“There is nothing like experience itself”, I am not sure exactly who said those powerful words, but they have an effervescent truth. I learned this the hard way when I was going for my first degree black belt. The only type of fitness training I did back then was forms and sparring. When the day of the test arrived, I almost fainted and I was gasping for air. All things happen for a reason and I think that eventful day was a pivotal point for me.
Traditional training in martial arts mean using your forms, katas or hyungs, kicks, punches or blocks as the only means of training. This approach helps tremendously as far as developing proper execution and for just learning techniques. However, your body needs to be powerful and explosive to be able to deliver devastating and fierce techniques. At this point tradition and modern training must meet.
Imagine if we kept using the horse and carriage today as means of transportation. It would take forever to go to a far place, correct? The same goes for the martial arts and combat sport, there must be a blend of the new and old, instead of isolating the two from each other. Tradition is necessary to understand martial movements at their basic level and modern training is necessary to improve those movements. A perfect example of this is the transformation of Bruce Lee from a traditional trainer to a scientific trainer. He didn’t discard all traditional training, but what he kept was useful and necessary. His transformation expanded to all martial arts practice today. This man is a true inspiration!
Another great thing about blending both approaches is their ability to simplify techniques. Think of the innovations of the heavy bag, shields, focus pads and other target tools. All striking like kicking, punching and elbowing have greatly improved because accuracy, timing and power can be practiced without the need to hurt a training partner. Resistance training, weight training, isometrics, under water training and plyometrics among other new school accessories have changed the martial arts world forever.
Finally, by taking an old school approach like meditation, we can practice visualization to enhance physical prowess or to practice internally when we are not able to participate in class because of sickness or injuries. What we can use in martial arts both physically and mentally are already amazing technologies because they teach us how to use our potential in ways we never thought possible. Instead of creating opposition by choosing either old or new approaches, we should learn from both like yin and yang which coexist with each other. This is the balance of life and this is the balance of martial arts.
Rosendo Lopez began his Tae kwon Do training in 1990. He has a vast background in meditation, yoga and wellness. He is also the founder of http://www.theyinyangselfcenter.com He incorporates boxing, weight training and yoga to Tae Kwan Do practice. He is finalizing a book title, The Trinity of Fitness.