Your    Marvelous   Human   Body


The martial arts instructor works with body movement, physical action and reaction. Included in this program are various exercises. Therefore, instructors and teachers should have a basic understanding of how the human body works, along with it’s many faceted and intricate functions. Not understanding the body, teaching incorrect and dangerous exercises, abusing the body with tobacco products, drugs and alcohol, and not exercising to keep this amazing machine in proper working condition is gross injustice.


Scripture states that your body is a temple and that you are responsible for its care.


Your human body consists of eleven organ systems, four basic body tissues and dozens of various specialized cells - about 75 trillion cells.


Your body is always building, remodeling, reproducing, growing, converting one energy form into another, sends and receives messages, fights intruders, and performs great balancing acts.


Groups of cells form tissues, which combine to form organs. Two or more organs join together to perform vital functions, such as digestion or reproduction. This is called a system.

The eleven systems are:


  1. Skeletal - which protects our internal parts and supports our body frame.
  2. Muscular - enables us to move and respond to external actions.
  3. Nervous - provides coordination of body activities - sensory organs.
  4. Endocrine - coordination of body activities such as digestion and metabolism.
  5. Digestive - enables food processing.
  6. Respiratory - the gas exchange of oxygen.
  7. Circulatory - transports nutrient and oxygen rich blood throughout the body.
  8. Excretory - controls disposal of waste materials.
  9. Reproductive - to ensure the survival of mankind.
  10. Integumentary - protects against mechanical injury.
  11. Immune - the body defense system which fights germ invasion.


All these systems combined make up your entire body. This machine has various parts which have a job to perform. All parts must work together for you to survive. If not properly maintained, this machine wears out and breaks down. If this happens, then your body cannot perform as it was designed to do.


An educated martial arts teacher with a basic understanding of the workings of the human body will allow him/herself to produce safe exercise routines, perform basic healing if injury occurs, understands the limits to which an individual can perform (not every student can perform at the same level of efficiency), and finally, to really appreciate our human “temples”, so strong and yet so fragile, and to give it the utmost care.


Our basic concepts and belief systems will determine the way we observe certain individuals, which in fact may control the way we teach and how we feel about various students.


For example, “race” is defined as a population within a species that is genetically distinct in some way. Humankind has been divided into three to six “races”, based upon skin color, cultural patterns and nose and eye features. This view often leads to prejudice among the various “races”.


In contrast, if we view all people as being of “One Race”, the human race, then we must view all people as being equal, no one being better than the other. Terms like nations, groups or tribes better describe the diversity seen in mankind.


Martial arts teachers must instruct the “Human Race” the values intricate to the martial arts, as one people, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.


It is a fact that the eleven organ systems are found in all people. What happens to these systems (growth or breakdown), occurs to people in Asia, Africa, Europe and America. There is no difference.


Knowledge acquired about our human body and its complex systems and organs should make us determined to protect life. All life is very precious and should not be taken casually or thrown away.


To further illustrate this point, the most basic unit of your body is the cell. The cell contains various parts, including the nucleus. It is in this nucleus that we find one of the most fundamental molecules of life, deoxyribonucleic acid (D.N.A.). DNA serves as a blue print for life. Most of the development in your human body is both coded for and controlled by DNA. The nucleus also releases another molecule, ribonucleic acid (RNA). DNA and RNA direct the stage of development in the embryo (beginning of life). DNA is the blueprint that determines the details of the body form and function, and controls all the heredity of it. This can be observed in the development in human cells, organs and systems.





Living organisms and their parts can best be described as artwork, as each body cell clearly illustrates a coordinated complexity which is fully functional.


This artwork occurs in all people. Surely we are “one” people with different variations within ourselves.


Every cell type and organ in your body is necessary and useful, and within each organ there is an incredible precision. Every organ in the body is functional. The sequences of commands are programmed in the DNA code that directs all cellular processes. This microscopic precision is awesome.


Again, the martial arts teacher must realize how precious life is, how each heartbeat matters, and understand the awesome responsibility he/she has when determining the best method for each student to progress.


It is a mathematical absurdity to believe that billions of complete cells could all coordinate their exact molecular activities by chance and natural selection.


This is well illustrated using the human kidney as an example, it is your body’s sanitary engineer. The kidneys filter and condition the blood, eliminating waste materials, balancing the salts and liquidity of bodily fluids, while keeping the acid-base levels just right.


Students do not become black belts unless they are taught by a master craftsman of the martial arts, who directs and dictates the correct moves needed to succeed in a particular art. In contrast, your human body was designed by a master craftsman, who sets up the order and complexity of your body, and makes the whole thing work. Black belt does not happen by chance, nor has the existence of your body. Everything that is designed and built is done so by a designer.


Structure and function are correlated at all levels of biological organization. This gives us information about what it does and how it works.


In detail, atoms form molecules such as DNA. Molecular units form organelles that combine to form cells, such as heart muscle cells. Groups of cells combine to form tissue, such as cardiac muscle. Two or more tissues combine to form an organ, such as the heart. The heart is one part of the circulatory system that includes blood and blood vessels. All the organ systems combine to create a complete person - you. No detail forgotten and no provision lacking for a purposeful life.





Many martial arts techniques are identified with breaking bones. This is a very serious topic when it comes to bone damage, either yours or the assailant. Therefore, it is extremely important for the serious student to understand the skeletal system, whether it be for combat or for health.


