Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Why Training In MMA Shorts Is Important For Taekwondoin

        As a Taekwondo fighter and life long Taekwondoin I have often stressed that most training should be done in the dobok of course, but I always saw the need to train in regular athletic clothes and shorts. We learn to kick wearing dobok pants, but many do not kick in shorts and the feeling is very different.

Training in MMA shorts is great because they are very mobile and allow you to kick high and the material wicks away sweat. I would often do a heavy bag routine in full dobok attire and kick the bag hard with my dobok pants on. This is good to do of course. When you kick with pants on you tend to really work the instep kicks using round kick It conditions the top of your foot really well. wearing pants lacks the tendency for you to kick with your shin. You can do it but you won’t want to as much as your brain usually uses the exposed skin of the foot as the landing weapon. When you do use your shin to kick a bag with your foot your pants cover your skin.

What happens when you have material over your skin as you kick is that sweat stays wet on your skin. You will not get a good skin conditioning to develop your pain tolerance to accept high impacts on your leg. Your feet will get conditions on the skin so the slaps of the heavy bag do not hurt anymore, but your shin won’t. The dobok pants stay wet with sweat and your skin will not get dry in the air as much. This is why you should also train while wearing shorts.

 

 

A good pair of shorts I like to use are the Elite Sports Star Series MMA Shorts. They fit well and feel great. You really want to kick when wearing them. They also work well for grappling, but that is besides the point. When I wear these shorts I can kick the heavy bag pretty well and my skin over my shin will be less moist from sweat as the air will dry the skin. When I kick the bag with my shin my skin toughens up over time and you develop the much needed callouses over the shin bone.

Kicking in the air with shorts is also different. When we wear dobok pants we can do poomsae well as we hear the snap of the clothing over our legs telling us when to stop. In the real world if we get into a fight while wearing shorts it may feel weird and the novice might not understand when to snap his kick or how to pull it without the “dobok snap” sound. When i was a color belt I had this issue. I felt so weird kicking in shorts. I got used to it. Also using shorts allows for the “heavy rotation” kicks like the downward angled kick pulling through to smash the enemy’s thigh or body. The full 360 rotation kicks often seen in kickboxing.

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The reason  like the Elite Sports Star MMA shorts is because of their functionality and fit. The feeling that I am free to kick and move my legs as much as I want without any restraint. They are secure and stay on you well and the material so very comfortable and less plastic feeling as other brands of MMA shorts.

I am a huge advocate of cross training in martial arts as well as training in doors, out doors, in the official Taekwondo uniform and also in street clothes as well as MMA gear. For more to see about Elite Sports gear for combat sports check this video out:

 

 

 

Get the shorts: Elite Sports Star/Sublimation Series Fight Shorts

Elite Sports Website

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#EliteSports #TeamElite @EliteSports

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The Most Comfortable Rash Guard I Have Ever Worn 

        Rash guards are basically surfing shirts used by surfers to protect from getting rashes from their boards. It is made out of spandex type material and usually thicker than regular spandex. These are like half suits for the torso. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu martial artists in the 90’s made these things very popular for martial artists who want to do full contact fighting. The early days of the UFC allowed all kinds of uniforms to be worn in the cage and a lot of practitioners were grapplers. They stopped wearing the traditional Jiujitsu gi because the opponent could grab it and pull on it. So they started the whole “o-gi” Jiu Jitsu style or also sporting competition. This translated well for MMA and kickboxers who train in the gym because it is very functional clothing. You do not have loose clothing like a wet t-shirt, or gi or dobok that soaks up sweat. The rash guard material repels it and wicks it away from your body. They are also hygienic and protect your skin from a lot of skin diseases and bacteria that can be transferred with skin to skin contact and also from the sweat on the mat you may roll in.

With that being said, I am still a traditional martial artist and love to wear my dobok for Taekwondo, but I think that the Taekwondo practitioner needs to also practice in other kinds of clothes and do kickboxing and MMA training. So donning MMA shorts/kickboxing shorts and a rash guard is something you should do every week once or twice at least. I have trained with rash guards for many years doing my intense striking work and conditioning work. I also love to wear one when I roll and do grappling sometimes. I prefer the bJJ gi when I do my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training but I also believe to be an efficient and street ready fighter you need to train in both the gi and without the gi. So the rash guard is the best choice for attire when not rolling in the gi.

I have a few rash guards, but I will tell you the absolute best rash guard I have ever worn is the Elite Sports Star Rash Guard. Elite Sports is a maker of a lot of martial arts gear with an emphasis on MMA, but they also make Taekwondo uniforms too. The Elite Sports Star Short Sleeve Compression Rash Guard is extremely comfortable and feels great.

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The material is thicker spandex and slides well on the mat. The stitching is very strong. What I like about this rash guard compared to others is that the shirt fits my wider frame and does not feel tight in my armpits like other brands do. My shoulders and armpits are not restricted and I can freely move. I am a bigger guy around 220lbs and I wear an XL size. Another important thing about this shirt is that it does not at all choke my in anyway. Almost every rash guard I have worn in the past has given me a slight uncomfortable feeling on the front of my throat. The tight spandex usually gives slight discomfort but nothing that keeps me from working out, breathing, and giving it my all. This Elite Sports Star rash guard has a small v-neck shape that does not choke me at all!!! It feels amazing! I was so surprised.
Probably one of the coolest features of this rash guard is that the waist has a band that keeps the shirt conformed to my waist. It is form fitting and stays down. When I roll with other rash guards they usually would slide up and expose my belly. It was annoying as I want to be modest when I train as well as be hygenic and not have parts of my torso rubbing the mat or someone else’s skin. This rash guard by Elite Sports stays around my waist and does not hike up! I love it!!! It has this cool band sort of like a rubber band keeping it down. Nothing about this rash guard is too tight either. It just overall feels comfortable.

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The design of this rash guard is also really cool. This is a ranked rash guard and white symbolizes by BJJ white belt status. I am almost to blue and when I get blue belt I will get a blue rash guard like this as well. So I feel great and also look great with a very fashionable design!

So as a Taekwondo fighter I will practice my punches and kicks and also do my Jiujitsu in this as well. It also is a great overall active shirt for general fitness. Jogging, weights, jump rope, push ups and everything else. I recommend this rash guard. You can get it on Amazon for $24.99. The price is very nice!!!! Other rash guards cost 50 or more dollars! So Elite Sports is making high quality gear for a low price the average martial arts man can afford!

Check out their website as well as amazon.

Elite Sports Star Rash Guard

http://elitesports.com 

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#TeamElite #EliteSports #EliteSportsMMA

 

 

 

A Great Gi For Jiujitsu! Elite Sports Navy Blue BJJ Gi

        I have been studying Jiujitsu for a long time off and on. I have spent time with grappling clubs as well as actual MMA/BJJ gyms. Last major training I did was in Korea where  I competed in 2 big tournaments. It was an exciting time. So back in USA years later I am trying to hone my BJJ skills and get the blue belt I deserve! With that said I want to tell you about a new gi I recieved recently. The Elite Sports Traditional BJJ Gi. I got the navy blue color and I am size A3.

