Can a Fat Person Learn Martial Arts? Yes!

Finn Mitoma
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can a fat person learn martial arts

When it comes to martial arts, many people mistakenly believe that only those who are fit and slim can participate. However, the truth is that martial arts is a discipline that can be practiced and enjoyed by individuals of all body types and sizes, including those who are overweight or obese. In fact, there are specific martial arts programs designed to cater to the unique needs of these individuals.

Studies and experts confirm that not only can a fat person learn martial arts, but there are also numerous benefits to doing so. Martial arts can boost self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression, and lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. By engaging in martial arts training, overweight individuals can not only improve their physical health but also enhance their mental well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • Martial arts can be learned and enjoyed by individuals of all body types, including those who are overweight.
  • Participating in martial arts can boost self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression, and lower the risk of various health conditions.
  • Martial arts provide a holistic workout experience, combining strength training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility training.
  • Overweight individuals may face certain challenges when starting martial arts training, but with the right mindset and support, these challenges can be overcome.
  • Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in achieving weight loss goals in martial arts training. Consulting with a nutritionist or dietitian is recommended.

Understanding Body Mass Index (BMI) and Fat

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a common measure used to determine if someone is overweight or obese. It provides an estimation of body fat based on an individual’s weight and height.

To calculate BMI, the following formula is used:

BMI = Weight (kg) / (Height (m))2

For the purpose of this discussion, individuals with a BMI greater than 25 will be considered as “fat” or having higher body fat than is healthy. It is important to note that BMI may not always accurately reflect an individual’s weight profile, particularly in highly athletic individuals or older people whose fat may be turning into muscle.

Understanding BMI can be a helpful starting point in assessing one’s body composition and overall health, but it is essential to consider other factors such as muscle mass, bone density, and individual health conditions when evaluating an individual’s weight profile.

Factors to consider when interpreting BMI:

  • Highly muscular individuals: Since muscle weighs more than fat, individuals with a high muscle mass may have a higher BMI, even if they have a low body fat percentage. Hence, BMI alone may not accurately reflect their level of fitness.
  • Age and gender: BMI guidelines vary depending on age and gender. For example, older individuals may have a higher BMI due to natural changes in body composition and bone density.
  • Health conditions: Certain health conditions can affect body weight and composition. It is important to consider these factors when interpreting BMI results.

While BMI provides a general indication of whether an individual may be overweight or obese, it is crucial to remember that it is not a definitive measurement of overall health. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide a more comprehensive assessment and personalized guidance.

The Mental Benefits of Martial Arts for Overweight Individuals

Martial arts training offers more than just physical exercise; it also provides numerous mental health benefits, making it an ideal practice for overweight individuals seeking holistic well-being. The philosophy and mental discipline ingrained in martial arts training can have a profound impact on self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and self-discipline.

The martial arts philosophy emphasizes self-improvement, discipline, and respect for oneself and others. Through disciplined training and constant practice, overweight individuals can develop a stronger sense of self-esteem. As they progress in their martial arts journey, their confidence in their physical abilities grows, leading to an improved self-image and belief in their capabilities.

The mental benefits of martial arts extend beyond self-esteem. Engaging in regular martial arts practice can help reduce anxiety and depression, providing individuals with a positive outlet to manage their emotions. The focus required during training helps redirect thoughts and relieve stress, promoting a calmer and more balanced mindset. Overweight individuals, often facing societal judgments and self-criticism, can find solace and empowerment in the supportive martial arts community.

Martial arts training also fosters self-discipline, a crucial quality for achieving long-term weight management goals. Overweight individuals often struggle with self-control and motivation, but the structured training routines and dedication required in martial arts cultivate discipline and determination. As they progress, they develop mental resilience and the ability to overcome challenges, both inside and outside the training center.

Moreover, martial arts can be a catalyst for positive lifestyle changes. By restoring self-esteem, reducing anxiety and depression, and instilling self-discipline, overweight individuals often find themselves inspired to make healthier choices in their lives. The mental benefits gained from martial arts practice can lead to increased motivation to exercise more regularly, make mindful nutrition choices, and adopt a healthier overall lifestyle.

Developing Martial Arts Skills

Engaging in martial arts not only provides mental health benefits but also offers the opportunity to develop valuable self-defense skills. Through consistent training, individuals can build self-confidence and a sense of empowerment, gaining the ability to protect themselves if necessary.

Learning martial arts techniques requires focus, concentration, and discipline. Overweight individuals can embrace these qualities and apply them to their everyday lives, enhancing their mental well-being and overall quality of life.

The Physical Benefits of Martial Arts for Weight Loss

Martial arts provide a holistic workout experience, combining elements of strength training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility training. This comprehensive approach to fitness makes martial arts an effective choice for weight loss and overall health improvement.

Strength Training

Martial arts involve various movements and techniques that engage multiple muscle groups, promoting strength development. By consistently practicing martial arts, individuals can build muscle mass, which increases metabolism and promotes fat loss over time. This is important for overweight individuals looking to shed excess pounds and improve their body composition.

Cardiovascular Training

Martial arts training involves intense physical activity that raises the heart rate and improves cardiovascular health. This type of aerobic exercise helps burn calories, accelerate weight loss, and increase the metabolic rate. Consistent cardiovascular training through martial arts can enhance endurance and stamina, enabling individuals to engage in prolonged physical activity for better overall fitness.

Flexibility Training

Flexibility is an essential component of overall fitness and is particularly important for individuals seeking weight loss. Martial arts training incorporates various stretching exercises and movements that improve flexibility and range of motion. Increased flexibility not only aids in performing martial arts techniques effectively but also makes exercise easier and reduces the risk of injuries during physical activities.

