How Judo Training Can Improve & Maintain Your Mental Health
Judo has been around since 1882 and the benefits of this art shine brightly. Throughout time, judokas (those who practice judo) have been known for having incredible athletic attributes, like strength, balance, and flexibility.
Mentally, a judoka (a judo practitioner) has enhanced self-confidence, the courage to face their fears, and incredible mental fortitude. Many have stood in front of a daunting challenge and each step one takes will come with its own set of challenges that the individual must face to further progress their motivation and discipline. A great deal of time and effort is crucial to master this martial arts discipline and most people will ‘fail’ to do so, but when the student finally succeeds they will feel completely accomplished and euphoric.
The mental benefits that are associated with the practice of judo combat the harmful effects that correlate with anxiety. Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder are affected every day. It loves to haunt us on a daily basis playing “the boy who cried wolf” - telling us of a false danger that does not exist.
When we give a presentation to our colleagues, when we have to approach our boss, or even when we have to make a phone call, anxiety likes to make it seem like the world is going to end through narrating the worst possible outcome of each situation. This can be very damaging to our relationships, occupations, and our general health. It is reportedthat anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in America affecting 40 million US citizens.
Many take prescription drugs like Xanax (The 5th most prescribed drug in the US) to help them cope with their illness. Alcohol abuse is also common to those with anxiety issues. When people experience a panic attack they will turn to anything that will help them calm down. What’s more is that 10% - 20% of anxiety disorder patients reporthaving abused alcohol or other drugs. Those who attempt to fix their problems with drugs or alcohol can develop a dual diagnosis, which is also known as a co-occurring disorder. When one has fostered a co-occurring disorder, it can lead to a myriad of harmful side-effects such as extreme mood swings, excessive worrying or fear, and more.
There are a variety of different ways to combat this. Many are starting to use non 12 step rehab as a channel of recovery when they go in for treatment, as this shares many parallels with the ideals of Judo. When recovering with holistic treatment methods like these, the focus is on the person’s mind, body, and soul to find healthy alternatives in relieving stress.
Participating in any activity that physically works out the body releases endorphins in the brain which places the person who is exercising in an idyllic state of mind. It reduces the feelings of anxiety and depression and increases confidence. Judo Itself takes a holistic approach pertaining to the mind, body, and soul also known as the human trinity. This metaphor represents our personal balance in life; when a person has all three of these elements working together they are in harmony, and when one is failing they are in disharmony.
Spirituality (the mind) of Judo comes from learning from one’s mistakes. When one is able to discover their mistake, fix it, and not make that same mistake twice, they begin to develop inner harmony. A personal spirituality in Judo increases our self-appreciation and individuation.
It has been shown time and time again that practicing Judo, or other disciplines such as Tai Chi,has led to a reduction in both anxiety and depression. It is argued that the practice of martial arts acts as a consequence of enhanced self-regulation, which develops willpower and discipline. When a student is faced with arduous training, and they continue to follow through with the training regardless of how grueling it may be, this is how they make themselves disciplined.
The lifestyle that correlates with judo not only teaches each student discipline, athletics, and mindfulness, it also provides motivation to have a healthy diet and practice effective habits to develop an overall routine that ventures toward the perfection of one’s character. The constant practice of this sport emphasizes the benefits of exercise and the progression of creating a peaceful mind.
In each dojo, there is a family and each member is welcome. The culture that resides in Judo is supportive. Each member helps each other out to become a better version of oneself. Every opponent that you face will be different, and it will always be an uphill battle, but like a koi fish swimming upstream, the challenge will always be present and combat sports like Judo will help prepare your mind, body, and soul to take on each challenge as it comes along.
By David Bugg, contributor writer for BookMartialArts.com.Throughout David's time in academia, he has found a passion for writing about the human mind, addiction, mental health, martial arts and western culture. He practices judo in his spare time and plans to continue forward in his training to obtain a first-hand perspective of the benefits of practicing martial arts.
Grappz was innovated to protect athletes who are prone to finger jams, sprains, dislocations and breaks. Furthermore, the division of the four fingers into two pairs with compression into two separate sleeves, creating synergy within the two fingers compressed together, Grappz helps increase the strength and control of an athlete’s grip with no sacrifice to mobility.
Grappz gloves can universally assist in all activities that require finger utility –from grappling to bike racing. However, some activities call for more finger exertion than others. If you are an athlete in the following activities, there is no reason not to add a few pairs of Grappz into your arsenal!
