It should come as no surprise to those who train or are looking to train that there is a component of cardiovascular work involved in Martial Arts. Martial Arts, even the slower internal Martial Arts, is about movement. Movement is about getting the body to work together, all components of the body from the muscles to the flow of blood to the breathing.
Have a good cardiovascular system is good for a healthy body. It supports endurance and stamina in Martial Arts (and in life). Breathing is the source of all energy in Martial Arts and strengthen your internal body systems will increase your power. A good flow of blood in the body helps with memory, digestion and most other aspects of our lives.
Those who have bad flow often find themselves tired, lacking of energy. With any little exertion, they become breathless and have no power behind their movements. Their eyes glaze over and they lose focus on their target. They can even become light-headed and find themselves defeated.
But sometimes just being on the floor is not enough to build the body to the optimal cardiovascular state. Most training is only a set number of hours a week. The time dedicated to continual movement may be limited as the focus may be on perfecting a movement or a technique.
That’s where supplemental training comes into play. Many Martial Artists augment their training with a cardiovascular program. Most programs aren’t fancy or terribly hard to start and implement. In fact, the fastest way to start is simple to force yourself to walk. Instead of using the elevator, escalator, or people mover, take the stairs. Don’t be so adamant about finding the “closest” parking spot to the entrance; spend the extra 2-3 minutes to walk into the building and park further out in the lot. Take 15 minutes when you get home to unwind by walking around the block instead of plopping down in front of the TV.
Once you've started, the other important aspect is to track your progress. One simple way is to record your walking through a pedometer. This small, simple device is inexpensive and can be unobtrusive to wear. There are many different brands and types available in all shapes and colors. The key is simply that it can give you some track or measure of your progress so that you can keep pushing yourself to the next level.
By creating a routine, it will become easier to find ways to work in cardiovascular work into your daily routine. And as you build your body up, you will see the difference in your training. Perhaps not right away, but slowly you will feel yourself lasting longer, having an easier time following reps, being able to breath more easily, and overall enjoying your Martial Arts better.