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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #4 - Mar 23rd, 2011, 6:09pm
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Smiley Superb article highlighting mental and physical discipline, regenerating and maintaining positive energies.

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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #5 - Jan 11th, 2012, 4:12am
bone density,,

Breaking is a martial arts technique that is used in competition, demonstration and testing. Breaking is an action where a martial artist uses a striking surface to break one or more objects using the skills honed in their art form. The striking surface is usually a hand or a foot, but may also be a fingertip, toe, head, elbow, knuckle, or knee. The most common object is a piece of wood, though it is also common to break bricks or cinder blocks.

Breaking can be often seen in karate, taekwondo and pencak silat, Spetsnaz are also known for board, and brick breaking, but not all styles of martial arts place equal emphasis on, or use, breaking. In styles where striking and kicking is less important and there is an emphasis on grappling or weaponry, breaking is less prominent. Traditional Japanese martial art schools place little, if any, emphasis on board-breaking, although the art of breaking objects was known as tameshiwari, while the similar practice of Tameshigiri or 'test cutting' is used in sword arts.

Competitive breaking can be based on artistic impression, number of items broken in a given amount of time, number of items broken with a single strike, or time to break a number of items. There are several certified breaking categories in various journals of world records such as the Guinness Book. In a demonstration, a martial artist exhibits his or her skill by executing an impromptu or choreographed sequence of breaks for an audience. Martial arts schools sometimes demonstrate challenging breaks in order to gain publicity and inspire enrollment or attendance.

During promotion testing, many styles of martial arts require that students demonstrate their skills by executing breaks; the difficulty of a required break depends on the rank for which the student is testing. Failure to execute a required break is often sufficient grounds for failure of a promotion test.


Wooden boards are the most common breaking item in most martial arts, Individual boards used may range from nominal sizes as small as 6"x12"x1" to as large as 12"x12"x1" (a board with a nominal width of 1" has an actual width of 3/4"). The typical adult testing board is approximately 10"x12"x1".[1]

The grain of the board must be cut so as to be parallel with the striking hand.

Children may use narrower and thinner boards with 4 and 5 year olds sometimes breaking boards as small as 4"x12"x1/2".
[edit] Technique

In general, breaking is used both as a method of measuring force of strikes for martial artists, as there was no other way to do this and only recently have devices such as accelerometers been used in martial arts, and as a measurement of mental fortitude, the ability of the mind and body to overcome.

Generally, a martial artist engaged in breaking practices hitting something hard. Masutatsu Oyama, a famous breaker who was known for breaking the horns off bulls,[2] would use trees. In karate, a device called a makiwara is used; this device has found more popular use by practitioners of other martial arts today. In the past, Shaolin and other earlier martial artists would use many different types of devices in order to condition themselves, not always for simply breaking, but using the same concepts used today. For instance, there is Iron Palm, Iron Shin, Iron Shirt, Iron Head, and other types of training which center around conditioning various parts of the body so they could withstand or give blows such as what is seen today in martial arts breaking. Many Chinese systems also are of the school of thought that "internal energy" or Chi is used when breaking, which is not dependent upon muscle strength and body weight.

The general principles used in martial arts breaking training is similar to the same principles used for most athletics. The body adapts to stress. There are generally three areas a martial arts breaker wishes to force their body to adapt to: the bones, the skin (calluses), and muscles (for both mass and speed). The general principle here for instance, for the bones is found in Wolff's law, which states that the skeletal system will, after healing, be stronger if injury is put to it.Craig Edmunds demonstrates this theory after breaking hand in seminar measuring bone density then measuring bone density after healing. In this manner the breaking practitioner operates not unlike a bodybuilder who works out with weights, then takes a period of rest to heal and allow the muscles to come back stronger.

This kind of training is called "progressive resistance training"; see Weight training for more information. Often differences in body structure can be seen in the form of calcium deposits between a breaking practitioner and a non-practitioner.Mike Reeves, a champion breaker, advocates in his book the usage of a makiwara and knuckle push-ups. With knuckle push-ups, he recommends starting on softer floor material and working your way up to concrete.[3]

USBA/WBA Founder Drew Serrano, producer of the documentary "Breaking All Records",[4] encourages practitioners to gradually increase the difficulty and amount of a material to avoid injury. He suggests that beginners should start with wood boards and increase the amount as technical prowess increases. Once a level of comfort, both physically and mentally, is reached, harder materials such as concrete can be attempted.

