Is 5 minute training sufficient? 五分間の稽古で十分だろうか？
If we train in karate for 4 hours straight then we would probably say we trained very hard and the training was great. On the other hand, if your workout was only 5 minutes long then you would consider it as too short and a poor work out.
Can a 5 minute training session be enough?
My answer to this question is “Yes it can be”. In other words a 5 minute training session can be a sufficient training period and can be better than a training that is much longer than 5 minutes. Let me explain.
First, we must remember that there are two basic factors to our training that would make your workout good or poor. One is certainly quantity and how much time you spend on your work out. It is important and most people tend to put more emphasis on this than the second factor, quality. More people should pay attention to the quality which I consider more important. No matter how long and challenging your workout may be, would you not agree that the workout would be poor and not beneficial if your heart was not in it or if you were suffering from sever headache or being sick?
To have an excellent workout we all agree that the appropriate amount of time and good quality must be present.
OK then what is ‘the appropriate amount of time’ for a work out? It will all depend on the practitioner and there is no one set of answers. A good work out of one hour may be excellent for most of the beginners and the intermediate practitioners. However, one hour is definitely too short for the professional instructors and most of the serious practitioners. On the other hand, it can be too long for the children and the senior practitioners over 70 years old.
Next we must ask about the quality. So, what makes a karate training good and beneficial? Sweating a lot? Or doing 1,000 kicks and punches? I hope these are not your answers. I expect the following four elements to exist in all of my training; breathing, focus (concentration), correctness and bujutsu.
Let’s briefly look at those four elements.
I have written on this subject in the past so I will not go very deep into the technical part of how to breathe correctly here. But I must emphasize that the deep breathing must be exercised in all our training and eventually in our life outside of our training. Even though breathing is such a “natural’ action, more than 90% of the people are not breathing correctly, in short they are breathing too shallow or too short. One hint is that you need to use your diaphragm and practice what we call “belly” breathing. Another hint is that you breathe in or inhale when you contract and breathe out when you relax or extend your muscles. This sounds counter intuitive but it is very easy to exercise if you practice a little.
This word is explained as the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. You could do this with your body such as when you focus your power while you punch. However, we are mainly talking about the mental attitude and state here. In other words, you must be thinking that you are practicing karate all through the training. As you get tired and you may be slowing down physically, but your mind must be as sharp and clear as when you started. If you do not have this mental state the effect and the benefit of the training will be much less.
3) Correct movements:
This is something many people forget or put it on the back burner when they get tired. Your kicks become very sloppy when you do a 1,000 kick session. Your kata becomes noticeably inaccurate after 3 hours of training. In fact, you will get worse as you practice more in this way. This may be shocking for a devoted practitioner but the concept is not that difficult to understand. If you repeat a wrong technique hundreds and thousands of times, it will firmly become your technique. Once a certain physical movement (a technique) is learned by your body it will be extremely difficult to change or to modify. I am sure many of the readers have experienced this and understand what I am talking about. Trying to keep your techniques correct requires a lot of focus. In addition, a strong commitment is also necessary that you will not let your body dictate your movements. Your mind must be in control at all times as you make the body movements. Once your body acquires the correct movements or techniques, you can get into a state of “un-thinking”. In other words, at that stage you can finally deliver the correct techniques without thinking.
This word is defined as the fighting methods that were used by the samurai. In the modern day we no longer have the samurai but we have inherited bujutsu, the martial arts such as kenjutsu (sword), sojutsu (spear), jujutsu (grappling), etc. Karate was not introduced to mainland Japan until the 20th century but it was developed as bujutsu in Okinawa. If you are a sport karate practitioner then this factor may not be of interest to you. On the other hand, if you are a traditional karate-ka or if you consider yourself a martial artist, the factor I am touching on here is mandatory and also a key to the answer I provided at the beginning of this article. So, what is the base concept of bujutsu? You may have a different answer but for me it means life or death. It is close to the mentality of a soldier who goes into a battle field. If you are careless you get killed. This mentality is also taught to police officers. You will learn this concept quickly if you are sent to a battle field. In our peaceful life it is difficult. Therefore, it is important that you put this concept in your training and your techniques are used for a life and death situation. If you are in that situation, you will not want your techniques to be sloppy as it may cause your death. This seriousness separates bujutsu from sports. It is true that some people especially the professional athletic devotees are as serious as a bujutsu-ka but the objectives are totally different. For a martial artist it is life or death. For an athlete it is either money and praise or recognition. I am not talking down to the athletes or sports practitioners but I am just stating the fact that the level of seriousness must be different. If you claim yourself as a martial artist you must have this state of mind.
If you can apply all four factors to your training then I would say your training can be very effective even if it is only five minutes long. You can practice a kata probably several times in five minutes. You can also do kata a 100 times in one hour. I certainly consider that several times with 100% of our body and mind can easily exceed the quality and benefit of 100 times if they were done without focus and commitment.
Most of us are busy in our daily lives as we have many other duties and responsibilities. It is also true that we all have only 24 hours a day. It is easy for us to say, “Hey, I have no time for training today.” But can you not find only five minutes in your day? Then, put 100% into your 5 minute workout. Do you have an excuse now?