Workout music: how, when, why

The power of music

As everyone has seriously practiced sports knows: music is an extremely powerful training tool. Listening to the right sounds can make the difference between a lackluster workout and an intense one that leads us to overcome our limits.

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

How to use music during training

Music can be used for:

  • Choose our mood – Condition our mood (eg. in relation to the initiation or not of a training session in the case we are previously victims of a negative emotional event)
  • Mitigate the weight of the effort – Especially when we have not yet developed the right self-discipline, it can allow us to do not feel part of the fatigue, pain or lack of breath that many exercises cause
  • Imposing an intense and constant training pace – Give us a rhythm that otherwise, voluntarily, we probably would not reach (or we would not think of keeping constant, read Intensity of training: depends on what?)
  • Learn to control times and spaces – Teach us to follow a reference (if we can not follow the rhythm of a piece of music, how can we think of being able to adapt to the adversaries’ one and / or impose ours)
  • Developing coordination and the muscle chain – Dancing, we instinctively learn to involve all the elements of our body (read Use the body power: the muscle chain) in terms of movements of struggle and space management (to divide the effort or express the maximum power)

A note by Master Kongling – Someone could feel embarrassed in combining music and martial arts if not bothered by the idea of using musical genres not related to him but in this sense, we really have to make an effort: to give up such a portentous tool is simply silly. If we are able to suffer the pains of conditioning, the physical injuries of sparring, the constancy required by daily meditation… what can be, for a serious practitioner, to overcome such a small obstacle?

Which music to use in relation to our goals

Given the great emotional influence of music, it is a serious mistake not to select and divide the genres we want to use in areas of application. Starting with a mixture of indistinct pieces (sad, exhilarating, etc.) means entrusting the quality of our martial preparation to chance.

How to create the right playlists

We have to create various playlists of music (as much as possible that we love):

  • With progressive emotional excursions – To start training with good energies and for exercises with purposes related to power and / or speed (for this purpose, epic / dramatic / heroic music is absolutely perfect)
  • With rhythmic and repetitive percussions – They are good for warm-up exercises, symmetric training drills, dynamic stretching and eventually, sparring (eg. Thai traditional music, Japanese taiko drums, etc.)
  • With slow, calm and ambient gait – It’s adapt for meditation, the slow practice of forms / sequences, for standing stamina development, stretching, regeneration / relaxation sessions (eg. Chinese traditional music, oriental traditional flutes, sounds of nature, etc.)
  • With high-speed gait – To reach the maximum explosive power and speed in “short” sessions focused on peak performances (eg. tracks with high BPM)

A note by Master Kongling – To find specific music is very easy on the web (eg. on Youtube), it is only a matter of dedicating an afternoon every 2-3 months.

Let’s do not forget that like any type of self-conditioning (read Fighting and mind control: the anchors), music, with the time loses its power: we will therefore have to keep our playlists updated by removing (even temporarily) and adding songs in order to maintain their effectiveness.

The music to avoid

A note by Master Kongling – What we need is an accompaniment, not a distraction.

Not all music, however beautiful, catchy or meaningful it is, is suitable for a martial training. What we must avoid is:

  • Negative moods – Music that reminds us of negative or inappropriate memories / emotions / feelings (eg. love stories ended badly, traumas, moments of anger, ridiculous situations, etc.)
  • Too addictive – Excessively involving music, that could divert our attention from the focus of the exercise we are doing (eg. songs with high-quality lyrics)
  • Off-topic – Music rhythmically / conceptually far from what we are doing (eg. ambient music while we are doing explosive movements)
  • Apathetic music – Music that communicates emotional states that limit our effectiveness (apathy, boredom, malaise, desolation, sadness, frustration, etc.)
  • Sequences of songs thematically disconnected – Tracks too far / inconsistent one in relation to each other (eg. a very fast one after very slow)
  • Nagging songs – Music too repetitive or specifically designed to settle in the mind and not go out (eg. the classic refrains that torment us even when it is not our mind to call them)

A note by Master Kongling – By following these simple tips we take shelter from unexpected exists during our daily practice. Naturally, this does not mean to stop listening to what “violates” these guidelines but simply to do it at other more appropriate times.

When music is not needed

Silence is golden

Not always a background music is necessary, indeed, there are moments of training in which the music is inadvisable, harmful and even counterproductive:

  • When we do something dangerous – If we are not sure about what we are doing, it is better to avoid the use of emotional alterers, especially, when we practice exercises that involve risks to our safety (extreme acrobatics, certain types of sparring sessions, use of real martial weapons, etc.)
  • When we are already in an altered emotional state – The wrong music can act as an amplifier (of anger, euphoria, etc.) and lead us to do things that are harmful to us and others (eg. carry beyond our limits of flexibility, power, speed, resistance, etc.)
  • When we need maximum concentration – When we have to perform the most complex activities, in most cases the best results can be obtained only through silence (eg. executing a new technique, a difficult exercise, during an explanation, during the study, etc.)
  • When we perform sensory training – Unless the exercise requires it (eg. in terms of disturbance), when we train the senses (especially the hearing) is completely wrong to leave music even at a low volume level
  • When we practice (advanced level) meditation – Although in the early stages of approach with 6 Dragon Kung Fu’s meditation to have the right background music is useful and positive, as our level of awareness increases, we must learn to practice without any external help (in order to reach the higher levels of abstraction)

Important

In must be stressed that:

  • Music does not have to become a constant in our training – Its use is a good thing when it helps us to train better, it becomes a limit if we arrive at the point of not being able to train without it
  • Headphones should be avoided – In 90% of cases it is wrong to wear headphones, they do not allow us to listen to the noises of the environment (a crucial ability), our breathing and our heartbeat (very deleterious); in addition to this, they could be dangerous as jewels, ornaments, etc. (read How to train without risks)

Go beyond the music

Not all people perceive the sensory stimuli in the same way (we will talk more in detail about this):

  • Some perceive the sound in a tactile way (vibrations, shivers, pulsations, etc.)
  • Some dwell on meanings (words, significances, emotions, etc.)
  • Some correlate sounds with visual aspects (memories, color sequences, images, etc.)

In the choosing of our tracks we must open our mind to the various musical genres and according to the way we react / interpret them, choose the ones that give us the more value:

  • We can choose video clips if we are visually more attracted by engaging images
  • We can opt for songs with logical sentences combined with meaningful lyrics if we prefer logical stimulations
  • We could look for music characterized by strong use of bass if we are looking for tactile stimuli (eg. dance music)
  • We can look for technically elaborated pieces if we highlight the virtuous and complex sequences (eg. solos of electric guitar, etc.)

A note by Master Kongling – The best thing is to do not have prejudices towards the various musical genres (read also People who find the differences) because, objectively, this drastically reduces the advantages that we can gain using a so portentous training tool.

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  • What is your favorite music?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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