Running for Martial Arts is undoubtedly that thing that has never changed in thousands of years of history, when considering cardiovascular preparation applied not just to Martial Arts but to almost all existing sports. In the end you can really make your car the best performance car ever, under a technical and quality-of-parts point of view, but it’s on track – a real fight, cause it’s a martial related topic we are talking about – that your endurance will be tested. Running is the answer for every athlete aiming at their technical skills and physical preparation to last as long as possible in a real situation.
The best but not the only one. Just like a racing car, where tracks can be on road or off-road, if you want your preparation to be “linear” (a formula one track) or winding and rough (a rally track), choice is just yours. Although you may think running for martial arts is not that hard thing to understand, differences have to be found in the type of situation you want to simulate: since the hardest situation for a martial artist is a fight, indeed your training will be focused on creating a situation alike, where you just must give your best in the short term, while saving some energy for another potential round. Running up-hill -or off-road- is in fact the best way to simulate this pattern of explosivity and endurance. In a daily training routine, made of physical preparation, technique, and sparring, the Professional Martial Artist has to keep this scenario in mind, although the freedom to choose which activity best suits his needs, is totally up to him. Sports like cycling and swimming are no doubt the best alternative to running (see Triathlon) although running still remains the only efficient choice to push your body to its limits.
So simple but so hard to master. When you think about running, you may say “nothing that hard: just go out and start jogging…”. This is true, and this is just what makes running for martial arts something that should follow the martial athlete all life long: no need for equipment, no need to go to a gym: just yourself and the road. But why running is so hard to master? Why it seems that during your sparring sessions you run out of breath so quickly? One thing is running and another thing is running + sprinting.
Running for martial arts is the best way to warmup your body before exercising; running is also a good way to keep fit. But if you are searching for lasting longer in a fight or during a performance, the only answer is: push that throttle.
Sprinting is your best time on track, sprining is the moment of truth, and ultimately, sprinting is the Nitro of your preparation: push it to the limit, see how hard your heart and body can go, see what would you do if you had to fight for real!
If you mention “running 30 minutes” in jour training schedule, but you forget (or don’t want) to include the sprinting part within it, you are just jogging.
Downsides of running. For the Martial Arts Expert, working on building a minimum of muscle mass is essential, regardless of the reasons motivating his training, and in virtue of the fact that Martial Arts athletes don’t have to bulk-up too much, the risk for that minimum of muscle mass to be lost, if you run on a daily basis, is very high. In terms of speed in punching and kicking, performances won’t be affected, but the serious and committed practictioner must keep in account this when planning his weekly schedule.
Thin legs. If you are one of the lucky guy out there that is naturally big and tall, you won’t need to read this, but if your height and frame are the the ones of an “average” person, make sure that you will train your legs -especially your calves- double the time you train your upper body and chest. This is a golden rule, as running on a daily basis inevitably makes an athlete’s ankles and calves very thin: the risk during a fight to get your shins broken can become a serious problem, along with the fact that thin legs can indeed hit quick and high, but they may be very fragile on impact. For this reason, we recommend not to underestimate the importance of leg training along with a serious and committed B.M.C. training focused on shins.