Martial Arts: The Best Path to Fitness
By Robbie Alexander, NSCA-CPT
Could traditional martial arts be used for accomplishing big fitness goals? By “big” I mean agility, endurance, flexibility, muscle building, strength and power development. For centuries, the many different forms of martial arts have been used as tools for positive change and since their early development, have been powerful methods for fitness purposes as well as for defending loved ones and property. Is it comical to consider the contemporary martial arts to be as effective and physically demanding as the original forms or have we (instructors/industry) surpassed their effectiveness in terms of practical applications and fitness benefits? That depends…
First let’s talk about what martial arts are not supposed to be.
They are not a dance (necessarily)
Historically, in times of peace, fighting arts have always lost their combat practicality and for many people who have learned the arts for performance purposes, they are thought of as a type of dance while still maintaining their athletic benefits. I understand why modern warriors could be confused that martial arts is nothing more than dancing, but as a 30 year student of several martial arts, I understand that even though a style may be interpreted and taught as a dance (Kata), there should be definite combat applications behind each move. As the great Jedi master Yoda would have said, “Dance, it is not.”
Martial arts isn’t weak
It is embarrassing to associate martial arts with a non-challenged, lazy instructor who has never experienced the “golden rewards resulting from slaying life’s dragons” — an instructor who’s students couldn’t at least make a threatening adult stop in his tracks and second guess doing something stupid to them. Today, anyone can get a black belt but there’s nothing like observing a black belt evolve into a true master of himself. I’ve seen positive transformations occur in my original instructors and it’s very inspiring but quite rare in today’s society.
Now, let us observe what the martial arts should be
“Martial arts” refers to various approaches to military fighting styles and applications. Good ways to think of them are exaggerated self-defense and conditioning drills for overdeveloping warriors’ effectiveness. The conditioning should be expected to create a fighter who can last in combat for as long as it takes to win. The realistic training expectations are a strong and explosive athletic endurance. Imagine a human with wolf-like athleticism. How intimidating would that be in combat?
Try this basic challenge in your next workout
One minute “horse stance”
Pretend you’re in a chair. Sit for one minute, then stand 15 times without taking a break.
Look, feel, think and perform better by understanding that all the systems associated with muscular development, from endurance to power training, will be affected with proper martial arts training. Whether your goals are to conquer Spartan races or securing your family’s safety, always train smart and consult with your doctor before starting a new training adventure.
True wealth begins with inner health.
You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness or nutritional program to determine if it is right for your needs. This publication offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read in this article. The use of any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.