Martial arts are a group of fighting practices based on traditional combat styles designed to train the mind, body, and spirit. Martial arts fitness is the practice of training the body and mind in the way of a specific martial art. Each martial art has detailed approaches for how a student should train to become an expert in that specific style.
Within martial arts there are hard styles and soft styles. These styles determine how a student will train and react to a combat situation. In general hard styles are considered striking styles because the practitioner typically hits a target in an offensive posture. In contract, soft styles are typically defensive in nature and are meant to control the assailant with submission techniques. Martial arts fitness is the dedication and training of a specific art, either hard or soft style.
Mental training is a critical element within all martial arts fitness programs. The student of martial arts understands how to relax during stressful circumstances. This training includes breathing and mediation techniques that enable a student to focus on remaining calm in all situations. This calm demeanor is essential for managing the stress of everyday life as well as combat situations.
Breaking objects is an example of mental training for the martial artist. Breaking an object requires mental focus and physical training of the hands and feet. Within hard style martial arts fitness programs, students are trained to break bricks and boards. This training provides a method for a practitioner to demonstrate his ability to overcome normal physical constraints.
Martial arts fitness programs include significant physical conditioning. A typical martial artist will practice approximately ten hours per week. The physical training includes both strength and cardio fitness exercises. These exercises include upper- and lower-body training with a primary focus on core strength. Core strength is used as a method of balance for the martial artist. This strength is obtained through stretching, stances, jumping, and abdominal workouts.
The key to becoming a proficient martial artist is time in practice and repetition of techniques. A typical martial artist program will include hundreds or thousands of repetitions for a specific technique. This repetition process teaches the body to react to situations as a reflex action. The reflex training of martial arts creates speed and skills necessary for most combat situations.
Speed training is an excellent example of physical, mental, and repetition training. With speed training the martial artist will create a striking combination of five or six movements. This technique will be repeated through training exercises until the student can accomplish the moves in less than one second. As the student continues to improve his speed on a combination the technique becomes a reflex action, which allows for him to use the technique with extreme speed and force.