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About training

Intro

We do not rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training. 
The more you sweat in training, the less you will bleed in battle. 
- Navy Seals Motto
Physical fitness is the ability to function effectively in physical work, martial arts training, or other physical activities, and have enough energy remaining to handle any emergencies which may arise. Fitness is improved by physical training.

Hopefully, you will be training in taekwondo, or other martial art, for many years. Don’t try to rush things and cause an injury that may deter your training for weeks or months.

Best way to train

The best way to train in the martial arts is at an actual martial arts school. Training at home is okay if you are disciplined and motivated and already have a good, solid foundation in the martial arts obtained by previous training with a certified instructor. However, if you are new to a martial art, you must get professional instruction from a qualified instructor. Reading books, watching videotapes, or using a web site, such as this one, may serve as a supplement or guide to your training but they are no substitute for actual training in a school.

Improve your craft

To improve your CRAFT, you must:
             Have Confidence
              Stay Relaxed
        Increase Ability
             Build Fitness
Remember to Think

Warm-up/cool-down

You must prepare your body before training by warming up to prevent injuries and maximize performance. Warming up increases the heart rate and blood flow to the body. Warming up can be a simple and jogging a few laps around the building or doing some jumping jacks.

You should cool down properly after training. Cooling-down gradually slows the heart rate and helps prevent pooling of blood in the legs and feet. This is a good time for walking around some static stretches.

Avoiding injury

"Nothing hurts worse than pain"
The most common fitness injuries come from overtraining. Often, martial arts beginners start with great enthusiasm and push themselves too hard. All exercise programs must start slowly: don’t rush. Try to train at least three times a week, with a day between each class to give your body time to recover from the previous training session.

The more flexible you are the less likely your chance of injury. Excessive exercise causes muscles to tighten so it is important to stretch early in the morning to get everything ready for the day and after a workout when the muscles and ligaments are warm and pliable. Stretching during your cool-down helps reduce the stiffness and soreness that may occur after a strenuous workout.

Listen to your body, if it says to slow down, then slow down. If it says stop, then stop. If you listen to your body, you will avoid injuries. Unless you are over 60; if you listen to your body then you will never do anything.

Stretching muscles

When we perform stretching exercises, we are not stretching the muscles and trying to make them longer; we are trying to teach the muscles to relax while they are working under tension. This will let then reach the full length. If they are not relaxed, they will contract and get shorter. Therefore, to kick higher, relax the muscles. When muscles are stressed, they contact in self-defense, i.e. cramps. When they are happy, they relax. Keep your muscles happy!

Use TTT

When stretching muscles for flexibility, use temperature, tension, and time.
  • Temperature. Warm the muscles with some light aerobic exercise, such as jogging in place.
  • Tension. Apply the tension slowly.
  • Time. Hold the tension for at least 10 seconds before relaxing.

Motor memory

After once learned, why do you never forget how to skate, ride a bicycle, or drive a car; no matter how long it has been since you last did it. Repeated behaviors are "learned" by the development of pathways through which environmental signals more rapidly reach the motor nerves. These nerves are coordinated by the spinal cord, not the brain. Amazingly, many animals can run around even when much of their brains are missing.

With time, these pathways become fixed. This is the reason it is so difficult to change your handwriting style, even when you really try. As senior black belts will tell you, once you become proficient at techniques, it is difficult to demonstrate the wrong way to do them to beginning students because your brain has little control of the motor memory actions. Your body tries to do it the right way even when you try to do it the wrong way. With years of training, martial artists act and react with little conscious thought.

Do it right

When the body learns a new skill, it reprograms the brain and the nerve pathways that lead to the muscles involved in performing the skill. Therefore, it is important that when you learn a new skill that you perform the movements slowly and perfectly since you are programming your body to perform the movements.

As you perform repetitions of a movement, the nerves, as well as the muscles, get fatigued, so the information being passed by the nerves get muddled. The amount of electrochemical voltage across a nerve decreases with every repetition. Thus, if you train while fatigued, your body will learn the new skill in the muddled form.

It takes about 300 to 500 repetitions to reprogram the body to the movements of a new skill. If the movements were learned incorrectly, it will take 3000 to 5000, ten times more, repetitions to reprogram your body to the correct movements. Therefore, it is much better to do it right from the beginning.

Perform as many repetitions as you can perform properly in one training session, and never train until failure. When you begin to get fatigued, your form will deteriorate, and you will begin to train your body to perform the skill incorrectly.

Cramps

Sometimes during a hard workout, you may get a "cramp," or a "stitch in the side" just below the right side of the rib cage. There have been many theories as to what causes these cramps, but the medical community now agrees that the pain is caused by a spasm in the diaphragm where its ligaments connect to the liver.

The diaphragm moves up and down during breathing to expand and contract the lungs. When a person is not in good physical condition, he or she takes short, quick breaths that limit the diaphragm's movements and causes it to spasm.

Recent heavy meals may also restrict the diaphragm's movement. To stop the cramps, you must move the diaphragm over its complete range of movement, so take several deep cleansing breaths until you get relief. Before your next work out take several deep cleansing breaths to help prevent the cramps. Learning to breathe properly at all times will prevent cramps and increase your endurance.

Plateau

When training, sometimes you reach a point at which, although you are training regularly, you are not making any progress. When this occurs, most people think it means that they must be slacking and that they should train even more. However, this is usually not the case. If you do more of what you always do, you will just maintain your ability to do it; you don’t improve; you reach a plateau.

When you reach a plateau in your training, you should change the type of training to challenge your body. Usually, you will see progress until you again reach a plateau, at which time you must change the training again.

Sources

  • Lafon, G. Variables Affecting Judo Performance. Online at: http://betterjudo.com/articles/variables-affecting-judo-performance/
  • U.S. Army Field Manual. (1992). Physical Fitness Training (FM 21-20).   
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