Even if all that you know about martial arts is what you’ve seen in the comics or read in books, the odds are that you’ve come across a fundamental principle of martial arts.

Martial artists draw much of the abilities that impress people from (among other things) the use of as much of their body as possible.

The how of that goal varies from art to art.  Krav Maga bursts forward where my old TKD and Tang Soo Do use rotational momentum instead of linear to incorporate more of the body’s momentum in a technique.

This is where the concept of cross-training comes in.  Because as a martial artist I want to use my whole body, I need to train my whole body.  It isn’t enough to do so much strength training that I can bench press a buick if I don’t have the cardio to use it for more than a minute straight.  All the power in the world won’t help if I don’t have the flexibility to reach a bad guy right behind me.  Back when I was fencing we avoided too much strength training because overdoing it cut into your hand speed.  That sport scores points in the 14th of the second (because at 13ths of a second I guess we still got ties).

One of the challenges that I’m facing this winter is to avoid sticking to the same deep training ruts.  I’m strong in hand speed and kinaesthetics.  I’ve let my physical disabilities become too much of an excuse.  Focusing on skill work hits a plateau when the hardware can’t keep up with the software.

Cardio is important for the ability to keep training, to last in a fight, and to push harder.  Strength training means that when we get our body into it, we bring more to the party.  Flexibility and core strength prevents injuries and gives us more options with technique (say, the occasional boot to the head) or a low stance to pass under an attack.  Coordination and balance can be trained as well, and that will come in handy when one-handed cartwheels showed up in later forms.

This week’s challenge: Pick the part of training that you like least, and get started.  “Embrace the suck” to improve the whole.