Friday, 8 November 2013

Reasons for Training in Martial Arts

Reasons for Training in Martial Arts

By Matt Hurt

of White Rose Martial Arts

All over the world today it seems that the study of Martial Arts has become more popular than ever. With societies the world over becoming more civilised and the advancing development of different weapons, hand-to-hand combat for the most part is no longer a part of daily living. However it seems that with each generation Martial Arts is growing and becoming more popular.
For instance, in his films Bruce Lee became an icon, for many people, epitomising what Martial Arts are all about. Now, in part thanks to him we have styles that are composed of two or more ‘original’ styles and merging them together. We have worldwide televised competitions and fights that attract millions of people towards combative arts, magazines, as well as dojos and training centres in every town, city and possibly even village in the UK.
People have been practicing Martial Arts for centuries. I would like to know what past Masters truly thought of the Arts. Whether it was an almost religious activity to them or simply something they just did to survive or perhaps was there pleasure or fun involved? Many people take up Martial Arts for different reasons and as an instructor sometimes it is frustrating when some students do not carry on with their training and stop after only a short while. There is something that they miss out on and miss the bigger picture of what Martial Arts has to offer them, but what are these things? On the other hand, why do some of these things cause others to train for the rest of their lives?
I definitely fall into the latter category, I started training in Martial Arts at the age of five and twenty years later I am still training. I did take a break from training but it was not long until I came to miss it. You could assume that by now I would be a very high grade with many Dans on the end of a black belt, but that is not the case. I love learning, of course, but also just the act of doing, the practice of Martial Art is something that I would say I am addicted to.
I am addicted to learning about Martial Arts, understanding the traditional and mysterious secrets carried in the Kata. There is something attractive about trying to understand these concepts and in moments of realisation you can make a connection way back in time, imagining that people centuries ago were thinking and doing the same things. Even today Karate-Ka all over the world are performing Kata and the knowledge that people share and have in common brings people together. Then there is the growth in skill level, testing yourself, your body and your mind. This then leads to the internalisation of these skills in muscle memory so that you would not have to think and instead just do, in certain situations, all brought about by the methodology – the process by which we learn Martial Arts; repeating action until it sinks in. This is a healthy process for me, having the same qualities as meditation.
There are many other parts to Martial Arts that I am addicted to but for the moment, why do I want or need these skills, my awareness of my body, my awareness of how to use force in myself and others? I am not a violent person and have not been in many fights, and would always prefer to avoid any physical confrontation with anyone. I believe that practicing Martial Arts give people a sense of empowerment and this could be a key reason why I and many other Martial Artists will not seek to use violence in a confrontation. Through developing your speed, strength, control and skill you will develop a quiet, genuine confidence or reassurance. This can bring about change in a student’s life, given that it is taught in a positive way. In the most part Martial Arts clubs will teach students about respect and showing compassion to others. This can happen very quickly once a student starts training on a regular basis. Given time students can become empowered by being taught to remain open minded and open to learning more so as to progress to the next belt level, each time learning that determination, patience and perseverance are an important part of life. A Martial Art has a holistic quality to it. Students can take these principals and apply them to other areas of life.  They could stand up to bullies, use these attitudes in studying for exams, applying for jobs, or once in a job understand that you can progress by putting in some continued effort.
I believe that training has empowered me in many ways throughout my life. It is this that can help satisfy someone’s ego. Not only do they have an outlet for any pent up aggression, where during their training it can be let out in a controlled way, but also in reality people may not feel a need to ‘prove’ themselves should their ego be challenged.  This could be brought about partly through taking a few knocks every now and then in training once you have become more advanced. Sparring is always done in a controlled way and with a degree of compliancy and students can learn how easy it is to inflict harm upon somebody else and develop a respect for this.
If I am honest I would say that ego is a reason why I train. I do enjoy receiving respect from friends and people I meet that come to know of my skill level. I should say in a healthy way though.  For instance if you had saved up and brought a nice, new car, you would enjoy compliments from friends about the car and feel good because of how hard you had to work and how disciplined you had to be to save for the car. Another part of Martial Arts that can affect the ego is the belts. I know that when I become a black belt, the next day after that I will want a 1st Dan. I’ve often questioned whether there will be a day when I am happy with the grade I have at a certain time and if this happens what will I have learnt for me to be satisfied? Again this is healthy if other students are affected in this way as it can develop someone’s persistence and determination to reach goals and continually improve their self.
