When thinking of a successful boxer, the terms stamina and endurance are often a given as these are two key elements that can help a fighter “go the distance”; how does this affect the everyday martial artist though? This article will discuss the importance of both physical and mental stamina and endurance while also presenting ideas on how you can build these traits.
Consider the scenario of sparring in a ring; there are several skills a martial artist must have. These include technique, observation, mental fortitude and of course endurance and stamina. I will not spend much time elaborating on ring fighting as it is not my field of expertise rather I will be discussing the importance of stamina and endurance when defending yourself on the street.
If you ever get into a confrontation on the street, you must be able to maintain your composure at all times in order to react correctly and retreat accordingly. This means you need both the abilities of endurance (to withstand wear and tear, taking a hit) and stamina (withstanding prolonged physical or mental strain).
Within the scope of dojo sparring, it is very likely that you have experienced the sensation of “pressure” when facing a more experienced opponent. This feeling on its own can become exhausting very quickly and can only be overcome by experiencing it many times. This is a form of mental stamina as the mind can exhaust the body just as quickly as performing strenuous activity. The more you encounter this particular scenario the faster you will adapt to it as the human mind has evolved
Physical stamina is a much easier concept to understand and also much easier to build. Exercises that increase the heart rate for an extended amount of time can help to build stamina. Things such as daily cardio can do incredible things for the body and it can be as simple as running at a local park or around the block however the important thing is consistency. Much like anything else, if you only practice once in a while – nothing substantial will ever build.
Endurance pertains to the ability to take damage and continue pushing through. It is highly unlikely that you will get away from a confrontation on the street unscathed and the only way to learn to take this punishment is through learning to be hit in the dojo. These strikes should never be performed with malice and only done with the intention of improving the endurance of the opponent.
Mental endurance can be seen as having the aptitude to remain calm in a confrontation. A scenario where this is important is when you are faced with several attackers. If you allow the situation to deter you then you may have already given up before you started. There is a linkage to mental stamina here as you require the ability to remain calm but also to offset the physical toll of mental strain while facing such a situation.
Endurance and stamina also have a physical link as one uses the endurance built to withstand constant stamina training.
A metaphor to consider would be if a martial artist was a car, having no endurance and stamina would the same as having no petrol and oil – the car would be useless when it was needed.
So to get the most out of your training, it is important to do more than just focus on techniques or forms; one should make a conscious effort to do consistent daily stamina and endurance training.