Becoming proficient in a full-contact martial art is an exercise in patience, endurance, and resolve. To be honest, I'm prouder of my achievements in martial arts than I am of my master's degree from a top 10 program, so that should tell you how hard it is.

Part of becoming proficient is applying the studies in some kind of controlled setting. In my case, that's tournaments. The International Karate Organization (IKO1 Kyokushin) hosts many tournaments worldwide, ranging from "semi contact" (shin guards and gloves worn) to "full contact open weight" (no pads, no weight classes.) I'm competing in a full contact weight category tournament in May.

Preparing for something like this is, frankly, something of an ordeal. To just feel ready to last a 3 minute round (plus any extensions) I've had to train, minimum, 5 times a week for about 2-3 hours a session. And, frankly, I'm going to be at the bottom of the pack even then.

This is probably your average decent tournament fighter at an international level. I'm not likely to be at this level, but I'm sure trying!

My typical workout (which, BTW, is somewhat doable at home! Replace bag work with shadow boxing and you will get a great workout!) consists of:

  • Warmup, usually with light stretching and some calisthenics
  • Standard basics just to further warm up the muscles
  • Tons of pad work/bag work (example of my sempai in this video)

  • Light sparring, sometimes without pads
  • Some warmdown/cooldown

Other than that, focusing on nutrition and tons of icing for sore joints and muscles.

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I've trained like this now since about January, and you know how ready I feel? Maybe 50%. But we'll see! I'm excited and nervous for May 3rd, and whatever happens, I'll have tried really damn hard.