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Martial Arts in Afghanistan is a welcome distraction to the Violence besetting the Country

Presently, only men have competed in the handful of competitions, but organizers say they are training women fighters. The walls of the club feature posters of American martial arts competitor Ronda Rousey.

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Afghan competitors fight during a mixed martial arts match in Kabul, Afghanistan, VOA

In a custom-built arena in Kabul, crowds cheered as young Afghan men punched, kicked and wrestled in the country’s first professional mixed martial arts league, a welcome distraction to the violence besetting the country.

While cricket and football more commonly grab public attention in Afghanistan, fighters and fans see martial arts not just as entertainment but as a constructive pastime for youths in a country torn by war and economic malaise.

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Against a soundtrack of booming music and shouts of encouragement, sweat, and blood mixed inside the cage. Each match, however, ended in a hug.

Fighters and team members prepare backstage before matches of a mixed martial arts competition in Kabul, Afghanistan, VOA

Outlet for frustration

“I think it provides a very good platform for the social frustrations that we have here in Afghanistan,” said Kakal Noristani, who a year and a half ago helped found the Snow Leopard Fighting Championship.

To date, only men have competed in the handful of competitions, but organizers say they are training women fighters. The walls of the club feature posters of American martial arts competitor Ronda Rousey.

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Noristani and his partners want to develop mixed martial arts as a professional sport in Afghanistan, hoping to host foreign fighters and send Afghan competitors abroad.

“We’ve just begun here in Afghanistan,” Noristani said. “The professional structure was nonexistent before this.”

That’s helped some fighters dream of national and international glory.

“This is the wish of every fighter: To reach the highest level and be able to fight abroad,” said Mir Baba Nadery, who won his match that night.

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Diversion from the war

Outside the cage, spectators expressed gratitude for a diversion from the country’s woes.

“Coming to these kinds of events takes your mind off of our problems,” said Nadia Sina. “We are happy to see such an organization encouraging sportsmen and improving the sport in the country.” (VOA)

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Tai Chi: An art of Health and Wellness

Tai Chi for health institutes the same philosophy towards the wellness of the body.

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Tai chi
Tai chi is a form of martial arts that circles in the philosophy of yin and yang to increase the qi or chi (which means life force of an entity) through gentle and graceful movements. Pixabay

Martial art has always been an art that kept our jaws dropped; the swift hand movements, graceful yet tricky foot works and the journey to find inner peace. Tai chi is a form of martial arts that circles in the philosophy of yin and yang to increase the qi or chi (which means life force of an entity) through gentle and graceful movements. That’s right, no breaking of bones or repeated punching of the opponents. Although it originated as a martial art, now Tai Chi for health is being exercised by over 2 billion people worldwide.

Since the global promotion of the health benefits of Tai Chi in the early 20th century, the majority interest has shown inclinations more towards personal wellness rather than defense training.

Tai chi
The philosophy of Tai Chi martial art is centered on the attitude that by using hardness to resist a force, the injury is done on both sides. Pixabay

Philosophy of Tai Chi

Its principles are drawn to softness, patience, yielding, balance, tranquility and centeredness. The manifestation of all these aspects allows one to master Tai Chi.

The philosophy of Tai Chi martial art is centered on the attitude that by using hardness to resist a force, the injury is done on both sides. Instead, one should meet the opponent in its softness and follow its motion until the incoming force is exhausted. Surprisingly the lesson is to defeat strong with pliable.

Tai Chi for health institutes the same philosophy towards the wellness of the body.

Why is Tai Chi practiced for a healthy life?

This ancient Chinese art is based on three aspects: body (jing), energy (chi) and spirit (Shen). You are not practicing on body alone but on energy too, a well-combined exercise of meditation and movement. In China, people believe that Tai Chi can delay aging and prolong longevity. This exercise is adaptable to any age groups.

People are turning to Tai Chi to improve their health for its gentle and non-strenuous applications which has shown a positive effect on balance, flexibility, muscle strength and relieving stress. It has also significantly reduced pain and minimised the degree of depression in some cases.

Tai chi
Tai Chi helps to calm the mind inducing a sound sleep to sleep-deprived fibromyalgia patients. Pixabay
  •    More balance: We do not always fall because we stumble on something, but our body normally stays out of balance when we are not mindful. Tai Chi can help in reducing falls by correcting our posture. This is potentially beneficial to help in reducing elderly people from falling and tripping often.
  •    Chronic heart failures: Though there are no definite conclusions that this therapy acts as a preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases it is evident that practicing Tai Chi is an advantage in keeping checks on one’s blood pressure and heart rates.
  •    Reduction of chronic pain: A significant impact has been recorded to improve chronic pain by arthritis. A twelve-week course demonstrated bettering the stiffness and pain symptoms of the knee caused by osteoarthritis.
  •    Reduced signs of fibromyalgia: Adhering to its philosophy of tranquility the practice of Tai Chi helps to calm the mind inducing a sound sleep to sleep-deprived fibromyalgia patients. This therapy also improves other symptoms like anxiety, numbness, headaches, fatigue, concentration and memory problems.
  •    Stress buster: Stress is one of the most common and deadliest silent killers regardless of age. Practicing Tai Chi has been found to make stress go away. There is no direct record of reduction of stress, but subject studies have shown that mental control helped in distracting the mind to give attention elsewhere.
  •    Seated Tai Chi: Good news for those who cannot exercise because they are confined to wheelchairs and also for those who are bound to work chairs. Without getting up, you can relieve yourself from stress, improve oxygen intake, balance blood pressure and build muscle strength. This technique involves stretching the upper body gently along with slow and graceful movement of the arms.

Patience Therapy

If your strength is perseverance, then you are already halfway through the course because this is a slow and challenging exercise. It may take years for you to get into the principles of healing through this therapy completely.

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Practicing Tai Chi has been found to make stress go away. Pixabay

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And if you are impatient, you could start looking forward to attaining one of Tai Chi’s principles which are ‘patience’ and move forward in completing the full course.

One can always have faith in this ancient practice because there is a plausible explanation as to why it still has a profound impact on human well being. The Tai Chi for Health Institute offers a good place to learn and teach Tai Chi martial arts therapy.