Health and physical fitness

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Like all martial artists I feel that I am health-conscious, and amongst the most highly motivated, long-term devotees of overall health and physical fitness. As such, it’s in my best interest to understand martial artists in terms of motivations and skills needed to develop and maintain. Developing this Personal Exercise Programme, can best help me achieve goals in a more efficient manner than otherwise possible.

Martial arts include a variety of skills and different styles which will need to be taken into consideration when designing my Personal Exercise Programme(P.E.P.). Becoming successful in Martial arts involves time, dedication and adherence to a systematic approach to training. Throughout my programme I will be trying to work on my skills, strength, flexibility and speed and quickness training for development of a tournament strategy.

The typical stages of martial arts training progresses from physical, technical and tactical to psychological preparedness. The physical ability includes strength, balance and flexibility which is necessary to learn and develop for technical skills, such as how to kick or punch. My current performance level in Tae Kwon Do has taken me to brown belt level where the physical requirements is persistently rising. By doing my programme on a regular basis I hope to rise above the required level by developing my psychological ability to instinctively execute a repertoire of tactics at a higher level. My current fitness levels range from good to excellent in all but one area. With this additional exercise programme designed towards the main areas in martial arts I hope to improve on all the areas necessary for successful performance in martial arts.

From doing Tae Kwon Do I find that my skills have progressed from physical to psychological in training as my focus changes, but only in degree. Throughout my programme I aim to maintain and constantly work on my physical ability, including strength, stamina and flexibility, while developing technical and tactical skills. My current strength is of a reasonably high level although this will be my main target area. My physical training will typically emphasize the improvement of bio-motor abilities. Strength training for martial arts focuses on high-repetition sets performed at slow tempos, separated by short rest periods. Stretching is emphasized and may require 40 minutes or more per day to achieve meaningful results. Swimming, cycling, rowing, jumping rope and other aerobic cross-training exercises are useful in enhancing cardiovascular endurance, so I will include this as part of my warm up.

As a beginning martial artist, I wanted to improve my level of fitness to the point where I can execute basic techniques, such as kicking, punching or rolling, with proficiency. Now I am more interested in providing the variability in training that can move me out of the current performance plateaus to new levels of speed, strength, agility and flexibility. If I was preparing for a tournament, the most appropriate strength training is typically high intensity, low volume, with an emphasis on maximizing recovery and managing stress. Stretching is still critically important, but only 10 or 15 minutes per day may be needed. In the weight room, my focus is on free weights because they place adaptive stress on the synergists and stabilizers. The typical lifting routines used for body builders should be avoided

Fit required for the sport and specialist positions I am to plan and perform a Personal Exercise programme and evaluate my progress with regards to a specific sport. The aims of my personal exercise programme in a generalised form are to improve the specific fitness areas needed to perform my chosen sport to a high standard. In order to compete at this level it is important for me to focus on the regions that will result in a greater ability to perform skills and execute techniques with repeatable success.

The way in which I can meet these aims for my chosen sport Tae Kwon Do is to carry out my training sessions at least twice in order to gain a long term physiological benefit. In order to ensure a safe recovery time between sessions my programme must be abided by at all times throughout.. This is an important factor with regards to health and safety so an even spread of sessions must be ensured. I am currently a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and am regularly competing in county standard competitions in the under 70kg or 75kg division depending on the differing rules between competitions.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the basic qualities needed to achieve maximum performance in sports, especially in Tae Kwon Do as this particular martial art is predominantly using the legs. This flexible quality is also of particular importance in Tae Kwon Do as it requires require the correct execution of certain types of kicks and specific techniques. Being “loose” produces enormous advantages in terms of explosiveness and muscular resistance. Stretching tends to inhibit contraction of the antagonist muscles which can create obstacles to maximum efficiency of technical movements even if muscular explosiveness depends on muscular quality and nervous system reaction capacity. The speed of improvement depends of your initial level of strength and flexibility.

In all the different kicks and punches used there is a massive range of movements at the joint. In order to be flexible the subject must contain determining factors like the elasticity of tendons and ligaments and the capabilities in strength of the muscles and articulating bones. A simple turning kick in Tae Kwon Do requires a massive amount of flexibility to be performed at a high, effective and accurate level. As the moves and combinations of techniques progress to a higher level the higher the level of flexibility requires. Should the determining factors of flexibility be inconstantly developed then the flexibility will be rapidly lost. This training should be undergone at the end of each training session as a warm down.

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