Martial arts historically were codified systems and/or traditions of combat practices, used for self-defense, combat, and law enforcement. People also used martial arts for spiritual and mental development of their inner persona. Martial arts has both armed and unarmed fighting styles but, because Kyou uses unarmed, I will only discuss that one. Unarmed martial arts focuses on focused-strikes and willpower. The main way to strike is through punching (with your fists), kicking (with the side of your foot), and grappling (throwing, submissions holds, and pinning techniques).

Martial arts training is thought to have several good impacts on both physical and mental health for the user. Physical boosts include strength, stamina, flexibility, and movement coordination as the entire muscular system is activated. Mental health includes boosts in self-esteem, self-control, emotional and spiritual well-being.

With the above being said, I think that Kyou went into martial arts to change when he escaped to the mountains for months. He wanted to become stronger in order to defeat his rival, Yuki, and prove that he wasn't a burden like everyone thought. However, Kyou wasn't accepting the mental-health part of martial arts, only the physical advancements. Because Kyou was so wrapped up in his past and his hate, he wasn't able to mentally grow, and therefore couldn't win against Yuki, even though he trained longer and harder then him. If anything, martial arts just helped fuel Kyou's hate, because with the increase in physical strength, he felt more determined to win against his rival. The defeat Kyou felt when he first reappeared and lost to Yuki as easily as he did before did a lot of damage on his self-esteem. I think that it made Kyou angrier than he was when he left, because he really felt like there was nothing he could do to be better than Yuki. However, as Kyou grows as a person, we see that this is NOT true. Kyou has aspects of him that Yuki could never have, and even though martial arts wasn't one of Kyou's best attributes, he still tried his best. I do think that the marital arts taught him self-control a little bit, because as some of the other Sohma's have said in the series, Kyou calmed down a lot (with Tohru's help as well), which shows that he began to learn how to control some of his hate from his training.

To read a real life story, similar to Kyou's actually, on how martial arts has helped with anger control and confidence, check this out! In general, people with anger-management and self-confidence issues can really benefit from martial arts, or even just buying a punching bag! Truth be told, when I was little I had a Tasmanian Devil punching bag because I was a ball of fury at times. I set it up in my basement, and whenever I felt stressed or angry, or even just wanted to have fun with it, I would go down and punch away. It really helped me, and from this story above, I can see that it helps others. Because we live in a stressful fast-paced world, sometimes it's nice to hear personal stories of things that have helped control anxiety, stress, and anger. Maybe we can't leave our responsibilities and travel to a mountain dojo like Kyou did, but we can try to relieve some stress with techniques like martial arts in our own homes or with friends at a local gym.
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