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Fitness and the Martial Arts

This week I have the great honour to publish a guest post by a good friend of mine Lun Lok, Lun has been involved in a number of different martial arts and is embarking on a journey into fitness.  Lun is a guy who really knows his stuff and has written a short post on the importance of fitness in the martial arts.  I hope you enjoy the article and feel free to comment and share!  Also do have a look at Lun’s amazing Martial Arts Blog.

Martial Arts: Fitness is not just about kicking and punching by Katagulong Guro Lun Lok, BSc(Hons)

There are indeed many ways of getting fit, and fitness aims are not limited to or defined by gaining muscle, kicking higher or running faster. Training in martial arts, as is widely known and accepted, gives you programme of fitness not just lasting on one of those special tailor-made 6 week crash courses, but actually for life. Through my own research, I have found that martial arts can not only give you a healthy social life, but also get you mentally fit.

I have asked many great martial artists what it is that keeps them going in their chosen styles. I have had responses like:

“….given me a life worth living and a way of life much more than just simply a hobby or interest”.

“…I have gained so much from martial arts on a physical and mental perspective.”

“A place that I can return to anytime I want. A place to meditate, remember, laugh, reflect, learn from, apply all of the lessons to life. Martial Arts has given me a never-ending journey, a ride that I will always be on….”

“It also gives a sense of belonging, a part of a family as no matter the style or discipline we are all drawn together”.

“Martial Arts caused me to awaken to life. With this came a much-needed sense of personal power, coordination (getting in touch with my body), confidence (discovering who I really am), and a passion and direction to help others experience the same.”

You know what? It’s true. I will never stop doing something related to the arts. I am currently studying Tai Chi (Sun Style and Chen Style), not because I am older but because I still love the arts. Never say never,though.  I might well venture back into an MMA class one day. The physical fitness benefits gained in such a class are tremendous. But the main goal, whatever art you do, is daily practice. It’s a strange thing really. You know when you visit a gym and see those people chatting, standing around the machines or hogging the weights…you can’t do that in a martial arts class.  Doing that in the gym gets you nowhere, but just try that in a martial arts gym, and your fingers will get burned.

From the statements given, what can you deduce from the first one? Let’s discuss: “A life worth living”. Simply, martial arts saved this guy from self-destruction. Enough said. What do you think about the second statement? This person is rich! Not financially, but look at what he says.  He has benefited immensely, both physically and mentally.  The final 3 statements are self-explanatory. Read into the last one and you can tell that this person has gained in a mental sense too.

Martial arts training will introduce you to a wealth of different exercises that you may not see in other sporting endeavours. There will obviously be some cross-over, and when I was asked to write this short essay, I was thinking about the exercises involved. I thought about things like hindu squats to really give your quadriceps a burn and your lungs pumping hard, (try 50 or more) crocodile press ups with your hands in the position like a crocodile has his legs, star jumps, bunny hops and other light warm-up exercises. But really there would be little point in writing about such exercises. The benefits from these movements are well-documented in any exercise magazine or website. It’s the number of exercises and the knowledge gained that helps you as you must focus and concentrate on the task, and get fitter at the same time. Go back to the guy who made the statement about a life worth living. It’s the positive vibes gained from martial arts exercise that helped him. With martial arts, he was able to reframe his life. That’s important, very very important. If you want the how-it-all-works-biochemical-and-physiological-science about it all, please be directed to Google, and type exercise science, myosin, ATP, Krebs Cycle, muscle spindles and proprioceptors. You could write volumes on all of that and then new research comes along to give you more or correct you at the same time. I will give you one set of exercises to follow though. The upshot of all martial arts training from a physical fitness point of view is that you can gain through daily practice a way to:

  1. Gain flexibility
  2. Gain co-ordination
  3. Gain stamina and endurance – aerobic fitness
  4. Gain focus – be mentally prepared
  5. Get stronger
  6. Gain respect and confidence
  7. Gain methods of defending yourself
  8. Gain energy and power
  9. Improve your health overall
  10. GAIN A LIFESTYLE.

There are obviously more, but once you start, you embellish your own canvas.

Here is the “TON”.  You could actually rename it “PAIN” instead. You won’t forget it in a hurry, and you won’t need any of those fitness DVDs from those late night TV infomercials or pay £99.99, plus postage for anything…

3 sets, 10 reps each of

  1. burpees
  2. shoulder-width push-ups
  3. frog sit-ups
  4. squat springs
  5. narrow-grip push-ups
  6. crunches
  7. tuck jumps
  8. wide-grip push-ups
  9. hand over knee sit-ups
  10. squat thrusts

To wrap up then, I think the mental attributes that you develop in martial arts or on par, if not higher than the physical benefits. Unfortunately as we age, the body slows down with reduced hormone production, but the brain keeps going a little longer. However, as an all-round endeavour to improve your life on various levels, martial arts is, in my humble opinion, number 1. Don’t forget there are internal martial arts as well as external, where you build up your qi, but that is a subject on an even higher level. Whatever the case, all structured exercise is king, and martial arts gives you that and much more.

Thanks for reading this short article.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 at 8:13 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.