Tony Esposito

Editorial Director
Grace A. Luppino

Art & Production Director
David Griffith

Technical Advisor.
Anup Keswani

Illustration & Photography
Tom Brenner
Jim Herity
Julie Nightingale

Posted: Spring 2002

Developing Body, Mind and Spirit
with Calasanz Physical Arts

We've all had the experience of looking in the mirror and resolving to do something to improve our bodies. The quest for physical self-improvement may take many paths, but the one most traveled by the majority is the traditional health club membership. Many health club memberships however are abandoned because the workouts offered in these facilities soon become boring and tired. Countless repetitions in the weight room, endless hours on the treadmill, and thousands of seemingly pointless rotations on the spinning cycle have left us wondering is this all there is?

More of us are leaving the health clubs in search of other forms of exercise that offer an interesting physical challenge, along with the spiritual upliftment we crave. The constant assault on our psyches courtesy of cell phones, voice mail, email, pagers, instant messengers and advertising has lead many of us to seek refuge in practices that help relieve the stress of everyday life, while invigorating the body and getting all the things we want from traditional exercise... increased strength and flexibility, improved balance and circulation and an overall sense of well being. The health benefits obtained from martial arts training is unique from all other forms of exercise and that is why more and more people are joining its ranks.

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The Holistic Approach

Martial arts training offers all the benefits of traditional health club exercise, plus the added bonuses of learning self defense and uplifting the mind and spirit. In our dojo, a typical workout begins with our basic stretching and strengthening exercises. These are not the typical exercises that you would perform in a gym, but rather a system of coordinated movement designed to stretch, strengthen, oxygenate and invigorate the entire body. Students are encouraged to go at their own pace and to learn how to listen to their bodies. Over the initial weeks of training, these exercises are mastered and become a part of your regular training regime.

Classical and modern martial art fundamentals, kicks, punches, blocks and evasion techniques, are integrated as the student participates in group or private classes. Classes focus on developing proper technique, repetition and application of what you have learned by using focus pads and working with an opponent. Training with focus pads and punching bags help you develop focus, power and relieve stress. Working with an opponent, a mainstay in any martial art school, also helps enhance physical well being. Whether you are practicing drills or safe, supervised sparring, you quickly learn how to develop concentration, timing and quick response to a real live opponent.

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Balance is also improved as you learn how to recover from the impact of striking a target. The cardiovascular system is conditioned as you perform repetitions of these techniques and apply them with realistic force and commitment. Your knowledge of self-defense is enhanced as you learn how to deliver these techniques to the most vulnerable areas of the body. You practice to perfection so that you may access them when you need them. More importantly, training in the martial arts is fun. You're not on an endless journey to nowhere on an exercise bike, but rather a journey to better health and contentment as you challenge your body in a new and exciting way.

In addition to learning the fundamentals, you also learn how to pull them together in patterns of movement called forms or katas. Katas are simulated battles against an imaginary opponents. Once the sequence is learned, practicing katas is a great form of exercise. A kata may be performed with speed to achieve an aerobic effect or with dynamic tension to emphasize strength development. A kata may also be performed in a meditative manner for attaining relaxation and serenity. Katas become more complex as one progresses through the art. These complexities offer new physical challenges and benefits as a result of regular practice.

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Lifelong Physical Artistry

This sense of health and well being gained from martial arts training will last you many years, as martial artists don't have to give up their art once they have achieved a certain age. How many 60, 70 or 80 year olds do you see in your health club on an average day? Not many. Throughout the world however, you see many people of similar ages practicing the martial arts. In our dojo, the bulk of our students are middle aged and above.

The Real Thing

With the advent of Tae Bo, many health clubs have been quick to capitalize on the interest in martial arts and have attempted to integrate these disciplines into their daily schedules. Kickboxing, boxing and pseudo martial art programs now take up slots once occupied by stair-stepping and aerobics. It is important however that you, as the consumer, carefully choose precisely who will be teaching you martial arts. If your gym offers martial art programs, make sure they are taught by a reputable, experienced instructor before you sign up. Some instructors teaching martial arts in health clubs are in fact personal trainers who have obtained a certificate after attending classes or seminars offered by their fitness accreditation association. Others take a few classes at a martial art school and try to teach these techniques to the unsuspecting public. These people are not real martial artists and are not qualified to teach an art that requires years of training and commitment. Unfortunately, we have heard of and seen with our own eyes, people who have suffered torn ligaments and even broken bones because of poor instruction from unqualified instructors. In addition to learning improper technique, these individuals have gained a false sense of security in believing that they have learned how to properly self defend themselves.

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If you are looking to improve your physical, mental and spiritual well being, the martial arts is a wonderful alternative to the health club scene. The true benefits of martial arts training, however, are obtained under the watchful eye of a reputable, experienced instructor. In this way, he or she will guide you in the right direction and you will attain health benefits that will last a lifetime.

Editorial & Technical Director
Calasanz Physical Arts

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