There are safety concerns with martial arts breaking, so one should seek out an instructor. There are many small bones of the foot and hand which need to be very carefully and slowly conditioned for safety. Repeated damage to the extensor capsules of the knuckles can lead to long term problems with dexterity

Speed vs. Power vs. Impulse

There are generally two common classifications of breaks: speed breaks and power breaks. There is a third lesser-known classification known as the impulse break.

Speed breaks are breaks where the striking object is not held in place. The only way to break the object is to strike the surface with sufficient speed at a focused point of impact. Sometimes a board to be broken is held lightly between two fingers by a person; an advanced dan test may involve an attempt to break a board as it falls through the air. Regardless of the strength of the striker, the board will only break if it is struck with sufficient velocity.

Another type of "Speed Break" is that which involves breaking a number of objects over a given amount of time. A common time span is 1 minute, but this can vary depending on the material and venue. In competition it is very common for a speed breaking category to limit the time to 810 seconds, enabling more competitors to participate. Records and specifics are kept track of by leading martial arts breaking organizations such as the USBA/WBA (United States and World Breaking Associations) and the ISKA (International Sports Karate Association).

Power breaks are breaks where the striking object is supported. Either the break will employ human holders for horizontal, angular, or upward vertical strikes, or the break will require that the objects be stacked for downward vertical strikes. For a stacked break the object is placed on sturdy supporting objects, such as concrete blocks, that are placed on the ground. Many color belt (belts before black belt) promotion testing breaks are power breaksit is substantially easier for an inexperienced person to muster sufficient energy to break a wooden board with a power break (Note, this is not true for all breaks). The vast majority of these employ human board holders. Often a stronger or more powerful striker may substitute some strength for technique and successfully accomplish the break. Most records that are catalogued are for power breaks. It is very common for black belt tests to use bricks, concrete patio blocks, or several boards stacked on top of supporting objects for challenging downward strikes.

Taped boards are sometimes used to lessen the amount of human influence from the holders for a break. It is very difficult to hold a stack of boards more than 4 inches steadily enough for challenging break. Therefore, some strikers will tape a stack of boards together to make a "brick" for their holders to hold. Usually however, test breaks at promotions and events are done without taped boards.

Both the speed and power breaks deliver the energy required to overcome the tensor and flexion forces of the board through mass displacement, where the kinetic energy is given by 1/2 m*v2. That is, either the speed of the striking implement (hand/foot/etc) has to be high enough, or the striker must be strong enough to increase effective mass brought into the break (i.e. his or her body weight) to exceed the brick/board's threshold. For single boards, it is generally easy (as in the casual person has a sufficient reserve of mass) to reach this threshold through a power break.

Though fundamentally different, the third kind of breakthe impulse breakis often confused with a speed break, because the striking implement can (but need not) reach a high speed. But that is where the similarity ends. The energy transmission from an impulse break derives not from mass displacement, but from wave transmission. (As an ocean wave hits a beach) The mass of the hand/foot/etc does not travel much further than necessary to deliver the wavethis results in an extremely brief contact with the brick or board face (as opposed to going "through it"), and the wave itself causes the striking surface to flex and buckle. The less flexible the striking surface, the more likely to break.


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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #6 - Jan 11th, 2012, 4:17am
bone density continued,,

The bone building workout,,

As the population ages, osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, is a growing concern. Though osteoporosis is not just a condition that affects older women, they are one of the groups most at risk for it. Predisposing factors for osteoporosis, and the related condition of osteopenia (essentially a lesser degree of osteoporosis) include:

   genetics: if mom has osteoporosis, you are also at risk
   age: risk increases with age
   menopausal status: menopause initiates changes in hormone levels which eventually can decrease bone density (by the way, improving bone density post-menopause is one useful application of testosterone supplementation)
   smoking: you all know you shouldnt smoke, so I dont have to tell you
   history of drastic dieting: this takes its toll on your bones
   high caffeine intake
   corticosteroid use (e.g. Prednisone)
   thyroid disorders
   body composition: if you are too thin, especially if you have been amenorrheic (your periods have stopped) for lengths of time, this increases your risk

Osteoporosis and osteopenia are distinguished by the degree of bone density present. Healthy bone looks like havarti cheese: mostly solid with a few little pores here and there. Bone that has lost its density resembles Swiss cheese thats been left in the sun: giant holes predominate and it seems that only a few strands of solid matter are holding it all together.

