Tournament prep tips–with the tournament coming up on March 30th, I’ve had a lot of students asking me what they can do to train and prepare for it. The most basic thing is to be in class as much as possible, so the instructors can help you get ready and give you specific tips.
Today, I’d like to take a look at what makes karate and taekwondo for kids different from other sports.
I played outdoor and indoor soccer for 5 years. The last 3 of those years, I also did martial arts. Ultimately, I quit soccer in favor of martial arts. I’ve now been doing martial arts for 13 years and have no intention of quitting. Looking back, there were a lot of reasons I quit soccer.
Aside from being fed up with team drama, my biggest reason for following the martial path was that in martial arts, my achievement was a direct result of how much effort and practice I put in. I was the only one who was responsible for the outcome. Effort and practice were choices that I had to make, and my most important opponent was myself.
Certainly, martial arts, as a fitness activity, utilize a very wide range of physical skills: a variety of muscle groups, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, strength/power, precision, endurance and burst energy training. And you can’t put a price on self-defense skills and the confidence that comes with knowing you can protect yourself and others.
What really makes martial arts unique is our attention to character-building.
My goal today is just to highlight some muscles that martial artists use a lot (and sometimes neglect to stretch/strengthen). There’s plenty of information on the web about how to stretch or strengthen any muscle you want, so I’m just going to highlight what we use them for.
Bottoms of the feet: The plantar fascia take a beating, not only from stepping, jumping, and kicking, but also from gripping the floor in your stances. Stretch or massage the muscles at the end of the day and you’ll be surprised at how much tension is released.
Achilles tendon: This tendon is used in walking, running, and jumping, and also to flex the foot into correct position for many kicks. It is also a common one for injury, so be sure to stretch it whenever you exercise.