1.) Any Type of Grappling
Brazilian Jiujitsu, Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, and more! The concept of Grappz originated from grapplers who sought a solution to the numerous finger injuries they suffered. Grapplers are fighters after all and are generally too stubborn to let finger injuries keep them away from the mats for too long. Well, if we can’t change you, we might as well take steps into making sure your fingers don’t end up like your ears.
Wearing a pair of Grappz is also a lot less time consuming and messy than taping your fingers but best of all is you retain the full mobility of your fingers. Just slip ‘em right on and throw them in the laundry alongside the Gi and rash guards right afterwards.
2.) Football and Rugby
It is said that only those who have played football or rugby can truly appreciate its graceful combination of speed and power. Nonetheless, high impact collisions result in high chance of injury.
Did you know that 48% of football injuries involve fingers? Rugby injuries are most commonly finger as well. Slipping on a pair of Grappz will give you added protection as well better control throwing those long-touch down passes.
Few other sports place such a diverse skill set to be relied upon by the coordination, the quickness, and the dexterity of the human hands. Unfortunately, the high usage of the hand in so many ways leads to wear and tear on the hands/fingers in so many ways.
You wouldn’t tape your fingers in a basketball game unless you injured them and you probably wouldn’t wear Grappz in basketball preventively either (unless you were some sort of famous pianist) BUT if you did injure your finger and still wanted to play ball, Grappz is the way better option than taping. Grappz allows a basketball player to access superior control and mobility over the ball compared to buddy taping, which is an essential component to skillsets such as dribbling, handling, and passing. The protection afforded by Grappz stabilizes jammed fingers and provides security when blocking, rebounding, and stealing.
The explosiveness and the high-paced rhythm of a volleyball game are kept up for over an hour. A true test of endurance, the course of a volleyball game exposes the fingers to the constant stress of impact. While studies show that Volleyball ranks low for injuries amongst major sports, the overuse of hands in dealing with constant sub-trauma impact can still very likely lead to injuries such as fractures and ligament damage.
Just like the other ball sports mentioned above, volleyball players of all levels can enjoy added security and enhanced control in handling the ball.
5.) Acro-Yoga and Acrobatics Gymnastics
Acrobatics gymnastics has been around for ages across many cultures and remains one of the most difficult activities to train for. Acrobatics work from a young age to put on dazzling shows of artistry and athleticism.
Acro-Yoga, is a new creation by elite acrobatic Jason Nemer in 2013. Acro-Yoga combines the athletic power of acrobatics, the spiritual wisdom of yoga, and the kindness of Thai Massage. Its focus is less on performance and ability but more so on building human connection through the power of non-competitive and non-sexual touch.
Both Acrobatics and Acro-Yoga employ a two-finger ‘Spock’ grip that fits perfectly with Grappz gloves. Having a good grip is so essential to Acrobatics that Jason Nemer states that sometimes he spends up to an hour playing with his partner to find the perfect grip. Acro-Yogis, grab a pair of Grappz and protect those hands!
Understanding common finger injuries and how they occur provides valuable insight on prevention. The following injuries are the different categories of injuries most commonly suffered by athletes.
Grappz are a state of the art hand wrap designed to protect athletes whose activities are prone to finger injury. In today’s world, an athlete who receives a finger injury not only suffers time off but is also affected in all areas of life such using a computer for work or school and other day-to-day activities.
Injury: Finger Fracture
Description: Broken finger bone. The four front digits have three bones called the phalanges: proximal (closest) phalanx, middle phalanx, and distal (furthest) phalanx. In a fracture, the phalanx itself breaks. Fractures most likely also come with other injuries including tendon and ligament damage.
Causes: Crushing impact. Jammed fingers: direct impact to finger tip
Aftermath: Tape fractured finger to adjacent finger to provide stability (Grappz automatically conjoins the fingers). Then get to a doctor for realignment and further treatment.
Description: A dislocation occurs when a bone is pushed out of alignment from its joints. Directional impact to the bone pushes the finger in a direction where it is not meant to bend.
Causes: Direct impact, collision, falling while outstretched
Aftermath: Once you have dislocated a joint you are more susceptible to more dislocations, it is advisable to work with a physical therapist or a doctor to do strength and stability exercises
Description: Sprains are the stretching and tearing of a ligament –tough bands of tissue that connects two bones together in joints. Sprains or hypertensions are a painful joint alignment injury that is similar but less severe than a dislocation. They are both caused when a joint is extended out of its normal alignment. Hyperextended fingers do not dislocate fully but can cause strain in ligaments and tendons.
