Martial Arts

Are Martial Arts Aerobic Or Anaerobic

In general most martial arts styles require the martial artist to have both great aerobic and anaerobic muscles and energy systems to be ahead of the game. Though the term martial arts is a really broad term, therefore certain martial arts will require a greater deal of aerobic fitness than anaerobic fitness. While other martial arts will need more anaerobic fitness than aerobic fitness. To understand what type of martial arts are more aerobic or anaerobic we are going to explain both terms and which martial arts use more of a certain type.

Are Martial Arts Aerobic Or Anaerobic

Aerobic Capacity And Aerobic Power In Martial Arts

Let’s first understand what aerobic fitness is.

Briefly aerobic fitness is our ability to increase the duration of a particular activity that we are doing. This typically improves our body’s cardiovascular system.

In martial arts we need aerobic fitness for:

  • Enduring the lesson – This is your ability to keep up with the class. If you find yourself getting really tired between drills that are not exceptionally explosive in nature, such as practicing katas, forms, techniques on your partner.
  • Sparring – Depending on the type of sparring you’re doing in your martial art style aerobic fitness can play a huge role in victory or defeat. If the type of sparring consists of a lot of rounds and fights taking a long time it’s futile if you start winning in the beginning but run out of juice at a quarter of the fight.
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Some great exercises to increase your aerobic fitness in martial arts are :

  • Light shadow boxing
  • Light sparing
  • Practising drills from your dojo at home
  • Joging
  • Increasing reps at the gym
  • Increasing reps/time doing all sort of activities in general

Anaerobic Capacity And Anaerobic Power In Martial Arts

Let’s first understand what anaerobic fitness is.

Briefly anaerobic fitness is our ability to unleash an explosive force. This typically builds muscle mass leading to more strength, speed and power.

In martial arts we need anaerobic fitness for:

  • Breaking objects – Certain martial arts practice the art of breaking wooden boards, rocks, bricks, etc. For this activity to be successful one needs to have good technique and the necessary explosive power. Technique alone will not get you far when more layers are added. In order to keep improving in this activity it is essential that you increase your anaerobic fitness.
  • ‘Power techniques’ – Certain techniques such as throws or takedowns require a burst of power in order to be executed. If you’re executing these techniques and your anaerobic fitness is not up to par, you will find yourself getting stuck while trying these techniques. Being stuck in one of these techniques can be an extremely dangerous situation.
  • Increasing damage in general – Every technique we do is meant to cause damage to our opponent. Obviously in martial arts we mostly train the proper technique, timing of execution, when and which technique to use at that particular moment, etc. Though those are very important to master, unless we can execute that technique with great explosive power landing it will not have any effect.
  • Sparring – We have already pointed out that we need to last long in a fight. But without anaerobic power we can not execute certain essential factors that achieve the goals needed to win a match such as sudden fast combos, throws, damaging blows, etc.

Some great exercises to increase your anaerobic fitness in martial arts are :

  • Going full force while shadow boxing
  • Hitting heavy punching bags with everything you got
  • Sprinting short distances – keeping the same distance but trying to reduce the time it took you to finish it
  • Increasing weight at the gym

Deciding Which Martial Arts Are More Aerobic Or Anaerobic

By know I think we can both agree that martial arts require a great deal of both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Now I’m going to list some characteristics of the most popular martial arts and what type of training is most suited for them.

  1. Martial artist with the main goal to perform a sequence of moves professionally such as a kata – Karate, Wushu, Judo, Taekwondo, Kendo, etc.Typically though not always martial artists that are taking this path require more aerobic fitness, this is because these ‘competitions’ don’t require that much explosive power. They represent a more delicate part of the art, in order to get every move perfectly they need to train the whole sequence multiple times which develops more there aerobic fitness.
  2. Light contact/semi contact point sparring martial arts – These type of tournaments are found in every martial art.The goal of this match is to hit a core part of your opponent and you earn a point depending where you hit. Once a point is earned the fight and timer stops, everyone fixes his martial arts gi or whatever they’re wearing and the match restarts. These matches usually last 4-5 minutes with just one round.Martial artists practising for these matches require more anaerobic fitness. This is because these matches are extremely intense you will notice them continuously jumping in there stance. Though the attacks are not meant to knockout the opponent in fact you can get disqualified if you use excessive force. These fights require you to be extremely fast, technical and reactive due to the match only lasting 4-5 minutes the martial artists does not have to focus much on stamina instead focusing on getting as much points in those 4-5 minutes.
  3. Grappling type sparring such as – MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, etc.These are matches that don’t contain striking. The main goal is to submit your opponent, if no one submits than there are points that decide who is the winner depending on various factors. Some of which are who was more dominant, takedowns, throws, etc. Fights last for about 10 minutes.These athletes require more aerobic fitness than anaerobic fitness, though there are situations where the martial artist needs to go for a takedown or a throw most of the fight takes place on the ground and isn’t that fast paced. Therefore being able to keep applying pressure is more important than explosive power hence the reason aerobic fitness is more beneficial.
  4. Full contact stand up fighting – These type of tournaments are found in every martial art.These are fights that emphasis on striking such as boxing, kickboxing, K1, etc. To decide whether these matches require the martial artist to be more aerobic vs anaerobic, it all comes down to how long each fight lasts and how many rounds there are. let’s compare K1 to boxingK1 typically has 3 rounds that last 3 minutes each, while boxing has 12 rounds that last 3 minutes each. Placing both of them side by side martial artists competing in K1 typically train to be more anaerobic than martial artists competing in boxing. This is because K1 fighters have less rounds therefore stamina is less of an issue, but because they have less rounds they need to dish out more in those 3 rounds.As for MMA typically the same rules apply, the longer the time for each match and the more rounds there are the more aerobic the martial artist must be. Typically MMA is slower than stand up fighting due to the grappling element in mma. Therefore most mma fighters tend to be more aerobic than stand up fighters that have the same time per match and rounds.

Sources :
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.

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Are Martial Arts Aerobic Or Anaerobic
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Are Martial Arts Aerobic Or Anaerobic
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Are Martial Arts Aerobic Or Anaerobic Maybe Both? {Categorising Which Martial Arts Fall Under Aerobic, Anaerobic Or Both} With Explanations.
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Martial Arts Nerd
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