I'm looking for fitness advice as I'm training for my black belt. Being over forty, and entering my fifth year, I have improved my level of fitness but it is not comparable to others. I have not been an athlete, nor have I stuck with any exercise program or sport until I tried Taekwondo. So, needless to say, my level of fitness lags compared to others. What advice can you give?
Just about any type of physical exercise will aid you in Taekwondo but the primary things you need to work on are:
- Explosive strength, main in the legs. To kick, jump-kick, and move quickly you must have explosive strength in the legs. To perform Taekwondo, we do not need to lift a heavy weight slowly, we need to be able to instantly jump or kick with no preparation. Weight lifting, running up stairs, and plyometric jumping can help build explosive strength.
- Short burst endurance. Running for hours is good for long-term endurance, but when we spar, we attack in short bursts followed by periods of relative inactivity. We do not need to be able to fight for long periods of time, but we do need to be able to fight in a series of frenzied attacks and be able to recover between attacks quickly. Run wind sprints (repeatedly sprint for 100 yards and then walk back) or jump rope in rapid bursts to build short burst endurance.
- Flexibility. To move more quickly and more correctly, we must be flexible. To increase flexibility try yoga or perform you own daily stretching routines.
- Relaxation. One the things that eats your energy, slows your reaction time, and make you move awkwardly is tension. Learn to relax when sparring or performing patterns and your performance quality will increase.
For cross-training, I always recommend the YWCA/YMCA. It is relatively inexpensive, has all the equipment you need, offers all types of classes, and has hours to fit any schedule.