We love the the training aspect; that is, learning from teachers who are masters of kick defense, punch defense, knife work, multiple opponents etc. For all of us, there is never enough time. For some though, there is never enough energy.
Whereas we may not be able to correct the time aspect, we can make dramatic improvements relating to energy. Here are some suggestions:
There are a couple of keys when it comes to pre-training nutrition. Firstly, be sure the body’s 2 major organs associated with energy production are strong and healthy. According to Natural Medicine principles, the Lungs and the Spleen are the organs that supply the body with energy.
The ideal food of the lungs is asparagus, particularly the tips. Also proper breathing – a MAJOR emphasis in Systema – is an absolute must. The herb used to strengthen the lungs, as well as provide the body with “Qi” or energy is Astragalus. It is also an excellent immune booster.
For the spleen, foods that are yellow, brown and golden in color are considered ideal. Examples include pineapple, potato and yellow squash. On the flip side, sugar and dairy will weaken the spleen quicker than anything. A great spleen tonic herb is Hyssop.
As a general guideline, the herb Rhodiolia is an excellent energy tonic. Extracted from the high mountains, Rhodiola helps prevent fatigue, and helps the body deal with the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation.
Perhaps the most famous of pre-training formulas involves the use of honey. Boil 100g of honey in a liter of water. If you live in colder weather, add cinnamon or ginger. If you live in warm weather, add mint. They will counter the external temperatures. Boil for 30 mines and sieve the infusion. Serve cold or hot, it is very tasty as well.
The simplest is the most effective. Keeping hydrated is the key during training as there is a direct correlation between dehydration and performance. Even mild dehydration – 1% of body – which would represent approximately can create a reduction in muscle performance.
If training is in humid weather or longer than 90 minutes, a carbohydrate-based drink which contains electrolytes is recommended. I have used Clif or Hammer Electrolyte drinks during marathons for example, and found them excellent.
If a person is drinking a lot and still noting signs of dehydration, this is an indication of Trace Mineral deficiency. Add some liquid trace minerals or a trace mineral tablet during training and this issue will be easily corrected.
The 2 major keys with post-training are (1) removing inflammation from the body and (2) strengthening the Kidney energy.
In terms of the first, a post-training meal should consist of proteins and ideally, fish, as it is an excellent source of healthy fats and oils which clear inflammation from the system.
If one cannot consume fish, Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil* is the next best thing. Most health stores carry this and the gel caps are an excellent way to reduce inflammation.
Massage, re-hydration of course and the use of the amino acid L-Glutamine are also high useful. Glutamine in short, helps with muscle recovery and healing. This amino is also the most abundant one in our muscles. Levels are draining during intense, long workouts and must be replaced.
In terms of factor #2 (Kidney energy is considered the energy source for long term, endurance training per Natural Medicine principles), there is an herbal formula called Shou Wu Chih which features the herb Polygoni Multifluri. It is considered the major tonic for the kidney energy. Found at most health stores, it is an inexpensive, slightly bitter tasting liquid.
Of course, each person’s system is different and ideal programs should be designed for each individual, based upon their needs, type of training and overall unique physiology. However, the above suggestions are the most common and safe.
Training in any art takes a great deal of dedication, time and effort. By optimizing the body before, during and after sessions, we give ourselves the greatest chance to improve our skills and master our art.
And have a lot of fun in the process.
* NOT all fish oils are useful. To identify which ones are safe, place a gel cap in the freezer for 20 minutes. Take it out and the gel cap should be pliable. If it is stiff and “rock-like,” it is an indicator that toxins are present. In my experience working with literally 1000’s of patients over the years, Pharmaceutical Grade Fish oil, though more expensive is the only one consistently pure and free of toxins.