By Viet Ngomai
Importance of Cardio
In a sport where skill and power are so stressed, taekwondo fighters often forget one thing. Cardio. While in the ring, how hard you can punch and how hard you can snap out your sidekick will definitely make a difference, it’s often the endurance and conditioning of a fighter that will determine the victor.
While I don’t personally compete, the condition of my body has a profound effect on my performance when sparring and even while grinding through stretches and the block and kick drills in-class. It’s one thing to be able to let out a constant barrage of kicks and punches in a fight and another to be so tired that you can barely raise your hands to defend yourself. Cardio not only allows one to improve their Taekwondo sparring and overall performance in class, but also in personal health and defence outside of the dojang.
During sparring, one is pitted against an opponent for several minutes straight, meaning having a large pool of strength to draw from will be vital. While your hands and arms are busy punching and blocking, your feet are also constantly moving, whether it’s throwing a sidekick or sidestepping to avoid an attack. Not only that, but the constant barrage of attacks that you must defend will also drain your strength away. This brutal combination of physical motion in every part of one’s body will leave the participants with little reserve of strength left for anything else.
While one will always be able to survive with little cardio in a controlled dojang, it is not so outside of it. Cardio is everything in a confrontation, determining not only one’s fight and flight but also failure and triumph. In a fight, cardio defines how long you can withstand an attack and how long you can attack. Being in a peak physical state allows you to punch and kick harder, longer, and better. Your attacks will be stronger, you will experience less fatigue, and you are able to react faster and more effectively.
If running away and saving yourself from the perils of hand to hand combat is more of your cup of tea, cardio is of equal, if not greater importance. Instead of “last man standing”, flight is a “canary in a coal mine”. Cardiovascular endurance is the only factor that determines a dead canary and a living one. You must run faster and longer than your pursuer to survive.
As you can see, cardio is the most important factor in fighting, and improving cardio can immensely boost one’s performance inside and outside of class. Not only this, but endurance may well be the difference between life and death.