Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40
Monday 17 October 2011: Issue #3
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Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.
Welcome to edition three of Alive and Kicking, the newsletter
for martial artists over 40.
Today I want to share some information about conditioning to
prepare yourself for training. Also I will be sharing something I
experienced while teaching my white belts recently.
If you are just getting started in the martial arts, perhaps not
in the greatest shape, or are coming back after a bit of a
layoff, you will find yourself using many muscles that you’ve not
really used in quite some time.
Of course the fact that you are going to be using such a wide
range of muscles is one of the big benefits of doing a martial
You will be learning to coordinate many muscles at once to
achieve the best outcome from any technique.
As a simple example, just the act of performing a powerful punch
utilizes many major muscle groups, such as those in the legs and
torso, on top of the muscles actually moving the arm.
Even getting back up off the floor uses a whole range of muscles.
If you are looking at improving your conditioning outside of
training, to reap the benefits when you are at training, you need
to remember the nature of what it is that you are conditioning
Martial arts are about movement, agility, and strength in all
sorts of different situations.
But what do most people do if they are looking to do some
preparation outside of training?
It’s likely that they’ll head to the gym, or jump on their home
equipment and start pushing some weights.
The problem with this is that sitting on a machine and isolating
your muscles is not training you for the activity that you are
trying to prepare for! Those machines are designed to isolate one
muscle group at a time.
Generally you are trying to move only the muscles you are
exercising, and trying to *not* move anything else.
But this is not how movement takes place in real life, and
particularly not in the martial arts. If you are punching,
kicking, grappling, or any of the other movements you find in
martial arts, you are generally trying to get your whole body
involved to generate maximum power or effect.
So get off the machine. Start doing functional exercises. Start
doing movements you would do in everyday life or in your martial
Make the movements harder by adding some resistance or
introducing some instability.
But whatever you are doing… make sure you are moving. Not
A great (but I’d have to say, a little bit scary) book that I
really like is “You Are Your Own Gym”.
The reason I say it is a little scary is that it is basically a
collection of exercises that the Special Operations Forces use to
maintain their superb physical shape.
But the amazing thing is that these are all bodyweight exercises.
No equipment in sight, apart from the occasional door or bench.
So it’s exactly the sort of thing I was talking about above.
Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s written by a Special Ops
guy, because there are variations for everyone. Many of the
exercises come with instructions on how to make the exercises
easier or harder.
For proof of that see this review from Amazon…
“Just started using this exercise book and being a 50 year old
woman found the exercises not only easy to use but am noticing
faster results than my old regimen at the gym where I was using
the equipment. I have more time being able to do them at home
which is a big plus in my busy schedule. ”
Here’s the link to the book again.
I’ve recently started a new Taekwon-Do school. It’s a long story,
but I needed a year off and so handed my old school to my senior
students and took a break.
But this year I just had to get back into instructing again, so
have started teaching again at a new school. Of course because
it is a brand new school I’ve got a class of mostly white belts.
I better be careful what I say here because I know some of them
are subscribed to this newsletter! Of course they are the most
outstanding and talented bunch of white belts I’ve ever had the
pleasure to teach 🙂
Anyway, I tend to be quite a “technical” teacher, and am more
often than not focused in on accuracy and technique. And some of
my students have been struggling a little with that, because I
can be quite demanding.
This approach works OK with black belts and other senior
students, but I’m finding it doesn’t always work so well with
So the other day I just said to them “Forget about the technique,
just focus on the purpose of the technique”. And the difference
was amazing. Rather than trying to think through the techniques,
suddenly these blocks and punches were just firing!
It was wonderful to see… because these students were instantly
transformed. The techniques had purpose and intention, and it
made a HUGE difference.
So … if you are struggling with a technique, make sure that you
know exactly what the technique is for. If you don’t understand
this one thing there is no way you can ever perform the technique
And once you know the purpose, always practice with that purpose
in mind. Your intent is the most important thing!
That is it for Alive and Kicking this week. As always, I really
love to get your feedback.
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Thank you for subscribing (and reading!). Back in a week. In the
meantime, let me know what you would like to see in the next
All the best!
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Quote of the Day
Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every
day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something
no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind
to be always part of unanimity.
– Christopher Morley
Just For Fun
If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have
produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.