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As of today, the TKRIblog will redirect to the Fight Sciences Research Institute blog. For readers familiar with our former TKRI blog and identity, you can expect the same high level of quality original research and articles, training information and ideas, discussions, and accurate resources about the fighting arts and sports.
We invite you to follow us as we kick off a wider exploration of the fighting arts and combat sports and all related topics. If you found our old site useful, the new one will be packed with even more research, news and training ideas.
And we’re just getting started.
The modern understanding of “the core” and the need to properly condition it has become well known among athletic and active people, including martial artists (yes, the importance of the hips has been belabored for centuries, but the modern anatomically based concept is not necessarily the same thing). The core refers to the muscles, connective tissues and bones of the torso, yet to many it’s just the rectus abdominis (the “6-pack’). However, the core can be more accurately thought of as the support, stabilization and movement system for the spinal column. This stack of 33 vertebrae (24 moving and 9 fixed) is connected by many ligaments and muscles, which provide oppositional tension akin to the guy wires on a tall tower.
This is a follow up to Bob’s introduction to rhabdomyolysis as it relates to martial artists.
Rhabdomyolysis is the destruction of skeletal muscle leading to the release of the muscular tissue components creatine kinease (CK) and myoglobin into the bloodstream (Huerta-Alardin, Varon & Marik, 2004). These components can pose a potential serious risk to the kidneys as they are cleared from the blood stream. Rhabdo can be caused by numerous factors, and can cause symptoms ranging in severity from mild to life threatening. Classic symtpoms include muscle pain, weakness and darkened urine (ranging from pinkto cola colored). Blood tests reveal elevated serum CK and myoglobin levels. More severe cases may present symptoms such as malaise, fever, tachycardia, nausea and vomiting (Huerta-Alardin et al., 2004). In severe cases acute renal failure can result, requiring medical attention.
The link below is a must-read for instructors of any fighting art or sport. Simply replace “soccer” with karate/Judo/MMA etc. and be leave your assumptions at the keyboard. Of particular interest are “Myths 1-5,” which seem to be standard in the so-called traditional martial arts, yet are not shown to actually improve a learner’s ability to learn a skill and to parameterize (adapt to new/changing conditions) it as needed in relation to performance environments and action outcomes. In fact, common practices such as endless, detailed feedback, blocked repetition and authoritarian instructional styles actually degrade skill learning.
The floor is open for discussion…
The practice of martial arts has come to be diverse in terms of the wide range of arts and schools available and in terms of the population that is involved. Physical fitness and talent may only be required to a small degree, or they may be paramount to success. Students may be dedicated about conditioning, or they may be “weekend-warriors” whose primary physical activity is a class. An instructor may be qualified in a technical realm but not be a good source of information in others, such as the nature of violence. The need for Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is just as high as in any other vigorous physical activity, yet appeals to tradition, history and authority and “experts” often lead students and practitioners to accept dubious information or ignore new information, which can have consequences on a number of levels. For this discussion, the practice of the various martial arts can be divided into two realms: recreational (i.e., oriented at self defense, fitness, cultural, etc.) and competitive (amateur or professional competition). Most of this discussion will focus on the recreational realm.
An extreme example of a lack of critical thinking and evidence-based practice can be found in the cult of personality that has developed around Ueshiba Morihei, founder of the Japanese art of Aikido.
Train Smarter to Fight Harder
There’s a growing recognition of the benefits of evidence-based training methods for the fighting arts. More and more martial arts sources are beginning to discuss the benefits of periodized training and activity specific conditioning. As tempting as it may be to assume that these developments “already exist” within traditional or standard training approaches, sports science and the broader Human Movement field are way ahead of the training notions that are common in most fighting art. Consider that martial artists have always adopted the most promising training methods of their time- why should now be any different? Although more people are catching on, there still isn’t much practical information on how a student, fighter or coach can go about implementing these strategies into their own training and practice.
For the past several years we’ve been working on introducing modern periodized training methods to the broader martial arts community. Our blog is chock-full of relevant studies, reports, and training tips for avoiding training injuries, improving performance and making the most out of training time. With credentials in both the fighting arts and modern evidence-based training methods, we are poised to offer further consultation and information that is beyond the scope of this blog.
Our Fitness for the Fighting Arts DVD’s and educational materials are still in the works, but in the mean time we are available to offer consultation for martial artists, amateur and pro competitive fighters, coaches and club owners. If you are interested in tapping the knowledge base of NASM-certified trainers with over 45 years of experience in training and teaching, visit us HERE to find out what we do, how it can help you, who we are and samples of what we can offer, and how to contact us.
Improve how you train, improve how you teach, improve how you perform.
If you spend any time looking at ads for gyms, fitness fads/gadgets, or catalogs, you’ll notice a cookie-cutter image that repeats itself over and over: rippling abs, cut groins, peaked biceps, etc. Many martial arts supply catalogs, advertisements and media persist with the stereotypes described above. Yet fighting arts are obviously high-demand activities, and the fitness required varies for different levels of participation (hobby, competition) as well as different focuses (wrestling, boxing). The fact is that the demands of a fighter’s activities will dictate how he or she trains, and those two factors will dictate how his or her body adapts in response (along with genetic and morphological factors). So what does the appropriately fit fighting artist look like? Hint: probably not the same as fitness models or body builders.
I stumbled across a very interesting photo collage over on the excellent Stumptuous.com. The photos show various Olympic athletes alongside each other for comparison. For our purposes, notice the contrasts between wrestlers, judoka and boxers.
I’m in the beginning phases of a Masters degree in Human Movement science. This process will have a major impact on my knowledge of training practices and program design, and I anticipate that much of what I learn will spill over into this blog in the form of correlations to how training for fighting arts may be improved. The other students have diverse and impressive backgrounds, including karate/MMA, and I will learn just as much from them as from the course materials. I also owe Bob, Chopper, Harry and everyone in our intrepid little group a tremendous debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to this path and providing some of the impetus for undertaking it.
One of the first tasks is to provide some information about how we ended up pursuing a degree in the HM field and what our specific goals and interests are are. So to kick off what will essentially be a two-year geek out fest, here’s mine:
Find a psychology text book and look up the phrase “confirmation bias.” Be on the lookout for this tendency in every aspect of your training, especially if you think it can’t possibly relate to you or some enshrined martial art.
Striking is the act of fitting a weapon to a target. Availability of targets may change very quickly, availability of weapons may change very quickly. Learning to recognize these changes and adapt to them requires more time spent striking targets that are moving unpredictably and changing range than targets moving predictably or not moving at all. The speed and intensity of these activities should be varied to emphasize different attributes: tracking/accuracy, reaction time, fluidity, and power. Tracking, fluidity and reaction time are more important than focusing exclusively on power. Reflection on which changes in target and range present the most difficulty is vital.