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Fight Like a Saiyan
So there’s a bit of an issue here in that, even though Goku is a Saiyan, he didn’t train to fight as a Saiyan, rather, he studied earthling martial arts. That’s good news for us, however, because it means we can better emulate his fighting style. Goku’s hand-to-hand style is similar, in many ways, to Shaolin kung fu, which kind of makes sense training with the likes of Krillin and Master Roshi.
In his post-Roshi training era, his fighting style starts to contain more Okinawan karate style techniques, similar to kyokushin, isshin-ryu, shorin-ryu, and others of that lineage. More focused punches, powerful kicks, and rigid blocks.
Much later on, during his training with Whis, however, his fighting style gains some elements of jeet kune do, the method developed from Wing Chun by Bruce Lee.
Suffice it to say, if you’re looking to fight like a Saiyan, I’d advise you to begin with basically any asian hand-to-hand style, but particularly one that focused on rapid, powerful strikes. Dragonball characters (Saiyans and otherwise) don’t feature too much in the way of grappling arts, so I would place less of a priority on them. Honestly though, I love grappling arts like judo and jujitsu, so I’d recommend you add one of them to your repertoire anyway… It wouldn’t be like a true Saiyan warrior to ignore a practical advantage in combat, right?
One of the hallmarks of every Saiyan is their “Zenkai” boost. This is the term for their ability to grow in strength exponentially after a very difficult fight, or near death experience. Usually, the harder the beating, the greater the boost after healing.
This principle holds true, in some ways, when translated to working out, as well. Granted, you can’t get super-strong after a single, hard workout session. You also shouldn’t be be driving yourself to injury (or near-injury) every time you exercise. However, working out grants strength specifically because you are damaging your muscle fibers (on a microscopic level,) which your body reinforces and bolsters when it heals them up again. So, our implementation of a zenkai boos should be based around effective, rapid, and complete recovery from rigorous exercise. Let’s look at some good recovery techniques, then!
Proper Workout Nutrition
In addition to sticking to solid nutrition guidelines on the whole, there are some things you can tweak about the nutrition before and after working out that can help reduce soreness, and muscular recovery time. An hour or two before your workout is your first window, and at that point you should look into taking in some Creatine, BCAAs, and a complex carbyhydrate (like oatmeal or whole grains of some sort.) Creatine and carbohydrates will increase your energy levels during your workout, while the BCAAs will help reduce muscular soreness and speed recovery.
Then, post-workout, you should look into consuming at least twenty grams of protein (I like whey protein because it’s super easy and simple,) as well as some source of simple sugars and potassium (bananas are basically tailor made for this, but you could go with a Gatorade as well.) Look to take these nutrients in within an hour of finishing your workout.
This might sound a little strange, but stress can really ramp up your recovery time. Being stressed releases a hormone called cortisol, which inhibits tissue growth and protein synthesis, which are basically the two things you need most when you’re trying to recover. Meditation can help with de-stressing, as well as taking a good overall look at your life and seeing what stressors you’re dealing with that you don’t really need. I wrote an article about how I personally deal with stress, you can read that here!
The science is a bit mixed on this, but I’m a firm believer in contrast baths. A contrast bath is relatively simple to do, and honestly, I always feel great after one. The basic idea is you have two tubs of water, one hot, and one cold, and you alternate between the two for a specific amount of time to promote vascularity (blood flow), reduce swelling, and aid in muscular recovery. Different people have different timings, but personally I go with three minutes hot, then one minute cold. So fill up a large container with hot water (not so hot you burn yourself,) and a container with cold (all the way down to near-freezing, if you can stand it.) Soak the body parts you worked that day in the hot for three minutes, then switch IMMEDIATELY to the cold for one minute (or for as long as you can stand.) Repeat 4-5 times. Always start with hot, and end with cold!
As I mentioned, contrast baths have some scientific evidence to help with recovery time for muscles, but it’s a bit inconclusive as to how valuable they actually are, thus far. At the very least, they’ve been shown to be more effective for muscular recovery than ice baths alone. Also, please note, we’re only talking about muscular recovery from exercise, here, not actual injuries to muscles or joints.
