In a previous article, I have mentioned that I got interested in martial arts. Any martial art besides being an ‘art’ is definitely a solid collection of cool and useful skills. I realized that strength training and martial arts compliment each other very well, and by ignoring one or another, you are missing the whole package. Perseverance in both of these forms of training will most likely turn you into an unstoppable machine physically and mentally.
[NOTE: Of course, you should mix both strength training and martial arts to a preferred degree. For example, there is no point in 6 strength training workouts and only 2 martial art sessions per week if your goal is to become a fighting champion]
So what have I learned from the world of martial arts so far?
Lesson #1: You Are Fragile
I never enjoyed fighting although I have been into several massive fights throughout the years. Some of them were successful, others were not. Luckily, my ass has never been kicked in a street by a professional fighter. It would have ended in one shot.
The thing you probably do not realize is that there is a whole bunch of people out there that train specifically to beat anyone if they need to. Martial artists condition their bodies to hold any punches and kicks, to escape them, to be faster than you, to be calmer in a combat situation, to punch and kick harder, etc. In a possible confrontation, they will have a tremendous advantage over you. To give you some perspective, even a mediocre martial artist should be able to neutralize you fast because of his skills. A good martial artist can injure you badly in seconds, possibly even kill you.
Will this hypothetical confrontation happen in real life? I don’t know. A good martial artist will use his skills ONLY when he or his family and friends are in danger. Anyway, realizing the fact that you are fragile should make you think twice before starting a random fight for no reason.
Lesson #2: If You Are a Bodybuilder, You Are Fragile Even More
This is true for any other strength-related discipline too. You should understand that attaining serious muscle mass, maximal strength, or endurance doesn’t make you a good fighter automatically. Yes, you will appear intimidating. However, do not be ignorant – one precise liver shot and you are down. One explosive low kick and you wouldn’t be able to walk for a week.
A lot of people stop being humble and become douchebags once they get bigger and somewhat stronger. The reality is that size and strength are not crucial in winning a fight. Specific explosive strength, physical and mental conditioning, skills, and knowledge of human weak spots are.
Lesson #3: If You Are a Fighter, You Are Still Fragile
Finally, even if you practice martial arts and consider yourself pretty good at them, you should still stay humble. Once you start believing that you are fast, strong, and skillful enough, that is when you most probably will get a reality check.
[NOTE: If you have watched the UFC 194 fight between José Aldo and Conor McGregor, you should understand that even the guys who are at the top of the game can be neutralized with one punch]
Lesson #4: There Is Some Work for MythBusters
Even in the Age of the Internet, lots of martial arts trainers still believe some outdated dogmas that are not supported by experience whatsoever. My favorite myth is that strength training makes you slower and makes your muscles “too tensed”. A lot of trainers advocate avoiding strength training to be a good fighter for this reason. Well, I am hardly an expert in martial arts but common sense and my strength training experience both tell me otherwise:
- I strongly believe that explosive leg strength developed with power cleans, or kettlebell swings and snatches, or sandbag shouldering WILL supplement your punching and kicking pretty well;
- I strongly believe that core toughness and tendon and ligament strength built with heavy compound exercises WILL help you at least to get less injuries;
- I strongly believe that muscle mass built with strength training WILL help you because being lean and muscular is simply more efficient than being a 60-kg pencil-neck with 12-inch guns or being a heavy lard-ass.
Again, in my opinion, strength training and martial arts are synergistic activities. They supercharge each other. Practicing both is definitely better than practicing either one of them.
Lesson #5: Mix What Works for You
Despite the greatest minds saying that every martial art has its own place and value, and that they all should be treated with respect, there is still lots of intolerance and douchebaggery between different styles. It may be unofficial but it is present.
Usually, it is highly pronounced in traditional martial arts. Everybody thinks that their style is the toughest. The reality is that mixing martial arts is the optimal way. Having your own style comprised of the techniques of the whole gamut of traditional martial arts that suit you the best makes you a unique opponent that is WAY tougher to beat than any traditional martial artist.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”
― Bruce Lee
This article turned out to be somewhat grim but I just wanted to give it to you straight, like a pear cider made from 100% pears. Anyway, the main take-home point for you here is to remain humble, open-minded and respectful. It takes courage but it is well worth it.
Every time you don’t like and share this article, you upset a kitten somewhere.
Do you have any thoughts? Let’s chat in comments.
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