Martial arts is one of the most comprehensive ways to workout. We learn the importance of physical and mental strength in the dojo as well as ways to maintain self-control and discipline. All these aspects are important to a “total body workout”.
While we know that partnering your cardio and your strength training is an optimum method for both health and weight, did you know how important the core figures into everything?
What is the Core?
The core muscles consist of the lower torso region including the abdominal, obliques and lower back. Developing a strong core prevents injures by providing stability in the lower back and torso (giving support to your bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and spinal discs).
Core strength adds power to a variety of movements and everyday activities. A solid core is the starting point for any fitness program including bodybuilding, weight loss, and team/individual sports.
Does Martial Arts Develop Core Strength?
Martial arts by its very nature develops core muscle strength. As the body stabilizes itself during a sequence of movements (be it kicks, punches, or kata) it often utilizes the core muscles. Core strength brings power to punches, kicks, throws, and adds protection during falls and slap outs. Competence and coordination in any given exercise is directly connected to core strength.
While it might be concluded that martial arts training doesn’t need additional core developing exercises, nothing could be further from the truth. Martial arts training teaches us to break down and focus on the specifics. To truly develop an overall fit body, it requires focus on the components that determine fitness. Core strength and stamina are at the center of that focus.
…but wait! Martial arts does a lot more…
Will Martial Arts Increase My Endurance?
When discussing stamina, you will find reference to mental and physical stamina and how one or the other may be developed. I will argue you can’t separate the two. When you’re running a marathon and your lungs are burning, your legs are heavy and your cardiovascular endurance is spent, your mental attitude plays the key role in your successful completion of the race. If you’re studying for finals and surviving on little to no sleep for days at a time, your mind struggles to focus because your fatigued body continues to require more attention just to stay upright. Martial arts gives you the opportunity to learn and perfect your ability to press forward and use your mental and physical strength in any adverse situation.
Cardiovascular Endurance is Your Choice with Every Workout!
Developing endurance is all about attitude: it’s about putting in the full effort. I’ve seen two people participate in the same workout, and at conclusion one is drenched with sweat and completely spent while the other has had a mild workout. I’m not saying you should put every ounce of energy in every move you make during a workout: oh, wait a minute… yes, I am!
I want to precede that statement by saying if you’re just starting a program to get into shape, start slowly. The biggest mistake beginner instructors and practitioners make when starting a fitness program is attempting to jump into an advanced session.
This subjects the beginner to two main problems: 1) Getting discouraged. The inability to complete the routine with good form puts the focus on failure. If we feel we failed at a task over and over, it’s difficult to stay motivated. 2) Injury. When the body is not prepared for exercise too much strain could be put on the joints, ligaments, and muscles causing injures.
Success comes from small consistent achievements. Start your fitness program with 30 to 40 minutes of moderate activity and build from there. Take full advantage of the workout that the martial arts have to offer!