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If you’ve ever heard something like “we’ll do 500 punches/kicks to relax you- after your muscles are too tired to be involved, you’ll have pure technique” then you have heard some of the inaccurate training information that has plagued karate training for a while. It might make sense on the surface; relax those pesky prime movers and let my hips take over. Sensei says that muscle and strength won’t help me, only perfect technique.

Right. In the meantime, the damage that this sort of thing will cause to your joints, tissues and functional movement patterns will probably end up counter balancing any development that you may make. If the example above were so, why don’t we see professional American-style football coaches making their players do biceps curls and pushups to failure right before working on precision passing technique? This topic can get into some sophisticated concepts and jargon pretty quickly, but suffice to say, quality of practice and movement is more important than quantity- and focusing on quantity can sharply reduce quality.

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The Fitness for Fighting Arts seminar weekend was a great success. The weekend was packed with an incredible amount of vital information, hard work and a lot of fun. This was truly a group project- it is in no way an overstatement to say that it could not have happened without the ideas, enthusiasm, help and support of the following people:

Pam and Rob Turman, and the Fit Club gym

Robert Miller

Steve Klausmeier

Gillian Russell

Kevin and Dina Reilly

David Campbell

Katy Simpson

And of course, coffee.

Stay tuned for sample video content and information from the seminar, as well as updates on our ongoing projects.

Robert Miller has been training and teaching karate for more than 30 years. His explorations into effective training and technique have led him to pursue training in Aikido and Judo, studies in anatomy, kinesiology, and education, as well as cross-training with a diverse range of classical and modern martial artists. To further his understanding of effective training practices and dispel  the myths about training that exist within many “traditional” karate circles, Miller recently completed Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist certifications with the NASM. This is part 1 in a series of interviews with him about the role of sports science in designing training programs for the fighting arts that are as safe as they are effective.

Bob, you recently attained Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). What can you tell us about how both of these fields overlap with karate training, and what can they offer to someone who trains, or teaches karate?

Personal training is a pretty broad field, it is sort of what you make of it. The organizations that certify  personal trainers vary widely in both their content, and the depth of knowledge they expect of trainers. I chose the National Academy of Sports Medicine for its rigor, its emphasis on “evidence based” training, and because they spend a lot of time dealing the “why” of various training programs. It is a very empowering program. I recommend NASM to anyone considering a career in health and fitness who wants to do more than just lead an occasional aerobics class. That stuff just leaves me cold I’m afraid. I tend to be pretty uninterested in marketing the most current, shiny, new fads in fitness. That’s probably why I resisted becoming a “ninja” in the nineties, why I don’t turn out ten year old black belts, and why I am not marketing what I do as some sort of MMA now. Same thing with fitness; I want sober stuff that works, and does not bankrupt my students/clients.

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"Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing less than his best ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad."
Funakoshi Gichin

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