**CORRECTION RE Krav Maga below**
AWMA – Martial Arts & Trauma (all photos credited to the AWMA blog)
One of the best experiences in my childhood was taking martial arts lessons. The other was warrior training in my other life. Tae kwon do taught me inner strength, resilience, meditation, discipline, and self defense in a protected setting. Warrior training did the same, but with punishment instead of positive reinforcement.
The link at the top of this page is an article from the AWMA that describes how martial arts can be used to treat trauma and help victims/survivors empower themselves through learning how to protect themselves and trusting their bodies again.
Martial arts is also a relatively safe way for victims and survivors to channel anger and feelings of violence from something scary and negative into something useful and positive. I wish I still had that outlet, but my body can’t handle so much activity right now. Plus my instincts are too close to the surface. I fear losing control and hurting people too much to try.
Finally, finding a safe place to learn and practice is not always easy. Not many instructors are trauma informed and/or willing to let someone with my kind of history take lessons with students.
That doesn’t mean others looking for a physical outlet or activity more active than yoga or dance can’t try taking lessons.
For people who are comfortable with some or limited physical contact, I’d recommend Judo, JuJitsu, Tae kwon do, or wushu. Maybe even boxing or kickboxing. These are physically active, but don’t require a lot of sparring or extreme health until advanced levels.
**Edited to reflect guest comment: The amount of physical contact in Krav Maga classes depends on the instructor and the studio. Thank you for the Correction**
For people who are less comfortable with physical contact, I’d recommend boxing, tai chi, and/or qigong. Most of these trainings are in groups with limited or zero physical contact. The pace is also different and can be better tailored to different levels of physical fitness.
Kung fu is great for many levels, requires limited physical contact, but is physically intense. Maybe it’s the right option for you, maybe not.
There are many other styles and types of martial arts out there. Plus things like boot camps, dance groups, cycling, and so on that may work better for you. Or even paramilitary/wilderness/survivalist training will work.
What I shared above are examples of the styles I’ve tried and practiced in the past with different levels of success.
If you find a school with instructors who teach using a philosophy of self defense and mindfulness, you will learn a lot more than kicks, punches, submissions, holds, and ways to fight.
Those lessons helped me build a flexible structure to fall back on even at my worst moments. Maybe they will help you too. Either way, I hope you click on the link and decide for yourself.
Thanks for reading.