We got up and visited a karate class today. All four of us study Sanchin-Ryu karate, although my youngest son, who holds the rank of 2nd degree brown belt, isn't studying any more. He's 10 and we hope he'll get back into it, but meanwhile he's more interested in basketball and wrestling.
It only costs a $1 to visit a class if you're signed up for other classes and we typically study on Tuesday nights locally, but we like the Sensei at the Saturday class, Sensei Lisa. I've known her since I started four years ago.
So today was a two-hour workout.
Most people have an idea that a martial art is a very vigorous workout--and I would say, yes, it can be. In college I studied the American Karate System for a year and those workouts were tough. It's a style that closely resembles Tae Kwon Do in many ways and we did a lot of drills and AKS competes in tournaments.
Sanchin-Ryu has a different philosophy, is only offered through public parks and rec programs, the costs are kept low and it's very family oriented. We do not compete. I think I understand the rationale for that, but I don't think it's really my place to defend the style's decisions in a public forum. Let me say this, from having studied a different style--I don't think Sanchin-Ryu would lend itself well to the type of tournament sparring I took part of in AKS, where contact to the head, body or groin are tagged on a point system, where one tag is a point (i.e, if you make contact, it's a point).
Sanchin-Ryu--in my experience with it, I'm a first-degree brown belt, next belt level is first-degree black--is an "inside" style, which is to say, you get very up-close and personal and make a lot of contact. Sometimes we refer to it as SOS--skin on skin. That is to say, our strikes and kicks, etc., are often done within a bended arm's reach.
Anyway, this blog is about fitness. Was it a hard workout? Not particularly. Most dojo time is spent on instruction, refining techniques, exploring various applications for different techniques. Yes, we start with a warm-up and stretching and a few push-ups, but most of the 2-hour time is spent learning. Still, for a couch potato society, anything that gets your body moving--even walking the dog--is a good thing, and Sanchin-Ryu does that.
So would I recommend Sanchin-Ryu for people interested in fitness? Well, like many things, you get out what you put in. In the dojo, you may or may not burn a lot of calories depending on who your instructor is and what you're studying at the time. My own instructor, Sensei Chris Miottke, sometimes puts us through our paces, but overall, I get more of a physical workout at the gym, biking or running. But on my own, I often work up a sweat and get the heart pumping. (I just don't do it often enough).
For people who are out of shape or not interested in competing or getting beat up, I recommend Sanchin-Ryu as an excellent family activity that will increase your flexibility, range of motion, balance, self-confidence and ability to defend yourself. If you pursue it long enough and diligently enough, you'll learn to fight well enough to survive being mugged or attacked on the street (and hopefully learn how to avoid the situation in the first place). If you really pursue it as an exercise, yeah, you'll be in great shape. But that's up to you, really, and how much you put into it. But then again, that's true of most physical activities.