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When I first opened the gi I could tell the exceptional quality. Before I had used an old basic Judo gi, then I got a BJJ gi in Korea. My first BJJ was a basic gi like this one but the quality of the fabric was not as good and when I washed it (without drying it in a dryer and only hang drying since in Korea that is how we dried clothes) it still shrank! So I had a gi that shrank and had sort arms. I was not allowed to compete in the gi as it went against IBJJF regulations. So when I did compete I had to borrow a gi from a very large Korean man who had a lot of money who could afford to buy those trendy Shoyroll gis. The gi’s he lent me did fit me for both tournaments and felt great but knowing how much money it costs to buy such a brand was ridiculous to me. Now come 2018 and I finally get my hands on a new fresh gi for practice in the USA! I open up the Elite Sports package in the mail and instantly I can feel the fabric was just as good as the expensive brand. The feeling against my skin in training is great! The arms actually fit me and the legs too! Right to my wrists! Each Elite Sports gi is IBJJF approved and ready for both competition and training in the gym.

I got this gi sweaty and it did not drag me down. So it works great with sweat and does not cling too your body and ruin your performance after hours training. I washed it and hang dried it. Each gi is pre shrunk to fit you. I am 5’11 and 225lbs and I got a size A3. It fit me great! I have a larger chest and the extra room feels good. If you are even bigger or larger such as a body builder I suggest a size up from me. If you are a regular dude this gi will offer you enough room as it is.

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This gi is a great choice for a first gi as well because the price is right!!! I swear so many gis are overpriced in the market. 80-200 dollars for a gi? Why? Elite Sports sells this gi for $59.99! Perfect price and awesome value! I definitely recommend choosing this brand.

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When I roll in this gi I do not even know it is there. I am busy focusing on techniques and getting awesome at grappling instead of adjusting my gi around. Even the white belt that came with it, yes it came with a white belt at no extra cost, is sturdy and strong unlike other gi white belts I owned. I like the belt so much I put 2 stripes on it instead of my old white belt that already had 2 stripes I earned from my teacher in Korea.

I feel like I can roll around on the mat doing shrimp drills like I am on ice! I slide fast and smooth! I think this gi is incredibly comfortable. I would wear it all day!

I really like the draw string for the pants. The chord is stretchy somewhat and feels soft. It is long enough to simply tie it and the bow I tie the knot is does not press against my stomach or bother me in anyway. I can easy tug the chord in the back of y pants to tighten them to me comfort level and then tie a knot in front and I am ready to go! Pants stay on secure!

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Rolling feels so comfortable!

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This gi also looks great and is fashionable. It does not look boring as the logos are placed in great spots and are not too big. You can still patch it up and personalize your gi if you are into that. At least for a gym logo. So it still looks classy. I really like the navy blue color as well, it brings out my eyes and just looks fresh. It is not the simple blue, but has his nice darkness that looks formal. Now they do make this same gi in various colors such as white, black, regular blue, and gray. I suggest going to their website to check them all out.

Elite Sports BJJ gis all colors

Elite Sports Traditional BJJ Gi Navy Blue

Elite Sports Website

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Training MMA In Korea

        I was invited to train with a small club for amateur MMA who meets at the gym where I train. We trained on Sunday and it was pretty hard training. We did pad drills, takedown drills and various kinds of sparring such as grappling with punches sparring, stand up striking like Muay Thai style sparring and NoGi grappling parring and finally MMA sparring. Of course we used plenty of control to make sure we were safe and no one got injured; but that does not mean it didn’t hurt or it wasn’t tough! It was! And it did hurt! But it was a good experience to make me a better fighter and martial artist. If I plan to teach Taekwondo I want to know what I am made of and if I am worthy of being an instructor who teaches people how to fight.

        I just have a sore jaw, nose and of course my injuries on my body are very sore from the past surgeries I have had. Some of the guys are advances in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, and Kickboxing. One guy who was nearly 6’5″ was a professional MMA fighter in Korea and a Korea Kickboxing champion. The rest were beginners. One was a wrestler/grappler with no striking experience. So we just had a lot of fun!

        Padwork

       MMA NoGi Grappling Sparring

       Stand Up Kicboxing Sparring

It was a goo training session and it gave me more confidence and showed me may weaknesses to try and fix. I hope to keep getting more confidence so I will not fear fighting and be a stronger person.

 

 

There Is No Excuse For A Taekwondo Black Belt Not Having Good Hands

        I do not believe that there is any excuse whatsoever for a Taekwondo black belt not having good hands. The inability to throw hands well in vital for any true martial artist, let alone one who proclaims advanced skill in the arts. Having solid punches and fast punches is important in self defense. Not only punching from the hp chamber, but being able to throw hands from above. You should not neglect any of these ways of throwing strikes. A Taekwondo black belt not only should be able to do traditional hand techniques with the various self defense blocks and strikes, but also be able to have a solid understanding of punching in fighting fundamentals, as in boxing skills. A Taekwondo expert does not have to be a world champion level Olympic boxer, but he should know the basics and be very good at them and train for speed and solid power to knock someone out. A real fight that goes the distance will cause the Taekwondo fighter to have to “fist up” so to speak in order to protect their body and also throw punches from this guarded up position. Here is a video displaying a way of practicing for speed and power I like to do. It has to do with warming up, loosening the joins, and carrying weights and shadow boxing and blasting punches.

        A Taekwondo black belt who cannot throw fists and block well has been one an injustice. If you recieved a black belt and your instructor did not teach you such basics of punching please learn on your own and find someone who can teach you. End the cycle of bad teaching and become a better martial artist on your own. Also, to say that because you are punching from above makes it “not Taekwondo” is simply something an ignoramus might say. Sure it is not traditional poomsae technique, but it does not negate you as a Taekwondoin, it only enhances you and gives you credibility. Of course such punches are the staple of boxing, but the sport of boxing does not own punches even if they are the masters at them, and every martial art eventually turns out with the same goals and endpoint. As Bruce Lee expressed in a famous interview that unless humans grow extra limbs they will all fight similar. Martial arts all end up with the same goals and concepts but they just get to that point through another path. All martial artists who have sense will collaborate as well and give and take with other styles. Just like Mortal Kombat the arcade game would display on the screen, “There is no knowledge that is not power!” And there is no excuse not to know such basics.

