most important area: control of emotions. “It’s easy for most people to control their emotions in an inconsequential situation,” he says. “But if they are unprepared, it is very difficult to control emotions in a spontaneous, high-pressure situation of any kind—your emotions can lead you in directions you don’t want Chris Velez and Instructor’s Assistant Eric Buckendorf. to go.” Velez points out that emotions can cause us to become fearful and not speak up when needed just as easily as they can anger us—in fact, they are more likely to do so. “Most people fall on the less-assertive side,” he notes. “It’s easier to put on the brakes than to pump the gas.”

Velez feels that being less assertive could negatively alter someone’s life over the course of time, just as easily as being extremely aggressive could. Each discipline at Martial Arts Academy is designed to teach valuable life lessons beyond just the martial arts themselves, from the respectful greeting upon entrance of the academy to the expected focus on the instructor and activities. “All the things we teach can be learned through life experience,” says Velez. “But it is time consuming to gain these attributes through the school of hard knocks.”

To help yourself or your child learn not only self defense but discipline in high-pressure situations like confrontation, peer pressure, rapid decision making and sudden leadership, schedule your visit to Martial Arts Academy today.

For more information, contact Martial Arts Academy in Owasso at (918) 376-9080 or in Tulsa at (918) 622-5425 or visit

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