The practice of martial arts — any discipline, really — keeps one so fit physically and mentally that if it weren’t for the combat aspect of it, training would give you a longer life. Of course, because of the fighting and sparring, not every discipline will grant a practitioner longevity, but there are some that do a good job!
If you’re looking for a martial art that can give you good health and a long life, the best choice would be Tai Chi. This Chinese martial art is advertised explicitly as helping one achieve greater longevity, on top of calming the mind and attaining serenity. Many Tai Chi masters are long-lived, proving that there may indeed be something to these claims. Baguazhang is another Chinese martial art that is a close relative to Tai Chi and comes from Taoist teachings.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu also seems to grant increased longevity, attributed mainly to the evidence that some of its masters live longer lives. Jiu-jitsu is a form of exercise that doesn’t appear to look strenuous at first, due to how techniques and movements are applied.
Despite appearances, there isn’t any real correlation between specific martial arts and longevity. It’s all a matter of training correctly and finding the right discipline to practice. Martial arts that don’t involve heavy sparring, unlike Muay Thai and boxing, will undoubtedly contribute to one’s health.
The key to living longer lies in the discipline taught by the practice of any martial art, not just a specific one — habits like eating well, resting properly, constant exercise, and dealing with stress appropriately are far more critical than any techniques or martial arts secrets! If you manage to live a clean, healthy lifestyle, you can live long while practicing any style. That is, of course, assuming you don’t sustain any major injuries.
Have the martial arts granted you better health? Do you think there’s more to it than just the physical fitness aspect?