Monday, 29 September 2008

Bodybuilding and Martial Arts

Over the weekend, Mr Olympia 2008 took place in Las Vegas, which may have turned a few heads. Two time winner Jay Cutler who dethroned 8 times Mr Olympia Ronnie Coleman a couple of years ago placed second losing to the winner, Dexter Jackson.

Bodybuilding is a great and often misunderstood sport which can offer many benefits to martial artists. Unfortunately there are still those who think that training with weights to strengthen muscles can be detrimental to martial artists and can lead to sloppy, slow technique. I completely disagree with this line of thought and give below, a couple of reasons why.

Firstly there is the obvious fact that bodybuilders can transform there bodies the way they want them. If they need to get bigger or to lose body fat for a competition they know the proper training methods in the gym and the correct food types to eat, And while they may gain weight, most of the time it shall be in the form of muscle, something that every martial artist could do with to make there techniques more effective. Obviously the bodybuilder type of physique would be very restrictive for a martial artist, but with a proper diet aimed for martial arts, there should be no worries about getting to big, which tends to be a lot of beginners concerns.

Also the dedication that a bodybuilder has regarding developing his/her body is admirable. Weather it be gaining extra muscle through heavy weights and high calorie eating, or “shredding up” for a competition through weeks of dieting and extra cardio sessions, the thought of reaching there goals fuels them with the motivation to succeed.

It has always been my opinion that bodybuilding and combat sports are amongst the toughest out there. Not because of the physical toughness of them but because of the mental ability needed to achieve a certain standard. Bodybuilding can help provide martial artists with the dedication needed to excel, as well as physically making them stronger and faster. It should be something taken advantage off by all for the benefits it can bring.


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Potatoe Fist said...

Bravo! I couldn't agree more. I've heard from so many people that developing muscle mass is the fast road to slower reflexes, etc. I finally asked a PT and he said just take a look at Tiger Woods or any other athlete these days. Developing the physique is key to improvement.

John Vesia said...

When Bruce Lee and Donn Draeger were advocating bodybuilding routines for martial artists in the 60s, lifting weights at the time was considered taboo.

What's interesting is that there were traditional weight devices that Okinawans used in the early 20th century (e.g. ishi-sashi) for karate training. Leave it to Westerners to screw things up.

MARKS said...

Potatoe Fist - Youre right, the main reason why todays athletes from all sports are getting better is not becuase they have more time on there hands to train (although that does help) but is mainly due to the fact of there training methods have vastley improved which weight training has proved to be an advantage.

John Veisa - A great point. Okinawan Karateka have been using weights for a great number of years to improve there abilites. There technqiue is just as good and probably better than most other styles of karate.

Martial art schools said...

That's a classic right there. Great technique!

Martial art schools said...

Thanks Greg, I agree - bodybuilding in combination with martial arts is a perfect combination!

Testostrerone Therapy said...

Nice post and very useful information to share with the readers that's cool.A great point. Okinawan Karateka have been using weights for a great number of years to improve there abilites.

Anonymous said...

weight training is essential to development as a combat athlete; however, body building is not the appropriate type of weight training to pursue. body building is focused on the way the body looks, with strength development becoming only a secondary effect. a more functional approach to weight training would be something like mark rippetoe's 5x5, ross enemait's ideas, etc. if you're goal is to become a better athlete, the vanity involved in bodybuilding will not lead to the functionality neccesary for combat.

MARKS said...

ANONYMOUS - Of course, a martial artist must use weight training in order to develop skills needed to become a more competant martial artist and not just for looks. However, the relationship between mind and body, which is something every martial artist should have is something that is also needed to develop a succesful physique. For this reason, bodybuilding and martial arts compliment each other well.

Anonymous said...

Basic calisthenes and freeweight exercises are a good supplement to MA-training, however bodybuilding is clearly out of the question if you want to keep your flexibility, range of motion and speed. While building muscle is always a good thing building too much muscle or the kind that is generated by lifting very heavy weights for 6 or less repititions (blowing up your muscles like a tyre) is detrimental to your development as a martial-artist. The physique of top MMA-competitors like Silva and Fedor obviously differs greatly from mister universe and with good reason. Bodybuilders are worthless fighters since they can't even turn their shoulders fully to deliver a proper punch, they're slow and with every move they make their muscles work against them. On top of that they're extra vulnerable to strikes to the limbs and to locks of any kind except maybe neckcranks. I'd much rather fight a bodybuilder than a lean, stocky guy who actually knows what he's doing and has experience in putting guys down.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty late on this particular forum, but it's an issue -martial arts and bodybuilding- that continues to puzzle me too. However I think for one thing we should DEFINE "bodybuilding" in this context. If by "bodybuilding" we mean "bulking up" and getting as huge as possible for the sake of it, and doing lots of high-volume "tear the muscles down" training, and looking for "cuts" and "symmetry" and all that stuff, then yes bodybuilding could hamper MA. Muscles wont be able to recover, not enough energy for MA training, and possibly non-functional muscle bulk. But if -as for ME anyway- we use "bodybuilding" a bit "looser" to simply mean lifting weights to increase one's strength -probably first and foremost- and therefore not shying away from heavy weights, and while of course developing a muscular physique; but not necessarily using all the "bodybuilding" techniques all the time like high-volume, moderate-rep training and going for "pumps"-which techniques also hypertrophy parts of the muscle cell that are NOT necessarily involved in creating MORE FORCE and therefore may create that non-functional "bulk" that MA'tists don't want; and of course being sure to do flexibility training and most important continuing MA training drills -in and out of the dojo/kwoon/mat/ring or cage - then in my humble opinion -even as I continue to seek the answers myself- I believe the bodybuilding SHOULD complement the MA. And vice versa as others have said too. (Maybe I should say " Body-Building not just "Bodybuilding" (hyphen vs one word) meaning building, developing and strengthening the body and "building" its health and athletic function-not just "bulking up).

Anonymous said...

....I should add that, ironically, I fit the profile of someone who got into heavy weight training and bodybuilding, and I'm stiff and slow as far as martial arts is concerned so that my MA performance is notbably decreased. But I believe it's because I put down the MA training for some time while I got into the weights, plus I did not keep up with flexibility training (tho I tended not to do that even with regular MA) -plus I'm a bit overweight (over-fat) too which would also slow me down. But I'm getting back into MA (VERY RUSTY -and I don't follow through consistently enough with regular practice -especially outside the dojo/kwoon/mat etc., but I strongly believe that they can be effectively combined. It also comes down to training methodology -the S.A.I.D. principle. "HOW" u train with weights makes the difference.

Anonymous said...

However in both the cases of body building and martial arts both can be achieved with lot of dedication and hard work. But in the end in terms of power, flexibility, speed and stamina it is the martial art a step ahead than the body building. In long run the health and fitness of martial art is better than the body builder.

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