Martial Arts Illustrated Column 'Learning Curves' - Part 8

By Lakhvinder S. Madahar



The hard-core body builders that trained at the late Joe Weider’s gym, he would refer to them as ‘Lazy B*****ds’ with a few exceptions. All they did was train and then lie on the beach, hoping that someone would one day sponsor them.


Many of the inquiries in martial arts academies don't evolve to their true potential due to the lazy habits developed by the students to be. It's very easy to fall into a lethargic comfort zone with habits such as settling down for the evening with a glass of wine, having a few beers with some mates, becoming a couch potato in front of the television and watching endless soaps day in day out.


"Misfortune comes out of laziness". Gichin Funakoshi (Shotokan Karate)

I remember a short story that I had to read while at school in India about a Maharaja (King) and from what I can remember it goes something like this...

Maharaja Partap Singh wanted to see how spirited his people were, so he set out a test. One very early morning he dug a deep hole in middle of the road, then placed a large bar of solid gold inside and then covered with a large rock. For the next few days he was intrigued to see how the villagers just walked past the stone placed inconveniently in the middle of the road and cursing who ever put it in everyone’s way. Yet no one even bothered to move the hazardous object, not even making an attempt to push it to the side walk out of the way for everyone's safety. A few days later the Maharaja asked his minister to arrange for a mass gathering by the rock. The minister carried out the order and the Maharaja asked his servants to push the stone to the way side. On removal of the stone, the people were stunned to see the solid bar of pure gold. The Maharaja said, “In this world all people are lazy and unmotivated. No one cared enough to move the rock, although they were more than capable. Everybody was too busy cursing someone else rather than doing what was required - laziness is the cause for all deterioration. If someone had been enthusiastic enough and had actually removed the rock from the middle of the road, he would have obtained the gold bar beneath it.” Remove laziness, be ever vigilant and diligent, you can attain success in every undertaking; yoga is not for lazy people”.


Yoga assumes disciplining of our will with the will of God, the bonding of all the powers of body, mind and soul to God - the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will and assurance of the soul which allows you to see all aspects in life evenly - in balance.


Yoga is also regarded in the modern world as a great health enhancing and keep fit exercise. A few years ago; I had learned while attending a Guro Dan Inosanto seminar, that Yoga was originally a fighting method – a martial arts system. Thus the practice of martial arts requires enthusiasm and no one has ever achieved anything with a lazy attitude.


“Fear stops you. Courage keeps you going” - unknown


I know of many enthusiastic instructors who have travelled to the birth place (Japan, China, Brazil, Philippines, India or the USA) of a certain martial art in order to further their studies. I also have a couple of friends who are still studying and trying to master the same art they started out with a few decades ago and I admire them for their persistent and commitment. Travelling to another country to train requires great commitment, time and expense. I have to say, it is mostly due to the commitment of these instructors, that the martial artists are at such a high level than they would have been otherwise. It doesn’t end there, on their return many had continued by hosting seminars with the teachers, fighters and masters they had trained with abroad, making it possible for others to experience the same lessons they picked up. This had been previously unavailable to those unable to travel and thus enriching their martial arts journey.


A special recognition should be given to all these instructors both locally and from abroad for sharing their knowledge and have at times offered instruction in anything up to half a dozen arts on a seminar. Pindi Madahar - a successful Muay Thai, BJJ and MMA fighter and my own son, has been attending training trips since he was just 17 years of age. His trips to the states were to train at the CSW Headquarters with Erik Paulson and Rick Faye’s annual camps. It was mostly to further his studies within his chosen martial arts but a couple of times it was to prepare for his upcoming fights more on him in an in-depth interview -soon. He says the trips have always involved vigorous training and hugely enjoyable due the attention and care he receives; both schools are second to none.


Sometimes a small bit of advice can go a long way. Sensei Erik Paulson signed a poster to Pindi stating: “Steer clear of all everything that will bring you down – Shine like Star You are!.” Earlier on in the month one of my students bought me Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest book ‘Total Recall’. Without turning this into a book review I just like to say everyone should read it. As I really enjoyed reading it myself, an amazing book about a man who needs no introduction, but has become hugely successful in three different fields - sport, entertainment and politics. He made it big in the sport of ‘Body Building’ in more ways than one, becoming one of the most successful movie stars of our time and then becoming the governor of California. I can’t think of anyone else who has been successful in three different fields. If you can get hold of a copy be sure to read it There are some highly inspirational lessons appealing to everyone at many different levels.


“There is no friend as loyal as a book”. - Ernest Hemingway


Throughout my martial arts development, books have played an important role not just with mental but also in the physical training. Earlier on when martial arts was a hobby, I read that Bruce Lee had his own library of over two thousand books on all sorts of subjects. This inspired me to start my own collection of books, magazines and videos/DVDs. I bought my first martial arts magazine - Terry O’Neil’s Fighting Arts - with Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda on the cover when I couldn’t even read. I used to look at the pictures and tried to make sense of it by picking out the odd word I recognised. I still don’t have thousands of books; it’s still a very moderate collection but serves a very useful source of reference for teaching and training.


 Let’s move on to attributes, last month I briefly covered Mental Attitude  and this month briefly covering ‘Physical Strength.’


The desire to get strong or to build yourself up is usually a good a reason as any to begin training and has been the main reason for many of us. At the beginning we’re never really clued up about what training actually involves, other than to get strong. Strength obviously doesn’t have the same meaning in every sport, in martial arts


“Strength is the ability to overwhelm the opponent through manipulation” – Paul Vunak.


Most of us or at least some of us have been brought up to be physically and mentally strong by our parents and there are dozens of stories in our holy books, history books and then there are the comic book superheroes, supporting Greek Gods physiques doing all things heroic in the movies.


Most of the wrestlers pay homage to Lord Hanuman in India and Dara Singh (World Wrestling Champion and movie actor) portrayed him many times in Bollywood films on saga of ‘Mahabharata’ and related epics.


Generally strength training results are two fold cosmetic strength and functional strength. On the whole, strength allows you to overcome an outside force with contraction of your muscles. The most common is weight training exercises on machines and with free weights. In the past few years some ancient Indian, Bulgarian and Russian methods have been remerged, Kettle Bells, Club bells, Goat Bag and the Mace!


Strength training isn’t rocket science, but it is science. Here it is simplified, basically in a nutshell.


The workload placed on muscles, the repetition causes microscope tears.


 On completion of work load, refuel with correct nutrition, the rest period produces recovery and growth in size and strength.

  • The nervous system (muscle memory) learns to adapt - the body gets used to whatever it is put through and eventually boredom sets in and boredom is psychological and physiological.
  • Variety is the spice of life, the following principle appalled in movement (exercise) will assure continued growth in strength.
  • Static (isometric) contractions – the tension changes while the joint angle and the length of the muscle remain constant.
  • Isotonic contraction – the joint angle and the muscle changes length while the tension remains constant.
  •  Auxotonic contraction – when the joint angle, the muscle length and the tension changes.
  • Isokinetic contraction – requires special exercise machines that offer variable tension to act as a variable resistance type of training to improve quickness or agility.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 

Until next month – God Bless!


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