Sarimah Ibrahim International Screen ActressSarimah Ibrahim International Screen Actress

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In today’s turbulent times marked by economic challenges and global conflicts, prioritising our wellbeing is paramount. Martial arts, besides boosting physical and mental health, enhance cognitive abilities. This practice equips us to handle adversity and learn from mistakes, making it especially relevant in a demanding business landscape. It’s a practical solution for nurturing overall wellbeing in an increasingly unpredictable world.

The rise of martial arts in the modern world

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade, transforming from a niche sport into a global phenomenon. It is the world’s fastest-growing sport. Popular with audiences globally, MMA, which combines a range of fighting styles including boxing, wrestling, judo and Muay Thai, began in the US in the 90s.

Martial arts in all its forms are having its moment in the media and is proving popular with high-profile business leaders; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently won medals following his Jiu-Jitsu debut. Research in the United Kingdom illustrates growth, with many organisations investing in martial arts training for children, young adults, and families. Between November 2021 and November 2022, approximately 175 000 people participated in Tai Chi in England and in 2020, there were around 182,200 people participating karate in the UK.

Martial arts and wellbeing

Learning martial arts offers a multitude of physical and emotional benefits that can significantly enhance your overall well-being and performance in the workplace. Whether you’re interested in reducing stress, improving physical fitness, or gaining greater emotional control, martial arts can be a transformative practice. The lessons learned in the dojo can extend to other areas of your life, including the boardroom.

Karate is probably the most well-known practice. Karate will often teach individuals that success requires adaptation and persistence, that emotions can be controlled and that being flexible when it comes to problem-solving helps build resilience. Achieving a black belt in karate is not merely a testament to physical prowess; it is a symbol of internal growth, discipline, emotional control, and a core inner confidence.

International Irish Malay actress Sarimah Ibrahim holds a black belt in Karate, seen here in a fight choreography stunts practice session. Learn more:

Tai chi, often referred to as “meditation in motion,” provides a low-impact way to enhance physical health. Its slow, graceful movements promote balance, flexibility, and coordination.

Capoeira is a visually stunning martial art that combines fighting, dance, acrobatics, and music. It improves cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall physical coordination.

Kickboxing is a high-intensity martial art that combines cardiovascular exercise with core strength training. It’s an effective way to burn calories and build endurance. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Gisele Bündchen have trained in kickboxing for fitness, self-defence, and movie roles.

Taekwondo is not just about punches and kicks; it also instils discipline and focus. Practitioners often experience increased self-confidence as they progress through the belt ranks, making it a valuable asset for the workplace, where discipline, focus, and self-assuredness are highly beneficial. Actor and entrepreneur Jessica Alba practises Taekwondo as does Barack Obama.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-focused martial art that enhances cardiovascular fitness and core strength. It’s known for its technical nature and low risk of injury. Moreover, boxing is a fantastic cardiovascular workout that also improves upper body strength and leg endurance.

Judo emphasises using an opponent’s momentum and strength against them. It improves coordination and can have a positive impact on mood and happiness.

Mental and emotional benefits of martial arts

Practicing martial arts can reduce stress and anxiety through mindfulness and deep breathing techniques. This can help you remain calm and focused in high-pressure situations, making it beneficial for both personal and professional life.

Many martial artists report a sense of calm and purpose in their lives. The discipline and dedication required in training can translate into a clearer sense of direction in other areas, including the boardroom.

Martial arts help practitioners master their emotions, leading to greater emotional stability, assertiveness, and self-confidence. These qualities are valuable in any professional setting.

 Out with the studio or class, martial arts can empower individuals to establish boundaries, find inner strength, and heal from past trauma. These emotional benefits can have a profound impact on personal and professional relationships.

Professional and workplace benefits

Overcoming challenges and setbacks in martial arts builds mental resilience and self-esteem, which can translate into improved confidence in your professional life, a quality essential for tackling workplace challenges and advancing in your career. Martial arts encourage self-reflection and personal growth. They help individuals identify areas of improvement and provide the confidence to make positive changes in and outside of the office.

The stress reduction techniques learned in martial arts can help executives and professionals manage high-pressure situations and make more effective decisions. Improved self-esteem and confidence gained through martial arts training can lead to more assertive and effective communication in the workplace.

The discipline required in martial arts can enhance productivity and time management skills, making individuals more efficient in their professional lives. Martial arts can help develop emotional intelligence, which is valuable for understanding and managing relationships in the workplace.

Many martial arts involve working with others in a team environment, fostering teamwork and leadership skills that can be valuable in the corporate world. So, if you’re HR or leadership team suggest a free tai chi class at your place of work, give it a go!

AFT Ed: This article was written by Heather Suttie in collaboration with international screen actress, Sarimah Ibrahim. Photo credit:

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