Why Training Outside Is Important

        A martial artist should be able to function properly in any environment. Not only should they be able to fight inside a gym, but they should also be able to fight outside in various kinds of weather and on various surfaces. To be truly strong and fit and functional the human body needs to be able to experience all kinds of temperature and weather. Balance is also gained by training on various kinds of surfaces from the dojang mat, wood floor, tiles, cement, asphalt, dirt, grass, ground with tree roots sticking out, gravel, boulders, sand, and whatever else a person might walk across. Training outside is under-emphasized by so many dojangs.

        So many people want to join a comfortable gym. I think it is important to have a clean space with professional equipment around, but it is not necessary for training and Taekwondo practice in itself. One can train in Taekwondo and get good without that, but it is obviously better to train at a dojang as a main place to train. There are good things about being able to train in a place that you know is safe because of a soft floor, a bathroom near you, and water available, etc. And having air conditioning has its benefits, but only relying on a gym atmosphere will not prepare you for a fight outside. Most fights or attacks are going to happen outside of your gym and you should be prepared for it, and your physical fitness should be able to handle whatever the environment will lay on you whether it be extreme humidity, or ice cold streets. A martial artist should always take time to face the elements.

        Training outside feels amazing with the fresh air and the sounds of nature. Not all of us have exotic locations or secret mountain monasteries to train at. We do not all live in Asia with Korean gardens, or at some ancient temple ruins.

It would be awesome to train in such locations, but how many people do you know that live near such things? If you lived near areas like that would you even be allowed access to train there? You can have an exhilarating and enlightening experience simply by training in your backyard, or a parking lot for that matter. Many people imagine ancient Buddhist monks, or cool black belt guys doing awesome poomsae on a cliff or near a waterfall and hitting trees with extreme power. But that is what silly nerds day dream about who never got over their childhood fantasies of being a ninja or Shaolin monk because of too many movies. I watch a ton of movies with Shaolin monks and ninjas, but I don’t live in a fantasy world like those kinds of dorks. One of the coolest scenes from a movie though, is the scene showing the Korean team in the movie “Best of the Best.” All of their training was done outside and even in the snow. That was inspiring. Such things can motivate you to train outside, but you should do so with realistic intent. You don’t have to have dramatic landscapes to train well, and when you do go outside to train literally make sure you train and are not instead daydreaming to be a mystical mountain warrior and LARPing.

        It is a wonderful thing to train outside in nature and hear the sounds of the birds, the wind in the trees, and sometimes cars riving by…well the cars driving by is kind of unavoidable for me, but I don’t let it stop me. But more often the sounds of the birds and wind and possibly distant water from a nearby creek is what I hear. I feel the wind blow through my hair, and on my body. One of the best feelings is when the cool wind blows through the V-neck of your dobok. I train in my dobok outside once in awhile, but since much of my work is extreme and in very harsh weather I usually wear typical workout clothes like gym shorts, a t-shirt or tank top, and in cold weather sweats and a hoodie. I use shoes on rough surfaces but sometimes am able to take my shoes off if training on grass. Training with both shoes and barefoot is important. There is a different feeling when kicking with shoes on which is what you will encounter in a self defense situation most often, than barefoot. Being able to kick in shorts, or a different kind of pants is important. You should not only be good at moving when wearing a dobok, but also regular clothes as well.

        For me, in Alabama I have spent hours and hours for years training in my apartment complex parking lot. Since moving to another city I have the opportunity to train on grass or in the woods. I also train on cement. Most of my workouts are done in the extremely hot Alabama sun and absolutely intense humidity. I live in a sub-tropical climate. Growing up I lived in Oregon where there was virtually no humidity and the air was so light and fresh. In Alabama you sweat right when you walk outside. But we have cold weather in the winter.

        I do have to mention that for about 4 years I lived in Kentucky where the humidity was pretty harsh and the sun very hot, and the winter was extremely harsh. In Kentucky I had a backyard with pretty much dead grass I used to train in and spar a buddy I knew who did Karate. Often times I did poomsae and shadow boxed. We had some cement and I would go barefoot on it. We also had an old deck that I did not enjoy training on because of slivers and nails sticking up out of it. Sometimes I wore shoes, especially in the winter. I would do poomsae in the snow and even train in the dark around 6am and run around the yard. Experiencing various weather is tough. I learned not to pretend I was in the movie “Fighter in the Wind” (which just came out on DVD in the USA at that time) and not rely on my martial arts uniform for functional clothing. I began to wear a hoodie, ski mask, gloves, and shoes because I was training on snow and ice. It is insane to only wear a uniform in such cold, and Taekwondo uniforms are made so thin usually. Later I moved to California and the air was light, but the summers could get hot. I trained often luckily on a soccer field with a track going around it. It was made with a grainy astroturf that was so soft you could either wear shoes or be barefoot. During my life in Oregon, Kentucky, and California I also trained inside of gyms and at actual dojangs.

        Now in Alabama it barely snows but in the winter it gets very cold so I train in a hoodie, sweat pants, and wear shoes. I also wear gloves. I don’t let the weather stop me from working out. I even train in the rain once in awhile and that can be fun, but slippery so be careful. With the weather so hot I can take my shirt off and wear MMA shorts in the rain. It feels amazing like a warm shower or being at a water park under that mushroom thing.

Kinds of workouts you should do when outside

        It is important to do intense workouts in all kinds of weather and on various surfaces. A martial artist should train like a fighter, not a ballet dancer. One should not only do poomsae and basic motions, but also shadow box, practice kick combos, jump rope, hit pads with a buddy, spar, do push ups, jumping jacks, jogging, box jumps (or bench jumps or whatever you can find to jump up on), burpees, horse stances for a long time, lunges, squats, holding weights, ladder drills, and more. Buying a round timer is good for this. Training like this will challenge your cardio and your mental toughness. How often do you need to take a break or get water? Test yourself.

The different kinds of weather you will face

        Now let’s talk about the different kinds of weather and temperature one can encounter when training.

Hot weather

        Have you ever trained in a gym really hard and got extremely sweaty but the gym environment was cool with nice air conditioning so it was not so bad? I think we all have. Now, have you ever walked outside into the parking lot on a hot summer day and felt overwhelmed by the heat? Mix this in with humidity and it is even worse. How long do you think you can last working in such hot weather? Could you do well in a fight? Does the sweat dripping all over your body bother you? Here in Alabama the weather is extremely hot and extremely humid. It is a hot and sweaty environment. Every day activity makes you sweat. You can take a walk outside and quickly within a minute be sweating. To think that most fights are going to happen in this kind of weather here should encourage a person to workout outside. I often train outside almost every day. If it is sunny outside I work out in the sun. I of course have to take small breaks in the shade, but working out and seeing how long you can last under the sun makes you stronger. I can easily go into an air conditioned gym and last a long time because my training in this humid and hot weather gives me extra power. I endure the painful weather and do all my of poomsae outside, jump rope, push ups, shadow box for 30 minutes, practice various kicks and more. Every day I do different stuff depending on how I feel my body can handle that day. I do not suffer heat stroke or heat sickness because I am smart how I train. You should wear proper clothes and have enough food and water before training.

