Sunday, August 28, 2011

Karate helps

I never realized before just how much I take those things that I've trained hard for in Karate for granted in daily life.

Just recently I've been asking myself questions like:

- Would I have been able to sprint for the bus like I just sprinted right now if it had happened 6 years ago? Would I have done it with the same smoothness, and be able to walk into the bus without huffing and puffing like a steam engine train? No... no I wouldn't have been able to run more than 10 feet without feeling overwhelmed, and I would have given up, walked, and waited for the next bus.

- Would I have been able to jump down from a flat truck bed to the ground with balance, and control like I just did? or would I even had the confidence that I could do it? No.. no.. I wouldn't have gotten up on that truck to begin with.

- Would I have even considered jogging 2 km as a possibility? Oh no.. never... not even a dream.

What has my Karate training done to me? When did it happen? All that I wanted was to be able to perform kata with some semblance of technique.. and now I am achieving things that I never thought that I ever could. How could performing hundreds of Chudan Tsuki/ Mae Geri/ Soto Uke create this?

I became interested if this type of "improvement" was scientifically research, and found some interesting results:

"The effect of 6 months of twice weekly karate training on flexibility, balance, and strength was evaluated in 14 boys who perform karate as beginners (age M = 10.3 ± 1.8) and a group of the same age who had never been involved in martial arts (n = 10; age M = 10.9 ± 1.4). All subjects were pretested and posttested on the following: flexibility of upper extremity (shoulder), hamstrings and quadriceps; strength, including handgrip strength and concentric flexion/extension of quadriceps; and balance, with eyes either open or closed. After 6 months, the tests were evaluated and compared by groups. The results showed the karate group made significant gains on quadriceps flexibility and balance with eyes closed. By improving flexibility, balance, and strength, karate improves three of the basic fitness components that are very important for preventing sport injuries in the growing years." website

"It's not just for fighting: new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that people in their 40's and 50's who regularly practice martial arts demonstrate astounding levels of physical fitness in comparison to people the same age who don't exercise at all. The study subjects who practiced martial arts had 12% less body fat, were able to do twice as many sit-ups, had enhanced flexibility and leg strength, demonstrated a stronger immune system and showed greatly improved balance.

Learn more:

I would believe that any exercise program would create physical benefits in those who participate in it. However, I think that there is something about Karate training that could encourage positive change in a person in more than one direction. I'd like to see if this was studied farther.