The Inverse Relationship: How Martial Arts Can Help Depression

The Inverse Relationship: How Martial Arts Can Help Depression

Too often, we see the term “depression” thrown around in online and face-to-face conversations like it’s as simple and straightforward as the common cold. Depression is a much more complex mental disorder that should be taken seriously and with caution.

The most recent survey on health done by Statistics Canada shows that more than 5% of the population aged 15 years and above are suffering from some sort of depression. And while this number may seem to some as insignificant in the broader perspective, we cannot stand idly by while our youth are experiencing this terrible mental state that can be addressed all too easily.

What’s terrible about depression is that it can take over people's lives. It affects the way they think, act and feel. And if not appropriately and immediately treated, it could even lead to self-harm or suicide attempts.

An Instagram photo that circulated recently speaks volumes about how deadly deceptive depression could be:

This is what Depression looks likeSource:

So while we shouldn’t romanticize depression by throwing it around carelessly and label each situation as a depressive mental state, we can’t afford to take it for granted either, nor ignore people who are showing even the slightest signs of this terrible condition.

Thankfully, we can combat depression by simple, everyday means. According to Dr. Anne Aboaja of the University of Edinburgh and Global Health Ph.D. Network, building resilience, having a strong resolve, and being persistent can help prevent and treat depression.

It’s no surprise that these qualities - persistence, resolve and resilience - are uniquely present if you are committed to Martial Arts. And by virtue of parallel analysis, martial arts and depression are related inversely.

Sadness and Depression

The Inverse of One Another

When we say that two things are related inversely, one increases as the other decreases. Putting it into perspective, engaging more in the field of martial arts, which harnesses a person’s resolve, resilience, and persistence, his depressive tendencies shrink.

When a person lacks resilience, resolve, and persistence, he or she has a stronger inclination to depression. His ability to take charge of his own life escapes him. These three character traits are extremely important. Why so? Because it increases your will to live and survive.

As these three traits - persistence, resilience, and resolve - reside in a person, his ability to be efficient and excel in martial arts also decreases his tendency to spiral in a depressive state.


It takes boldness and bravery to have the determination to push through despite the circumstances. These traits activate a martial artist’s strong resolve. Either because of great fear or deep confidence, these are truly exceptional reasons to wake up in the morning, put that uniform on, and go to the martial arts school and train.

A martial arts student’s resolve must be so great that often times he can be described as a stubborn rock that won't budge. But remember, a rock is the only steady body that can withstand the raging currents of the river.


Martial artists should always feed their persistence. You can’t be a quitter. Does it hurt to train? Suffered a minor injury here and there? You can’t allow that to stop you from pressing on.

If you falter at the feet of failure, it’s because you lack the persistence to stay the course, do your training sets, and keep going. Be persistent in learning each move and technique. Even something as basic as a fighting stance should give you joy when you are trying to perfect it because it takes a lot of perseverance to learn a move that keeps you still.


This is almost a given. A martial arts student should possess resilience by learning from his or her mistakes and having another go at it, but this time with more confidence, experience and know-how.

This is simply what training is for - to build resilience in the face of defeat and great pain. It physically, psychologically, and sometimes even emotionally, hurt to go through practice. It’s tiring, nerve-wracking, and spiritually stirring.

However, as martial artists, we should view challenges and problems as temporary and always musters the courage to overcome them. We shouldn’t allow these trials and obstacles to derail our run towards the finish line.

Keep going

The inverse relationship between martial arts and depression highlights the significance of having consistency and the right support system. By engaging in this healthy, encouraging, and deeply developmental artform and allowing it to become a lifestyle, one can be ushered from a depressive state and be brought to a level where he can reach his full potential, not just as a martial artist but as a human being.

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