Thoughts about effective practice of martial arts. This is constantly under development.
Effective martial arts training:
- Apply Purposeful/Deliberate Practice (focus, goals, stretching the comfort zone, feedback, exercises focused on weaknesses, ….)
- Apply the latest sport science knowledge to achieve better results with less (wasted) effort - see Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training
- Build better “Mental Representations” of the key concepts and techniques
- study videos of techniques and fights, analyse, try to predict
- understand the biodynamics - see e.g. Parting the Clouds - The Science of the Martial Arts: A Fighter’s Guide to the Physics of Punching and Kicking for Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu and the Mixed Martial Arts and The Anatomy of Martial Arts: An Illustrated Guide to the Muscles Used for Each Strike, Kick, and Throw*
*) I haven’t read the books yet but they have been recommended and are high on my list
Purposeful practice of Tai Chi Chuan
To improve your movements and posture and your mental representations of these, while practicing, focus on one of:
- relaxed, smooth movements
- (perception/awareness of) the center of the body
- the use of the whole body as a unit, starting and stopping together
- being aware of your back (often overlooked) / neck/head (where most (?) tension and movements start)
- the central line of the body (and its alignment with and spatial relations to hands/legs in various techniques)
- feet, balance, being grounded through them, weight transfer
- awareness of the 3D space all around and my movements in and in relation to it
Sport Science Tidbits
Breathing has such a profound influence upon performance that it merits specific training to increase their strength, power, and endurance. That is because 1) the “breathing” muscles are used to stabilise the torso and turn the trunk and 2) when inspiratory muscles work hard, they are prioritised and blood flow to the limbs is restricted. In runners this lead up to 15% performance increase in one study. Source: http://www.breathestrong.com/about/ and the book Breathe Strong, Perform Better.
Breathe less for greater performance and health - hypoxia (induced through breath holding and voluntarily reduced breathing - hypoventilation) improves oxygen supply of tissues, oxygen utilization by cells, aerobic metabolism. Hypoxic/hypoventilation training lead to significant increase in performance and endurance. Hypoxia tolerance tightly correlates with athletic performance. Beware: You can mess up badly so do this under professional supervision. Source: https://www.strongfirst.com/special-events/second-wind-pavel/
When you inhale fully, the pulmonary stretch receptors in lungs are activated and an inhibitory signal is sent to the sympathetic nervous system (“gas”, SNS). When you exhale, blood returns to your body from your lungs and the heart slows back down as the parasympathetic nervous system (“brake”, PSNS) drive increases. So a slow, deep breathing with emphasized exhalation results in a relative increase in PSNS activity. Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuraptitude/201602/the-science-slow-deep-breathing
The speed of voluntary muscle relaxation is reportedly what differentiates medium and top athletes (in 17 out of 20 tested sports) and is more important than either strength or power at the elite level. Thus it makes sense to train it, to increase its speed, explosive power, endurance, coordination, decrease motor reaction time etc.