Strength. Flexibility. Endurance. Coordination. The list goes on… Historically the strongest, toughest, and most god-like men that have walked the face of the earth trained in some style combative art. A majority of the exercises that are re-surfacing as “better” alternatives came from traditional martial arts conditioning and injury prevention. It makes sense, these warriors had to be able to last for hours upon hours in battle, they also had to know how to deal with injuries and how to prevent them.
12 years of TaeKwonDo & Hapkido training have had an immense impact on how I train not only myself but my clients too. I’ve done some crazy intense workouts using nothing but my fists and feet. Great “cardio” work does not have to be running, biking(inside or out) miles and miles, or limited to 1980’s style aerobics. Take a typical martial arts warm-up from back in the day, if you’ve trained under me you know this is my favorite:
- Each move is done on a target for 30 sec as fast as possible & repeated both sides w/15 sec break between sides,
- Skip in Jab,
- Knee strikes,
- Front kicks,
- Round kicks.
This is just basic kickboxing warm-up, some advanced students I’ve trained can pull off more than 30 repetitions of each of these! That’s more than 1 a second!(with good technique!!) I don’t see how Richard Simmons could compete with that…
How much “cardio” work are you getting? You would have to run a 5 min miles for an hour straight to get the same amount of work done as an hour of martial arts and you wouldn’t receive the added benefits of working your core, hip flexors, quads, chest, back, etc… Now, I’m not saying strength conditioning is not mixed in(basic calisthenics, and kettlebell exercises) but it is only about 10-15% of the training.
There are massive benefits to general conditioning programs, I’m not knocking them, just comparing. My point is this, if you would like to burn a ton of calories(700-900/hr) learn something useful, and look cool doing it B), martial arts is the place to be.
Justin Green is a Certified Personal Trainer through the N.C.C.P.T., and holds black belts through the WTF & WHA. He has spent the last 11 years instructing martial arts helping to improve his students abilities, grow their confidence, and improve their lifestyle.