The reset effect

If you ask many martial arts practitioners how they feel after a training session most of them will describe a sense of well-being, relaxation and other positive factors. The biochemistry behind this well-being is relative simple; the adrenaline initially released in the blood stream due to a stressful situation helps releasing dopamine at the end of the training which makes us feel good.

In my long experience in training and teaching martial arts I repeatedly noticed a standardised outcome from all of my training sessions; I decided to call this the “reset effect”.  My way of describing it is: “it doesn’t matter in what mood I enter a class, I will always come out feeling good, physically slightly tired, with a well-being feeling of having completed a great and complete workout”.

In fact I end up in a good, positive and relaxed mood which helps me to look forward to the activities which will follow in that evening: dinner, relax, family time or eventually going out and meet other people.  I have been training martial arts 2-4 times per week for 30+ years, which is a very long time.

As training is usually after work or, on Sunday, after a relaxed day, it’s quite usually to arrive at training in a variety of moods:

  • Happy or euphoric because I just closed a good deal or achieved something good
  • Irritated because of an argument with a client, supplier or the boss
  • Stressed because of a dead line
  • Shocked (just once but I still remember it) because I was told my company was going into liquidation
  • Anxious about an upcoming important event like a university exam or a job interview
  • Sleepy because of lack of sleep or just woken up from an afternoon nap

Usually the fact itself I am entering the training room is already partially smoothing down the previously described feelings.  Then I warm up for about half hour and the fact that I have to concentrate on the exercises it helps me detaching even more from these feelings.  Then the 60-90 minutes training, which requires full concentration, truly helps resetting my whole mood.  So the next few times you train martial arts try paying attention at how you feel at the end of each training session and check whether it has for the same “reset effect” on you.