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Here is a recent Interview we'd like to share.
Because of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), there is a perception among North Americans that fighting is only for brawny meatheads. What do you say to people who think that way?
I’ll admit that there are a lot of meatheads in combat sports of all kinds, but a few bad apples can’t spoil the whole bunch. Aggression and combat are primal expressions that can be very healthy and sit close to our emotional surface. When these emotions and expressions become unhealthy is when they have no context or are nurtured under an unhealthy context of insecurity, anger or the desire to cause hurt to others (i.e. the fictional Cobra Kai Dojo from The Karate Kid). The desire to fight is a very complex impulse and it has to be developed and practiced in a healthy environment of support, friendship and respect. It can be difficult to wrap your head around—watching people punch each other in the head and laughing together over it—but when this is done, the practice of combat sports can be a very liberating and healthy way to express yourself.
What is the difference between fitness kickboxing and a more traditional practice of the sport?
Fitness kickboxing uses many of the techniques you’ll find in regular kickboxing, such as kicks and punches, but is focused centrally on using these techniques as a way of getting a full body workout. Our regular kickboxing classes focus on counter-fighting, strategy, body conditioning and other fighting techniques that could be used in the ring. Although fitness kickboxing focuses on the workout, it is not like a cardio-kick or old Tae-Bo classes where you punch and kick the air in an aerobics style setting. Fitness kickboxing still allows you to punch and kick bags with a partner, so you can feel your speed and power as you work out. At Momentum, we offer both fitness kickboxing and the more traditional kickboxing. Fitness kickboxing is taught by a Certified Fitness Kickboxing Instructor. I teach our other kickboxing class and I am an National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) trained coach, a canfitpro certified personal trainer and the former World Kickboxing Association (WKA) Light Heavyweight Provincial Kickboxing Champion. Our Assistant Kickboxing Coach is also an NCCP trained coach. We don’t mess around. Getting you qualified instruction is our number one priority regardless of which of our classes you attend.
What are the overall health benefits—both mental and physical— of training in the martial arts?
First and foremost is confidence. We often undervalue confidence, but it is such an important part of a healthy psyche. Kickboxing allows you to exercise skills such as speed, muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength and power because its varied techniques test all aspects of your physical ability. What makes kickboxing truly special is its training of your nervous system. Kickboxing requires intricate coordination between your muscles and your brain in order to develop motor skills like balance, movement and reaction timing, which are a benefit to you at any age. It helps you coordinate muscle groups that are not often used together in our average lives. When was the last time that you had to coordinate your upper body and core muscles in a pulling movement while at the same time balancing on one leg and raising the other in a knee strike? It’s a complex task that uses just about every muscle in the body at once, either as a prime mover or a stabilizer, and that takes a lot of energy from the nervous system to accomplish, resulting in a stronger, healthier you.
Can a person train in the martial arts without having to engage in direct combat with another person?
Of course. We have fitness kickboxing in which you never engage in combat with another person, but even in our kickboxing fundamentals class, you always have the right of refusal if we’re practicing any technique or drill that makes you uncomfortable. I have never believed in forcing people to fight and that includes competition. You can spar every week for 10 years and if you don’t want to, you never have to take a fight in competition. If your goal is to fight, then I’m going to do everything in my power to help you be successful, but I will never force it on you. I respect the wishes of those who don’t want to fight.
If a person is looking for inspiration, which martial arts movies would you suggest that give an authentic representation of the styles and cultures?
If I had to pick my top five list based on inspiration and authenticity alone, it would have to look like this:
5. Ong Bak: If you want to see traditional Thai Boxing in a movie and stunts so crazy they make Jackie Chan cringe, you can’t miss this movie.
4. Seven Samurai: Its theme is iconic and has been paid homage in western classics such as The Magnificent Seven, Pale Rider and Three Amigos (okay, that one’s more of a comedy classic). It deserves a spot in the top five for its inspiration in storytelling.
3. The Legend of Drunken Master: The combination of Jackie Chan’s athleticism and true to form Drunken Chinese Boxing makes this movie one to remember.
2. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin: I give this movie credit because of its authenticity in exposing the training of the famous Shaolin monks on film and paving the way for better and more well-known films and actors such as Jet Li. Li’s first film, The Shaolin, could take this spot, but 36th Chamber came first and I’m a traditionalist. Watch them both and decide for yourself.
1. Enter the Dragon: Bruce Lee wasn’t just one of the greatest martial artists of all time; he brought martial arts to the western world with this movie. Before Enter the Dragon, eastern martial arts were taught by few to even fewer. He blew the minds of North Americans and sparked an interest in the martial arts so great that I’m hard pressed to argue against him being the genesis for the worldwide spread of martial arts, including mixed martial arts.
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