        When training in hot weather with intense sun, or in extreme humidity one must make sure to take breaks in the shade. Do a few rounds then during breaks stand in the shade. Sometimes you can workout a lot in the shade, and workout less under the sun. Staying in the shade is still very warm in Alabama. Make sure to wear proper amounts of sunscreen as well. But do not over do it. Being out in the sun as healthy because sun light gives us vitimin D. Getting a tan makes your skin stronger, but do not ignore burning. Do not go out without sunscreen for 45 minutes shirtless. If you do not wear sunscreen just go back and fourth into the shade during the training session. Over time your skin will get used to the sun and not burn as fast because you will get tan. But sunscreen is of course recommended for the really long session you plan to do.

Cold weather

        Cold weather can be anything from a grey cloudy day in the Fall or a freezing cold winter day with or without snow. In cold weather you should wear a hooded sweater, sweat pants or warm up pants that will keep you from freezing. The more you move the hotter your body will get and you will not feel as cold. With certain kinds of sweaters you could very well heat up a lot and feel too hot to train. So make sure your outfit is going to keep you just right. If it is not arctic weather do not dress for it, dress for a less intense cold.

        Training on snow and ice is tough because you can slip and slide. I do not recommend trying to be badass and wearing your dobok with no shoes. That is stupid and counter productive to training. It is not going to make your feet stronger or make you a better fighter if you get frost bite. If you want to be silly and go out for 5 minutes with no shoes on, okay sure, do it, it could help you with mental power to overcome pain. Mas Oyama and others have been known to meditate underneath ice col waterfalls, but who knows for how long they did. It does make for a nice photo opportunity to look very stoic and spiritual. I would say going underneath a water fall for a few minutes helps your pain tolerance and mental strength but don’t be stupid and get hypothermia. Realistically though, most people live in a town or neighborhood and we are not going to be near a waterfall or on some nice mountain. I basically have spend years training in a parking lot. Now I train on grass and also a walkway made of cement. When icy weather comes you can slip and slide and doing certain stances are dangerous because you could slip out or twist a knee easier. So be very careful. If you wear snow boots it helps with traction but then throwing kicks is very hard. Heavy weighted shoes and thicker pants are going to make you kick way slower, but that is okay. Just do what you can.

        The cold weather is going to make you feel somewhat bad, but once you warm up you will feel good. Your body will start off being stiff, especially if you have old injuries in the joints like me. But once you warm up slowly and do some stretches and jump around and shadow box some you will feel a lot better and looser. You will move better. The cold air will fill your lungs and if you are not used to being outside in cold weather you will have a shock of pain inside you. Dealing with this and making cold weather air a normal thing to breathe will make your lungs stronger and make your cardio better. Over time, over weeks or months you will get used to it and not care. It won’t even hurt. In the hot summer humidity it is another kind of pain ad fatigue, but the freezing air is more painful in my opinion. It will make your nose run as well.

        Rain is going to make you wet and soak up your clothes unless it is warm weather and a summer rain storm. Then you can wear a tank top or no shirt and just shorts and it feels great. Rain water is also slippery but not as much as ice or snow on the ground. If it is freezing rain you will feel really bad and should not spend too long in it since it will soak your clothes and you could get hypothermia or sick from the cold. Contrary to the myth, col weather does not make you catch a cold. That is an ignorant belief an an old wives tale. Cold weather has no effect for germs or disease. It is impossible to catch a cold in the rain, or cold weather. The only sickness you could get it temperature related as in hypothermia. You only get a cold if you are around someone with a virus or the germs that cause colds. It is unlikely you will have this happen to you if you are using common sense. And you probably won’t get hypothermia either.

The different kinds of surfaces

        You will encounter all kinds of ground surfaces when training outside if you go to many places. Grass is the best surface because it is usually soft and has traction. You can train barefoot most of the time. Often though, you may only be able to train on cement or on dirt. Cement and asphalt is not good to train on with bare feet. Oh, maybe you are one of those hippy children who’s parents encourage you to walk around like a weirdo without shoes on all day, but it is pretty stupid to do so when the ground can be so filthy, and if you cut your foot you could get infection. Parking lots are full of filth: oil, dirt, trash, spit etc. Try and wear light shoes. Martial arts shoes are the best, but try and find a lighter shoe, not a basketball shoe. The problem with cement or asphalt is that it tears up your shoes fast when you shadow box. The pivoting and twisting motions from kicks and stances can tear up the sole of the shoe fast. If you are rich you can just buy a lot of shoes, but poor people like me cannot afford to buy shoes every month. But I still use the same shoes over and over until they nearly disintegrate.

        If you have a clean driveway or patio you could be barefoot on it, but it will be rough on your skin. After you train your feet will feel sore from the friction scraping your heels, balls of feet and toes. It will happen. But it is okay to do this because you will get used to the pain. Make sure after training you wash your feet or take a shower right away. You don’t want to have filthy feet in your house. This is especially true if you train on dirt barefoot as well. Sometimes I choose to train in the woods and take my shoes off.

        Training on dirt is fun if it is soft. If it is hard make sure to wear shoes. Dirt gives traction and keeps your grounded. If you are in the woods your problem will be that the top of the ground is covered in dry leaves and twigs as well as rocks and tree roots. You can hurt your feet. Also, even if you wear shoes you can slip on the leaves and lose traction. It is best to scrape out the ground you want to train on to uncover the dirt. Now if you go jogging or running through the woods doing kicks then do not worry about it. It is a good practice to run and kick off of trees, and kick on top of dry leaves an practice balance. Also use tree leaves on branches low enough to practice high kicks. Round kicks, spin kicks, axe kicks and more can be done using tree leaves and it gives your mind a target to try and hit. If the branch or bush is strong enough it also keeps you from overextending your knee joint and has some give to it. Kicking the air is not as fun as kicking plants. Kicking plants is actually a smart drill many martial artists use. It works on targeting an precision of the kick instead of just kicking the air. You can also do side kicks and back kicks on trees and work on kicking off of them in the air for fun.

        If there are many tree roots you could very well hurt yourself by tripping on them or stepping on one and twisting your knee and injuring yourself. I do not recommend training on such surface so be careful if you are in the woods.

Light VS Dark

        Not only can you train outside during the day, you can train outside in the late afternoon and evening when it gets darker. You can also just train at night when it is dark completely outside. Night training works on your sense of sight and also ealing with shadows. Kick pads in the dark or during the setting sun. If it gets really hot outside, training as it gets dark will have a cooler temperature. You can also train early in the morning before the sun rises or as it just begins to rise. If you are a morning person this can be fun. I personally would rather train as the sun sets. Feeling the nature around you and the beauty also enhances your experience and gives you energy.

