Cross training is an oft-mentioned term in the health, fitness and martial arts world and not without good reason. It is a great way to vary your training, keeping it interesting, helping you remain injury free or rehabilitate existing injuries. It allows you to develop skills and experience in other areas of training, while improving your abilities in your specialist area (think of a runner adding in one or two strength training session per week, or a tennis player taking a weekly Tai Chi class or a kickboxer getting an appreciation for some ground fighting and extra fitness with a BJJ class).
While I think it is a positive thing to be doing and can have a great many benefits, sometimes it creates a flighty attitude to training and cross training can become the be-all-and-end-all, rather than an addition to a solid routine.
You can potentially expend a lot of energy on supplementary training, leaving you tired and not at peak levels when training in your chosen activity and it can be draining on the wallet to be partaking in so many activities in one week! As well as this, cramming several disparate forms of training can often feel as though you are taking part a bit of a mish mash of activities.
Should you wish to, you can use a traditional martial arts discipline, such as White Crane, to attain total overall fitness and this I believe, is where traditional martial arts training trumps many other activities.
With martial arts training, whichever camp you fall into, be it the soft styles, like Tai Chi, or the sports of kickboxing or MMA or traditional Kung Fu or weapons training, you are developing and entire range of attributes to give you a complete workout without the need for cross training in other areas.
These attributes can be summarised as the 5 S’s:
We’ll now take a look at these areas one by one:
Performing techniques and forms well requires a degree of dedication and practice. Whether you are working with a partner, bags and pads or to thin air you are working to improve your skills in your chosen art as you drill the movements over and over again.
Some you will find easier than others to pick up but there are no real shortcuts, the best practitioners are those who have been diligent in their training, have worked hard mastering the basic techniques and forms and continue to do so no matter how long they have been training.
Whether you are learning how to relax so that you can perform a technique correctly (which will then be quick) or you’re working hard on fitness by doing hill sprints in a kickboxing session, you are working on speed. This is a critical element of training for health as well as being a vital part of self defence. It is not rocket science, more often than not the quicker fighter will be the victor, landing their techniques first while being fast enough to avoid those of their opponent.
Performing correct technique over a period of time as well as partaking in a martial arts class, improves the stamina of the practitioner. Working the aerobic system has a great many benefits to your overall health and well being, as well as giving you the edge in any sparring or real life scenario where you may need to outlast an opponent in some way.
Flexibility and mobility can be often overlooked but they are some of the most important attributes for a martial artist can have. Whether it is performing head kicks, being able to move freely without pain, bending over to touch your toes or being mobile enough to play with your grandchildren as you grow older, the benefits of training flexibility and remaining supple as you grow older cannot be overstated.
Strength is relative and whatever martial art you dedicate yourself to, you will be improving your strength, whether it is helping build up your leg and core strength by gracefully and effortlessly performing a Tai Chi form or to weight training with kettlebells as part of a kickboxing fitness session.
Do not count out the effect of mental strength training also. Consistently training and attending classes over months, years and decades to improve yourself and your abilities in your chosen martial art, takes a degree of mental toughness and is another area you should look to improve and progress under your instructor.
So there you have all of the distinct areas you will improve as a martial artist. White Crane in particular is a complete form of training that has been passed down through many generations, standing the test of time.
If you require any information about the classes please contact Mark or Hamish and we’ll be happy to help.