Everyone knows that training in the martial arts is healthy exercise, not to mention a benefit for self-defense and mental discipline, but like all physically demanding activities, it can cause a number of problems over time such as Repetitive Stress Injuries (RPI), and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). In severe cases it can cause the deterioration of joints, torn ligaments and finally the release of an over abundance of destructive Free Radicals, which can cause cancer and other chronic and life threatening illness.
In the past, the venerable martial arts masters knew how to heal the body as well as how to defend it and how to disarm, maim and even kill an enemy. The key here is that they knew how to heal the body because they were also trained in the skills of knowing the vast network of energy grids, pressure points, breathing, meditation, healing herbs and other forms of movement to neutralize the damaging effects of combat and hard training.
Today, these softer or alternative training methods are almost a lost art and therefore, today’s martial artists and fighters, although protected by various sanctions to protect their safety, are not taught the self-care needed as a first line of self-defense, for truly, a fighter or martial arts trainee who is stiff, achy, bruised, sore, worn out physically or susceptible to multiple injuries because he doesn’t know how to protect himself from this silent and invisible enemy, will be sorely at a disadvantage and will not be able to sustain longevity in what he loves most to do, Martial Arts.
All too often I meet martial artists with hip replacements, knee replacements, frozen shoulders, neck injuries, low back pain and other chronic conditions, and so I’ve dedicated myself to creating what I refer to as “Downtime Training”. Every martial artist knows that he cannot lay off training entirely for any length of time. After two days he will already feel the result of his body’s inactivity. In this way, there is absolutely no “off time” for any serious martial artist, but the concept of “Downtime Training” offers hope and restoration.
It is in Downtime Training that we learn to interject softer training between the harder training days, such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Self-Massage like Jin Shen Jiutsu, Meditation and Breathing. It is at this time that the martial artist may choose to read related written works like The Art of War, while relaxing in a warm bath tub enhanced with powdered ginger, lavender oil and Epsom Salts to help heal micro tears in his muscles. He may drink Peppermint tea to increase his stamina. He may mentally review a training drill in his mind in the same way that the military does to train soldiers, because this type of visualization/meditation actually creates neuropath ways that help the body respond to the mental practice, even without moving.
These are just some of the very basic concepts that I’ve used with my fighters and martial artists that I’ve worked with. I always say, “The first line of Self-Defense is Self-Care”.
Khadi Madama is known as the First Lady of MMA Yoga. In 2009 she was awarded Master of the Year for MMA Yoga by the IAMA founder Gary Alexander. A staff writer for the MMA Fight Council, who has also presented her concepts at the Arnold Martial Arts Classic and other sports venues, as well as being a frequent radio guest on the subject, is the author of MMA Yoga on the Mat: Real Yoga for Inside the Cage. (Amazon.com). Her material is also part of The World Wide Dojo. Miss Madama brings more then 40 years of therapeutic Yoga and 20 years of martial arts experience into the cage to benefit all those in the martial arts.