IntroFactors that influence your martial arts performance. Some of the factors may be improved a lot, such as strength; some may only be improved a little, such as agility, and some are out of our hands, such as the environment.
Factors that influence performance
- Basic psychomotor skills. Without the ability to perform basic psychomotor (locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative) skills, such as punching, hopping, jumping, pushing, pulling, and kicking, a student will find it difficult to develop the complex skills required in the performance of martial arts.
- Agility. Agility is the ability to change direction rapidly and smoothly. Martial artists need good agility to perform complex sequences of techniques, such as counters, combinations, and jump-spin techniques.
- Kinesthetic awareness. Kinesthetic awareness is the ability of the body to relate to its surroundings while in flight. This awareness is critical when performing jump and jump-spin kicks with power and control.
- Martial art basics. Martial artists should constantly be aware of and constantly practice the basic techniques of their chosen martial art, such as stances, chambering for kicks, and full extension of kicks and punches.
- Flexibility. General and martial arts specific flexibility using the PNF or slow static stretch methods must be developed in and out class since flexibility will increase performance and help prevent injuries.
- Endurance. Contrary to popular belief, most martial arts require high anaerobic capacity rather than aerobic capacity. Of the three energy delivery systems, ATP-PC, anaerobic (lactic acid), and aerobic (O2), the anaerobic and aerobic systems are used the most during the practice of martial arts. A round of martial arts competition fighting lasts a few minutes but the fighting consists of short, intense spurts of energy, and a powerful pattern performance only lasts a couple of minutes. Theoretically, one could hold their breath that long. The anaerobic system allows a martial artist to perform very intensive work for short durations while the aerobic system facilitates the recovery between numerous intensive periods of work. A solid aerobic base is required before any anaerobic work is begun. Wind sprints are good for developing anaerobic endurance.
- Strength. Most martial artists concentrate on flexibility training to improve their kicks, but it takes strength to lift the leg quickly and powerfully into a high kick. Performing sit-ups and pushups in class are good for developing strength but it is best developed out of class using a well-structured weight training program. The development of absolute strength will positively affect muscular endurance and should positively affect power as well; however, it may have a negative effect on aerobic endurance. Also, a well-developed musculature will help minimize injury.
- Speed. Speed of movement as used in martial arts can be developed through the elimination of superfluous and inefficient movement and the development of efficient neuromuscular pathways. Speed may be improved through reaction and plyometric drills.
- Power. The best example of power is the Olympic weight lifter doing the snatch. The snatch is considered the most explosive and powerful athletic movement. Power involves moving an object over a certain distance in a certain time. In the case of a martial artist, since the bodyweight will remain reasonably constant, an increase in power will only happen if distance or time is altered. Strength and speed will affect power output.
- Health. Rest, nutrition, fluid intake, and body weight can be controlled to optimize performance. An illness will certainly have an adverse effect on performance.
- Mental skills. Often the main difference between high caliber athletes is the ability to control stress (fear). Stressors can affect physical abilities unless brought under control. Mental skill development should incorporate visualization, relaxation, and controlled breathing.
- Tactics. Tactics are the techniques and procedures used in fighting. Situational drills should be incorporated to develop tactical ability. To develop tactics for a competition, a firm understanding of the rules of the competition is necessary. Coping with the various fighting styles (left, right, unorthodox, crouched, defensive, offensive, etc.), fighting while behind or ahead on the scoreboard, competing injured or sick, and any other imaginable situation should be covered in training.
- Environment. We know that jet lag, altitude, and significant changes in temperature and humidity will affect performance. Chances are great that a different cultural or social environment may also affect performance. These effects can be minimized by creating and training under similar circumstances and conditions.