I also find continued and regular practice of Martial Arts to be energising. Physically, with adrenaline often pumping around your body during, and/or after a session you can feel great but also the improvements to your health and fitness are bound to make you feel better about yourself. Martial Arts have often been compared to meditation and I feel this is true; you can energise yourself and refresh your mind. As you must act when learning, there must be action, you must be present in the ‘now’ and this naturally allows you to put other stresses to the back of your mind and ‘escape’ for a while. At the same time your sub-conscious mind will digest these things allowing you to think more clearly when you are in a much more positive state after some training. This leads me to my next point, which is perhaps one of the best things about Martial Arts.
By doing and repeating action, internalising movements and creating links between the body and mind, a great thing happens. Something that I think could be a reason why martial Arts are still as exciting today as ever.  As the student develops these skills using the body and mind, a real sense of ownership happens, as the techniques become ‘yours’. The learning process is probably a big reason why certain people get the ‘bug’.  Every time a student digests a technique and masters it for themselves, understanding it with the mind and body, this enables Martial Arts to constantly develop and stay fresh as these techniques are passed down. It is a process of creation and invention all over again as each individual discovers a technique for them self. Bruce Lee himself stated that all kinds of knowledge ultimately amounts to self-knowledge and this is particularly true in Martial Arts.
Without meaning to sound too serious, it is also simply lots of fun. The fun can come from challenging yourself, making improvements to your fitness, pushing yourself to increase your stamina as well as challenging other people. Being competitive with others can be fun as you also teach and help others to learn naturally. Working with others in class can bring about a real sense of togetherness as we all try hard to learn together. Often we also help each other to learn by making our own mistakes. By doing this we can allow our partners to make realisations about their own techniques which can be a great atmosphere to be in when people share ideas with other Karate-Ka.
Also as it involves contact, the tangible quality of Martial Art is quite a special thing. When a student becomes more advanced and we do Flow Drills or sensitivity drills like Chi Sao, students can have interactions without speaking as we encourage students to learn about and increase their sensitivity to an opponent’s movement and they are working together for a common aim. So not only will students often form quite close friendships with their fellow Karate-Ka but also it can really help with how comfortable they feel in dealing with people they come across in everyday life.
So writing this essay was essentially an attempt to understand what my ultimate goal in Martial Arts is and also to encourage others to question their motivations too. I know that I want to achieve a black belt and progress further after that too. I also want to increase my skill level and make use of my body to maintain good fitness for the rest of my life. Many people could argue that I can do this in other activities. With regards to this I will argue that there is something almost primal about training. Violence is a natural part in every human being. The want to protect yourself and others is a strong feeling, and this leads ultimately to a greater feeling of peace. The Martial Arts are very old now and many people would say it is old fashioned, particularly with the popularity of cage fighting and MMA where a lot of people will train simply to fight and brawl. Obviously many people in this field are incredible athletes and many of the best fighters usually have a very strong background and mastery of one or more disciplines that they have worked at for many years.  I say so what? What’s wrong with old fashioned?
Why not get kids up on their feet and active, learning how to interact with others? Why not allow them to learn that with a bit of effort they can achieve something, not just physical but also mental, as they develop more respect for others and become more disciplined. It’s also great when parents of students meet and chat with other parents, building up a sense of community. When parents train with their children it inspires others to do more activity with their families. Adults that train can get all of the social benefits; improve their health and become more empowered and confident. People who stay with Martial Arts do not stay simply because they want to become fighting machines. I believe they do it for these other reasons. Their knowledge of some self-defence skills brings great confidence, practicing it regularly brings health and fitness, improves concentration, and develops discipline and mental and physical co-ordination. All of these benefits are so important for people’s physical and mental well-being.  It enables more human interaction in their lives as people from all walks of life train together and form friendships. Students can unwind from the stresses of work or their particular environment. Essentially it brings people together and provides something for them to be proud about.   