We tend to think of bone as inert, sort of like a Tinkertoy construction that holds our bodies together. In fact, bone is a responsive tissue that reacts constantly to the demands imposed on it. It is always breaking down and remodelling itself. Astronauts exposed to zero-G rapidly lose muscle tone and bone density, while weight training improves bone density. Much of the bone loss associated with normal aging is simply a result of poor nutrition, inappropriate lifestyle choices, and lack of proper activity.

A fitness/diet strategy aimed at bone density health and osteoporosis must incorporate the following things:

   Weight bearing exercise (to improve functional strength and bone density)
   Balance and stability training (to prevent falls)
   Adequate vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, but also magnesium and vitamin D (to provide the building materials for bone, and to help calcium be absorbed)
   A diet that is not hypocaloric (taking in fewer calories than the body needs) for long periods of time, and a bodyweight that is healthy, not underweight

The rest of this article will deal with the first and second components, and discuss how to put together a fitness program that will give you bones of titanium!

weight bearing exercise

Well, duh, we should know by now that thats weight training. But what kind of weight training is best? Ideally, your workout should include movements that load the bone along its length. That means a squat is better than a leg extension, for example. The weight in a squat is transmitted down along the spine, through the hip, and down along the bones of the leg. The weight in a leg extension is transmitted across the shinbone, and mostly just puts pressure on the knee joint. Most types of presses, such as bench presses, pushups, and overhead presses, are another good choice for bone loading.

A second type of weight bearing exercise is impact exercise. This can be walking, running, jumping, skipping rope, hitting a heavy bag, or any other type of plyometric exercise like clapping pushups. This is also good to incorporate into a workout.

One study found that even a single bout of high-impact exercise can increase bone turnover. Study participants jumped up and down until they were exhausted. Afterwards, markers of bone formation (procollagen type I amino terminal propeptide [P1NP] and bone resorption (carboxyterminal crosslinked telopeptide [CTx]) were both elevated, signifying that the body was busily fixing the damage and rebuilding the bones to be stronger.

Rantalainen, Timo, et al. Short-term bone biochemical response to a single bout of high-impact exercise. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2009) 8, 553 559.

While other forms of exercise like swimming, yoga, and tai chi are also good for you in general, fun to do, and can help train balance (see below), they dont provide the same kind of loading that weight training and impact activities do. Indeed, a recent study found that cyclists had surprisingly reduced bone density despite plenty of exercise, because cycling doesnt really load the bones along their length the combo of training plus lack of bone loading led to significant problems. So, feel free to do these types of activities, but just make sure to do the bone-loading stuff at least twice a week.

whats right for me?

Your existing level of fitness and bone density will determine your exercise choice. If youre a bit older, a bit less fit, and/or already showing signs of degeneration, dont start right off with two-metre plyometric depth jumps or pounding a cement wall. Start with lighter versions of the recommended types of exercises. Avoid excessive rounding of the spine, especially under load.

Level 3 would be done by someone who is already fit, and interested in prevention. You may find that you cant progress past Level 1, or Level 2, but thats okay. The main thing is that you do at least something. Ive suggested some ideas below. These arent the only exercises you should do, of course, but you should include at least a few of them.

