There’s been some research into whether combat sports can help veterans with their battle against PTSD and the overall uneasiness of transitioning back to everyday civilian life. To sum up these results, the answer is “yes,” but it really isn’t this simple.
Proof that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Improves Wellbeing
Psychologist Jeffrey Matloff from the Department of Veterans Affairs says that therapy alone doesn’t have all the answers for PTSD. He believes that if veterans can learn self-control, mixed martial arts (MMA) can help them with their aggression, self-confidence, and focus. This is something that former Army sergeant Vance can attest to. He’s used MMA to battle against his own PTSD and to improve his overall well-being upon his return from Iraq.
Dianne Ratzel, Vance’s mother, said that when he returned, he was angry, confused, and combative. He’d get drunk and into a lot of fights. She was afraid he’d get hurt, but since then, he’s developed a much more positive attitude thanks to his participation in mixed martial arts.
Vance said. “We need to free up their minds through exercise.” Let’s give you a taste of jujitsu.” U.S. Marine Brian Stann has taken this to a whole other level now that he’s a popular MMA fighter.
What a Mixed Martial Arts Class for PTSD Looks Like
Each class lasts for 90 minutes. It starts with each participant standing in a circle where they share their names and what branch of service they served. During the mixed martial arts class, participants are inside a padded cage with wire sides where they punch, kick and wrestle each other as techno music blares in the background.
Vance has become accustomed to giving orders in a clipped, no-nonsense tone that brings an immediate response. He uses that same voice to instruct his students on how to be better fighters. He’ll gladly tell you that he likes hurting people and putting them away.
Many of Vance’s students receive counseling at the local VA. Some are taking medication for PTSD. He sees his classes as an addition to traditional therapy, not something that should be substituted for it, though. He’ll be the first to tell you that he isn’t interested in hosting a ‘group’ therapy session but admits that his students do talk to one another about things that they don’t share with their families. One of his most-dedicated MMA students, Mike Judd, says that veterans are typically only given medication. Still, they need the same physical exertion and discipline that were part of their military experience to enhance their well-being.
Many participants will tell you that these classes are the closest to being back with their squad. Admittedly, it also helps relieves a lot of the stress that comes from transitioning from military back to civilian life. Some of the participants’ wives also attend class to support their husband’s well-being. They’ll tell you that they’re also appreciative of these MMA sessions.
Treating PTSD with MMA
Many veterans had discovered that controlled sparring is like the original training that veterans went through when they first enlisted. Nancy Kim from the Naval Medical Center’s Comprehensive Combat and Casualty Care facility in San Diego says that mixed martial arts also helps evoke the competitive warrior identity and spirit that many people lose when they become injured.
While this has worked for many veterans, it won’t necessarily work for everyone. So, if you feel that mixed martial arts isn’t for you and you want a more conventional way of improving your overall wellbeing, we invite you to reach out to us at the TMS Advantage Clearwater in Clearwater, FL, today.
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