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When you think of martial arts, does Jackie Chan back flipping around and yelling “hi-yah!” pop into your head?

Or maybe the Karate Kid’s “wax on, wax off” routine springs to mind?

These fairly exaggerated big screen fighting icons make it hard to believe that the mere mortal (you and I) could succeed in martial arts. But don’t be fooled!

“Hi-yah!” and “wax on, wax off” are in fact core components of learning a martial art and are actually pretty simple to master.

How the “HI-YAH” help you

Shouting “hi-yah” and making other martial arts sounds is known as Kiai (pronounced “key-eye”).

Making these sounds can be fun, slightly silly even, but they also have more practical uses.

Firstly, Kiai can help you to learn the proper breathing technique of exhaling when you’re on the attack. And secondly, Kiai also acts as a release tool for power and passion, helping you to put a bit more ‘pow’ behind a punch. Used in this sense, it can be a great way of de-stressing and venting pent up emotion after a tough day.

Above all however, Kiai is your battle cry. In combat, it can be used as a way to display confidence and to intimidate your opponent.

Gaining this kind of confidence to express yourself in combat, may also help you to assert yourself in everyday challenges. For instance, if you get over feeling silly screaming “hi-yah” at the top of your voice, then you’re also likely to speak up in other awkward situations.

Though maybe keep the “hi-yahs” to a minimum outside your martial arts class…

A lesson from Mr Miyagi

The “wax on, wax off” scenario aims to show us the importance of self-discipline and that practice and concentration does pay off.

While Daniel (the Karate Kid) feels that his chores are pointless in relation to his training, when he expresses his frustration, Mr Miyagi reveals that Daniel has actually been learning defensive blocks through muscle memory gained by performing the chores.

Though we won’t make you “wax on, wax off” in our martial arts courses, we certainly hope that the discipline and can-do attitude that you develop while learning a martial art can be applied to other areas of your everyday life.

A workout for you body, mind and soul

As well as being a great physical activity for fitness and weight loss, learning a martial art is a mental workout too. Not to mention that it’s one of the best ways to learn self-defence and hone your reflexes.

Overall, getting to grips with a martial art builds a sense of confidence and self-esteem.

Confidence that you are improving your health and fitness, confidence from the knowledge that you can defend yourself and confidence in taking on new challenges.

So if you’re looking for something a bit different which can help you de-stress, teach you self-discipline and boost your confidence, make like Jackie and try a martial art.

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