There are many ways to integrate these into a workout. You can do a conditioning-type workout where you do them all at once, in a circuit (e.g. jump rope 1 min, 10 pushups, jump rope 1 min, 10 squat jumps, jump rope 1 min, 10 walking lunges, repeat). Or you can just make sure to put one or more movements into your workouts, 2-4 times weekly.
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

   Unweighted squatting
   Unweighted step-ups on to a low step
   Unweighted walking lunges

   Squatting with a hip belt from Ironmind
   Squat jumps

   Squatting with a bar on your back

   Plank or modified plank
   Counter pushups
   Light overhead press and/or bench press

   Moderate overhead press and/or bench press

   Clapping pushups
   Heavy overhead press and/or bench press, other presses, jerks

   Hitting a heavy bag at low to moderate intensity, wearing padded boxing gloves

   Hitting a heavy bag with open palm style, or wearing less padded bag gloves or hand wraps only, or hitting with all the power you can muster
   Sledgehammer GPP: swinging a sledgehammer into a mat, sandbox, rubber tire, or some other shock absorbing material


   Brisk walking


   Short sets of low jumps

   Jumping rope, intervals of up to 1 min
   Squat jumps with rebound

   Jumping rope, intervals up to 2 min, jumping in patterns, jumping on one leg
   Depth jump from a box with rebound

balance training

As we age, if we do not train it, we lose our balance. Falls are one of the chief dangers for people with osteoporosis, and loss of bone density combined with loss of balance presents a very risky situation. However, balance, like other physical qualities, can be trained. Regular free weight exercises such as squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and their variations, and performing exercises standing (e.g. standing press) are all a big help. But there are lots of other ways to train for balance. One of the best ways I know is martial arts. If you are a Level 1 Level 2 person, something like tai chi, yoga, or even dancing might be better. Below Ive listed some ideas for training your balance, again sorted into levels of difficulty.

There are exercises here called perturbation stimulus. This means putting yourself into a position which is a bit unbalanced, then having someone else supply further instability by pushing you. You are then forced to respond. Make sure your partner is gentle initially and doesnt shove you. Gentle pushing and pulling will be fine. All you need the partner to do is unbalance you enough so that you have to respond.
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3

   Walking along an imaginary straight line
   Walking lunges

   Walking a path with obstacles in it

   Overhead squat
   Single-leg squat with one leg held straight out in front

   Standing with eyes closed
   Mountain pose
   Powerful pose

   Standing on one leg
   Warrior pose 1 and Warrior pose 2

   Standing on one leg with eyes closed
   Tree pose
   Half moon pose

   Perturbation stimulus administered to person sitting on swiss ball

   Perturbation stimulus administered to person standing with eyes closed

   Perturbation stimulus administered to person standing with light barbell held overhead

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Re: The Physical and Psychological Benefits of Martial Arts Training
Reply #7 - Jan 11th, 2012, 4:20am
The Martial Arts as spiritual and psychological disciplines

Warrior of the spirit

The exigencies of combat place great demands on the capacities of the warrior. These demands can act as powerful learning situations for self-discovery and self-confrontation, and may be used to further the spiritual endeavor.

Perhaps the most important of these is the confrontation with death. We are all confronted with death in each loss or change in our lives, but such confrontations we can easily evade, dealing perhaps with the specific change without coming to grips with the principle of change which implies our personal death.

We shall all be confronted one day with our own deaths in the most direct and powerful way - but this will usually be a sudden, rather irrevocable and inconvenient event, of little use (from the point of view of this lifetime) in a training programme.

All spiritual systems set up a confrontation with death; the basic preparatory practices of Buddhism involve the remembrance that one's life is short and of uncertain duration, that one may die tomorrow. In the Chod rite of Tibetan Buddhism, practicioners visit a Tibetan graveyard at night (where the corpses are left exposed to the elements and scavengers) and invite the demons to come and take them.

In the West, death is one of the great taboos; constant violence in films and on television negate the reality of death through constant repetition of stereotyped death scenes, and the media numb our imagination with accounts of deaths on a vast scale and under horrific circumstances. Paradoxically, this numbing of the appreciation of death also numbs the vivid appreciation of life. Those who take to danger sports (such as car-racing, mountaineering and sky-diving) often report recapturing a keen, fresh awareness of life and its beauties as a result of their brushes with death.

In the martual arts, of course, death is a constant presence. The whole activity revolves around it. Attack, defense and counter-attack are all performed as if a true life-or-death situation were involved. With proficiency, the vigour of the actions increases and, if one is using weapons, one may employ, for instance, a 'live' (naked) sword instead of a bamboo or wooden sword; all of which make the situation genuinely dangerous.

The confrontation with death is perhaps the most important element of spirituality.