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Handing Fear & the Chemical Repsonse

Handling Fear & the Chemical Response

Sensei John Wetherell


To be able to handle fear it useful to know how it works, the chemical changes it creates in the brain, when and why it occurs and the result of the chemical response.

We can also look at different times we may experience fear, both in a violent encounter or otherwise and recognise the symptoms of fear in different situations.

This can help us deal with fear, by understanding it, accepting it and coping with whatever situation you find yourself in (and dealing with irrational fear). Also it can give us an understanding of the effects of a violent encounter on feelings of fear (E.g. rape / assault victims) and how someone can become conditioned to fear by their environment or certain traumatic incidents.

Difference between Emotions & Feelings

Emotions = hard wired responses/innate

Feelings = Subjective & influenced by conscious thought

Scientists believe that we can study and understand ‘fear’ as it is an ‘emotion’ and is therefore a product of the unconscious mind. According to Joseph Ledoux, a neuroscientist at New York University, "emotions are hard-wired, biological functions of the nervous system that evolved to help animals survive in hostile environments and procreate." They are unlike ‘feelings’ which are "products of the conscious mind, labels (given) to unconscious emotions" and are therefore more difficult to understand. Some scientists believe that due to ‘fear’ being classified as an ‘emotion rather than the complex workings of consciousness’, it can be viewed as a nervous (unconscious) impulse which in turn produces specific motor activity in the brain which therefore manifests itself in a physical capacity.. By viewing These scientists believe that we should look at these emotions as nervous impulses that elicit motor activity, instead of them as complex workings of consciousness.

In simple terms this means that we can analyse, understand and predict the processes that take place in the brain and body following a ‘fear stimulus’.

Understanding fear 

Fear can be explained as a process, which is triggered by a stressful stimulus which in turn induces a chemical reaction in the brain, which cause a number of physical responses in the body; such as increased heart rate and breathing, energised muscles and other symptoms (described later). The effects of the chemical reaction caused by the stimulus are often called the ‘fight-flight’ response. The stimulus could be anything, in the case of self-defence, a knife to the throat, an angry voice, a visual / verbal confrontation, a group of people, someone who arouses your suspicion, someone walking behind you and so on. In the case of general fear, the stimulus could be a spider, the thought of public speaking or a sudden loud noise etc…


Scientific explanation

It is believed that the fear response invokes two simultaneous processes in the brain. If we consider the processes as following specific paths then we can simplify them by calling one process the ‘low road’ and the other the ‘high road’. So while both are involved in the ‘fear response’, one takes longer than the other.

The ‘low road’, is believed to be linked with the survival mechanism and creates an automatic response to a stimulus. In simple terms a stimulus is received, for example, a loud unexpected noise in the middle of the night or maybe an aggressive person engaging with you, possibly in an aggressive verbal manner.  The ‘fight-flight’ response is initiated almost automatically, even though the case in point may be a false alarm. In fact the ‘high-road’ brain path may come to the conclusion that there is no cause for concern after analysing the information but the ‘low-road’ process does not discriminate and so therefore produces a ‘just in case’ response. For example you may realise that the person shouting aggressively at you from the other side of the street is in fact an old friend doing it for fun, however initially the threat was very real and the process was put in motion, hence the symptoms of fear remaining or being present even after you have realised there is no threat.

Low Road

The stimulus (eg the door banging in the night / the aggressor) provides data which is sent to the ‘thalamus’. Working with this sensory data the ‘thalamus’ has no information on whether this data has any signs of danger or not so therefore indiscriminately forwards this information onto the ‘amygdala’. The work of the ‘amygdala’ is to take protective action by relaying the message to the ‘hypothalamus’ to initiate the ‘fight-or-flight’ response – this process that the brain goes through automatically could be life-saving if the threat turns out to be real.

High Road

What some may call the ‘high road’ path for the brain interpreting and dealing with a fear stimulus assesses the situation whilst the ‘low road’ path has initiated the fear response ‘just in case’.

Again the brain receives the sensory stimulus, of the door knocking or the aggressor and this is sent to the ‘thalamus’. In the ‘low road’ path it is sent straight to the ‘amygdala’, but the ‘high road’ process sees this data sent to the ‘sensory cortex’ whereupon it is interpreted for meaning. The conclusion is that there is more than one possible meaning so it is then sent onto the next part of the brain where context can be established. This takes place in the ‘hippocampus’. In the examples of the door banging and the aggressor the hippocampus asks questions such as “whether the noise in an intruder or perhaps the wind” or “whether the aggressor has violent intentions or whether they recognise their face”. The ‘hippocampus’ also acts on other information being relayed through the ‘high road’ path which relate to the incident; for example the sound of the storm outside, indicating the door noise was the result of the wind and not an intruder, the faces of the people with the would-be aggressor, the body language of them and him. The ‘hippocampus’ then sends a message to the ‘amygdala’ to turn off the fear response or the ‘fight-or-flight’ response when it’s happy with all the data it has received that there is no danger.

Both paths take the same information from the stimulus and work simultaneously, however because the high road takes longer than the low road, in the case of a false alarm, we experience a momentary feeling of terror before we can calm down.

