Friday, September 22, 2006

Training For Power

Waza (technique), and its precise execution, is such a vital aspect of the martial arts in that it allows a smaller, physically weaker person to prevail against a larger, stronger antagonist. Still, in spite of this statement, physical strength has its place, and under certain circumstances can go a long way for the practitioner. This is in no way to discredit the effectiveness of using proper form in techniques, nor should this principle ever be dismissed. But I believe that any physical endeavor, including martial arts training, should include a regimen of weight training to develop strength.

At one time, strength training with weights was considered taboo for the athlete. With the exception of football players, competitive weightlifters and bodybuilders, athletes were strictly advised to avoid lifting weights. One myth attributed to weight training is that it compromises speed and flexibility - two sought after qualities in the martial arts. Flexibility is the result of proper stretching, which should be done daily and is especially recommended before and after a martial arts session. Speed is acquired through training for that capacity, and can be developed alongside of a strength training routine without one interfering with the other.

During Okinawan karate's early development, ishi-sashi were used in a fashion similar to using dumbbells. These hand-held stone devices were carried as the practitioner performed kata and various strikes. In the 60s, martial arts historian Donn Draeger was one of the first to suggest a weight training program for judo players. In addition to Draeger, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee were advocates of weight training for martial artists at about the same time.

Besides making muscles grow, weight training causes bones to become denser, offsetting the possibility of osteoporosis late in life (prevalent in women). Added muscle also creates a more efficient metabolism, capable of burning fat at rest (as opposed to a cardio workout, which only burns fat while training). Today, it is a rare athlete that doesn't employ some kind of progressive resistance training.

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Blogger Charles James said...

Nice post yet I would suggest you give thought to weight resistant training.

Even using one or two pounds to cause weighted resistance will provide all the benefits to increasing bone density.

Heavy lifting like I did as a body builder doesn have some adverse effects against speed and so on yet what I describe above can actually benefit.

Then take into consideration that certain movements with weights such as weighted gloves while punching can cause damage to the joints, shoulders, wrists and so on it not closely monitored and done absolutely correct each time.

How do I know this, well at age 52 I have done what you suggest and paid for it. Since then I have adjusted and all is now fine.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

I think weight training is of the utmost importance in karate. Yes, speed and accuracy are important to but if you have strength, you get more of the power you need. Especially for women. We usually aren't the size of our male counterparts so we need the added advantage. And like you said, women need to take advantage of it especially due to osteoporosis. Great post!

1:32 PM  
Blogger frotoe said...

The most I do as far as weight/resistance training is strap 1 pound weights to my ankles (the kind that wrap around and hold with velcroe) while I do my kicking at home, and sometimes I hold 1 pound weights while I do basics on my own. I don't make contact with anything while I am holding the weights, though. thats it for me.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Charles James said...

I think we as Americans mistake muscle strength for true power. There is so much more....

5:06 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Mr. James
I can imagine how using weighted gloves on a heavy bag or even pad work could wreak havoc on joints. Like you, I've made my own adjustments in training. (And you're correct - there's no substitute for true power.)
Miss Chris:
Because women are outnumbered by men in the martial arts - and usually end up sparring with more men than other women, a little extra power can be nice. And I believe that a weight training program could actually enhance speed and accuracy.
For variety, you could try alternating the 1-lb weights with 3 or even 5 lb weights. You may be surprised at how much resistance you can handle.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Everything mentioned here so far makes sense to me. As long as you are not developing bulky muscle, but rather toned muscle, you are bound to get stronger and have more health benefits that will help your training. As it's been said, lighter weights and more repetitions are the key, rather than heavy weights and less reps. The former produces the toned muscles, the latter the bulky muscles. Learning to use weights properly, respecting them, and using control when using them is key to prevent injury and building your core.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Mir said...

I like to do low weight, high repetition weight lifting to increase my upper body strength. My problem is that when you weight lift you are supposed to give a day for the muscles to recuperate. Since I train almost every day of the week there is rarely a "rest" moment for my muscles to heal from weight training. I've had to lower the intensity of the weight training.

10:27 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

The look of a "toned" physique is a combination of exercise and diet. If you prefer lighter weight/high reps, you'll still need to train with the same level of intensity that you would experience with going heavy.

Higher reps are tough if you're doing them right. I don't believe heavy weight/low rep training is necessary for TKD or related styles.
You absolutely need rest to recover (i.e. grow) from any type of training. The building phase of muscle occurs during rest, not when you're actually training - training is the stimulus for getting stronger. Muscles need 5-7 days to recover completely if you're training with proper intensity.

If I was training in two styles, I wouldn't even think about lifting weights!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Mir said...

But.. isn't it o.k. to do just a little bit of weight lifting.. nothing that will tear muscle.. but just something to keep them going on the same level that they are at right now?

6:28 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Sure. I recommend keeping a log of your routine so you can maintain this level.

Studies have shown that proper stretching contributes to strength longevity, regardless of any exercise regimen.

11:06 AM  

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