Training Type Benefits
Strength Training Builds muscle mass, increases metabolism, promotes fat loss
Cardiovascular Training Burns calories, improves heart health, increases metabolic rate
Flexibility Training Improves range of motion, makes exercise easier, reduces risk of injuries

Caloric Burn in Martial Arts

calories burned in martial arts

The number of calories burned during martial arts training depends on an individual’s body weight. On average, a person can burn approximately 4.5 calories per pound of body weight per hour of martial arts practice. This means that an overweight person can burn a significant amount of calories during a martial arts session, leading to faster weight loss results.

Martial Arts Calorie Burn Comparison

Martial Art Style Calories Burned per Hour (150 lb person)
Judo 600-800 calories
Karate 500-700 calories
Taekwondo 400-600 calories
Kickboxing 550-800 calories

As shown in the table above, different martial arts styles offer varying levels of calorie burn. This is due to the intensity and physical demands of each style. Judo, with its emphasis on throws and grappling, tends to burn the most calories, while Taekwondo, with its fast-paced kicks and punches, falls in the mid-range. Kickboxing, which combines elements of martial arts and cardiovascular exercise, also provides a high-intensity calorie-burning workout.

It is important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary based on factors such as intensity, duration, and individual fitness levels. Additionally, the number of calories burned will be higher for individuals with higher body weights, as they require more energy to perform the movements.

Best Martial Arts for Weight Loss

While any martial art can contribute to weight loss, certain styles are particularly effective. Judo, karate, and capoeira are recommended for overweight individuals seeking weight loss as they provide a good balance of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility training. These martial arts can help individuals achieve their fitness goals while also building self-confidence.

When it comes to weight loss, not all martial arts are created equal. While all martial arts involve physical activity and can burn calories, some styles are more focused on strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility. Judo, karate, and capoeira stand out as excellent choices for individuals looking to lose weight and improve their overall fitness.


Judo is a martial art that primarily emphasizes grappling and throwing techniques. It offers a full-body workout that combines strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and agility. Judo is effective for weight loss as it involves dynamic movements that engage multiple muscle groups and increase heart rate. It also promotes flexibility and coordination, contributing to overall fitness.


Karate is a striking-based martial art that involves various punches, kicks, and knee strikes. It provides an intense cardiovascular workout that helps burn calories and improve stamina. Additionally, karate incorporates a range of movements that enhance strength, balance, and flexibility. By combining high-intensity training with functional movements, karate is an excellent choice for weight loss.


Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It offers a unique blend of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and coordination. Capoeira involves continuous movements, kicks, and spins, providing an effective workout that burns calories and improves overall fitness. The rhythmic and fluid nature of capoeira adds an enjoyable aspect to the training, making it a popular choice for weight loss.

By engaging in judo, karate, or capoeira, overweight individuals can embark on a martial arts journey that not only helps them shed excess weight but also offers numerous other benefits. These arts promote discipline, perseverance, and self-confidence, making the weight loss journey more enjoyable and sustainable.

Comparison of Judo, Karate, and Capoeira for Weight Loss

Aspect Judo Karate Capoeira
Strength Training
Cardiovascular Exercise
Flexibility Training
Agility and Coordination
Rhythmic and Enjoyable

Based on the comparison table above, it is evident that judo, karate, and capoeira offer a well-rounded approach to weight loss. These martial arts provide a combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility training, making them ideal for individuals looking to shed pounds and improve overall fitness. Additionally, capoeira stands out for its rhythmic and enjoyable nature, adding an element of fun to the weight loss journey.

Overcoming Challenges as a Fat Person in Martial Arts

Starting martial arts training as an overweight individual may present some challenges, including difficulties with balance and stamina. However, with the right mindset and patience, these obstacles can be overcome, leading to significant progress and improvement.

One of the key factors in overcoming these challenges is developing a positive and determined mindset. By focusing on personal growth and progress rather than comparing oneself to others, overweight individuals can build confidence and resilience.

With determination and perseverance, anyone, regardless of their weight, can excel in martial arts. It’s not about reaching a certain physical appearance but rather about embracing self-improvement and enjoying the journey.

The martial arts community is generally known for its inclusive and supportive nature. Instructors and fellow practitioners understand the struggles that overweight individuals may face and are often willing to provide invaluable encouragement and guidance. This support system can greatly contribute to an individual’s success in martial arts training.

By joining a martial arts community, overweight individuals can find like-minded individuals who share similar goals and challenges. This sense of camaraderie can foster motivation and accountability, creating a positive environment for growth.

Overall, the challenges faced by overweight individuals in martial arts can be overcome through dedication, a positive mindset, and the support of the martial arts community. It is important to remember that martial arts is not solely about physical fitness but also encompasses mental and emotional development.

Testimonial from Mark Davis, Martial Arts Practitioner

“When I started practicing martial arts as an overweight individual, I faced many doubts and insecurities. However, with the constant support and encouragement of my instructors and training partners, I was able to overcome those challenges and achieve significant progress. Martial arts has not only helped me improve my physical fitness but has also empowered me with a stronger mindset and boosted my overall confidence.”

Nutrition and Weight Management in Martial Arts Training

Proper nutrition is vital for achieving weight loss goals in martial arts training. For overweight individuals looking to shed pounds, focusing on a balanced diet is key. Including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can provide the necessary nutrients while promoting weight loss.

In addition to a balanced diet, maintaining a caloric deficit is crucial. This means consuming fewer calories than you expend through exercise and daily activities. Paying attention to portion sizes and choosing nutrient-dense foods can help create a calorie deficit and support weight loss.

Consulting a nutritionist or dietitian is highly recommended for developing a personalized nutrition plan that aligns with martial arts training and weight management goals. These professionals can provide expert guidance and help tailor a diet plan that meets individual needs and maximizes performance.

Finn Mitoma

Founder @ The Combative

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