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Try out yoga with a twist…and a flying kick. Budokon is a combination of conventional yoga methods, meditation and martial arts that is designed to strengthen both body and mind. It also packs a punch as a focused work out, with claims of up to 900 calories being burned in a one hour session. Phew!
Budokon means ‘way of the spiritual warrior’ in Japanese, and blends elements of mental, physical and balance training. Budokon teachers practice under the guidance of skilled ‘Senseis’ for years to hone their physical precision, alignment and Zen minds before teaching others the Budokon techniques that maximising agility, control, speed, power, balance and flow.
The physical side of the method is divided into two themes known as the ‘Yogic series’ and the ‘Budo series’:
‘’’ Yogic Series’’- The Budokon yogic series is heavily influenced by Iyengar and Ashtanga yogic techniques and alignment, meaning the focus is on control, calm, power and precision. Whereas traditional Hatha yoga exercises are designed to improve range of motion and strength, Budokon yoga exercises also test the body's ability to sustain another person's body weight.
‘’’Budo Series’’’- Budokon’s budo series is a combination of standing and ground movement techniques that originate from Okinawan Karate-Do, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do. The aim of performing moves from this series is to improve agility, power, focus and dynamic flow (smooth, controlled movement) in the body and mind.
The Zen element of Budokon is mainly based on seated meditation techniques, but also involves philosophical ideas, such as embracing simplicity, detaching oneself from possessions and returning to the source of life through knowledge, peace and harmony; ‘an open mind is an open heart’, as one of the Budokon ‘views’ puts it.
When it comes to the structure of the classes, remembering how to move efficiently and freely is key. Sessions often begin with a stretching warm up, with the wrists (which are used heavily) being fully tested. Yoga is then introduced through a series of stances, before the class progresses to dynamic, leaping and twisting martial arts moves that turn Budokon into a functional workout.
Classes often end with a final stretching session and a spot of meditation. Breathing exercises are also an important part of the warm down which is designed to calm both body and mind after a tough hour-long class.
Budokon offers an intense workout that both burns calories and tones muscles. It’s not for the faint hearted and those who perhaps like their yoga a little more sedate, but if you’re looking to add a little bit of variation and strength training to your meditative classes (or some meditation to your martial arts sessions) then it will be right up your street. Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston are big fans, so if you stick with it, it may bring an A-list body one step closer to your grasp.
You do not have to have done yoga before to join a Budokon class, but you will need to prepare to be thrown in at the deep end with its combination of testing stances and stretches. Pregnant women and those with long standing injuries would be advised to sit this one out, as maximum manoeuvrability is vital.
Cameron Shayne, the founder of Budokon, used to be a Hollywood bodyguard and worked for both Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn!