By Darryl Canham – Chief Instructor
Martial Arts for life long health.
Although rooted in history, both Asian, European and beyond, martial arts evolve in line with their time and their audience. Many are steeped in tradition and are happy to stay there, some are born due to circumstance and environment and others have grown into modern day gladiatorial events.
All types of martial arts can be great. Principally the idea, concept and the journey through martial arts is a profoundly good one..
With a recent influx of more mature students at the dojo, I thought it time to put a few words and thoughts down on either their beginning or continuing the MA journey through the middle ages and into seniority..!
Here’s an empowering thought to get you started: I was talking to a physiotherapist I know the other day, who’s off to the Olympic Games in Rio. He attended a course about the maintenance of an athlete’s high performance body. During a lecture, they were told that recent studies and research shows that the number one activity that promotes personal longevity, not just of athletes, but of everyone, is load bearing exercise, i.e. gym/weight training.
The body supports additional loads, works through a variety of different ranges, can work concentrically, eccentrically and isometrically, it utilises it’s natural structure to the best of its ability and ‘fires’ all muscle groups and works the neural system.
An avid martial arts fan and practitioner, my physiotherapist colleague, discussed with the sports scientist whether the practice of martial arts could act just as well as ‘lifting’. Discussing the finer point and merits of martial arts training between them they concluded that MA practice and its training requirements could very well act as key contributor to life long health and longevity.. So that’s good news for anyone who spends a few hours a week in the dojo, gym, octagon, or wherever..
Like any physical game, it’s not just the training that’s important, it’s the recovery… Note Andy Murray’s recent Wimbledon celebrations in an ice bath, and his regime of minute by minute pre and post match preparations and reparations.. It’s a personal science thing..
When you’re young, often the body is taken for granted, it recovers quickly and bounces back. For those hitting the mat, in their 40’s 50’s and above, perhaps a little more attention should be paid to ‘the temple’!
If you’re a hobbyist martial arts practitioner, then be aware that the body you’re using, is the one that’s going to be serving you for the rest of your life. And that it will need more care and attention in readiness for its training. Body composition, muscular mass and bone density all can shift negatively with age, and allowances should be made in the times and spaces between official training sessions to work on joint mobility, core stability, muscle flexibility etc.. If you’re heading to the dojo, once, maybe twice a week, ensure you find some personal training time to add some lower intensity physical foundation work.
Add an insight into better nutrition, hydration and actual physical rest, and sleep, you’ll hopefully feel a few years younger and perhaps move like it too!
With a little more care and attention, the body will maintain a youthful ability to move confidently through range, will be able to create power and generate speed, whilst being stable and dynamic. Thus avoiding, that shoulder injury when you hit the heavy bag, your back won’t twinge when sending a kick and the hernia doesn’t pop when you’re throwing the big guy…!
Just a few things to think about, and if you take a few of these on board for your training, you’ve already moved from being a ‘hobbyist’ to a ‘enthusiast’ martial artist.. And as I mentioned earlier, thanks to the new research, that could stand all of us martial artists in good stead towards a long and healthy life..
Train hard, train well..