To become proficient in the martial arts, an individual has to develop a considerable amount of discipline. All martial art students come to realize that sacrifices of time and money, as well as considerable physical exertion, are required if one wants to excel in his chosen art. All high-ranking students of any martial art have dedicated significant portions of their lives to developing and maintaining their skills. It is nice to see people putting so much effort into improving themselves. It is also quite depressing to see such people unable to realize their full potential because of ignorance. Most martial arts schools do not teach students about the single most important training factor; how to recognize and utilize proper nutritional information.
The reason that many otherwise excellent martial art instructors do not train their students about proper nutrition is the simple fact that many instructors are themselves ignorant of its importance. One of the reasons that many martial artists, especially in the United States, do not receive essential nutritional information is that when they are actually presented with such information, their eyes "glaze over" and their attention automatically drifts. Many people associate the word "diet" in a very negative sense. To most Americans, the word "diet" implies a fad. It conjures images of fat, out-of-shape people, getting no exercise, who drink diet soda while eating ice-cream sundaes. Because of that image, it is easy to think that people who do get plenty of exercise and are not grossly obese do not need to worry about their "diet." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone should be concerned with proper diet, especially martial artists. To use an analogy... The people who build top race cars spend a good deal of time creating and maintaining a powerful engine. They realize that if you don't use the proper fuel, it will never perform as well as it should. This is also true of the human body. It doesn't matter how much you train and develop your body; if you do not give your body the nutrition it requires, you will never realize your full potential.
To see someone make the enormous sacrifices of time, effort and money that are necessary to develop good martial art skills is inspiring. To see that same person attempting to develop his/her skills while under a self-imposed handicap is saddening. Make no mistake, if you are neglecting your body's nutritional requirements, you are working against a physical handicap that no amount of training can completely overcome.
Today's professional athletes have trainers, physicians, and nutritionists who monitor every aspect of the athlete's physical performance. While few martial artist can afford this type of attention, there are basic nutritional guidelines that can be followed by everybody, regardless of income, that will greatly increase the results of any physical training.
An example of this would be in the area of weight control. Weight control, gaining or losing weight, is a primary concern not only to the athlete trying to stay in a given weight class but also to a majority of people worldwide. Weight control is most easily performed by changes in the diet. There are no secrets or special diets required to alter your weight.
Assuming that your current diet maintains your present weight, a simple increase or decrease of 500 calories consumed per day will result in a gain or loss of approximately one pound per week. This is a steady, gradual alteration of weight, which is what medical professionals recommend.
Additionally, most Americans really don't have any idea of what they need to eat, or for that matter what to avoid eating in order that they may improve their performance. Generally speaking, we need to increase our intake of complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, etc.), fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamins and minerals, and fiber; and decrease fat, simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, white rice, etc.), processed foods (Ho-Ho's & potato chips), meat (especially 'red'), and drinks other than water.
Specific nutritional information is easily available at any library or bookstore. Stay away from information that is promoted as the "latest word" and instead become familiar with basic guidelines and information that has been well established. There may be a big difference between basic nutritional facts and someone's current nutritional "theory."
One has to only "know the basics" and be able to "apply" them. Application is the key word; knowledge of a fighting technique does no good unless you can successfully apply the technique. Similarly, knowledge of proper nutrition does you no good unless you apply that knowledge to your training. For a martial artist to have no knowledge of basic nutritional information, or - worse yet - to have the knowledge but not use it, is to deliberately limit your skills and abilities. Developing and maintaining martial art skills is hard and demanding work; give yourself a break and eat properly.