Ironically, I’m not referring to “form” as it relates to karate, which is a switch. I was having some interesting discussions with a few people about the importance of proper form while lifting weights and some key points were brought to my attention. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to share them here. These are all subjective opinions I gathered from a couple of friends (whom I won’t name), so take it for grain of salt.
Weightlifting and resistance training can be an important tool for getting into shape and can also have some practical uses as it relates to the martial arts. In karate, the strength behind one’s strikes comes from a combination of speed, accuracy and physical force. So, “strength training” in the form of weight lifting was never much encouraged in my Sensei’s dojo. Of course, Okinawan karate is filled with strength-building tools, such as the chishi or hojo undo. But strength training to make yourself bigger usually isn’t a thing in karate.
Depending on who you talk to, getting pumped up can actually have detrimental effects on your martial arts training. When you weight lift for size and gains, you eventually start sacrificing speed and mobility for the size you build. And the strength aspect isn’t all that better than if you simply condition yourself through other means. But let’s say that you’ve been watching one-too-many 80’s action flicks and you’ve decided to try and get some “Arnold-esque” biceps…. Here are some tips that my cohorts and I came to agree on:
1. Start Small: I get it; one’s pride will often make you want to walk into the gym and grab a pair of 50-pound weights and grunt like an animal while making yourself look tough. But it’s safer to start with lighter weights and work your way up as your strength increases. This will help prevent injury and help you maintain proper form. There’s that word again: form. Speaking of which;
2. Get Some Help With Form and Technique: If you’re walking into a gym or purchased some weights and are doing it for the first time, don’t be scared to ask for some help. Whether that means hiring a trainer for a single session to get the basics or learn proper technique, or leaning on a friend who’s been using the gym for some time. This will help prevent improper form while performing certain key exercises, which can lead to injury.
3. Don’t Overdo It: Is it a good idea to push yourself? Yes. Is it a good idea to continuously grow in your fitness efforts? Absolutely. Should you feel the burn after a good workout? Who doesn’t? But if you find yourself basically unable to move the following day and have to recover for the next week, you haven’t done yourself any favours. Taper it back a touch and work out safely and consistently, instead.
In order to prevent injuring yourself and causing damage, remember to learn proper form for the exercises you’re doing, build yourself up from the bottom and don’t overdo it. Damaged muscles not only take a while to heal (especially if you’re Diabetic) but they hurt the whole time they’re healing. And from a martial arts perspective, bigger isn’t better. If you’re doing strength training for something like karate, you want to prevent ballooning your muscles and making yourself huge. think swimmer’s build as opposed to body builder. ☯️