The first part of early morning training in my dojo is always to run through a full-body joint mobility routine. This is also something that I encourage my students to undertake before each training session. Many traditional karate styles incorporate such activities as standard in the dojo, Goju Ryu and Uechi Ryu being two notable ones, and I think that the benefits of this practice go further than a physical preparation of the body for upcoming activity.
The first occasion where many people talk about their joints is usually when describing some sort of pain or restricted motion. Because of this, it is common for us to isolate and focus singular joints (such as knee or ankle) in our mind without appreciating the fact that all the bones, muscles and connective tissues surrounding a joint and indeed throughout the human body, act together as a fully integrated movement system.
Over the past few years within the health and fitness world, we have seen a boom in more functional and old-school methods that have in some ways, turned the whole industry on its head. No longer is it cool to lock yourself into a vertical chest press machine and crank up the pounds, but rather for those who are looking to gain more functional development for a particular sport or skill, then asymmetrical challenges, core blasters and dynamic full-body integration exercises are the order of the day.
As a traditional karate practitioner, seeing things develop in this way puts a huge smile on my face. What many people would consider as being cutting edge principles today is often nothing more than the re-birth of some of the most effective training tactics that were considered mainstream only a couple of lifetimes ago. In terms of karate, there are many connections between traditional supplementary training methods (hojo undo) and modern-day functional practices. Furthermore, in the spirit of constantly evolving the art, linking these to other influences from around the world can yield some fantastic benefits.
Yesterday, I had a great deal of fun (well, my kind of fun) trying out a multiple Tabata style workout with the use of my Bulgarian Bag and a good old-fashioned skipping rope. Not a difficult or highly complex workout, but it certainly got the heart, lungs and muscles fired up! Sometimes, simple is best, so I thought I'd share it here :-)
To help bring in the Chinese New Year, I thought I'd share with you all a great workout that I like to perform on occasion, which features some high intensity 'Tabata' style intervals. The whole thing only takes around 20 minutes, so its quick, efficient, but very intense...You'll be working like a horse! :-)
A 'Tabata' interval uses an extremely effective 2:1 work/rest ratio, where you exert hard for 20 seconds and then take 10 seconds rest. This is repeated a total of 8 times, making each interval last around 4 minutes.
A few months ago I was approached by a new supplement company called Martial Herbs and offered a sample of their products to try out. I took a look at their website and after a few emails back and forth, decided to see what they had to offer.
There were two things that initially grabbed my attention - the first being the company's name. Could it be that the UK supplement industry finally has a competitor with a pure focus on supporting the physical training of martial artists? Indeed, my email discussions revealed that the guys at Martial Herbs are complete fanatics of the combative arts (both traditional and more contemporary styles). The second thing that interested me was their strong belief in the effectiveness of natural remedies, without the addition of non-essential chemical additives.
Their mission statement is simple..."design and supply high quality supplements from natural ingredients that we would want to use!" Currently, their product range only amounts to three items, which for me certainly adds to their 'quality not quantity' standpoint.
Over the past few weeks, I've had quite a few emails and questions regarding my own approach to physical training and how this connects to my traditional karate practice. So I thought that I would record a short video clip to share a particular kettlebell combination exercise that I like, especially for those times when I haven't got much time to train - hope you enjoy :-)
This workout combines the double hip clean, snatch, squat and press into one exercise and the idea is to alternate between arms for the allotted period without setting the weight down. Although this may seem a bit boring, it is actually quite challenging and enjoyable to focus on the quality of performance, attempting to make each rep identical to the last.
Chris Denwood has been studying martial arts since childhood and specialises in the practical application of karate's traditional principles for civilian self-defence, personal development, life integration and discovery.