Both Paths - Simplified

Low Road

Stimulus – Thalamus – Amygdala – Hypothalamus – (Fight-or-flight)

High Road

Stimulus – Thalamus – Sensory Cortex – Hippocampus – Amygdala – Hypothalamus…

Hypothalamus / Adrenalin / Fight or Flight          

There are 2 systems that the hypothalamus activates which result in the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. These are:

            The Sympathetic nervous system & the adrenal-cortical system

The reactions in the body are caused by the sympathetic nervous system using nerve pathways; and the adrenal-cortical system using the bloodstream. The result of these two systems working in this manner is the fight-or-flight response.

In simple terms, when the message is sent by the hypothalamus to the sympathetic nervous system to start working, you become more alert; the body will speed up, tense up and prepare you for the possibility of having to act quickly. Part of the process involves messages being sent to glands and muscles, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) are also released into the bloodstream via commands to the adrenal medulla. These are otherwise known as ‘stress hormones’. They have numerous effects upon the body such as raising blood pressure and heart rate.
Simultaneously, the adrenal-cortical system is activated by the hypothalamus releasing corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) into the pituitary gland.
In turn the pituitary gland releases the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) into the bloodstream, whereupon it arrives at the adrenal cortex. In order to combat a potential (or what is perceived by the systems as very real) threat the ACTH will cause the release of about 30 different hormones. 

Effects on the Body caused by Fight or Flight
The effects of the fight-or-flight response are noticeable and significant. There is in effect an overload or flooding of adrenalin and other hormones in the body. The fight-or-flight response initiates physical responses to help us survive dangerous situations:

  • Raising of heart rate & blood pressure
  • Dilation of pupils – this is so the eyes can take in as much light as possible, leading to an increased state of alertness
  • Blood is sent to major muscles groups to prepare the body for action. This blood comes from the veins which means there is less blood in the skin for the body to keep warm. This explains the ‘cold’ feeling or ‘chill’ people feel when they are experiencing fear.
  • Increase in level of blood-glucose
  • Tensing up of muscles which is caused by adrenaline and glucose. This explains the resultant goosebumps
  • Smooth muscle or muscles that are non-essential in relation to fight-or-flight relax. This helps the lungs to take in more oxygen, again for the preparation of running or fighting
  • More energy is dedicated to emergency functions so nonessential systems like digestion and the immune system shut-down.
  • The brain is focused on the big picture and we struggle to focus on small tasks. For example, a complex martial arts move involving a high level of dexterity may desert the most competent dojo practitioner. An example many people can relate to is the fumbling of keys in locks when we are experiencing stress or fear.

Fear is an evolutionary survival mechanism; those who feared the right things survived to pass on their genes to the next generation. Fear is an ‘ancient instinct’ (Charles Darwin), which is in-built into us, often resulting in the very obvious ‘face of fear’.

Despite the fact that we are no longer fighting for our lives on a daily basis, we are affected by certain stimuli, which create the fear effect instinctively.  Also, in day to day life we may experience the anticipation of certain events happening. It is said that when anticipating a fearful event we undergo the same response as if it were really happening. This can lead to false alarms.

Fear Conditioning

It is thought that our fear response has not only been developed by evolution through the necessity to survive but also by conditioning in our environment and own experiences. This can explain why some people have a conditioned fear response to dogs and some don’t. For example those that do may have been attacked by a dog in the past and from then on that person associates dogs with attacks instead of someone who associates dogs with a lovable family pet. The same thing could happen with a physical attack; say for example the attack takes place on a train; the victim may develop a fear response every time they see or go on a train in the future.

Fear conditioning can vary according to environment, for example, if you’ve grown up in a city as opposed to a farm, you are more likely to be conditioned to fear being mugged. Conversely, some may argue that such conditioning may actually make you less likely to fear such events as you have been exposed to it, and maybe being more aware of the danger signs than someone who has spent their life in the country. However the person from out of town, who did venture in, would probably experience a conditioned fear response when in the city; this may not be caused by personal experience but by media stories and anecdotal evidence.

Attackers & Training

So we know that the fear-response is partly innate and partly developed through conditioning. So we can use this information to help us understand what happens in an attack, how the attacker can use this to their advantage and also how we can train to prepare ourselves for such situations.