Sometimes there are park lights that will allow you to see very well at night.

Drills to do outside

        There are a lot of fun drills and activities you can do outside! Of course you can do what I mentioned above, which you should do: actually work out outside. Do fitness stuff as well as shadow boxing and forms etc. But there are plenty of fun Taekwondo drills to do.

        You can d breathing exercises and enjoy the air outside. Doing things such as Tai Chi or Chi Kung or any kind of breathing meditative exercises for breath control and stretching out muscles and joints is better to do in the fresh morning air than inside a sweaty gym.

The Ladder

        The ladder is a fun device that you can use to step through and work on various Taekwondo footwork. Taking a ladder made for this purpose outside can be more fun than doing it inside a gym. A ladder can work on any surface such as grass where you can use stakes to keep it in the ground, or just lay it on top of the grass (which is what I always do. I never stake it in). You can simply lay it on cement or blacktop and it does not slide around too much. Straightening it out every so often is no big deal either.

Cones

        Set up cones around a flat area like a yard, grass, or driveway and do pivoting rills, jumping over cones, kicking in lines between cones and more. Make each cone represent a station to do certain combos. Practice foot work and more.

Box jumps

        You can do box jumps on anything such as a ledge or curb that is tall. You can use a park bench or anything else that is sturdy. You can o box jumps in sets or for a period of time. This is a really good workout for building up leg strength and cardio.

Jump rope

        This is an obvious one. Jumping rope is easy and you can buy a jump rope very cheap. Just try to jump on a smoother surface than rough cement so the rope will last longer.

Shadow boxing and forms

        This is a given.

Pull ups

        This is more difficult since not everyone lives around an area that has bars hanging that can hold their weight. Often times people go to a playground, but I have found that the monkey bars and other bars at such places for kids are too low to the ground and you have to bend your knees. This can get annoying. I have found that very tall fences such as the kind that are found in tennis ball courts work well. You can o pull ups. Buy gloves you can use so you d not tear up your hands. It is unnecessary to tear up your skin, it won’t make your arm and back strength better if you do but only waste time making you wait for your skin to heal before you can go full force again. If you do have tough hands and don’t need gloves then ok…that is your choice. You can also use platform stairs by going underneath the stairs and using the cement slabs to hang off of. This also increases finger strength since the stairs are a thicker thing to grab.

        Push ups, horse stance, picking up heavy objects and throwing them

        You can do obvious things like push ups and leg squats outside, but you can also work on your horse stance by carrying heavy objects such as a giant log or rock. Or stack up bricks on your legs and hold them in your hands. Hold stones in each hand or bricks while you stand in horse stance. Also, do jump squats.

        There are tons of other execises you can do. Once you get enough you like to do you can combine them.

        The point I am making is that training outside is important, it is also fun, and the weather changes and suffering you can endure will increase your power and strength in ways that only training in a gym and nowhere else cannot give you. It is also calming and soothing to train in nature and experience the sights, sounds, and smells that the outdoors gives. It is God’s blessing and something a warrior should embrace.

The Fight Doctor Sensei Takuya Futaesaku

        Several years ago I randomly found a cool YouTube channel of a Karate master who is also a Physical Therapy doctor. I first saw a video of a Japanese female fighter doing a slow kicking exercise. His videos are full of various martial artists, most of them professional fighters of K-1 and MMA and other sports such as Kyokushin Karate, and even Olympic Taekwondo athletes; all of them are doing various martial arts style physical therapy. It is an interesting channel. His name is Dr. Takuya Fitaesaku and he is the founder of Society of Fighting Medicine. His channel name on YouTube is “sunliveorio.” So check it out.

I wanted to get an interview with him, and he agreed to do it, but had second thoughts because of English language issues, as well as he is a very, very busy doctor and Karate teacher traveling doing so many seminars and appointments that translation would take a long time. So he changed his mind and did not want to answer all of my questions. He was very polite and nice to talk to even so.

        Apparently he is famous in Japan for being the doctor at ringside for many fights such as K-1 Kickboxing and Japanese MMA promotions. He is not only a high ranking Karate black belt in 2 styles, but a real medical doctor with a degree from medical school. I think he has valuable information on injury prevention, healing of injuries and strengthening, and all around safety in practice of martial arts. He is big on Karate but he is a overal general martial arts and combat sports enthusiast and respects it all. He is a Karate master of Yoshukai and Kyokushin Karate styles. He also invented an awesome striking bag which is a thin cylinder on a chain that works great for fast kicking, punching, and avoiding simulated strikes toward you called the “KO Bag.” It allows you to move around more freely than a standard, large heavy bag. Dr. Futaesaku is a Karate genius!

There are other videos showing all kinds of punching drills and also connected 2 of these KO Bags together as well as tying on 2 striking pads on the bottom to simulate multiple legs kicking at you. It looks like an incredibly fun cardio workout.

It can get crazier and crazier depending on what you connect to it! You can order one and have it shipped to you. He also sells really cool shirts that he designed that say “No Karate, No Life” on them for diehard karateka to wear. He always is wearing one of these shirts as he never wears a gi top or black belt in any of his videos.

         “Dr. F” as he is known also uploads “pay for” video seminars. All of his videos on YouTube have pretty much been in Japanese, but he has since started to upload English language videos. His seminars are available by purchase online via instant video streaming/download at the following link: http://necfru.jp/video?id=3993. You can view a 3 minute sample there and if you want more you can pay for it and get the entire video.

He trains any martial arts style and there are videos of Kickboxers, Muay Thai fighters, Full Contact Karate fighters, and Olympic Taekwondo fighters who all had training and physical therapy teachings learned by Dr. F.

Another random thing is, I am not sure, but I believe that he also gives physical therapy to Japanese rock singers and pop artists. Since the videos are in Japanese I am not exactly sure what is going on except he is also famous with some musicians. Check out his channel.

There Are Other Reasons To Train In Martial Arts Besides Competitive Fighting

        There are all kinds of reasons to train in martial arts besides competitive fighting. In the old days of Karate nobody was concerned with sport fighting or winning points. The Okinawans and Japanese only cared about fighting in general and staying alive. Likewise, in Taekwondo’s infancy nobody was thinking about how they can create a popular sport, but how to promote a Korean way of fighting more perfect than Karate itself.

Besides fighting in general and self defense martial arts in my opinion are the ultimate fitness and health activities anyone can do. It is better than dancing, better than gymnastics, and better than just lifting weights alone. Martial arts combine everything into one. Movement of the joints in various ways, moving the body in every possible way it can move, and development of serious cardio and blood circulation. Martial arts also offer healing by strengthening the body and systems of the body. Many martial artists, including myself age pretty well. We look younger and are more fit than average people. We can last longer and have a better quality of life. On top of this is of course our self defense skills that will keep us alive longer if we are attacked. Martial arts are ultimate self preservation.

