Karate promotes healthy living
(From left) Black Belts Elliot Travis, Mitchell Hammer and Emily Thornton at Mountainside Martial Arts in Ahwatukee Foothills know that discipline is necessary 24/7 to maintain their skills.

For more than 30 years, Mountainside Martial Arts Center in Ahwatukee Foothills has been promoting traditional martial arts, physical fitness, self-defense and a healthy lifestyle. When students train at the dojo, they realize that proper eating habits and nutrition play an integral role in the success of training, as well as daily living. Students realize that in order to reach their maximum training potential healthy-eating habits are essential. During the final year of Black Belt training, discipline is paramount.

In the following submissions Black Belts Emily Thornton, Elliot Travis and Mitchell Hammer write about how their karate experience has contributed to healthy living.


Emily Thornton: “Karate is a sport that requires flexibility, endurance and speed. To maintain and improve my skills, I run sprints and distance, weight train, stretch and pay attention to what I eat. If I did not make exercise and nutrition my priorities, I would not be able to keep up with competitors and be the best that I can be. By keeping my body strong and healthy, I am setting myself up for success.”


Mitchell Hammer: “Every year, hundreds of people make the effort to convert to a healthier lifestyle. With so many hurdles to cross, however, the majority of these endeavors fall short. I have always had to juggle a strenuous school schedule, family and extra-curricular activities while attempting to maintain my health.

“Karate has equipped me with the tools necessary to preserve my vigorous agenda and achieve the level of health that I want. Each day I am able to attend classes at our dojo that challenge me physically, allowing me to raise my heart rate and build upon my strength. The repetition of punches, kicks and sparring techniques are cardiovascular activities that eventually build lean muscle and burn fat.

“Along with cardiovascular and strength movements, karate improves balance and flexibility. The actions involved in karate focus on balance and harmony throughout your entire body, and stability is slowly gained through such movements.

“Before every class, a short stretching period is organized in order to prevent injuries. That also encourages flexibility, an attribute needed to correctly perform techniques with grace and fluidity. On top of the physical activity, karate also has inspired me to improve upon other aspects of life, such as a balanced diet. I have begun eating more nutritional meals to enable me to become a better athlete, both in the dojo and in life.

“Karate has, for me, embodied the idealism behind exercise and has endowed me with the knowledge to apply what I have learned about health.


Elliot Travis: “From the first day I started the Black Belt program at Mountainside Martial Arts, I have had to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep myself physically and mentally strong. This meant that I had to create a day-to-day plan to keep my body in the shape it needed to be in.

“This plan included me giving up soda and working out every night and eating healthy fruits, whole wheat products and protein shakes to keep my mind and body at its top performance. This healthy lifestyle also increased my success as a student. It helped me focus and prepare for tests, and getting my homework done was much easier than before.

“Karate also taught me how to manage my schedule. Every day of the week I would have to go from school straight to karate for two hours or more. This meant that I had to stay focused on school and homework after karate in order to get done at a reasonable time and get a good night’s sleep. There was little room for lounging in front of the TV or video games. Without this lifestyle I would have never completed my training and would have never been able to be as healthy and successful as I am today in all areas of my life.”


Rick Savagian is owner of Mountainside Martial Arts Center in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 759-4540. 

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