Fitness outside of martial arts

Fitness is needed

Overall physical fitness is key to any martial artist’s success. In fact it is key to any form of discipline that requires the body to perform strenuous activity. It is physical fitness that I wish to discuss in this post, and the reasons as to why you should be doing it outside of class. Now let me first begin by saying that any martial arts instructor should! Be able to help students attain a high level of fitness in all areas, those being:

  • Flexibility.
  • Cardiovascular.
  • Strength.
  • Conditioning.
  • Balance and movement.

However sadly this is often not the case, there seems to be a large disconnect within many martial arts fields that separate Fitness and martial arts as two separate disciplines. In my own opinion, and I am sure the opinion of many other martial artist out in the world. Physical fitness and martial arts go hand in hand. You simply cannot hope to perform to your fullest ability in martial arts without training extensively in all of the above areas.

Within saying this, physical fitness should be dealt with outside of martial arts classes. Of course there are the exceptions to the rule i.e. if you can attend three or four hour classes. But for the most part people will often only get two hours of training within one session. The goal of martial arts classes should be to work solely on martial arts and not any one particular filed of fitness. It is true that martial arts itself will work everything, and will demand all of your physical ability. However it does not train any one area specifically. For instance a strength training routine often takes up to 45 minutes to complete, which in a two hour class is a lot of time to take away from the main goal.

Students should use martial arts classes to learn the concepts and principles of fighting as often than not most people will only train for two hours once a week. For instance, take a two hour martial arts class. Now break the class down adding in all of the above physical fitness needs. Now in my opinion you can half ass working out each individual area by say, doing each dedicated for ten minutes. That is still 50 minutes of class time gone, before even getting to work on what you are actually there for.

This is why I recommend that the warm up at the start of martial arts classes, always be to prevent injury and prepare the body for the arduous task it is about to undertake. All of my students are recommended to do physical fitness programs  outside of class. It is a good idea to have monthlyfitness tests at the end of each month, to see who is putting in extra work.

To properly build your overall physical fitness, time and dedication is needed. An example of the time a student may spend on each area can be found below:

  • Flexibility 30 minutes.
  • Upper body strength 45 minutes.
  • Lower body strength 45 minutes.
  • Cardio 30 minutes.
  • Conditioning 30 minutes.

These routines are done three to four times a week. You could simply break them down into 10 minute routines, but then students would simply not be getting the benefit of dedicated training in each area. While following a regular routine, students can dedicated their full attention to martial arts during class time, they are also better able to handle the physical challenges that training in a martial art presents.

Martial arts instructors should aim to guide their students in all areas in regards to physical fitness. It is not enough to simply teach how to punch or kick or use weapons.
That is my two cents on physical fitness and the way I think it should be implemented.
Till next time!