minutes per mile blog

martial arts for runners: interviewing justin martin of harvest martial arts

I thought I’d break up a typical Tuesday this week by talking about a new topic to the blog: martial arts! Though I’ve dabbled in a few fitness kickboxing classes and even did some capoeira back in my college days, I’ve never tried a real martial arts class — but have always been curious! Because who wouldn’t want to chop a stack of timber with their bare hands :)


So when Franklin’s Harvest Martial Arts reached out to me about doing a blog post, I thought it would be fun to feature! I do hope to get down to the studio at some point (when I’m not pregnant or juggling a newborn :) ) to give you an in-person recap, but for now I’m letting Justin Martin, Certified Instructor of Han Mu Do at Harvest Martial Arts, take over the blog for a day. I asked him five beginner- and runner-focused questions, and underlined some of my key takeaways in case you’re interested in learning more about how Han Mu Do can benefit runners and fitness enthusiasts of all types.

And now, here’s Justin!


What kind of strength and endurance benefits can adults expect to experience after taking Han Mu Do classes?

We develop functional strength and movement in class. Classes are filled with moving around the room, rolling on the floor, punching and kicking, and working with a partner. Strength is developed with resistance of another human being. Sparring with another human being and trying to get them to do what you want while they are resisting is one of the hardest workouts you can have. Having strength and cardio are important but, we also focus on  being able to control our breathing and our bodies as we get to those higher ventilatory thresholds.
How does Han Mu Do differ from other martial arts and fitness classes, like kickboxing for example?

Han Mu Do is a well rounded martial art, meaning that it includes elements from striking arts (punching and kicking), ground fighting and wrestling, and most importantly self defense techniques such as pressure points and joint locks. We are not locked into practicing one way of protecting ourselves. Kickboxing focuses on standing and striking with an opponent and Ju Jitsu focuses on being on the ground with an opponent. In Han Mu Do class we practice standing, throwing, and ground work.


What does a typical adult Han Mu Do class look like? What other sports and fitness hobbies do most of your adult students have?

We keep our classes formal, meaning that we wear a full uniform to class. We bow in, say the student creed, warm up with some calisthenics and get stretched out. The students each have a set of skills they are working on for their rank level. These skill can be practiced with a partner or by themselves.You will see students punching and kicking at each other, throwing each other in the air and controlling their partner with various self defense techniques. By the end of class everyone is nice and sweaty and we have a closing stretch and breathing session.

Our adult students are a varied group from IT, medical, restaurant, students, security, and small business owners. They share the love of martial arts but as for other hobbies they are all over the board. Some rock climb, cycle,  play sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and rugby, and most of them also do our heavy bag class or lift weights outside of class. 


How can Han Mu Do enhance an overall fitness routine, and especially benefit runners?

In class we do a lot of stretching and movement drills to build strength of the core and help the body move freely. We use each other as resistance to functional strength and skills that we hope we never have to use. Kicking is also a part of the curriculum. Kicking in a controlled way develops the fine motor control of the legs. As we gain control of the legs you are able to be more nimble as you run. The repetitive nature of running can cause our hips to be tight and lose flexibility. The exercises and movement drills we do in class help to open the hips back up and allow the body to move freely. 


Self defense and safety are often concerns among runners. Could the self-defense tactics taught in Han Mu Do help runners stay safe if threatened during a run?

Han Mu Do is all self defense. Every technique that we teach is started from a self defense situation. We practice being grabbed by our clothes, wrists, hair, legs, neck….we have multiple ways to escape, and control situations. The skills are good for everyone. Runners have a great base of fitness which makes them great students of the martial arts.  Runners have focus and a mindset that works well with what we teach. 


Thanks to Harvest Martial Arts for thinking of this fun feature! You can check out their martial arts school, online, Facebook page, or Franklin studio to learn more about adult classes.

Have you tried martial arts or Han Mu Do? If so, I’d love to hear how it impacted your running or overall fitness. Tell us in the comments!