Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Know Your Limits, Train Within Them

Being enthusiastic about your martial arts training can be a good thing… as long as it doesn't push you farther than you're ready for. When you push your limits, you run the risk of physical and mental burn-out, and in worse cases, injury (your own or training partners'). I, myself, was guilty of this in the last few days.

I was got really enthusiastic about training up for MMA events in the future. I was really keen to make as much progress as possible within the shortest amount of time. So I went ahead and devised an aggressive training schedule that included new aerobic and anaerobic conditioning and extra training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, MMA-specific skills, sparring, grappling, etc. Before my new training regimen, I was teaching Jiu-jitsu classes 2-3 days a week (1½ hour classes with 30 min. open training beforehand) with 20 min. of yoga every morning. And to that weekly schedule, I added 2 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu classes (one hour each) and 2 MMA-specific training sessions (1 hour each), as well as 2 skipping and 2 running workouts.

Ok, I admit it. I overdid it a tad.

As a martial artist, I'm very aware of the state of my body and I've learned to listen to it. On Sunday, I noticed that both my elbow and my ankle were feeling a little "tweaky." That is to say, I felt light, but sharp pain in my cartilage and tendons when they went through certain ranges of motion or experienced minor levels of stress. This was my body nudging me in the ribs and saying, "You might want to take it a little slower."

Dr. Jenny, one of my Jiu-jitsu students who is a doctor to whom we all refer to for impromptu advice, confirmed this. I told her what I was doing for training. She widened her eyes and told me quite plainly, "That was overly ambitious." What I should have done was slowly introduce new elements to my regular training schedule, allowing my body to adapt before increasing the frequency and intensity.

Even if you're not training for a major physical event, you should apply this in your regular martial arts training. If you're learning a skill that is completely unfamiliar to you, start off slowly. Train the movements of the technique before attempting the maneuver on a partner. Then when you do it on a partner, move slowly so you have time to correct and adjust your movements. As your technique improves, add more speed and intensity. This will help prevent injuries that can cripple your progress and the enthusiasm that caused them.

We all have limits, but these can be extended by pushing them strategically.

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