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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » All Sizes Matter in Training

All Sizes Matter in Training

Let’s not mince words about it, I’m just not a tall person. At 5′ 7″, dunking a basketball is going to require a lot of creative engineering if I want to mark it off the to-do list. But it doesn’t bother me. This is who I am, and all I’ve ever known.

Size matters in training. The more sizes to work with, the better everyone will be.

Size matters in training. The more sizes to work with, the better everyone will be.

Incorporating your height (or weight) is another facet of karate training. My martial arts perspective is that of a 5′ 7″ person. But all of my instructors have been taller than me. Mr. Abernathy, Mr. Hickman, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Duffy are all at least a few inches taller than me. But each helped me to adapt Kenpo to become My Kenpo through applying the system to what my body type could do.

Right now, I can’t kick over my head like I could as a kid. So my kicks have adapted to go stronger to the mid-region. Or I use combinations to lower my attacker’s head closer to my foot. All are valid methods for making martial arts work for you.

Another key ingredient is to have training partners of all sizes and body types. Skinny or heavy set, tall, short or average, fast or slow; everyone moves and reacts differently. Repeated exposure to all the different body types better prepares you for an unexpected fight or flight situation. It’s good to know what a punch from a heavy person feels like. You need practice breaking a bear hug from someone taller than you. Sparring with someone quicker than you is a great eye-opener. While you don’t always get to chose who your training partners will be, when you find a different body type (or even skill set/level) you should try to get as much mat time with that person as possible. It will help you to further define how your personal martial arts will work and adapt.

Working with various sized partners is especially advantageous for kids. Having the opportunity to work techniques and spar with kids larger and smaller than themselves improves their confidense for dealing with situations at school.  By the same token, sparring and working techniques against adults prepares them for other, potentially more dangerous, real-world scenarios.  Kids need practice understanding how and when their height, weight, and speed are advantages and disadvantages. They may not be able to defeat an adult in sparring, but hopefully they’ll have enough experience to not freeze up and can escape.

I’ve been lucky to have great training partners of all sizes and speeds throughout my martial arts journey. It’s affected my perspective and understanding of how martial arts becomes MY martial arts and works best for me. It’s my hope to recreate those experiences for my students and training partners. The more you can feel it, the more you will believe it.

If you enjoyed this post, please help spread the word by sharing it with your network or commenting below.

Hat tip to JH.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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