We live in two worlds, one on either side of our skin. What happens in one of them, invariably, affects the other. This is why fitness, these days, is more than just about abs and biceps, lifting heavy or running far. Fitness is about maintaining a balance that gives us better control over our body and mind, helps us achieve greater executive function and just makes us feel good to be alive.
When it comes to moving our body what we are really doing is training our brain. If we run, for instance, we are using significant mental energy (at first) to calculate comfortable velocity, learn pace, control our breathing and learn how to minimize the impact of our feet as they strike the ground. If we lift we have to learn about ballistic movements, posture and the all-important muscle-to-joint angles.
Given ample time and virtually infinite energy resources we can get fit no matter what we do. As a result our brain will also remain healthy, agile and capable of ensuring we enjoy a great quality of life. The thing is we don’t have ample time to do what we want to do nor do we have infinite energy resources.
We all struggle on a delicate balancing act between managing our physical and mental health and earning a living, having a life and doing everything else in-between that these two things demand of us.
So, when it comes to getting fit and helping your brain get stronger the best shortcut you can use is to employ combat-based moves for fitness. There are good reasons for this. For a start combat is a really hard thing for us to do as humans. Lacking any natural weapons we are forced to employ physics. We use our entire body mass in really smart, orchestrated movements to generate a lot more power than our puny physiology is capable of.
This makes combat moves energetically intensive. We burn up a lot of energy when we do them. This, in turn forces positive adaptations in our breathing, circulatory and muscular systems. We become more efficient at moving our bodies, we attain lean, powerful muscles and our lungs and heart get stronger.
The really beneficent adaptations however happen much deeper: inside our brain. In order for us to move our body efficiently in three-dimensional space our brain is forced to create complex, dynamic models of how we move and what we are capable. This, in addition to the fact that it has to forge fresh neural connections that govern the complex motion of our body.
This neural activity initiates a process in the brain called neurogenesis that creates new neurons and, afterwards, fresh connections between them. Studies have shown that combat moves improve not just our fitness but also our IQ.
Because combat moves work the muscles and tendons they help the body better coordinate its front and back kinetic chains and, also, create lasting strength that is not subject to the kind of de-strengthening that takes place when we miss a session or two.
Back in 2016 I made it easy for you to get fit in this way with Fighter’s Codex. A thirty-day plan that will change the way you relate to your body and how you move it. It will also, we now know, slow down the ageing process and help you feel younger than your years.