Finally, sleep is our ultimate zenkai boost enabler. Getting high quality, long stretches of sleep every night is a must when it comes to recovery. How can you ensure you’re getting the best quality of sleep possible? Here’s a few tips:
- Black out, block out. Make sure your bedroom is COMPLETELY dark (including any little LED lights from charging stations, clocks, etc.) Also block as much noise as possible (or wear ear plugs!)
- De-Screen. Stop doing anything involving a backlit screen an hour or two before bed (yes, including your phone!) Read a book, meditate, or get some low-key chores done, instead!
- Same timing, every night. Going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time every day gets your body into a comfortable biorhythm, helping you go to sleep faster and wake up feeling more rested.
- See a specialist. If you have chronic sleep problems, you should definitely look into seeing a sleep specialist. You could have sleep apnea, or any number of other issues keeping you from getting the rest you deserve, without even realizing it!
Goku’s kaioken technique that he learned from King Kai is one of his ultimate trump cards! In real life, we have a similar equivalent: epinephrine, AKA adrenaline! Epinephrine is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands in fight-or-flight situations and it’s been shown to boost muscular strength, speed, reaction time, and even mental functions like long-term memory and mental processing speed. Now, obviously you’re not going to be packing adrenaline syringes with you, however you can trick your body into releasing epinephrine with some practice!
One of the easiest ways to trick your body into epinephrine release is to visualize a terrifying situation. This can be a scene from a scary movie, remembering the first drop on a roller coaster, or envisioning yourself on top of a very high cliff. Anything that really scares you can work, as long as you really sell it to yourself in your head. If you can feel your heart rate increasing, you’re on the right track!
You can also cause your body to release epinephrine by screaming, believe it or not! Turns out those long power ups from Dragonball Z could have a purpose after all! It’s not just shouting loudly, however. You need to put yourself in a mindset where you feel like you’re shouting in response to a threat. You’ll see powerlifters and strongman competitors do this sometimes as they approach the bar for a heavy lift.
Now, be aware, much like the kaioken technique, manually triggering your body’s panic response system is not the healthiest thing in the world! It puts a lot of stress on your system, and will probably leave you feeling drained afterwards. Keep this in mind whenever you’re considering using and/or practicing this.
This isn’t woo-magic nonsense, it’s actually a technique that many professional athletes use to boost success in the sport of their choosing. We’re just going to be applying it to a combat perspective. The basic idea is that your brain is incredibly powerful, and using it to visualize your body going through motions can actually help build the neurological pathways to help you get better at performing those motions. To do this, you want to go through some basic meditation to clear your mind, to start. Not sure how? Check out my tutorial on learning how to meditate.
Once your mind is relatively clear (for beginners, it can take a while to truly clear the mind, so don’t wait for perfection if you’re first starting out,) you want to begin to envision yourself performing combative moves that you’re working on. For me, personally, I envision myself performing my various kata (also known as forms, in some styles.) I see myself performing them, and try to feel myself performing them, too. Then I walk through my judo throws, trying to envision the full footwork and body positioning. Finally, I’ll finish off with my “combo set,” my various striking and throwing combinations that I practice in judo and karate.
The key here is to really feel and see yourself performing these maneuvers. You’re trying your hardest to trick your brain into thinking it’s performing these actions, in the most textbook, perfectly-performed demonstration possible. I know it sounds crazy, but mental visualization really does help with building muscle memory, reaction time, and good technique!
Whew! That’s it for The Skills of a Saiyan Warrior! I think this is one of the top five longest skills posts ever featured on the blog. I hope you enjoyed it! I’ll see you again on Thursday, with The Purity of Goku! Remember, Patrons get a post early, so if you supported the blog on Patreon this month, you can view The Purity of Goku right now! Also, we hit our first monthly contribution goal on Patreon ($50 per month,) which means that right now patrons are throwing in their choice for which character we’re going to cover in a one-shot workout here on the blog! Go join in the discussion!
I’ll see you again on Thursday. As always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!