Originating in the islands between Japan and Taiwan, karate is one of the most popular forms of martial art.
Karate, which directly translates to ‘empty hand’, emphasises using your arms and legs to strike pads in training – the idea being to increase your power and stretch to improve the range of motion and flexibility in your limbs. These moves strengthen and tone the core, leg, and arm muscles. Studies have shown that elite karate athletes have a very high explosive power in their strikes as well as high aerobic performance, flexibility, and muscle power at lower loads.
As for the mental benefits, a study of visually impaired teenagers found that after completing a 10-week karate training program young adults reported an increase in their perception of physical self-worth and self-efficacy.
Researchers have also discovered that the brain function of karate practitioners who hold black belts differs from those without formal training when punching from a distance of five centimetres. This led them to conclude that the ability to punch with force may be linked with cognitive function rather than muscular strength.