Are You "Fit" For The Arts?

March 2005

Volume 8 Issue 3

Aibudo Kanji
Picture of Shihan

the true "martial artist"!

     If you're still "sweating" just as much a year after beginning training, you're not training.  If your flexibility and ease of movement hasn't improved, you're not training.  If you're breathing just as hard, you're not training.  As an adult, if you are still buying the same size clothes, or maybe even larger sizes, you are definitely not training.  A long-term practitioner of the arts should look and move like a martial artist.  How much and what kind of training does it require?  That's up to the instructor.  Each and every instructor should monitor the students in front of them and adjust the training to "fine-tune" the "coarse".  Physical fitness development has to take place within the "classroom" situation, where constant "monitoring" is taking place.  It's a proven fact that physical fitness improvement is extremely difficult to attain, when working with yourself and by yourself.  If working alone, when you get tired doing a certain routine, you generally stop, but in front of an instructor and/or your peers, you will push just a bit harder.  That "just a bit harder" is what makes all the difference.

     Flexibility and dexterity don't come from brute strength development, but by many, many repetitions of technique after technique.  Five, ten or in many cases, twenty reps of the same movement will not develop, speed, dexterity and/or ease of movement.  The low reps may build strength, but strength alone in the arts, will only bring you forth as a loser.  If you want to be a "winner" in the arts, then get used to at least 50 or more reps of many movements.  One hundred, two hundred and three hundred reps of some movements is required in building the "true martial artist".

     As many of you are aware of, is the "five levels of flexibility development".  Level one, or static stretching, when performed properly, is fairly safe and may develop super flexibility, but there is no speed or power developed with it.  On the other end of the spectrum is level five of which, is generally dangerous and in the long haul, and can develop injuries that "haunt" you your entire martial arts career.  A happy medium is level three, that develops effective flexibility, speed, dexterity, power and ease of movement, all at the same time.  You improve in five entity's, while at the same time, improving your martial arts tools and enjoying the betterment in your physical well-being.

A Few Final Notes

On Repititions

     (1) There is a definite appearance and feeling of stiffness with "low-end reps" of technique movement in your martial arts training.  The joints seem to remain "tight", rather than becoming loose and flexible.

     (2) When it comes to mental fitness in the arts, high number repetitions build in the void more automatic and effective movement.  Movement without thought or plan.  Movement without effort and injury.

     (3) Don't fix in your mind a number of reps that you believe the instructor is going to do.  Invariably the instructor will do more than you thought or hoped and your body will seem to shut down as soon as the perceived number is passed.  If you must "consider" a number, then make it the higher of numbers you have done in the past.

     (4) Attempt to relax as much as possible while performing the reps and breathe in and out with every movement.

     (5)  Attempt to perform the proper body positioning with each and every movement.

     The Martial Arts demands a certain "fitness" for the true martial artist.  If you are into a "blackbelt karate mill" for the belt, that's one thing, but if you are into the "arts" to be a "martial artist" that is an entirely different story.  There are many, less than one year, diploma mills out there that will get you your blackbelt in no time, but if that's all you want, then just go buy a "blackbelt" for less than $20.00 and end it there.  The result you're going to see with yourself isn't the same, it's worse.  Because of the false sense of accomplishment, you are going to be more vulnerable than you were if you hadn't participated in "karate" training at all.  At least your street defenses were something you were truthfully aware of, but now to depend on something that isn't built into your subconscious is disastrous.  While you're trying to figure out something to use that you were shown in class, the "subject" in front of you has just punched you dead in the face.  Besides that with the "belt mill", you probably hadn't become anymore physically fit either.

     In this Hoodoo, I'm going to discuss, generally the physical aspect of true martial arts training.  Your physical fitness should continually improve, to a point, the longer you are in the arts.  When you reach my age (63), you may slow down slightly, especially in the legs, but your general fitness should be just as good or better than it was 5 years, or more, before.  The blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels should all be fairly low.  If they haven't decreased because of your martial arts training, you're not in a martial arts class.  What kind of class you're in, I don't have any idea, but the arts is about "fitness".  Mental and physical fitness both are, mandatory for