Causes: Falling while outstretched, jammed fingers (directional impact at the tip), directional impact pushing finger against the joint
Aftermath: Rest and apply ice. Prevent movement during healing by applying buddy taping technique. Slip on a pair of Grappz for added stability and protection
Description: Sprains are the stretching and tearing of a ligament. Fingers have no muscles; tendons extend from knuckles to tip, allowing for movement. Comes with acute pain.
Causes: Twisting, pulling, too much force placed on finger
Injury: Mallet Finger
Description: The inability to extend or straighten end joint of finger without assistance or a lot of pain. Fingers have no muscles; tendons extend from knuckles to tip, allowing for movement. In Mallet finger, the extensor tendon (tendon running along the back of the finger) is torn away from the tip of the finger
Causes: Stubbing or striking the finger-tip (jamming) causing it to bend backwards.
Aftermath: You must wear a splint and keep the finger straight at all times! Failure to do so can result in improper healing and the patient will be left with a drooping finger
Injury: Jersey Finger
Description: Inability to flex finger. Damaged tendon at the base of finger
Causes: Gripping and holding another athlete or another athlete’s clothing
Aftermath: Use ice, rest, and consult specialist for further treatment or surgery
Injury: Boutonnierre Deformity
Effects: Knuckle joints, tendons
Description: Finger resembles an ocean wave. The first knuckle protrudes, the second knuckle flexes inwards, and last knuckle protrudes. Pain occurs in middle knuckle and deformity is often distinctively visible. [See: Keenan Cornelius fingers]
Causes: Impact to the top of the finger (jams), gripping another athlete or another athlete’s clothing, consecutive sprains
Aftermath: Wearing a splint, surgery
Injury:Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) sprain
Description: Sprain effecting ligaments in knuckle closest to hand bones. Painful and can come with dislocation. Usually to the thumb
Causes: Trauma to the joint.
Aftermath: R.I.C.E treatment, rest, sometimes surgery if dislocation is involved.
At 12 years old, Ronda Rousey broke her toe in Judo practice and cried in front her mother. Judo Olympic medalist AnnMaria De Mars promptly made her daughter run laps around the gym with the broken toe. By then, her daughter had already made a choice to commit to winning an Olympic medal in Judo.
Today, Ronda thanks her mother’s discipline for the success she enjoys as the most iconic star in Women’s MMA and as a Judo medalist in the 2008 Olympics.
This controversial training had an objective purpose: to keep Ronda’s Olympic dream alive in case she had injury that was possible and reasonable to fight through. Toe injuries occur frequently in competitive Judo and, Rousey’s mother knew from her own experience that winning an Olympic medal is a small window of opportunity.
When we hear stories such as these, we may be inspired, shocked, and upset at the same time. There are many people who choose to dismiss these methods as backwards. Some ambitious trainers and athletes are driven to emulate the same work ethic. Unfortunately, harsh working styles are often picked up without actually increasing performance effectiveness.
It is a common pitfall to associate brutality and self-deprecation with hard work. An incomplete logic follows: the harsher your training, the harder you work, therefore, the more successful you will likely be. Until only recently, self-care in athletics was seen as a luxury or weakness rather than an essential component for growth.
People who defend this sentiment often bring up the countries that train their athletes brutally and enjoy success at the Olympics. The instructors of the national Chinese diving team reportedly tried to encourage their western guest coaches to strike their female diving champion in order to “get the best out of her”.
Mircea Badulescu - who taught a recreational class at UC Santa Barbara had trained 19 Olympic and World Champions in his previous life. Mircea would tell stories of how many programs in his native country trained young girls with methods that closely resembled torture.
“Is this what it takes?” “Are people in the west too soft?” Many people ask every time the Olympics roll by and these stories circulate on social media. Never mind that the country that overwhelmingly wins the MOST Olympic medals makes those practices completely illegal.
Excessive training methods are often incompetent training methods. They are often used by those who don’t know any better. More importantly, they lead to psychological and physical injury. Any training regimen that disregards long-term physical, mental, or spiritual health is destructive training. One should never glorify destructive training practices as toughness.
Destructive training does not have to be absurdly torturous routines. It can be as simple as an overzealous father shouting at his child for losing a game, having a bad locker room culture, or not taking measures to prevent common injuries.
The value of self-care should be at the top of the list for any serious athlete or coach. We at Grappz wish to raise awareness and provide for this value. We understand that our customers are athletes or fitness people who love their activities passionately –otherwise you would not be visiting our site. Therefore, it is our purpose to lend you an extra pair of hands to keep you safe, help you perform better, and to let you do what you love as long as you can.