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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How do you train?

Geeky confession of the day: I love training. I love the fact that my body becomes more adaptable and stronger every time I move. Sure, I get injured, get sweaty, get sore to the point where it pains me to roll out of bed sometimes. There are definitely days where I just want to melt into the sofa cushions and be left alone with my video games and a pot of tea. But nothing beats that energy-rich adrenaline that rushes through your system during a sparring match, or the relief and satisfaction you feel after completing the final ten minutes in your workout. Whether I'm doing a straight hour of kung fu forms, weight lifting, plyometrics, or running frantically to the bus stop, I enjoy moving.

That's why I'm really excited for the next article I'm working on. As mention on Day 1, the goal of this blog is to have an overall perspective of the martial arts, which includes life philosophy, self-defense techniques, and training strategies. Some of the upcoming articles I'm working on will talk about how to build on your own natural flexibility, increase your fighting stamina, and any other ideas which can better your martial arts practice.

But before I go on, what do you do to improve your training? Are you a long-distance jogger, or a sprinter? Do you prefer to lift weights at the gym, or train Rocky-style by climbing stairs and tossing snow tires? Or maybe you train real-old school Shaolin style by doing your forms and your kung fu drills for hours upon end. I'm even asking all the yogis, the dancers, the urban runners, the sports players, anyone and everyone who wants to share how they train to move better.

You don't have to be super specific, like share your weekly workout journal or talk about your daily caloric intake. But the audience for the Systems within Systems blog is diverse with their knowledge, and this blog hopes to share that knowledge with everyone.
Go ahead; talk amongst yourselves.

Grow, learn, teach!


  1. I don't do any of that. I do my forms and some of the drills. I really should train harder. It's great if you like to work out and really enjoy your forms but I do not. Certain forms I do like but many of them I hate. I do them anyway because I have to do them. For me thats all there is to it.

  2. good topic. The hardest part of the Shaolin training, for me has the discipline of daily effort. Working out every day. A little is better than nothing. Even thinking about some of the moves is better than not. Also, the body should be a honed weapon. Terrific movement is great in those mortal combat situations we face once a week ;) but it couldn't hurt to be healthy and fit, eat right and do lots of chi kung. I run, do cardio and aerobic training as well as the forms to keep the weapon honed. Endorphins are my friend. Weight lifting is great too, but stretching is accompanied in all of my training efforts. Stretch your body, stretch your life. Control your breath, control your life. etc. As Sifu says, it takes a very long time for the forms to really reveal what they can do for you, fully, but in the mean time they're great for what they do for you know. Health, breath, fitness, aerobic, meditation. Strengthen the body!

  3. Yay for another supporter of stretching! I think anything you can do for the body will have add-value to your martial arts. When I used to do yoga, jump kicks in the Eagle Claw form was so much easier, and I was in less pain after Nav's intense kick classes.

    Bruce Lee was a huge fan of isometrics to help his training, and it's amazing how much being still in one locked position hurts! I'm a huge fan of the Bridge pose for abs, side-Bridge pose for the obliques, and holding each stance in stance drill for MINIMUM half a minute. My knees still hate me for tha minute-long monkey stance.

  4. I truly enjoy practicing kung fu and tai chi forms, but like James said, having the discipline of getting yourself out there, every single day, is really hard.

    The easiest excuse I can come up with is "I don't have time today." It might sound lame but most of the time it is true, I really could fill up my whole day's schedule without any training in it and still feel behind at the end of the day. The key is that I have to make a very conscious decision that it is very important to me that I have time to myself each day, no matter what else happens or how behind I am with work. The amazing thing that we often forget (but reminded each time we train) is that practicing the art for that half or an hour increases your productivity for rest of the day greatly, which can more than make up for the time spend on training. This fact surprise me every time but I have to say that I am a believer, despite my futile attempt to ignore it from time to time.

    As for training method specifically, I am a fan of doing forms slowly to warm up and stretch, increasing in intensity as my body warms up. I usually stick tai chi in in the middle or the end of the training session. I find it to be an energetic yet calming way to finish the practice. I would love to be able to do more qi gong, power stretch, and weights but since I only have half hour to an hour each day to practice, I currently focus almost exclusively on forms and tai chi.

    I also think late night is a beautiful time to practice (especially in the summer with the cooler night temperature), I just saw an amazing meteor flying across the sky as I went out to practice my forms. May your mind, body, and spirit move as one every time you train. GLT!

  5. I see a common thread here, people have trouble doing their forms. Ironically, I found it easier to do forms when I had a busy, but set, schedule. Now that my life is more freeform it's hard to get to do that. But I think if you can spontaneously do them because you enjoy them, for whatever reason you enjoy them, that's a nice way to foster their development.

    I watched a documentary about Mike Tyson that came out maybe 2 years ago, he said his trainer told him that the best fighter wasn't the one who trained the most, but the one who loved what he was doing. So to start off with, it helps to learn to love your forms.