Why You Should Train Like A Martial Artist

longevity martial arts Mar 23, 2024

-written by Coach Will Safford

I’ve been training martial arts for 14 years and competed for half of those.

Competition has very much become a sport and I always looked for an edge to one up my opponent.

Strength and conditioning became the edge I was looking for.

So I spent a lot of time learning how to optimize my body and mind for combat sport.In the process, I realized that the martial artist needs almost all of the physical qualities a human can develop.

Strength, speed, flexibility, resilience, power, suppleness, balance, stamina, mental toughness..

Essentially, when training for martial arts you are training to be an exceptional human, adept in all qualities. Most other sports need to specialize in just a few areas, but martial arts needs them all.

That’s why any human can benefit from training like a martial artist.

Here’s how.

The Needs of A Complete Fighter

Strength, Power, Speed, Endurance

Unlike a powerlifter that strictly needs strength, or a marathoner who needs endurance, a martial artist needs both.

The strength to overcome opponents, manipulate his or her own bodyweight, and effectively generate force for strikes, throws, holds, and pins.

The endurance to outlast opponents, endure multiple rounds of sparring, and sustain repeated outputs of strength and power.

A martial artist also needs speed to evade, counter, and attack, but also to beat an opponent to the punch or enforce their will first.

Power is necessary to deliver the fight-ending blow or spring into position when necessary.

Body armor, aka muscle, is needed to withstand the rigors of training, including strikes, blows, and falls.

Some of the best ways to cultivate these qualities is through effective bodyweight training like calisthenics, isometric training, and resistance training.

That’s why martial artists have been using these methods for thousands of years.

Plyometric training can help build speed and power, and smart programming can help develop the endurance needed.

Mobility, Flexibility, Suppleness, Agility

Having the previous qualities is only one part of the equation.

A fighter won’t be very effective if they don’t have the ability to express them.

That’s why remaining limber and having full access to their range of motion is vital for optimal performance.

Any professional fighter takes their mobility and flexibility training serious.

Stiffness leads to slow, sub optimal movement, and potential injuries.

A fighter also needs to be able to move in all directions, ready for action from anywhere. This means training in all 3 planes, including the transverse, frontal, and saggittal planes.

An overlooked aspect of many routines is the quality of the fascia. Fascia is what expresses elastic energy, the force behind snappy kicks and lightning fast punches.

You can improve your mobility, suppleness, range of motion, and quality of your fascia through myofascial release, loaded mobility training, and dynamic stretching.

Train in all planes of motion by swinging clubs and maces.

Mental Toughness, Calm Mindedness, Focus

The next aspect of a complete martial artist is the mind.

Anyone who’s trained knows the importance of a sound mind that can endure and overcome challenges.

A lot of martial arts training is built on hardening the mind by repeated exposure to difficult training conditioning.

A fighter also needs to remain calm in the face a fear.

The ability to react, apply techniques, and focus is the difference between a win or loss.

You can develop all of these things through hard training, breath work, and meditation.

Recovery and Resilience

Finally, the martial artist knows you can’t grind the body and mind endlessly.

But it’s the repeated hard training, overcoming challenges, and development of the body and mind that leads to resilience and mastery.

The white belt turns black with repeated use.

However, you must balance the yin with the yang.

Balancing the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system with the rest and digest parasympathetic is vital to beat burnout, prevent injuries, and promote longevity.

Rest days, connecting with nature, healthy eating, and recovery breathing help to restore the body and mind.

Final Thoughts

If you want to live a long, healthy, resilient life then train like a martial artist.

A fighter is not a specialist in any one thing, but capable in all things, ready for whatever obstacle comes at them.

Balance the strength, speed, and power with flexibility, mobility, and free flowing movement.

Harden the body and mind with tough training, repeated exposure to pressure, and overcoming challenges.

Restore the system with rest, nutritious food, and deep breathing.

Become an exceptional human.

Train like a martial artist.

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