When I began learning karate I didn’t understand why we did things like push-ups and crunches. Wasn’t this karate class? Shouldn’t the whole workout consist of karate moves?
I didn’t get it! I knew my fitness was poor, but really – how much physical fitness could it take to do front chokes? Or that single kata we were learning?
Well, time passed. The more familiar we became with the moves, the more material we learned and the more difficult that material was. Classes moved faster because we had more things to cover in that hour. Renshi introduced circuits; I hated them! (Took awhile to change my mind on those. Jump over to Circuit Convert!) Naturally our fitness improved, but it still took quite awhile for me to understand why it was important. Yes, I know – I’m slow sometimes.
What did I figure out?
The low stances? Conditioning.
Kick after kick after kick on the bags? Conditioning.
Stamina to stay on the floor for all the kata? Conditioning.
Sparring class? Conditioning!
It takes strength, speed and stamina to practice karate correctly. The more tired you are, the messier your karate will be. In order to get the most out of classes, conditioning is vital. That’s not to say you need to be an Olympic-caliber athlete; it would help, but I don’t know anyone who’s at that level.
If you’re not in great condition, don’t stress about it. Do what you can, and make it a goal to improve your conditioning from week to week. Break a sweat in class! Work hard so when you walk off the mat, you know you’ve done your best.
Two hours a week in class is not enough if you’re trying to ramp up. On non-class days, work on your kata and basics, walk, swim, paddleboard, bike, lift weights, do aerobics or ballet. It doesn’t matter what you do – but do something! The effort you put forth now will pay off in the long run.
When I only had a couple of self-defense sets and a few kata to work on, conditioning didn’t seem very important. Now I’m working on 9 self-defense sets and 14 kata, and I get it! Conditioning is vital to executing moves with power and grace.
– Sensei Michele Weissensee