Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FIGHT MEETS FLIGHT: Cross Training and the Martial Arts – The Half Marathon (Pt. 1)

From the Stick Chick: Today's guest post is the first in a five part series on cross training and the martial arts that will be appearing on Tuesdays (so mark your calendars).  Enjoy!

My name is Troy. I am a Black Belt and instructor at North Texas Karate Academy, located in Fort Worth, TX. I am 26 years old. My family opened the dojo in 2003, though my mother and I have been studying Tae Kwon Do and various other Martial Arts since 1993. Our school regularly competes, and we place a heavy emphasis on physical fitness.
The author competing at a tournament as a green belt sometime in the mid 90’s.
We focus on American Tae Kwon Do, despite the term "Karate" used in our business name (ed. note: very common in Texas -the Stick Chick), and over the years have implemented many other arts into our program. We have instructors trained in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Arnis DeLeon (ed. note: closely related to Modern Arnis- the Stick Chick), Boxing, Kempo and even Yoga offering classes at our school.

If it is one thing we have learned from teaching martial arts professionally, it is that there is no one-right-answer and no "superior" martial art. Though our main program is Tae Kwon Do, we recognize the importance of offering many other classes to supplement our program.

This is where cross training comes in. Aside from our regular strength and fitness programs, we have explored many outside training opportunities that have yielded tremendous benefits to our growth as Tae Kwon Do practitioners.

Many people comment that my mother (our head instructor) stands out from many of the "head instructors" in other schools because she still regularly competes in tournaments - and wins consistently. So consistently, in fact, that there is a Black Belt Men's State Champion trophy sitting in our dojo that belongs to her. You heard that right; she can beat the men too.

Troy's mom can beat up your mom.  And your dad, too.
She often talks about the effects cross training has on her Tae Kwon Do. Her regimen includes our Strength and Conditioning program, Olympic Weight Lifting and short distance running (2-4 miles), usually in sets of sprints. These routines keep her fit and allow her to continue competing. Our Tae Kwon Do classes are very active and involve a lot of endurance based exercises, but we have found that varying the workouts has a much larger impact on our Tae Kwon Do performance.

So it boils down to this. It doesn't matter how good you are, if your body gets tired, your skills go out the window. I do not believe in the one-punch knockout or those fancy pressure point things - yes they happen, but are never something you should count on for your self-defense.

A real attack is raw and not likely to always fit the conditions required for these "techniques" to work. Your best defense is being in shape. If you have to fight - you can. If you have to run - you can.  If your body can't effectively perform the techniques you have spent years learning, they are useless.

I have been on a "break" from full-time Tae Kwon Do for about 6 months now. I am exploring distance running and will be doing a Half-Marathon shortly. It has been very eye opening and I will be recording the effects it has on Tae Kwon Do training once I return to training after the race.

My Father, Brother and I after I tested for 1st DAN Black Belt.
 That test was 4 hours of agony. “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle”.
For many years I have trained for Tae Kwon Do in exercises developing fast-twitch muscle fibers. I am curious to see how a slow-twitch endurance exercise like distance running will affect my Tae Kwon Do performance. Maybe it will allow me to recover between rounds more efficiently, or maybe it will cause me to tire faster during rounds, we will see.

What are your thoughts on how this will affect Tae Kwon Do performance?

In my next post I will cover the transition from martial arts training to distance running and how it felt at the start of the routine.

Part 2 of this series here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here and Part 5 here.

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.