Martial Arts vs. Aerobics

My purpose for taking up martial arts was not fitness, fitness was a side benefit. As I progressed in martial arts I wanted to improve even more, so I looked for ways to supplement my martial arts training with other fitness activities.

I did some weight lifting, although not with the goal of becoming a massive body builder, and for a while I did some swimming and running. The aerobic training did not really seem to add anything.

Kick-boxing, a great fitness exercise.

As part of my kick-boxing and wrestling I was doing a lot of sparring but my aerobic friends would point out that "That is not pure aerobics, it is mostly anaerobic". The difference between 'pure aerobics' and what I was doing with all my sparring was basically that the sparring was periods of extreme intensity, say with an attack or a counter attack, followed by periods of relative 'rest'. Such is the nature of a boxing or kick-boxing or even wrestling match; greater intensity followed by relative quiet followed by a burst of more intensity. I felt it was good enough for me, but the aerobics people said it was not enough.

I was still at the stage of exploring and trying it every form of exercise and martial arts that I could. You name it I tried it. I participated in one 'Step Aerobics' class at a gym in Jerusalem. There were about 30 participants at the start of the class and only five survived to the end. I was one of the five and I was hardly winded. The instructor came over to me, seeing that I was new, and asked me where I trained in aerobics. I said I don't even belong to a gym and I have never done an aerobics class before. She was quite amazed.

Later I attend a Thai Boxing Advanced Fitness class led by Phil Nurse in New York City. The first part of the class was a forty minute jump rope drill. Yes, 40 minutes non – stop. The most I had ever done before was 3 minutes. Guess what? It was very tough but I made it, I survived the whole 40 minutes plus had enough energy for what came next; 100 push ups and then the Thai Boxing class.

Thai Boxing training with Phil Nurse

To me all this was proof that my martial arts training was all the fitness I needed. Years later the scientific proof started coming in. Now I am reading all over the internet articles about how aerobics makes you fat, how aerobics does not burn fat effectively, does not lead to greater fitness and that what you really need is intensity, interval training, turbulence training and so forth, basically; all the things that we martial arts people have been doing for decades.