Martial arts help mental health by inducing stress relief, intense focus of the mind with forms and meditation, coordination skills, and give enjoyment and pleasure to practitioners. It keeps people busy who otherwise might be bored if they did not know a martial art style. Traditional martial arts also offer great ways for solo training such as forms that can be performed anywhere which also sharpen the mind and develop masterful techniques.

Of course with anything, martial arts also provides a way for a competitive spirit. Competition is a way to test skills and see how someone holds up with another human being. Combat sports are always there for people to participate in but are not the main goal. There are ways to compete inside the dojo with friends without entering huge tournaments or serious combat sports such as full contact kickboxing and MMA. But even so some people want to participate in MMA and see how they do. That is fine, but it should not be the sole purpose of a life long martial artist. There is so more more you can do and the toll that MMA and full contact fighting events takes on the body can be a negative force in your personal martial arts journey. There is a time to retire and a time to understand to take training slow because of injuries. Over the years your body will wear down immensely and basic martial arts skills will suffer. The nature of MMA is hurting another and avoiding being hurt. It is impossible to not get hurt yourself as every fight you will get hit. Over time it can cause brain damage and serious joint injuries and arthritis. I believe it is possible to regress physically and regress as a martial artist with too much combat participation.

Frank Mir, ex-UFC heavy weight champion mentions very profound things about MMA:

Almost everybody at the UFC level can fight through an injury. We’re all hurt by the time the fight comes. I’m starting camps off with the injuries that I haven’t properly addressed and that’s affecting the way I train, movements we’re using and what we can do on a certain day. I’ve got Forrest Griffin making jokes about it like, ‘It’s time to retire when I train like Mir.’ I’m like, ‘what are you saying?’ He’s like, ‘Well you walk in the gym, what doesn’t hurt?’ So I was like, ‘well, you’re right.’ So I was like, let me take time off, address these issues and train healthy – relatively speaking for what we do in our sport – then I’ll keep fighting. But it’s to the point where I’m only 35-years-old and you know, the quality of life. I’d like to play a pickup game of baseball with my kids…So that’s kind of the decisions and why I did what I did.”

Frank Mir understands that having a high quality of life is important, not just for himself, but for his family. It is a fact that someone who trains hard in a martial art style who does not have injuries or brain damage can train harder and better than someone who has such injuries.

If someone only participated in a minimal level of combat sports, or none at all except dojang training, he possibly will have better technique, better health, better cardio, better power and proper body mechanics than an old retired MMA fighter with 50+ fights. In self defense who will do better at this point? Obviously combat experience is important to factor in, but with enough combat training in a dojang or dojo a person can still master a martial art and effectively win a street fight. He can also train in martial arts longer during his life and benefit his martial arts style and community longer than someone who has too many injuries.

Being a life long martial artist also has the duty of promoting that martial art, teaching it to new students, developing new techniques and keeping the art alive. I often find it strange many MMA fighters who retire have nothing much to do with teaching martial arts or starting a martial arts gym business afterward. Some simply just do other things and walk away. Even professional boxes. I don’t see Mike Tyson running a gym or promoting his boxing to new generations. Maybe he does in a way that I do not know, but he is basically in movies, doing 1 man Broadway shows, developing an animated TV show, writing books etc. But he is not being a boxing instructor. The professional fight scene seems to exist for personal glory more than enjoying a martial arts community and making training and practice a life long journey. There is no end to training and practice for a Taekwondoin. We will go until we are 100 years old until we die. We should be teaching and passing on concepts and martial arts to new and younger people.

Benson Henderson said it best after his fight with Nick Diaz in 2012 when he claimed there is more to life than fighting. He said,

Fighting’s cool. I love this guys, thank you guys for all of the support. Seattle, I love you, but fighting is just a small part. There’s a lot more to life, guys. There’s a lot more to life. Hug on your loved ones, cherish them. These moments we have together, they’re a lot shorter than you think.

Simply just to fight in a sport, I believe, is not the sole reason to train in martial arts. Living life and enjoying other things is important too and martial arts themselves, even without competition, help a person achieve a higher quality of life than if one was not training in them. There is much benefit also for people who train without fighting.

There is a current and ignorant trend that says the only reason to train in any martial art is if you compete. If you do not compete you are somehow a deficient martial artist and doing something that is pointless. Also, you are not a real fighter. This is bogus. Anyone who trains in a combat art with the intention of fully embracing it’s self defense aspects while enjoying its other benefits is literally a fighter in their being. The attitude of a fighter is not only displayed in combat sports or street fighting. Does a soldier in the military only become a soldier when fighting in a war? What about during times of peace? Are they not real soldiers unless they become combat veterans? That would be absurd. Of course they are still soldiers. Someone who trains to be a soldier is a soldier whether or not they ever fight in a war their entire life. A martial artist is likewise a fighter whether or not they literally fight people in combat or self defense or not. The fact is they are seriously training.

There are many good reasons to train in martial arts besides competitive fighting and they are just as valid as one who has a quest for MMA glory. I plan to teach Taekwondo and practice it for the rest of my life. I also plan to train in other styles as well until I can no longer do it. I plan to always be involved in the martial arts world through teaching, promoting, and training. Too many injuries from too much heavy sparring is detrimental to a martial arts lifestyle, but it is necessary to train with sparring to truly encompass the full range of martial arts perfection. It all depends on your attitude. There is nothing wrong with MMA, but trendy MMA hipster culture is full of ignorant people who have never learned what being a true martial artist is. A few intelligent fighters do understand this as well as MMA students, but the popular trendy culture surrounding it needs to be ignored while true martial artists become masters and perfect technique into old age and never quit.

 

Problems With The Taekwondo Male Body Image: Skinny Legs And 6 Pack Abs Don’t Win Fights

        For the longest time in Taekwondo culture the Taekwondo approved male body image has usually been a tall and thin male. Most often it is the standard long legged, skinny Asian body of the Korean male. I believe the current standards for a serious Taekwondo fighter’s body is very biased for a certain caliber of people and usually only focuses on poomsae and Olympic sparring sport competitors. When a body type for western specific men is presented for Taekwondo in general, whether they be white, black, hispanic etc., the models closely resemble the ideal tall Korean body in shape. I find this to be an unrealistic standard and unfair. Also, many Korean men are not even tall but there are a lot who are. It isolates other effective body types for martial arts and fighting by presenting only one standard as the ideal Taekwondo body type for males: the tall and lanky sport competitor.

        I know there is also a Taekwondo body image for females. For women it is the petite and shorter, yet still skinny Asian bodied, Korean female. You see this all the time in martial arts catalogs. And Mexico has recently tried to introduce a new “female dobok” specifically for sex appeal and also making the claim that spandex material is better for sparring (which it is not). Even so, this article will focus on the male body image and leave the female body image for another discussion.

