Uping the fitness game: Getting in the martial arts ring

Over the past few years, MMA has been finding a new audience in India, thanks to Bollywood actor Tiger Shroff and his sister Krishna Shroff. While it requires a trained professional to help you understand the nuances of the discipline, easy forms of martial arts can be practised at home. FPJ writer speaks to experts to understand how it can be made a part of our daily fitness regime

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Saturday, December 11, 2021, 09:12 PM IST
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This Arabian proverb is the need of the hour — He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. The pandemic is making everyone struggle to stay healthy from the comforts of one’s home. And martial arts — Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Krav Maga, etc — can help here. But not everyone is into hardcore training and limited space can be an issue. It is best to seek simple martial arts techniques to stay healthy at home. There are various martial arts forms which can also be done at home.

Home workouts

During the pandemic, fitness was affected severely due to gyms being shut. “In the first wave, people thought it was a break and let go of their regular exercise routines given that we had no visibility that this was going to last so long,” reveals Yashpal Kalsi, Sports Commission Chairman, Karate Association of India (KAI) and Director, Sanshinkan Martial Arts, Gurgaon.

He opines that for some, limited home spaces resulted in limited movements. “For some, it was a lack of equipment and for most others, it was a lack of motivation. In all, lack of exercise and excessively sedentary lifestyles can cause muscle loss and weakness in the body. Anxiety, poor eating, mental exhaustion and poor sleep impacted everyone.”

Lack of dedicated space to work leads to more distraction, less focus and productivity resulting in higher working hours on average. “Also when your home becomes your office, you lose the safe space where you come to sit back and relax,” states Himanshu Gupta, Head Coach – Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Parakram Health & Fitness.

The benefits

While various forms of fitness trends — aerial fitness, aqua fitness, Zumba, etc — have been making their presence felt, it was only recently that fitness enthusiasts rediscovered martial arts, despite it not being around for ages.

Shedding light on the several benefits of martial arts, Gupta says, “Martial arts are progressive and engaging. By practising martial arts, you can activate your whole body, improve co-ordination and elevate mood.”

MMA expert and fitness trainer, Pratik Bansidhar Bane wants everyone to understand the true meaning of martial arts. “Martial means warrior, related to war, and war techniques. Therefore, it can be defined as the art of being a warrior. This pandemic is a different kind of war, which we all have to confront and win. Martial arts’ training develops the physical and mental aspects of our health and helps tackle the situation.” Bane wears many hats: He is International Coach, Secretary — All India Kickboxing Federation (AIKF); Technical Director — Traditional International Shotokan Shinkai Karate Association (TISSKA) and India Sports Awardee — Kickboxing.

He speaks of different martial arts techniques to keep our body active. “Various exercises can be practised in small spaces, and even when you are seating on a chair. Beyond the primary focus on self-defence applications, martial arts art help us to enhance physical fitness aspects such as speed, strength, and conditioning. It also improves our balance and flexibility. Moreover, martial arts training can help us with internal discipline and mental stamina which is immensely required in the current scenario. Martial arts develops self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-control.”

Kalsi says we should add a 30-minute martial art session to reach daily workout goals. “It helps raise your body’s activity level. You burn calories and maintain your weight goals, which in turn, help with good sleep. In Karate, there is a concept of Mokuso (Zen meditation), which is generally performed before and after a training session to prepare and clear the mind. Meditation is one of the best exercises for the mind. It promotes the physical and mental well-being.”

Incorporation methods

Beginners should take it slow and start with easy-to-do exercises to ease themselves in the martial arts zone. “In martial arts, one particular technique or exercise is repeated so that it can be mastered. We can start with combining our regular exercises with martial arts which makes it easy to adapt, understand, and practice. You can include squat and kick, lunge and knee raise/knee strike, sumo squat and punches, stretch kick, high knee, planking, stretching and jab-cross knee. We can start each exercise with 10 reaps and two sets,” Bane says.

Kalsi suggests including warm-ups and stretches like on the spot running or on the spot jumping. “There are high-intensity exercises like burpees, etc. You can try strength-building exercises like push-ups and squats. There is a cool-down method that includes core exercises followed by stretching for the cool down.”

Gupta talks about Kickboxing HIIT. “Keep a pace that you can maintain and try to be in motion continuously till the rest period comes. Make sure to exhale each time your punch or kick. Hip-in/Hip-out or Kick Through/Back Step (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) works as a bodyweight exercise. It improves much-needed hip mobility and makes you more comfortable handling your weight. As you get more comfortable you can add more solo drills like shrimps, bridge and guard pass, etc. Beginners can go for five reps each, intermediate 15 reps each and advance 25 reps each.”

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