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 Fitness & Weight Management

February 2010
Kick Your Way to Kung Fu Fitness
Smiti Munwani
 
Do you know the secret of well-sculpted bodies of stars like Akshay Kumar and Bipasha Basu? It's Kung Fu. The ancient martial art is the wondrous new way to keep fit

The 400-year-old Chinese martial art is considered the ultimate form of self defence. Kung Fu's incredible dexterity comes from the fact that it has drawn the best from all other forms. Its high impact kicks, etiquette and discipline make it the deadliest of all martial arts - and also the most graceful.

Kung Fu can be fun and - believe it or not - the fastest and sure-shot way of reducing flab. It is an excellent way to keep fit and is emotionally, mentally and physically satisfying. Apart from giving a 'high' of the natural kind, it infuses grace in your physical being and burns calories the way no other exercise does. A half hour of Kung Fu can consume from 400 to 750 calories! Much higher than aerobics or cycling.

Packing a Punch
Kung Fu packs a punch when it comes to cardiovascular training, aerobic exercise and improved muscle toning. And then you learn a number of self defence moves as well –which could come in very handy in today's increasing crime rate!

Bipasha Basu has a drool-worthy body. And one of her favoured forms of fitness is kickboxing which is taught along with Kung Fu. Akshay Kumar's skills in martial arts are well known, but what is lesser known is that he attributes his toned body to his mastery over Kung Fu - of which he has been a passionate devotee ever since his younger days. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jet Li movies must surely have impressed you with fluid and fast movements, and lithe bodies.

So, should only young people take up Kung Fu for fitness? The answer is no. You can be anywhere between your teens to your sixties to reap the benefits. Maybe you cannot become a Bipasha Basu or an Akshay Kumar, but Kung Fu will keep you fit and healthy once you incorporate it into your fitness regime.

Mind-Body Connection
Kung Fu does not only concentrate on the physical aspects. Sure it will tone your butt, arms and legs, flatten your belly and burn fat but it will also teach you meditation and concentration, calming you and reducing stress.

Kung Fu will help you lose weight by making it easier to stick to a weight-loss plan or diet. Once you start your exercise regime, the brain will release the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which will give you a natural high and enthuse you to exercise even more. And as you get fitter, your self-esteem will also increase.

Apart from keeping you fit, Kung Fu exercises can also help you with other health problems. Practitioners say, it relieves you of back problems, cervical spondylitis, knee pains and aches in various parts of the body, which do not respond to normal treatment.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
- Bruce Lee

Body Balance
Kung Fu strengthens bones and builds muscles. It is great for body balance, and since it requires intense coordination of hand, eye, body and foot movements, it helps increase concentration levels and mental acuity. Whether you hire a trainer or do it yourself, it is best to go slow in the beginning and then take it up from there. There always has to be a warm-up time, more so if you are in poor physical form or have never exercised seriously in your life.

As the weight chips off, the body gets stronger and fitter and you start receiving compliments, you will know that your efforts have not gone in vain. You will also be healthier, calmer and be in a position to tackle any adverse situation. Once practised by warriors and Shaolin monks, Kung Fu can today be practised by anyone. If you want to have fun and learn useful skills while working out, then go ahead and try Kung Fu as an exercise. You will be better, faster and stronger with it.

WHERE TO LEARN
There are many martial arts instructors who specialise in Kung Fu. Ask at your local gym or contact the All India Chinese Kung Fu Federation www.info@shaolinkungfuindia.com. Other sites that which can help you are http://www.kungfuindia.com/ and http:// kungfufedofindia.org/. If you want to start off on your own, you can also buy Kung Fu exercise DVDs and books.

    
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