Unfortunately, the person who wishes to attack another is probably well aware of the fear response. Maybe not in a scientific or academic sense but is well aware of the in-built response that they can elicit from their actions. A quick example here is the use of intimidation; maybe the attacker has a lot of experience in instilling fear in their prey in order to psychologically defeat them before they’ve even started. They may know that the other person could be a threat physically on an even playing field but they know how to win the psychological battle. They are well aware of the signs of fear and use them to their advantage. They may be well aware of their own signs of fear and take such action to hide them. This is just one example of an attack, as someone may be just as likely to attack without (any apparent signals) physically and viciously. For such an attack, when we are switched off or blind-sided, there has been no chance for fear to build and we are instantly involved. If the assailant is effective  the attacked is in a very weak position, as even if the first blows do not render them unconscious they are always trying to ‘catch-up’ and could easily be over-whelmed.

However going back to the scenarios in which there may be a build-up of fear; this is an area that can be trained for in a safe environment such as a training hall or dojo through pressure testing drills. Without going into the specifics of such drills they involve a student applying certain skill sets under ‘pressured’ conditions, otherwise not normally trained in a normal karate or martial arts class. Some of these drills involve verbal attacks, shouting and even swearing to try to replicate a real situation. Despite the fact that we consciously know that we are in a safe, training hall environment, the fact that we have someone shouting at us, possibly pushing, and generally acting aggressive works on our sub-conscious and even though the situation is ‘not real’ the same fear responses occur on an automatic level. This in turn accustoms us to what may happen in reality. The theory is that we trick our sub-conscious into believing that the situation is real.

As well as understanding the benefits of dojo training we also need to understand the limitations of such training too. Just like the military prepare for real combat by engaging in battle training with rubber bullets to mimic the real thing, you can never fully prepare for the ‘real thing’ without the ‘real bullets’.

One of the problems with scenario training is that you cannot possibly account for every possible scenario that may occur – attacks can be random and unpredictable. It is true that certain attack scenarios can follow certain rituals – however the student must be warned against sticking rigidly to the rules set out by such training or they will get stuck in one pattern of thinking. For example if you train a violent, escalating situation where someone is pushing and shoving and the attacked is conditioned to responding to a specific trigger – they may be waiting for this trigger in reality. The reality may be different – the attacker may strike before this trigger or maybe not at all. Therefore it is best to see these drills as a way that people can get a general feel for the aggression of a real life situation and not necessarily become fixated in exactly how it plays out. 

This is why continual, repetitive karate / martial arts training is required to internalise the training drills and enable a practitioner to call upon their body to perform under stress without thinking. Also without worrying about whether they should be remembering the ‘attacked in a pub drill’ or the ‘attacked in a dark street drill’ etc… For starters we will not be able to process such information when under the effects of adrenalin. We need to appreciate what we can achieve through our training drills; directness, unthinking actions, simplicity and so on. The beauty of training is that it is in a safe environment and we can analyse different scenarios, go slow, assess and train is such a way that benefits all involved and above all is safe and enjoyable.  

Tuesday, 22 October 2013



by Chris Beswick

of White Rose Martial Arts

As an instructor I’m sometimes asked “are we doing something new this week” and it pains me to see that “we did this last week” look on some of my students faces, if only they realized how much they actually know I think they would be surprised .

This short paper, I hope will explain the importance of “Kihon” or basic training.Your basic training or “Kihon” is the most essential part of your karate development and must be practiced in one form or another at every training session. These “Basic” techniques are the building blocks of the art and must be trained and understood well if to be used in application effectively, they cover the basic motor skills one must learn in order to protect the full body.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of these “Basics”. Jodan Age-uke, this technique requires preparing your hand on the opposite shoulder and then raising it above your head and could deflect an oncoming attack to the head or neck. Gedan Bari traverses from the shoulder to below the waist, sweeping across the torso. Soto-uke and Uchi-uke are quite similar in some ways and can be used to protect the mid section, Soto-uke coming from outside to inside and Uchi-uke from inside to outside. These Techniques are initially taught as blocks and indeed could be used in such a fashion to block an oncoming attack, however if we look a little closer you will see that that the same technique in full or in part could be used in an entirely different way.

Let’s take a closer look at Gedan Barai, a simple downward block right? However I could use this motion to strike, throw, lock a joint and also to release from a grip to name a few. So you see how “basic” techniques are multi faceted and can be applied in various different and imaginative ways, and that’s just a few simple applications for a single technique. Once you start to combine these movements with other techniques and stances you will see the possibilities are endless.

