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One of the misconceptions in the sports world including Karate is that a sportsperson gets in shape by just playing or taking part in his/her chosen sport. If a stationary level of performance, consistent ability in executing a few limited skills is your goal then engaging only in your sport will keep you there.

However, if you want the utmost efficiency, consistent improvement, and balanced abilities athletes must participate in a year round conditioning programme. The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training is stress. Not mental stress, but adaptive body stress. Sportsmen and women must put their bodies under a certain amount of stress to increase physical capabilities.

Exercise scientists have identified nine elements that comprise the definition of fitness. The following lists each of the nine elements and an example of how they are used: -

  1. Strength – the extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (holding or restraining an object or person)
  2. Power – the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements leg speed & point scoring during Kumite matches)
  3. Agility – the ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions 9 forward, back & break line movements)
  4. Balance – the ability to control the body’s break line movements)
  5. Flexibility – the ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (Executing a kick)
  6. Local Muscle Endurance – a single muscle’s ability to perform sustained work
  7. Cardiovascular Endurance – the heart’s ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it.
  8. Strength Endurance – a muscle’s ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time (Continuous explosive moves through an entire Kumite match)
  9. Co-ordination – the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved.

Of all the nine elements of fitness, strength and cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to develop because they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation.

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