        Taekwondo models do not necessarily look unhealthy usually. They look athletic and attractive. Once in awhile I do sense that possibly the models have a bit skinny legs that are ineffective for serious kicking, which won’t cause any serious impact on a person. For western models in Taekwondo culture, the influence of the Korean standards for a proper body carries over into any ethnicity almost, whether it be European, African, Latino or other. I do believe that the standards for a Taekwondo fighter’s body in most of Taekwondo pop-culture are unrealistic and also wrong for many people to have. The k-pop music influence of Korean pop-culture has heavily influenced Taekwondo worldwide. The idea of the proper shape of a body for a serious martial artist is shown to be somewhat effeminate for the males and also very thin, and most often tall. I do not find this to be accurate of what many true Taekwondo masters look like. Many of the old masters over 60 years old have shorter legs, even some stubby compared to western legs, and many of these Korean grandmasters have thicker thigh muscles and shoulder muscles from decades of hardcore training. A few have bulky muscles and look built. Of course most often these masters are naturally wiry or thin, but they are still very masculine and tough. Of course some masters are more bulky and shaped like a barrel and do not even have 6 pack abs. This is because they have functional muscles for actual use, not for show.

        Here are some examples of the male body image portrayed in current Taekwondo culture as ideal for martial arts in magazines advertisements, and catalogs for uniforms:

To find these images I typed “Taekwondo male dobok” into Google.

Here are some examples of Taekwondo athletic body types for WTF sports:

For those images I typed in “Olympic Taekwondo athlete” into Google. Almost every image has this similar look for body type. It is still the thin and long legged body type.

        Now this is not necessarily wrong or a bad body to have. Many people obviously naturally are tall and lanky. This body type works very well within Olympic sport Taekwondo where kicking from distances to score points works best with long and thin legs. They can reach farther, often times faster moving, and are harder to see than a larger mass. This kind of body works best for Olympic sports and is probably why most of the heavier bodies of male athletes are not seen in this sport often. At least they are not showcased as much. But Olympic sport Taekwondo is only a part of Taekwondo and not the whole. Taekwondo is a self defense art.

        Believe it or not ITF Taekwondo is not immune to this. Here are a couple examples:


Hands down sparring exactly like WTF with lanky bodies

This ITF Demo team is much like any WTF body type

        The most desires or acceptable body for a Taekwondo fighter can be summed up in the poster boy for Taekwondo pop-culture, Olympic gold medalist Steven Lopez:

In my opinion he looks somewhat anorexic. Yes he has very defined muscles, but he is incredibly skinny. Yes he is trying to be sexy by showing his Fruit of the Loom’s in the front. But realistically that does not matter, his muscles and body type are not well for any serious combat without rules, let alone MMA. He needs to bulk up. He has the tall and lanky, long legged, tiny armed body that is popular. He does not need arms as much as legs for his sport.

      I have in the past been called obese or fat by a Korean master because my body type is more bulky and tank like. No I am not fat, I just do not have a perfect 6 pack of abs and I have thicker muscles and big arms and a big chest. I lift weights and work out to keep my fitness up so I can be a better fighter. There are a lot of typical athletic males like me out there who do various sports, including various styles of martial arts who are thick framed and bulky. In the past it has seemed that it was understood that to be a better fighter you should be stronger, bigger, tougher, thicker and faster. This is not talking about storing up body fat like a sumo wrestler, this is talking about working out. Lifting weights, doing pushups and eating protein etc. I believe it is self evident that someone who is larger and stronger will defeat someone with the same skill level who is smaller and thinner. Of course someone who is smaller and thinner with more advance skill than a larger opponent will win in a fight, but if that larger opponent ended up being just as skilled as the smaller guy it is obvious the larger guy has a better chance of winning. This is why world championship fight leagues have weight classes. Every combat sport has weight classes including Taekwondo. But take sport out of the picture and put the emphasis on fighting in general and self defense where there is no rules and it is better to be larger.

        This mentality in Taekwondo culture also affects the way companies produce doboks (uniforms). Companies now make doboks tighter and longer. So the uniform becomes stitched for someone with a thin frame and who is very tall. Most companies sell the uniform’s sizes by the weight of the person, not actual measurements. So, someone who is muscular and 200lbs. or so will buy a size 6 dobok and when he gets it in the mail he tries it on only to find out that the uniform top is tight around the midsection and the sleeves go past his wrists over his hands. The pants crotch hangs way too low and restricts kicking so he has to roll down the top of the pants a couple of times, and the pants go over his feet and touch the floor so he has to roll them up a few times.

        So, buying a properly fitting dobok  for average athletic males who do not fit the stereotype body find it nearly impossible to find a well made uniform that is WTF approved and fits properly. This exact thing happened to me when I bought a Mooto Basic uniform. When I ordered over the phone they told me if I got a size 5 it would be too tight so I need to get a larger uniform. When I said the sleeves or legs might be too long they said just alter it. So basically now I have to pay someone to alter a uniform and when they alter it they never alter it to be the same stitching as the original. It is very annoying. So, I just roll my pant legs up, pant waist band down, and arm sleeves of the top up. The is the only way to wear the uniform functionably for me. Even so, the quality of the Mooto basic uniform is very top of the line and I am satisfied. But it would be nice if they made them fit better. This is what many guys have to deal with when buying doboks now. The only decently fitting uniform I had in the past was when I was 16 and bought and Addidas uniform. A Taekwondo uniform is supposed to be a practical training suit that allows for total mobility in every direction. It should not be tight or have a low crotch that restricts kicking and it should not flop over the hands and feet.

        Within sport fighting events such as the UFC and GLORY Kickboxing the most respected fighters, the ones seen as the most dangerous, often times are very large men with large muscle mass. They have a lot of mass, but are not necessarily thing or perfectly toned. Most of the top fighters in mixed martial arts do not even have 6 pack abs and store a thick layer of body fat over their strong bodies. Examples of top fighters body types are bellow:

Cain Valasquez the current heavy weight UFC champion

Feder Emelianenko the Legend “Last Emperor”

Daniel Cormier 


UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell and his famous pot belly

Now here are some images of random Taekwondo masters or grandmasters:

The late Tiger Sang Soo Kim, 9th dan black belt from the 1970s. He has a very muscular body and is very bulky and large framed. He is not lanky and thin and tall. He has thick muscles.

Grandmaster Hee Il Cho, 9th dan of AIMAA. He has thicker muscles than a typical Taekwondo guy today, yet he is naturally thinner as a Korean. But he is one of the most serious fighting masters alive in Taekwondo today.

Master Sang H. Kim, 8th dan Kukkiwon who has authored various Taekwondo books including Taekwondo self defense and combat. He also has made various DVD’s on Taekwondo and self defense. His body type is the shorter with stubbier legs that is common among many Asian men. Not all Koreans are lanky and tall, I believe more are shorter especially from the older days (born before the 70’s possibly due to nutrition) as Korea progressed with wealth after the war.

