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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories » Football and Karate, Beyond Hitting

Football and Karate, Beyond Hitting

Here in Texas football is practically a food group. You can get a healthy dose almost every day during certain times of the year. We support it all, from pee wee up to pro. As such, while watching the local pro team, the Dallas Cowboys, get demolished there’s time for the mind to wander. How are Kenpo Karate and football similar?

Martial arts is similar to football in many ways

Martial arts is similar to football in many ways

(Besides the hitting . . . .)

Being mindful of what’s happening around you –As a play in football develops, each player has to understand where their teammates are and where the opponents might be. Players have to view as much of the field as possible and keep their head on a swivel. Karate is no different. At the simplest, you need to see where everyone is on the training mat at one time to ensure no one gets run over. Even more important is watching what’s happening around on you the street. Pay attention to your surroundings, people you pass, and look out for potentially confrontational situations. Like an opponent attempting to tackle a player in football, we need to practice avoiding these confrontational scenarios.

Cardio is important – Football and martial arts are both explosive activities requiring huge bursts of energy all at once. To be good at it for long periods of time requires excellent cardiovascular health. One of the distinctions between winning and losing is outlasting your opponent on the field. If he gets tired first, there’s a good chance he makes a mistake or isn’t even present at a critical point. Excellent cardio health ensures you are present when it matters and can outlast your opponent.

Play like you practice –Football players work all week long leading up to the big game. They study film of themselves and their opponents, implement a game plan, and practice running plays and drills. You often hear players talk about the importance of practice with the games being the fun part. Again, martial arts is extremely similar to this. If tournament trophies and demos are your goal, then you must put a lot of time on the mat for any expectation of doing well. You can’t show up the day of the tournament and hope to do well if you haven’t been practicing. If self defense is your primary goal, practicing is even more important. You don’t know when the fight or flight scenario is going to appear, so you have to be “game-ready” at any given point. In this regard, football players have the luxury of knowing when the game will be while martial artists practice to be ready for the “just in case”.

Football players are tremendous athletes with some even reaching elite status. Many of the same characteristics making up a great football player also apply to creating great martial artists. Each is dedicated to paying attention to their surroundings, working on excellent cardio, and training hard for when the big moment arrives. Now if we could just figure out how martial artists can help the Cowboys win  . . . . .

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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