Karate draws people from all walks of life – young and not-so-young, students and retirees, men and women, of all shapes and sizes. But why take our word for it? In this series, we hold a quick Q&A with our students to find out about them.
We catch up with one of our students, Li Qian, 30, who joined in 2016 and is a brown belt at the time of this post!
1. Why did you join Ashihara Karate?
I grew up with watching TV shows of Jin Yong’s martial art novels, and Jet Li and Jackie Chan’s action movies, I always had a dream of learning martial arts and becoming a “fighting hero”. However, this dream only came true after I started to work and gained more independence.
As to why I picked Ashihara Karate, it was because I thought the Gi and the whole culture of karate looks pretty cool, and Ashihara Karate was said to be very practical (which makes it even cooler for me).
2. What is your favourite part of learning karate?
My favourite part of learning karate is that it not only trains your body but also trains your mind. It makes me more confident, more aware, and even calmer. It makes me a generally better person, on top of just making me physically stronger and better at “fighting people”.
3. What’s your target/goal in class
My primary goal in karate now might be improving my flexibility. The more I learn it, the more I realise how important flexibility is for better performance. Also, better flexibility makes a person healthier, and less prone to injuries, which is important for martial art training.
Osu! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Li Qian!
Look out for more Q&As with our students in the coming months.
Practising Karate as a martial art can provide health benefits in a complete workout, with some intrinsic benefits not likely found in trending regiments like HIIT or other fitness workouts.
Whether you’re still in school or working, time is a commodity that is harder to come by. As everyone gets more time-strapped, you are probably looking for the most efficient form of exercise that can “do it all” – whether it’s to burn fat, gain muscle, or just improve health to reduce your chances of falling sick.
You’re on a karate blog, so the question here is obvious – how can karate, as a form of martial art, boost your health?
1. Karate Practice is A Great Workout for the Whole Body
Karate practice done correctly is a great workout that puts your entire body to work.
Popular recreational exercises like jogging, cycling, or even ball games and racket games tend to emphasise certain skillsets, which may result in a person developing muscles and strength in certain parts of their body more than in others. Unless you have a fitness trainer to monitor your progress and develop your body in a holistic manner, you may be over-training certain parts of your body and under-training others.
If you compare sports to a balanced diet, martial arts – and karate in particular – is like a complete, balanced meal. Not only does a full session work out your upper and lower body, but it also trains your flexibility and balance, and ability to coordinate your body.
When practicing in Ashihara Karate classes, regular exercises like basic movements (kihon), movement drills (idokeiko), and sabaki rounds, put your body under “eustress”, which means healthy stress that spurs your body to adapt and become stronger.
At the most basic level, research has found that daily practice of martial arts and combat sports like karate provide a healthy level of physical activity. Regular practice is great cardio exercise – which translates to less panting and wheezing the next time the lifts break down and you have to hit the stairs!
The benefits accumulate when you look beyond the basic health benefits.
2. Karate Boosts Flexibility and Coordination, and Reduces Injury
Wait, practising karate – where you kick and punch each other - can reduce injury?
Just to be clear, in this case, we’re talking about non-competitive karate practitioners. And yes, your chances of injury actually get lower if you practise karate regularly. Why?
To do karate well, you have to first condition your joints and ligaments to be able to execute a round kick (Mawashi geri) or react quickly to sudden movements, like a sparring opponent’s punch to your face. These exercises train your flexibility and coordination.
Many common everyday injuries like falls and sprains happen precisely because of poor flexibility and coordination. For older adults who face higher fall risks, exercises that develop reflexes, balance, and mobility reduced their incidences of falling – and injury.
Balance training and improved flexibility protect your joints and their supporting muscles from over-stretching to the point of injury. Karate training, with its emphasis on maintaining balance during dynamic movements, hone your joints so that the next time you find yourself in a slippery situation, your body is well conditioned to support your body weight.
The next important thing to note is your coordination improves when you’re fending yourself from attacks. For example, during the light sparring sessions in Ashihara Karate, also known as sabaki rounds, many students learn the basics of protecting themselves.
With repeated practice, these basics become ingrained and can become called upon during an emergency outside of the dojo. For example, a safe way to break fall during sabaki rounds (since Ashihara Karate practises throws) becomes the safest way to roll and protect your head and vital parts of the body, if you slip and fall on a wet floor.
3. Your Brain Gets a Workout during Karate, Too
It takes both brawn and brain to be well-versed in karate. A study found that practising karate boosts the ability of children to focus on tasks (called attention state training). In fact, the brain boost is not age specific, but benefits adults too. In fact, for older participants, long-term karate has been found to improve the brain function of practitioners that they enjoyed reduced deterioration of their brain function from old age.
One possible reason is this: Karate not only requires practitioners to remember basic physical movements, but also perform kata – which is a series of movements (kicks, punches, blocks) while facing specific directions. In Ashihara Karate, kata also includes showing the correct application of these movements to attacks from a partner. This boosts the ability of students to not just memorise the movements, but also understand why and how they can be applied in any given sparring scenario.
Next time you want to find a great all-in-one packaged workout, why not consider karate with Ashihara Kaikan Singapore? Check out our classes and sessions today!
We’ll talk about the differences between static and dynamic stretching, and how doing it properly in our classes can not only help you kick higher, but also reduce your risk of injury!
We need to stretch properly to improve our technique and form.
Some common misunderstandings
First off, there is a lot of different opinions out there about stretches. Some people believe they should only do one type of stretching (dynamic stretching), that static stretching is bad, or confuse the type of stretching they’ve been doing all along. Worse, many don’t even warm-up at all before they start exercising!
Why do we need to warm-up and stretch?
The main reason is physiological. You need your body temperature to reach a higher level, and your heart rate to increase, so that your heart is pumping more blood to various parts of your body that will need the oxygen and nutrients to do the intensive exercise your karate instructor demands.
What does kiai mean and why must I keep yelling it during karate class? Learn how the power of kiai makes a difference not just in the dojo, but outside of it too.
Why are karate students always yelling, anyway?
All that “yelling” is actually called “kiai” (pronounced like “key-eye”).
More sabaki, focus on basics, and challenge yourself!
These points summarized the advice and pointers given by the grading panel at the second grading event of 2019.
The last 2 years have seen a decrease in Grading participants, for good reason.
~ excerpt from 'Karate: Technique & Spirit' by Tadashi Nakamura
Why is this? I seem to remember that when I first began to study karate, I felt the same way, but I told myself that kata were the essence of karate technique, simplified and perfected by many experts before, so naturally they were bound to prove useful in a real fight.
Unfortunately, after all these years of study, if you asked me whether kata did prove of any use, I would honestly be at a loss to give a positive answer.
With this in mind, I re-examined traditional kata in the light of the rationale I first explained in the preface of this book; that is, the continuing improvement in martial arts techniques.
Up till now, the theory behind kata (and karate in general) seems to have been to move faster than the opponent; even if you got hurt, it was acceptable as long as you could inflict more damage on the other person.
Taking this into consideration, it is no wonder that traditional kata can be thought of as worthless for real fighting. I believe that what the karate masters of old left us is fine, and should be preserved, but it is the martial arts and karate experts of our day who are responsible for studying, thinking, and practicing in order to create new techniques which are suited to our age and useful in real fighting."
~ Excerpt from 'Fighting Karate', by Ashihara Hideyuki