A “smash, kill and destroy” martial art that also helps you run for the bus
The first rule of Xen-Do club: smash, kill and destroy. The second rule of Xen-Do club: have fun. Under the watchful eye of Rafael Nieto, a charismatic trainer with 40 years’ experience under his (presumably black) belt, ShortList rattles through shadow boxing, high kicks and pad work, which feels like we’ve endured a marathon in 15 minutes. Offering self defence with huge fitness benefits, it’s little wonder Xen-Do is kicking off in the UK (and beyond – there are 20 schools in Barcelona alone). Nieto explains the plus points to getting involved…
1. You won’t get kicked in the face
Though Xen-Do is all-action, leaving on crutches is not a prerequisite of the class.
“People don’t come here to leave with a black eye or a broken foot,” says Nieto, “you want to leave better than when you came in. So I minimise the contact – you hit pads, never each other. A martial artist is a beautiful warrior, and that is what we make you. Plus, we have fun. If not, why would you come?”
2. You’ll feel more confident
Carrying a weapon, steroid shoulders or an anger problem aren’t needed to feel safe. Sometimes, (to paraphrase Gok Wan) it’s all about the confidence.
“If two people meet and don’t know each other, the bluff is king,” claims Nieto. “In a street situation, how you walk, how you stand, distinguishes you from the herd. Because we stand, look and feel strong, it puts a barrier in the way. It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence, and you’ll get all those [attributes] from what we give you.”
3. You’ll get fitter all over
Being able to unleash a perfect roundhouse kick is one thing, but many martial arts lack an all-body workout. According to Nieto, Xen-Do offers a fitness pick’n’mix. “How many times are you going to get in a fight?” he asks. “You want to be able to run for the bus. The fighting element is a tiny part. This art gives you total toning, core stability, flexibility, strength, loss of weight and you use your brain. What more could you want?”
4. It won’t take up all your time
Sorry Malcolm Gladwell, but your theory that 10,000 hours of practice yields sporting excellence is about to get a kick to the face, courtesy of Xen-Do.
“You can do it as often as you want,” says Nieto. “Every time you come you’ll get a little bit better. We’ll try to get you to come twice a week, but when you’ve been training for a while you’ll find that if you came once more, you won’t double the effect – you’ll triple it.”
5. It helps with other sports
Worried another sport will impinge upon your five-a-side career? Don’t be. Xen-Do may help your football performance.
“It’s a little like gymnastics,” says Nieto, “it helps you in everything. Because you’re using your body, you’ll get very good hand-eye coordination. If you were to hold a racquet, your eye-to-ball and hand-to-racquet [coordination] is good.”
Visit Xen-do.com to learn more