Thinking about martial arts may conjure up images of people wearing neatly tied white robes chopping wood blocks with their hands. However, martial arts traditions come from countries around the world, and they often include cultural or mind and body elements in addition to the self-defense benefits.

For example, martial arts with Eastern roots incorporate a focus on building character traits such as courtesy, respect, loyalty, and dedication. Brazilian martial arts—there are 2—also focus on elements beyond the physical, although practitioners still gain physical strength, increased discipline, and, of course, the ability to defend yourself against attackers.

Martial arts are also thought to enhance self-esteem, instill a greater sense of self-confidence, and help people feel as though they can surmount any obstacle that comes their way. Mental strength is a large component of martial arts training programs.

Arizona residents looking to develop these skills will find an array of qualified, experienced teachers offering lessons in multiple disciplines.

NB Taekwondo, 2015 N. Dobson Road, Suite 5, Chandler

Offering classes to all age levels with specific lessons geared toward children, NB Taekwondo is run by the Nguyen brothers, who both hold fifth degree black belts and represented the USA National Team for six years. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art.

Capoeira Brasil Tempe, 965 E. Guadalupe Road, Tempe

Capoeira Brasil Tempe teaches children and adults the Brazilian martial art of capoeira, created by the country’s African slaves who mixed their various tribes’ fighting styles. Unlike other martial arts, it also incorporates elements of music and dance.

East Valley Krav Maga, 1855 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe

Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art, focusing on powerful kicks, methods of disarming attackers, and hand-to-hand combat. East Valley Krav Maga offers many different types of classes, including those specially targeted to kids and women, along with basic and advanced levels.

Gracie United Jiu-Jitsu, 13637 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 18, Phoenix

Those looking to learn the Brazilian martial art Gracie jiu-jitsu, which focuses on ground fighting, will find classes at this Phoenix facility. Jiu-jitsu also incorporates the Gracie Triangle, with points signifying ideals of efficiency, patience, and control. Classes range from beginners to advanced, with a special kids-only, bully-safe program and self-defense classes for women.

Arizona Shotokan Karate, 5815 W. Glendale Avenue, Glendale

Karate, the Japanese martial art, takes center state at Arizona Shotokan Karate. Classes are held daily and feature lessons tailored to young children, older children, teens, and adults. Beyond age divisions, the center also holds classes for levels ranging from beginner to advanced.  

Have you tried any martial arts before? 

Image by Maxim B via Flickr

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