The "Other" Martial Arts: 7 trends & facts to take you beyond kickboxing

... plus a quick run-down of definitions for martial arts methods you might be less familiar with and are gaining a foothold in America.
  1. The nonimpact movements of t'ai chi are as effective as moderate aerobic exercise in lowering blood pressure, according to a study at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.

  2. Another Johns Hopkins study found that t'ai chi provides the same cardiovascular benefits as running, swimming, aerobics and other "sweaty" cardio workouts.

  3. Studies at the Northwestern University Medical School and Emory University showed that regular t'ai chi dramatically improved balance, reduced the risk of falls, lowered blood pressure, improved confidence and strengthened grip in older people.

  4. Some studies have shown that t'ai chi can be as effective as meditation or walking for reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body.

  5. Americans' participation in T’ai Chi and yoga grew nearly 15% from 2000 to 2004, and a study conducted recently by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association indicates that T’ai Chi is among the three fastest- growing fitness activities in America.

  6. Health clubs and gyms across the country looking toward growth trends are focusing more and more on classes in mind-body disciplines like T’ai Chi and martial arts, according to American Sports Data.

  7. Qigong and T’ai Chi are increasingly being featured in U.S. media, including Time, The Wall Street Journal, IDEA Fitness Journal, Body + Soul and Natural Health.

Intrigued? Consider trying any of these martial arts methods that are gaining momentum in America.

T'ai Chi: More physically dynamic than its qigong parent, yet still flowing and very low-impact to non-impact, t’ai chi delivers both a satisfying workout and an artful way to gain more positive energy and better health. Its sequences of "forms" or individual excercises flow together with both grace and power — watching it performed might make you think of martial arts in slow motion.

Budokon: An explosive synergy of power yoga, authentic Japanese and Korean martial arts with plenty of kicks and punches, and short meditations. The complete system delivers a cardio workout plus strength training and the deep stretching and mind-body benefits of yoga.

Qigong (“chee gung”): Often described as a "moving meditation," qigong is a richly diverse system of gentle exercises created to strengthen the immune system, boost stress resilience and treat or prevent illnesses ranging from heart disease to arthritis. Still practiced every day by millions in China, qigong keeps the body fit, increases energy and offers a proven alternative to insurance limitations and drug-based treatments.

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