9th dan grandmaster Lee Kyu Hyun of Kukkiwon with another 7th dan master. Shorter and thicker bodies than the typical thin models of Taekwondo magazines.

The late grandmaster Tae Hong Choi of Oregon. This man signed my 1st dan black belt certificate as well as applied my rank into the Kukkiwon. He looks like a standard Karateka yet he is a Taekwondoin from the oldschool days. This is what a Taekwondo master looked like as it was about mastering the fighting art and not simply doing poomsae and Olympic sport tournaments. When I tested under this man asked me specifically what Taekwondo was and he wanted to make sure I knew it was a fighting art first and only a sport after that. This grandmaster taught U.S. Special Forces and the South Vietnamese Army Taekwondo techniques. He also taught Taekwondo techniques to CIA operatives. This was a man who understood real combat and self defense, and the fact Taekwondo is a combat art. He was a highly respectable Kukkiwon grandmaster and even heavily promoted WTF tournaments, and served as a USTU Vice President. Yet, he would never be chosen as an ideal male body type for current standards of WTF/Kukkiwon Taekwondo culture.

        Realistic, martial artists’s body types are featured often in other martial arts styles. They are seen as badass and tough. The body that matters for fighting, not for show. One of the most serious, fierce, and hardcore fighters of the last century was Grandmaster Masutatsu Oyama or Kyokushin Kai Karate fame:

No real martial artist who knows anything about this man would dare call him fat or think he was not a true master. he is barrel shaped, much like a ball or tank. He is thick muscles but has an obvious layer of fat, yet he was a true fighter and beat hundreds of opponents. Even in his younger days he never seemed to have a 6 pack of abs, yet he did have more muscle tone. Most Kyokushin fighters are built like a tank. Their aim is to train for throwing the hardest kicks and hardest punches in order to win fights. That is their goal, to show they have the “strongest Karate.” Taekwondo could really benefit fromt his mindset. Not that Taekwondo fighters need more body fat, but that the focus should be on practical bodies with functional muscles and health. Not to look long and tall only.

Fumio Demura is one of the greatest Karate Legends of our time:

Grandmaster Demura is a 9th dan of Shito-Ryu Karate and one of the most famous and skilled Karate masters from older times still alive. His body type is more round. Yet no martial artist who knows anything would argue against his legitimacy as a master simply because he does not have a lanky tall body with 6 pack abs.

Gichin Funakoshi was one of the most influential martial arts masters of our time especially for Taekwondo:

Taekwondo itself is heavily based on this man’s created Karate style. If it was not for Grandmaster Funakoshi, Taekwondo would not be what it is today and might not even exist. Several of the founding kwan masters were high ranking dan grades under Funakoshi. Look at Funakoshi’s body type. He is very small, short, does not have extremely hard and defined muscles and has absolutely no 6 pack abs. People today would say he was even chubby and would not respect him because he does not have an “elite fitness” body. Yet, he was considered very dangerous. He himself claimed that Karate was like a gun, a deadly weapon that is very dangerous and should only be used in (or taught to) the right hands. Funakoshi was about fighting for self defense. Only later did Shotokan start a sport specific focus, but even so most serious Shotokan practitioners train for self defense and not simply to win tournaments.

These are just some examples.

        A martial artist’s body needs to be efficient and practical. It needs to be healthy yet it needs to have functional ability not aesthetics. Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder often times. Martial arts is not a beauty pageant and martial artist’s bodies should not be trained simply for display, but for actual use. In a self defense situation or any fight the body that wins matters. Not how good it looked before the fight. Through hard training, though, you can and do get a better looking body because you become more healthy but this is not the goal. The goal is health and ability: cardio, strength, speed, power etc. not looking sexy.

        Taekwondo, if it wants to be considered as a fighting art and about what matters, the Taekwondo consensus on what is a proper body for males needs to change. A focus on men who can fight and have good skills much like the masters of 60 years ago. The Tae Hong Choi’s are the past norm. Only when Taekwondo got overly commercialized and watered down and superficial did the desire for one body type, the lanky and tall with long legs male become what is desired in a male Taekwondo practitioner.

        To be sure, in no way am I promoting obesity or laziness.  I am not saying people should be fat or no one should try to lose weight or be fit. There are plenty of really fat and out of shape fake masters out there. The point I am making is there are fit bodies of various shapes and sizes and for each individual master of martial arts they won’t always have the same body type. Some are thicker, some have layers of body fat yet are strong as an ox and can kill you, some are shorter legged, and not everyone of them has 6 pack abs. Taekwondo needs to focus on the badass, hardcore body image of a fighter and not simply a model type Olympic only sport competitor who is tall and lanky with no chest or shoulder muscles (because they barely punch). Koreans need to also understand that other ethnicities have different body shapes and not everyone can look like a Korean man and be thin or wiry. Besides there are large Korean men who are thick like wrestlers.

        Taekwondo practitioners who have dealt with such prejudice against larger bodies for males need to keep training with confidence and not worry if someone thinks you are fat. If you can stronger and tougher that is what matters. Do not listen to the ignorance of certain people. I would rather be tough like Mas Oyama and be big, than skinny and lanky and only be good at sport competition and male modeling.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 

Make A Goal For A Month And Do It

        One of the tenets of Taekwondo is perseverance. Persevere till the end! Make a goal for a month and complete it! It could be anything martial arts and body related. Maybe you want to do 200 punches in perfect horse stance with perfect snap every day for 30 days! Maybe you want to do 300 spin kicks every day for 30 days! Maybe you want to do 50 push ups a day.

        For me, I decided my goal in June would be to do 45 minutes straight on the elliptical machine (if not available then substitute it with another cardio machine) and 30 burpees every day for the entire 30 days of this month! So far it has been 15 days and I feel soooo good. I had eaten a lot of junk food last month and had a lack of motivation to work out. When I finally felt slow and sick enough I decided to knock it off and get back to work. After working out half of this month I feel great and I know I will complete the rest of the month. I do this workout every day on top of my other workouts I do every day. Various training on different days with push ups, pull ups, all of my poomsae almost every day, shadow boxing, weight lifting sessions. no I do not do all of those every day, they are spaced out randomly over different days. But I try my best to do Taekwondo every day. For the journey of martial arts mastery one must be fit! Let’s do this! Here is some motivation for you to get started:

REAL ULTIMATE POWER! I AM SO PUMPED! YOU ARE SO PUMPED UP TO! LET’S FLIP OUT AND COMPLETE THIS GOAL! TAE KWON DO! PROVE IT! BE AWESOME NOW!

Try the album “Perseverance” by Hatebreed while you complete your goal!

RESPECT! HONOR! DEDICATION!