The body is a curious paradise of palm trees and springs, waterfalls and lagoons all functioning in a way that makes stepping into Narnia seem somewhat normalised. The “fight or flight” reaction that our corporal haven of flora and fauna has towards heightened situations of fear, anxiety and the unknown is one that is hard-wired into our brains and serves to protect us from bodily harm.
So let’s take this into the realms of fitness, where our bodies battle physique and psychology. As a modest young man of 1.72 metres in stature, practising Les Mills Bodycombat often leaves me with the lingering thought of whether my height is impacting on the ability to perform and ‘fight’. The subconscious and analytical side to my brain will observe and take note of the more taller participant, fathoming what makes their punches and kicks different to mine.
Naturally, height plays its role in Bodycombat; the taller you are, the further you reach out to pack in the punch and swipe with the kick. I’ve seen that the kicks demand less flexibility, and the longer the arms and legs, the more impacting the hooks and kick have seemed to be. Bringing the real-life element into a Bodycombat training regimen, visualising your opponent’s hard time in getting their leg above yours when you are taller is definitely a push-pull factor – in Taekwondo, the kicks are generally blocked by lifting your knee.
However, for the pint-sized lovers of Bodycombat, worry not! Your height is your fight. From my own experience, and again of observations, shorter fighters pack in straight punches that seem to be harder. It would appear that the shorter the arm and leg, the quicker the strike. Again, put yourself in the ring, combat mode on. Taller fighters may find it trickier to ‘work the body’ of the opponent – something that the shorter participant may find easier when visualising the strikes.
My overall conclusions, nonetheless, is one where neither fight nor height matter. It’s all in your speed and strength. In Bodycombat, agility and quickness are the arch and arrow of acceleration as well as the deceleration of strikes with coordination and dynamic balances: float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. So one may be tall, strong and built like a brick outhouse but you may lack power if you’re unable to apply the strength quickly. Strength training combined with speed training leads to explosive power. The structure of a Bodycombat class is designed to combine tracks of combat – fighting and strength – with speed and endurance training: cardiovascular with plyometric moves such as the knee jump. This, no matter your height, is how you can achieve results.
My advice: – Work on your speed and strength. – In Bodycombat, maintain a tight guard and keep moving. – Relax! We’re not pent-up warriors hellbent on causing damage… keep your calm, relax your body. By staying nimble you enhance your speed just a fraction of a second before you load the punch or kick.
– Finally, it’s all in the mind. Tall or short: use your mental strength to keep going; use your mental speed to calculate and increase your pulsations. This is what will drive you to your end goals.