Are you Overtraining?

There is a lot of bad noise banging around out there in the karate-sphere about the need to train ourselves to the limit at all possible training opportunities,  work in deep stances at all times to strengthen our legs (to which I can’t help but reply, ever heard of squats?), punch makiwara until our knuckles are raw or bleed just like Yoshitaka,  etc.  I admit, when I first started training these ideas all held some appeal, they seemed like an intrinsic part of the “path” that must be taken to really improve in karate. If some is good, then more, harder training must be better! Give me that heavy-ass chi’ishi and never mind the shoulder pain! Do another 500 front kicks into air, Mas Oyama had nothing on me!!  Sensei X did it like this his whole life , and look how he turned out! No pain no gain, right?

Wrong, actually. Constantly pursuing more and harder training with no changes in methods, routine or intensity has a negative effect on our bodies, and subsequently, our ability to train productively.  All of us have our own physiological quirks, gifts and weaknesses. What is safe for my body to do might not be safe for yours, and vice versa. Even the most useful exercise or implement can have a negative impact on our bodies and abilities if done too much, too heavy or too hard. Well-trained trainers and coaches understand this, and it would behoove all of us who teach or train in a martial art to recognize it as well. Too much, too hard too often results in a diminished state of health known as over-training. Martial artists are not necessarily athletes, but that doesn’t mean that the same physiological principles that apply to athletic training do not apply to our own training.

Are you over-training?

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One response to “Are you Overtraining?

  1. All over the world, in Special Forces and other elite units selection training, the trainees are really pushed and trained to their psychological and physical limits- and sometimes when the instructor cadre is not being scrupulous enough people have died or get seriously injured. That is why now there are more restrictions and more oversight on what cadre can do and of course, medical support is always present. However in selection programs training is carefully structured- they do not want to lose potential recruits due to haphazard training. (I have read books about people going through selection in US, UK and Israeli units).

    Even in my own basic training (I was not in Special Forces, not even close) overtraining was not done. If a medical injury was evident, I would be given a medical profile prohibiting my doing a certain action. The drill sergeant who would disobey this profile would face punishment under military law (and all my instructors and drill sergeants never went against the word of the medical personnel- after all, they want their trainees to graduate).

    Harder is better- ONLY WHEN done right and in progression! For example, training for road marches with full gear is done gradually, not all at once. from 4-6-8 mile road marches at the end I did 12 miles over varying terrain (it was not fun at all).

    Those who claim to train martial arts should follow the training advice of people who live an actual warrior lifestyle in one way or another.

    See the following link:

    http://www.bragg.army.mil/sorb/text/SELECTED%20Book%20Final%20Draft%203.pdf

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