From three primary colours a skilled painter can make an infinite amount of new colours and shades, just as the skilled martial artist can mix and match these primary techniques to understand and develop their karate repertoire. Some higher end applications may require more strength or power, increased flexibility and balance or some other special ability in order to execute effectively, however these are reserved for those who dedicate themselves to their art and achieve the required levels of understanding both in body and mind. I also believe it is important to earn the trust and respect of your instructor for if they are to hand you a powerful tool they must be sure that you can be trusted with it and only use it in the correct circumstances.

It is also vital that you train your techniques through their full range of motion, in doing this you will begin to get a “feel” for the technique. Also when using Gedan Barai to release a grip from your wrist you will no doubt need as much power as you can muster, so preparing high on the shoulder increases the distance the hand/arm travels enabling it to gain more velocity and therefore be more powerful and effective. One argument to this could be that in a real self defense situation you may not have time to bring your hand all the way up to your shoulder, this is perfect example of why we train the technique from beginning to end in the dojo, so we can develop the muscles, flexibility and body dynamic required to use the technique effectively even when not fully applied in a pressured situation. So now you’re starting to get the hang of your “basics” there is another important thing that you must practice and that is the controlling of your breath.

Technique can be maximized with the correct use of one’s breath, controlling the intake and outtake of breath during pre determined points in a technique or kata, this is called conscious breathing. The martial artist body is a highly tuned engine that understands and applies the secrets of breath control, this concept can allow people to feel not out of breath, but rather more refreshed and energized after training. Practice conscious breathing in your own kihon and kata, try to breathe in rhythm with the body movements, breathing in at the start and exhaling throughout with a short burst of out breath at the end to signify the completion of the technique. This will establish the preferred breathing patters into your “combat muscle memory” for each technique. Similar to contracting the muscles in the hand at the end of a chudan zuki punch.

There is a harmony between the last minute tension in hand and powerful expulsion of breath which will make the punch stronger. With conscious breath control your techniques will become more powerful and precise and if practiced and refined, melding your breath in rhythm with your body movements it will also enhance your physical and mental focus. Other benefits of breath control include superior muscle performance. By controlling the breath and regulating the oxygen flow to your muscles will have less of a buildup of lactic acid enabling you to stay at your optimum levels for longer both in body and mind. Developing this state of mind will give you a higher awareness and allow you to focus your mind clearly on the present (satori) and if a physical encounter should take place then being in the state will keep you more relaxed, reducing the amount of chemicals dumped into your body like adrenalin therefore reducing the shock and panic effect these such chemicals have on the body, effectively you can learn to control the sub conscious fight or flight response. Breath control is an essential part of martial arts training and not to be neglected, it is “basic” at first like everything but advanced later so the earlier you begin to practice it the more all rounded your karate development will be.

Now putting aside the technique and breathing for a moment, but by no means forgetting about it, there are also massive health benefits both physical and mental to be gained by training “Basics”. We are taught to train our stances long and low, and this could be for a multitude of combative reasons, Maybe to stay that little bit more out of range or maybe you would need to get that low in order to perform a takedown or trip of some kind, at the same time you are also working all the major muscle groups in the legs and in and around your core, increasing your strength, stamina, speed and flexibility as well as giving you a better understanding of your own limits and body dynamics. When you begin to couple the hand techniques with the stances and footwork you will get an overall body workout and obviously as with anything, the more you put in the better physical results you will see.

There is also tremendous mental fitness to be gained, as well as improving your concentration and focus martial arts can have meditative qualities. When one is truly focused on controlling their body movements and breathing there is an overall well being and peace of mind to be gained which is unmatched by most modern sports or activities. Exercise also releases endorphins and dopamine in to body allowing you to feel good about what you are doing at that moment, which is why doctors recommend exercise to patients suffering with depression, allowing them to experience the natural boost this gives you both in body and mind.

By looking closer at this subject I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no “Basics”. The Japanese term for this type training is Kihon and although it does translate into English as “basics” or “fundamentals” it is specific to martial arts. Kihon is not just the learning of basic fighting techniques but also teaches people foster the correct spirit and attitude at all times, it is a form of training that is directly translatable into the kata and combinations you will learn later in your Karate journey as well as the development of “Reiho” (manners). So as you can now see “Kihon” is a multitude of different training techniques and methodology which when combined can be most rewarding and satisfactory. Karate offers its students the chance to become strong and healthy both mentally and physically, it also allows its students push their selves every time they train to be the best they can be, develop the manners and discipline expected of them and most importantly instills the spirit and fortitude needed in one to achieve anything you want, and that my friends is very far from “basic”.

“Do not win after having struck, but strike after having won”