Guest Author - Caroline Baker
When Martial Arts was young, there was no such thing as heating and air conditioning. The best training areas were those outside, facing and becoming one with the elements. Not only did it test endurance but it provided the practioner a chance to appreciate nature in all its forms.
These days, we have many modern amenities. And where some will say, we should train without them. I do believe that we should also find ways to incorporate these modern marvels into our everyday training.
A pool is a great example of something that can be fun and incorporated into the Martial Arts training curriculum.
Strength and Conditioning: Many athletes of all different sports take time in their off-seasons to train, swimming being one of the more common techniques they apply. Being buoyant forces the body to use different muscles from running or walking. A good swimming stroke implores the use of the whole body, twisting at the waist, which incidentally is also the characteristics of a good Martial Arts technique.
Resistance Training: If you've ever tried to move underwater, you'll feel the very natural resistance immediately. Try executing a good technique in water and you'll find out what are the driving forces you're sending into your opponent. Watch the wave patterns from your kick or punch. Are they heading straight for your target or did they veer to the side? If you twist your hand or adjust your elbow, do you penetrate deeper? This is a great visual tool.
Balance: Water toys, such a floatation devices, are great for practicing your balance on. Just be careful you have enough room to fall into the pool if you have to. Try balancing on a kick-board or blown-up mat. How long can you maintain your balance?
Stance work: For new students who don't have endurance to hold their stances, performing their stances in a pool may help them to get use to the idea of holding their poses for extended periods of time. If they stay near the shallow end and still hold a proper structure, they are still working their muscles and building strength to do it without assistance in the future.
Inner Peace: One of the most enjoyable things I do at my instructor's house at night is sit by the pool and meditate. The gentle lapping of the water coupled by the still warm concrete is a great place to pull yourself into nature. Even being in the pool, I often do my tai chi under water, enjoying the relaxing sensation of the water as it passes over my arms and body.
While training on the classroom floor is important, there’s nothing wrong to take advantage of the good weather and enjoy your Martial Arts as part of your summer activities.