Sifu Greg Weir

Sifu Greg Weir

Junior Student’s Corner

If you’ve been paying attention to the monthly themes lately (and you certainly should be) you probably noticed that January’s Physical Theme was Aerobic Exercise, while February’s was Anaerobic Exercise. What, you perhaps found yourself wondering, is the difference? I know I did.

Literally, the word Aerobic means “with oxygen,” while Anaerobic is the opposite. The implication is that Aerobic exercise is something you do for a long period of time, long enough to get you breathing heavily at least. Jogging is a good example. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is done in short bursts—something you could theoretically do while holding your breath. Dropping down for 10 push-ups, for example.

But those notions are misleading, I think. Really, there’s no such thing as exercise done without oxygen (try doing anything without breathing for too long and it’s not going to work out well for you). Conversely, with Aerobic exercise the idea is that the oxygen you’re bringing into your system is enough to feed your muscles to keep them from getting fatigued. But if you look at even the most highly trained long distance runners, they are definitely drained at the end of a race—which indicates that at some point their efforts changed from Aerobic to Anaerobic.

Perhaps the simplest way of thinking about it is that Aerobic exercise is designed to develop endurance, while Anaerobic exercise is for strength.

So, the question becomes, which is better for Kung Fu training? You’re smart kids, so I bet you’ve already figured out that the answer is “both.”

Yes, both Aerobic and Anaerobic training are required for you to reach your full potential as a martial artist. The strength you develop from Anaerobic exercise will translate into speed and power, while your Aerobic conditioning is what gets you through long rounds of sparring—and even longer gradings.

So when you’re training outside of the WKFA, try to do a variety of Aerobic and Anaerobic exercises. I discussed strength training in a previous article but as refresher, that sort of workout involves exactly what you think it would: push-ups, abdominal exercises, squats, etc. In other words, you can supplement your Anaerobic training at home by doing exactly the sorts of strength exercises we do in class.

To work on your Aerobic conditioning, things like jogging, skipping and bag work are great. Of course nothing gets your heart rate up more than forms. Try doing the Short Dragon Enters Two Doors five times in a row and see how heavily you’re breathing after that. Of course, it’s a good idea to mix up your Aerobic and Anaerobic training, so once you’re done those five reps, drop down and do 20 push-ups and 50 butterflies—and then move on to your next Form. Keep that up for awhile and you should be in great shape, both Aerobic and Anaerobic, in no time.

Happy training, everyone!