First, death reveals the ego. That part of us which grasps and holds on, which attempts to crystallize the flow of life and box it into separate entities, is totally panicked by death. Fear is the basis of this holding and contracting, and death, or the thought of death, brings out this fear. In fact the fear we feel at the thought of death is not created by the situation but only brought out of hiding; it was there all along in our life, underlying all the rigidities, the pettinesses and the little neuroses (as well as the great neurosis which makes all of us think of ourselves as beings fundamentally separate from our environment and from other people). That fear, which is the lynch-pin holding the whole rigid structure in place, is revealed in the face of death, and can then be looked into and dealt with.

The fear of death is the greatest of obstacles for the martial artist. This fear has a quality of rigidity, or paralysis, or of loss of control; one may freeze with terror, or one may panic and react blindly and irrationally. Either reaction, intruding at the crucial moment in combat, will spell death, even for the technically accomplished fighter.

But freedom from this incapacitating fear releases great powers. There is a story of a Master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony from the province of Tasa - a man of no martial skill yet of great meditative and spiritual accomplishment. He accidentally gave offence to a high-ranking Samurai, and was challenged to a duel. He went to the local Zen Master to seek advice. The Zen Master told him frankly that he had little chance of surviving the encounter, but that he could ensure an honourable death by treating the combat as he would the formal ritual of the Tea Ceremony. He should compose his mind, paying no attention to the petty chatterings of thoughts of life and death. He should grasp the sword straightforwardly, as he would the ladle in the Tea Ceremony; and with the same precision and concentration of mind with which he would pour the boiling water onto the tea, he should step forward, with no thought of the consequence, and strike his opponent down in one blow.

The Tea Master prepared himself accordingly, abandoning all fear of death; when the morning of the duel arrived, the Samurai, encountering the total poise and fearlessness of his opponent, was so shaken that he promptly begged forgiveness and called off the fight.

The outcome of the fight, ahd it taken place, is by no means clear; technical skill could well have been overshadowed by the freedom and concentration of one who no longer feared death.

In the Buddhist tradition, the preparatory practices of the remembrance of death are regarded as being great motivators on the path; this is why they are essential. Awareness of the reality and inevitability of one's personal death can be a fantastic energizer, releasing unsuspected level of motivation for radical change. Don Juan, the Yaqui Indian teacher in Carlos Castaneda's books, makes the same point with great clarity and power. Don Juan was trying to tell Castaneda theat the remembrance of his death is of the utmost importance for the proper conduct of life, while Castaneda protested that it is meaningless to worry about one's death. Don Juan answered,

   'I didn't say that you have to worry about it'.
   'What am I supposed to do then?'
   'Use it. Focus your attention on the link between you and your death, without remorse or sadness or worrying. Focus your attention on the fact that you don't have time and let your acts flow accordingly. Let each of your acts be your last battle on earth. Only under those conditions will your acts have their rightful power. Otherwise they will be, for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man.'
   'Is it so terrible to be a timid man?'
   'No. It isn't if you are going to be immortal, but if you are going to die, there is no time for timidity, simply because timidity makjes you cling to something that exists only in your thoughts. It soothes you while everything is at a lull, but then the awesome, mysterious world will open its mouth for you, as it will open for every one of us, and then you will realize that your sure ways were not sure at all. Being timid prevents us from examining and exploiting our lot as men'.

The realization that one is to die and therefore has limited time can cut away an immense amount of pettiness and self-indulgence from one's life. All those thoughts people have all the time of death, regrets over wasted time and lost opportunities, over risks not taken and inertia given in to, all those 'if only I could do it over again' thoughts, can be brought into the present, before the opportunities are past, while the gates are still open, and can galvanize one to begin taking responsability for living a fulfilling life.

Death is the great changer, the one who ensures that things will not remain static, stagnant, fixed. In the evolution of life on earth, sexual reproduction makes its appearance at the same time as death. Continual, unchanging self-replication (as in the amoeba, which divides to produce identical copies of itself) is a zombie-like living death of sameness and stagnation; the freshness and newness of each individual born, who dies to make way for another unique being, is eternally changing life through death. As Christ says, he who tries to save his life shall lose it. The person who clings to the past form, thought or feeling, loses the ever-new spring-time quality of the unimpeded current of life.

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