Martial Arts Benefits My Body, Mind, and Soul

Martial Arts Benefits My Body, Mind, and Soul
This time last year, I became a Kyo Sa Nim, a second-degree black belt in the Korean martial art Mu Sool Won. A first-degree black belt usually trains for two years and then tests for an additional two years to move up in rank. It took me six years. I was one test and three months away from promotion when I stopped training in the fall of 2016. With my stressful work schedule, I had neither the time nor the energy to attend class. After my liver transplant in 2017, I resumed my martial arts practice to rebuild my strength and lose the weight I'd gained from taking prednisone. I began Mu Sool Won in 2010, four years after my Crohn’s diagnosis. I had never been good at sports and hadn't exercised regularly. My neighbor and Sunday school classmate, a Mu Sool Won instructor, encouraged me to join. I had wanted to learn self-defense, so I signed up for the four-week introductory program. At first, I was nervous because physical activity sometimes exacerbates my Crohn’s symptoms, especially when I have a flare. But I discovered martial arts was different. The standard one-hour class is divided into four parts: warmup, kicks and punches, techniques and falls, and forms. Advanced classes can last 80 to 90 minutes and include weapons training. Warmup Warmup is more than stretching our muscles. It incorporates aspects of yoga, such as poses, centering our chi, or energy, and focusing on breathing. We also do core-strengthening situps and wrist, fingertip, and knuckle pushups. For IBD patients, the warmup provides easy, low-impact exercise tha
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