Mayur Gudka

I am THE BEST Small Business Marketing Consultant in North Shore, MA.

Category: Martial Arts

What not practicing martial arts for 17 years can do to you?

I started practicing martial arts at the age of 10. I studied Budokon. My parents enrolled me into a martial arts school because I was very weak physically. They hoped I’d grow some muscle around my skeleton. I did.

I didn’t mind the hard physical work. Well, I kind of did … once. The teaching methods of this school were old-school. Discipline and proper stances are very important in old-school martial arts schools. They actually kick you and punch you if your stance is not correct or if they find you goofing. Parents are way too over protective today and don’t allow that kind of thing anymore. Personally, I think it’s idiotic to over-protect but I don’t want to digress. Lucky for me, back then they allowed punishment.

After getting kicked and punished a few times, I decided to quit. I wasn’t going to let anyone boss me around until my mother stepped in. She warned me and I will never forget her words. She said, “If you do not go, I will beat you much harder than they ever will”. I’ve never missed a practice session since. Truth is, I fell in love with the sport and eventually became one of the top students at the school. We moved when I was 15 and had to quit the school.

Soon after, we moved to United States. I found a new martial arts school – Uechi-Ryu Karate Academy. I studied there for three years I tried commuting from college for the first year and a half but eventually it became too difficult to juggle both schooling and martial arts. Martial Arts had to be given up temporarily. I was 20 years old then. The intention was to rejoin after college.

Life happened and martial arts became an afterthought until about 3-months ago. I am enrolled into a martial arts school again. I’m 37 right now. The style taught here is Kenpo. The teacher (although he doesn’t kick or punch us) is a proponent of old-school methods. Which I think is a nice bonus (for me at least).

I’m not a big sports person. I’ve never really played any other sport all my life besides practicing Martial Arts. So, when I started practicing again, I immediately noticed some differences, some big differences.

  • I had lost all my stamina. I could hardly run for 1-minute without huffing and puffing.
  • I can only stretch about half way without hurting myself. I used to be able to do a full-stretch in about 2-seconds.
  • I have lost some balancing ability.
  • I had forgotten the effective way to kick.
  • I cannot jump, turn around and kick while in the air anymore (not yet).
  • My joints aren’t as flexible as when I was young.
  • My legs are weaker than I’d prefer. This is very evident when doing jumping jacks.
  • Surprisingly, my kicks and punches are stronger than I expected or remember.
  • I haven’t lost my speed. This is also surprising. If anything, I’ve become faster.
  • After my first class, I was drenched in sweat. I hadn’t sweat for 17 years. It was the best feeling ever.

Martial Arts Goals

Every martial artist begins at zero. The first year is usually spent figuring out whether this thing called Martial Arts is for him/her or not.

The first few months are the honeymoon period where the person is excited and often times brags about learning martial arts to friends and family. After about six months though, repetition of same moves can set boredom, or advanced moves and increased amount of exercises can take physical toll on the body.

This is decision time. Are you going to quit or are you going to forge ahead and continue your martial arts education even though it’s hard?

For those of us who fall under the serious martial artists category, I believe we should strive to achieve the following goals (I know, at least I do):

  • Learn the correct form and technique
  • Build endurance
  • Build speed and power
  • Improve reflexes
  • Think how can I take my art to the next level?

The first four goals, I believe can be achieved within 5 years of dedicated practice. The last goal however is an elusive one that can take a lifetime or beyond.

In the next few paragraphs, I am hoping to expand upon each of these goals and share my understanding of them.

Learn the correct form and technique

A martial artists repeats day in and day out the forms he learns. My son practices martial arts everywhere he goes. Take him to a grocery store and he’s practicing his forms in the empty isles. At home, our hallway, the living room are his bedroom are his practice areas. He practices at the bus stop while he waits for the school bus to pick him up in the morning.

Can you imagine him learning the wrong form and practicing it a thousand times? He could easily get hurt in a tournament or even while practicing with a partner. Therefore, it is important to learn the correct form. The earlier you learn the correct forms in your martial arts career, the better and easier it will be.

It’s best to walk up to your teacher and ask them to watch your form and then take their guidance on how to improve it. Once they teach you, practice is a thousand or more times.

Build endurance

Endurance is your ability to practice until the practice is over, not stop practicing because you’re now tired. Every athlete needs to build endurance including martial artists.

If your body gets tired within a minute or two in a fight, or if you find yourself huffing and puffing after doing 100 jumping jacks or running for about 5 minutes, you need to work on building endurance.

Greatest martial artists have fantastic endurance. You should too because one day, you will be a great martial artist.

Build speed and power

Increasing your speed and power are crucial to becoming a better martial artist. It gives you an edge over your competitors. If you observe the greatest boxers, it’s what they work on – speed and power.

It’s what Bruce lee worked on majority of the times too. In fact, Bruce Lee was so fast, the video cameras couldn’t capture his movements. This became a serious problem when he was filming for the TV show The Green Hornet. So, in order to capture his moves, they had to ask him to perform them again – this time slowly.

Improve reflexes

Once you have the form right, develop speed and power and have enough endurance to allow you to practice for hours at length, you need to improve reflexes. One needs to get to a point where you should not have to do the thinking for your body to defend yourself. As soon as your eyes perceive an attack coming towards you, your body should automatically rearrange itself to defend you. That can mean getting out of the way or blocking the attack.

How can you tell if you still need to work on your reflexes? If you have to think even for half a mini-second what block to perform when you’re being attacked, you need to work on your reflexes.

God knows, I need to work on mine.

A martial artist who has achieved these four goals will do extremely well in fights. No doubt about it. But, when he or she achieves the final goal (see below), will lead a fantastic life, or at least, that’s what I think.

Think, how can I take my art to the next level?

Martial arts is a way of life for many around the world. They eat, breathe and sleep martial arts. I consider it a way of life for me. The reason so many of us practice for years and often decades is not because we don’t know how to perform forms and need practice, but we’re in the quest of how can we take it to the next level?

A year of intense practice might give you one slight insight into how to improve your punch. You might realize that when you punch, your hand slightly turns to the outside which gives your punch away to the opponent. Fixing it, gives you an edge. That’s a breakthrough. It does not mean a year wasted. It means knowledge gained.

A good martial artists constantly thinks about how to take his game to the next level be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén