Is extreme physical training necessary for martial arts? I had been surprised by the amount of physical fitness training some fellow bloggers did and pondered whether it was necessary, or whether you got sufficient fitness just from martial arts training. I wondered whether you just risked more injuries with this (often) extreme fitness training.In June 2010 I asked the question,
Countdown to Shodan .
I then raised the subject of cross training in January 2011 – a subject that often polarises people’s opinions! This post, should a kyu grader be cross-training? led to a small flurry of posts on the subject on other blogs. I suggested that cross-training leads to a kind of comparative martial arts training, allowing you to see the similarities and common principles between different art forms. I still think that even a kyu grader can benefit from the different perspective gained by cross training, enabling you to put your main martial art into context, to see its strengths and weaknesses.
In conclusion then, I think that general fitness training is necessary to complement martial arts training. Good technique requires a level of strength, fitness and flexibility that may not be accomplished by martial arts training alone. However, I don’t think this fitness training needs to be too extreme unless, perhaps, you are training for sport and competition. One of the things I have learned from setting myself a fitness program is the importance of setting realistic, objective goals that challenge you to improve yourself. I am now trying to transfer that understanding of goal setting to my karate training.
I also think that if you are serious about getting good at your martial art it shouldn't ever be too far from your mind. This is why I think the idea of ‘little and often’ training is also important and enables real improvements to be made without having to set aside large chunks of time to train in. I think this is a way forward for people who genuinely don’t have a lot of spare time.
Finally, my thoughts on cross-training have slightly changed since I wrote my article. I have gained much from the cross-training in kobudo that I have already done and expect to gain a lot more in the future – but just now I think cross-training has become an added stressor as I approach my black belt grading. I pulled out of a tonfa grading last weekend as I did not feel ready and my mind just wasn’t in the right place. I will not grade in it until at least September now. This has taken some of the pressure off but now I have to consider whether to stop training in kobudo completely until after my black belt grading….