Hidden Training, Part 2- Recovery

By Daniel Williams

This post is the second of post of a three-part series covering hidden training, or how things that you do outside of practice can either improve or impair your athletic performance. Part 1- Nutrition, can be found here.

This post discusses recovery, and Part 3 will discuss study.


You put a lot of strain on your body by doing karate. For several hours a week, you practice skills and techniques that require large amounts of muscular effort, energy, and concentration. Proper nutrition is the best way to fuel your body for these endeavours, but if you want to maintain a regular training schedule and continue to steadily progress, you need to exercise the following good recovery practices as well:

1) Rehydrate. As mentioned in Part 1, you need to drink plenty of water after class to restore the water you have lost due to sweating. Individual needs can vary, so aim for quenching your thirst and steadily drinking water after class, rather than trying to chug down a specific quantity. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding natural flavorings like lemon juice or try letting a tea bag slowly steep in your water bottle.

2) Get plenty of sleep. During sleep is when your body releases human growth hormone, which helps you regenerate muscle cells damaged by exercise. Not getting enough sleep can also impair your mood, hormonal balance, weight management, and memory. Most people need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

3) Replenish glycogen. Glycogen is a carbohydrate energy source that is stored in your liver and muscle tissue. Your body primarily uses the glucose in your blood to fuel physical activity, but this supply is depleted after about an hour of exercise, at which point your body utilizes its glycogen supply for energy instead. If you want to work for as long and as hard as you did the last time you tapped into your glycogen stores, you can help your body replenish them by consuming a snack with somewhere between a 3:1 to a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio immediately after your workout. A piece of fruit with a handful of almonds meets these criteria, as do well-balanced protein bars, and other snack options.

4) Soothe soreness. If you are feeling sore after a class or an event, applying cold or heat can help. Cold helps to numb pain and reduce swelling, while heat helps stiff muscles to relax and recover. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help reduce swelling and soreness and is particularly useful before or after an especially demanding event, such as a test or a few rounds of semi-knockdown fighting. You can also help reduce inflammation and recover from it faster by eating a diet containing antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids.

5) Don’t ignore injuries. Strains, sprains, pulled muscles, and other more serious injuries are always possible in athletic pursuits. If you become injured and attempt to push through the pain and continue doing things that aggravate your injury, you are putting your martial arts career in jeopardy. Injuries that are not given the proper time to heal can become much worse or result in other debilitating impairments that can force you to stop your training for far longer than you would have needed to do so had you just let your injury heal appropriately. In some cases, improper injury care can lead to permanent bodily harm. Remember that our second precept is “Be prudent in action” and that our byword is patience, and treat your body with appropriate respect. If you have an injury, inform your instructor prior to class or before performing exercises that would bother it so that he or she can make appropriate accommodations for your injury. Proper care varies by injury, so consult with your instructor or another qualified source to make sure you are doing everything you can to heal as quickly as possible.

Though it takes time and planning, practicing proper recovery is absolutely essential if you want to continue to improve yourself through martial arts at a steady and continued pace. Think of this time not as an additional chore, but as an investment in your future health and performance.


Late Arrival Protocol

By Erik Hofmeister

It seems like each school has a distinct way to handle students who arrive late to class.  Some schools lock their doors, some have you do pushups, some have you wait until you’re recognized to join class, etc.

Students should know when class starts, and should plan accordingly to arrive in time to be dressed, aware, and ready to go by the class start time.  Sometimes, the instructor may not start class on time since they are waiting on brand new students, a student is fulfilling a dojo responsibility (like filling the water), or some official business needs to be conducted before starting class.  However, class should NOT start late because of an individual student’s tardiness.  Therefore, it is each student’s responsibility to be on time.

Some people work 9-to-5 jobs.  That’s great, and I admire the fact that they have a consistent, reliable, regular work schedule.  That has been, and probably never will be, my own experience with work.  As a professional, work ends when there’s no more work to do.  If we did a great job getting cases done, it might be 5:30pm.  If we had a lot of emergencies or someone didn’t show up for work, it might be 7pm or later.  Therefore, I have acquired a significant sense of flexibility when it comes to students arriving at class.  As such, I have a simple policy:

Are you late to class because of something outside your control (work went late, flat tire, etc.)?  If so, come in, bow, and join the line below the lowest rank there until the instructor revises the lineup (usually after warmup).  If you are late to class because of something within your control (fell asleep and forgot to set alarm, forgot uniform, had to get one more block in Minecraft), then come in, bow, and do a number of pushups that you feel is the appropriate punishment for your lapse.  This requires the student to take ownership of their tardiness and allows them to set the punishment they feel is appropriate.

At the end of the day, I never want a student to NOT come to class because they might be late, even if being late is due to their own decisions.  I would rather have a student be 10 or even 20 minutes late than not come at all.  Not coming at all begins the slow decline of out-for-a-week-out-forever.


By Hali Serrian

“Karate begins and ends with courtesy.”

Gichin Funakoshi says this more than once in his autobiographical novel, Karate-Do: My Way of Life.

Funakoshi is the founder of the Shotokan style of karate and is also in many ways the founder of modern karate as we know it. So, if he says that karate begins and ends with courtesy, then there must be something to it.

We bow when we enter or leave the dojo. We bow (at least in our dojo) to brown belts and higher ranks when they enter the dojo. We use Sensei, surnames, and sir or ma’am when we are addressing our teachers and fellow students. We shake hands at the end of partner work and often thank that person for their time/instruction/help. A lot of what we do in the dojo, especially when interacting with others, hinges on the students being courteous and polite to their teachers and peers.

Out of the Five Precepts of Yoshukai karate, four are very much related to courtesy:

Respect and Manners: that one’s easy. We should respect everyone in our dojo and use proper manners when working with them.

Be prudent in action/speech. Precepts two and three are related to each other and they both help us to think about what we do and say and make sure it is a wise thing to be doing or saying. If we’re being prudent, we’ll probably be polite.

Keep high spirited doesn’t fit as clearly into courtesy in karate, but it can still apply. Keeping our spirits high, even when we’re tired during a test, can help improve the spirits of our fellow practitioners, and that is a bit of indirect courtesy to them.

It is polite to keep oneself clean, especially when our art generally means we will be getting sweaty and somewhat gross. Nobody wants to stand next to the guy in the needed-to-be-washed-two-weeks-ago dogi. This precept can also extend to why we don’t use foul language in the dojo; it’s not polite.
Karate begins and ends with courtesy. It’s a nice phrase, but it can also be seen throughout our Precepts and demonstrated in the formalities of dojo life. Of course, if we want our dojo life to extend into our everyday life, then that means courtesy comes with it. And why not try to live a life that begins and ends with courtesy? It certainly couldn’t hurt.