Martial arts in and of itself is an awesome, full body workout. But most martial artists also train to improve their speed, conditioning and skill level. If your hero or heroine practices martial arts or depends on his fighting skills for survival, practice and conditioning will a significant part of his lifestyle.
A fighter’s power originates in his center. Kicking, punching and grappling require core strength. Weight training is utilized, but so are exercises like yoga and pilates, which also improve balance and flexibility necessary for martial arts.
Fighting requires aerobic conditioning or endurance, but being able to respond with a short burst of intense energy is also important. Martial artists commonly use interval training to improve their anaerobic conditioning. An example of interval training would be three minutes of easy jogging followed by a one minute sprint, two minutes of easy jogging, then a thirty second full-out run. The lengths of the intervals are varied, as is the intensity of each. The more irregular the workout, the better.
Fighters workout in constantly varying ways to continue to challenge their bodies. Jumping rope is a popular cardio exercise for boxers and martial artists. It encompasses physical exertion, rhythm, and coordination, three vital skills for all types of fighting. Fighters run, they climb ropes, lift kettle bells, throw and carry medicine balls. They drill with repetitive kicks and punches on heavy bags and with partners using hand-held mitts and bags. Fighters do endless varieties of push-ups. And this is a MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter’s idea of a sit-up.
Drills are specific exercises meant to teach patterns in fighting. An example would be something like this. The trainer throws a punch. The fighter move his head out of the path, parries or blocks the punch, then counters with a punch to a practice mitt held next to the trainer’s jaw. The same pattern is repeated many times. Drills help fighters develop muscle memory so they respond to a strike quickly.
Sparring is practice fighting. Participants typically pad up with protective head gear, mouth guards, padded gloves and boots. Sometimes even shin and forearm pads area worn to avoid the painful bruises that result from blocking kicks and punches. Male fighters wear special, heavy-duty athletic cups.
The type and intensity of training will depend upon the martial artist’s need and style. A character who studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will utilize different exercises that someone who trains in Kenpo. Do some research to add the proper detail to your hero or heroine’s workout.