Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Uechi-ryu Karate vs. Working Out

As I got older and moved on from playing lots of sports like basketball and football and lifting, I gained weight. Lots of it. I did not have the time to go back to playing any team sport and time at the gym ended up being wasted by half-hearted goes at the stair climber, rowing machine, etc.

So I sat around a lot eating in front of the TV at night doing nothing. None of these ways to work out really worked for me.  There was no real incentive for me, it was like I forcing myself to go to a job that I didn’t like. I did make some progress, but it never lasted.

Uechi-ryu, and I imagine most styles of traditional Okinawan karate, really do give you a great overall workout. For example, when I perform the Sanchin, or any kata, “properly”, I am winded. These are pre-arranged movements that don’t last more than a couple of minutes.

When done properly, the practice of Sanchin will give you many benefits. These include everything from core development to efficient breathing, aerobic conditioning, flexibility, muscle toning, coordination, stamina, and overall strength training. And these are just the physical benefits. It sounds like a lot and it is.  This does not come quickly but you feel results within a month.

Additionally your mind becomes more focused on what you are doing at the present and you will become more aware of your surroundings. The military, police and self-defense industry call it situational awareness but it is more than that. It’s also an internal awareness that helps you reach your body’s potential.

Since I have been training in Uechi-ryu, I have noticed that I breathe better all the time, not just when training.  I have lost most of the weight I’ve gained since college and my stamina has increased. Without any weight training, my upper body especially has also become more defined.

The fact that Uechi-ryu is more than picking up street-fighting skills appeals to me and I can combine the different elements to make me a better karate-ka and a more fit person, mentally and physically.

This is a video of Gushi Sensei (10 Dan) performing Sanchin. It is an extreme example, but so are the hotties and studs in the NordicTrack commercials. I do have three of his DVDs, the technique is excellent and he is a great example of getting his body "only" from Sanchin and karate (he told us at a seminar that he never did any weight-training or body building). He conducts seminars around the country at various karate schools.

Note – I now do other exercises to help with my back, flexibility and aerobics. 

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