We’ve discussed fitness in a couple of previous articles. The day I wrote this article I experienced the importance of keeping myself fit. I am old enough to be a parent to many of my training partners. The fact that I can keep up with them makes me an example of what they can be when they get “old”. It also gives me the opportunity to learn more. If I am able to take a class, then have 3 to 5 sparring or grappling matches, I have the energy to ask about and learn the moves that were used effectively against me. That extra energy offers a lot of benefits.
Benefits in the Dojo
Having been the “Fat Teacher”, I feel comfortable talking about the phenomenon. As I have mentioned in past articles, I started martial arts to lose weight. I had peaked at just over 300 pounds and was about 280 when I started martial arts. On the journey to my first black belt I lost about 75 pounds. After that, due to changes in my work schedule (and excuses), my diet suffered and I worked out less. I became the fat teacher. I could tell that students looked at me differently. They were still respectful but they did not look at me as a formidable martial artist like they did when I was more fit. The way I looked at myself also changed. Being conditioned makes me more comfortable in the dojo, I am better able to work with the students and they look at me as an expert since I am able to execute the moves I am asking them to execute. Also, as I mentioned above, having energy at the end of class allows me to learn more.
Benefits in Self Defense
It is hard to defend yourself if you get out of breath walking up the stairs. One never knows when danger will present itself. If you handle yourself appropriately, you can mitigate the risk of encountering a threatening situation but it is not possible to eliminate all risk of danger. You need to be physically ready when it comes. The best way to be physically ready is to be conditioned. These dangerous situations may not be an attacker. Can you run 5 city blocks, climb 2 stories on a ladder, fall without hurting yourself and get up quickly, walk down 20 flights of stairs or pull yourself up with a rope? All of these can be needed in an emergency situation. Defending yourself can mean more that protection against an attacker. If you can’t, you should consider more conditioning.
Benefits in Life
With work and family commitments there can be little time for you. Having the energy to get accomplished what you need to accomplish is important. It is also important to invest time in your body. What you do to your body in your 30s will affect your life in your 40s, 40s to 50s and each decade after that. Your strength, endurance and flexibility has a big impact on how you proceed in everyday life. Do you want to get winded bringing your laundry upstairs or have to sit down for a minute in the mall because you have been walking too long? Your conditioning will determine what you can do and for how long.
A five-minute walk is better than a workout that does not happen. Fit in your exercise whenever you can. However, it is important to schedule time for you to invest in yourself. You would not blow off a meeting with your boss, don’t blow off a meeting with the most important person in your life, you. You may say that your family is more important, but how can you take care of your family if you cannot take care of yourself. If you need an extreme example, watch one of the bariatric surgery shows on the educational cable channels. Those people need their family to take care of them. You need to be healthy to take care of your family for the long term. You take time to change the filters in your furnace and you change the oil in your car. Make sure to maintain your body and keep it conditioned.