One of the most important muscle groups or areas of the body to train is the core or as Bodybuilding.com describes it, “your midsection and it involves all your muscles in that area including the front, back and sides. The core includes the traverse abdominis (TVA), erector spinae, obliques and your lower lats.” Essentially mean, the center and “core” of your body.
Onnit describes the need for a strong core in martial arts as, “Understand [the core’s] importance in increasing explosive power, improving overall strength, maximizing mobility, reducing stress on the body, and minimizing your injuries.” Having a strong and stable core is important in all athletic pursuits and the martial arts is no different. Everything begins and ends with the core. That includes punches, kicks, throws, grappling, clinching, takedowns and everything in between.
So, how does the core effect your martial arts directly?
Your Punches and Kicks
No matter the style, system or philosophy, the power of your punch begins with your hips and waist using the twisting rotation of your body to generate power behind your strike. What muscle group do the hips and waist fall under? That’s right, the core! Jeet Kune Do, Boxing, Muay Thai, Karate - you name it and every style starts with using a strong core. In order to generate those powerful punches.
The same principles apply for kicks. The power in the rotation of your roundhouse, the chamber of a strong side kick, even lifting your leg up for a front kick. These all starts with the core muscles to balance, chamber and control the movement and power of your technique properly.
Having a strong core helps to properly control technique and power in all aspects of your body. During a throw, you can use the exact amount of power and torche needed, without over applying and hurting your opponent or under applying and doing the same. A strong core keeps you from struggling excessively in any execution.
Think of the core as your car’s chassis or body. It holds the structural integrity needed for everything else to run and work properly. Your core is the trunk of the tree, it holds everything and stabilizes your movements. If your core is weak, your structure is weak and with a weak structure, you can never build optimal power.
Power From The Core
Power is generated from rotation. The center of your body is where you can generate power the most. In golf, your swing begins with your hip rotation. The same for a quarterback in football or when batting in baseball. A strong roundhouse or punch, directly begins with the rotation in your hips and the power generated from your core.
Taking a Hit
A good offense starts with a good defense and no one wants to have a great offense, that ends with one blow to your own body. Think of your core as your body’s armor, without strong armor, an opponents attack can end the fight before you can. Having a strong core that is conditioned and dense, will help keep you in the fight, if need be.
Exercises To Build Strong Core
Exercises like planks and crunches of any variation, dead lifts or squats are great to engage and build strong muscles in the core. Exercises that focus on rotations in the center of the body or extension of the hips are also perfect to build a dense core. These can be done with weights or without.
Here are three website resources where you can find some great core workout information, exercises and workouts!
Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be able to train and build that strong core to become a top martial artist!