The skeleton is the frame work of your body, giving support to your entire anatomy, while also protecting your internal organs. The adult skeleton is made up of two hundred and six bones, with over half being located in the hands and feet (where most martial arts injuries occur). Most of your bones are connected to other bones at flexible joints, thus providing us a flexible framework. Bones also house marrow, which produces blood cells. Bones also store calcium deposits, which your body may use when needed. Bones also detoxify your system by removing heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic and other toxins from your blood stream.


Bones are also classified as osseous material. This tissue is composed of water (about ¼  of the bone weight), organic material (about  ⅓ of the bone weight), most of which is protein and collagen, and inorganic minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sodium, potassium, chlorine and fluorine). There are two bone classifications.


  1. Axial Bones - eighty bones which support and protect the head and torso (the vertebrae).
  2. Appendicular Bones - include 126 bones that comprise the appendages, including the shoulders, hips, arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes. (Again, where most martial arts injuries occur).


Breaking it down even more, your skull consists of twenty six bones. Eight bones support the cranium, (which houses the brain), and fourteen facial bones, which form the front of the face, jaw, nose, orbits, and roof of the mouth.


Three bones make up the inner ear and one is attached to the temporal bone by ligaments. This is a good time to clear up a martial arts myth (and believe me, there are too many expounded by so-called masters, who have not taken the time to research and study as you are now doing).


There is no nose bone; your nose is made up of soft cartilage that will shatter when broken. There is no sharp, pointed bone to drive up into the brain to kill an attacker. Again, it is vital as martial arts teachers that we understand the human body, and that we instruct our students of the harm trauma can cause to it, while also knowing the methods to keep it healthy. In the 21st century, there is no room for myth, nor for incorrect and dangerous exercise routines that could cause bone damage, nor unsafe healing practices, nor for wheepees, or for things that go bump in the night.





Bones and joints form the framework of your body but, they cannot move by themselves. Motion results from the contraction and relaxation of muscles, which makes up about 40 to 50% of the body weight. There are nearly 700 individual muscles anchored to your skeleton, providing pulling power to allow mobility.


Muscles are attached to bones or to other muscles by tough fibrous structures called tendons. Your body is moved by muscle groups, and not by individual muscles. (This is why in your weightlifting and body building program you should have various exercises to develop different muscles. You should desire to develop all your muscles and not just a few). The overall function of muscle is to provide motion, such as walking, running, or performing kata.


Muscles help to move blood and food, helps to stabilize body position, regulate organ volume and sustain posture. Skeletal muscle contraction may generate 85% of all body heat to help maintain body temperature. Your muscles work in opposing pairs, one contracts while the other relaxes, to produce body movement.


Muscles work together to:


  1. Produce movement of a joint.
  2. To steady a joint.
  3. To prevent movement in the direction opposite to those intended.
  4. They are voluntary.
  5. Are powerful and fast acting.
  6. They tire with continued use and require rest.


It is essential that all martial arts techniques, throws and forms be designed to ensure that your muscle groups move in the correct manner and direction that they were designed for. This will provide technique with proper flow of direction, maximum striking power, and ease of movement. By understanding how and why muscles work, allows the student and teacher to recognize how muscle injury occurs, take precautions to prevent them, and employ the best methods to heal them. Repair and rest of injured muscles is absolutely necessary if you are serious about making training in the martial arts a lifetime study.


As stated before, muscles work by contracting and relaxing. During contraction, muscles shorten their length to bring the desired bones closer to their points of attachment on two different bones, which is known as pull. The fibers of the muscle accomplish this pulling action. Muscle fiber may shorten 30% to 40% in length during contraction.


Using the arm as an example with its wide range of movement, we observe it swings backward and forward in walking, it can be folded across the chest and raised above the head. The shoulder forms the base with the upper arm muscles originating in this area. In the upper arm the biceps and triceps are arranged to give the forearm the power to thrust and bend. These two muscles join at the elbow to allow the arm to bend and straighten, and also to rotate the wrist, hands and fingers. The biceps and triceps work together to control the up and down movement of the forearm. The power created by this action, along with the movement of your body, depends on the structure of these muscles and the movement of the bones.


Strong muscles and healthy bones, built by correct and constant exercise, at any age, will provide proper and powerful technique. If any injury occurs to any part of the shoulder, upper or lower arm, the wrist, hands or fingers, the entire arm can be put out of action. This is an all or none principal. In skeletal muscles, individual fibers contract to their fullest extent, or “not at all”. Injury will provide an “not at all”.


There is more design to the hand then just teaching a student how to make a fist or to deliver a chop to a target. There are thirty five muscles in each hand. It is crafted for maximum dexterity and strength in movement. This is accomplished with the help of muscles in the forearm and wrist. The fingers have no muscles and must rely on tendons to transfer force from the muscles in the forearm and palm. It takes one dozen muscles and tendons working together with the opposable thumb to accomplish one movement. So, the simple task of teaching a student how to make a correct fist is very important. What at first seems simple and unimportant is now essential in preventing injury to the hand, wrist and arm.


This understanding of this part of your body design allows the martial artist to appreciate our marvelous function. Martial arts is a science and should be taught as such. It is not a mystical concept that permits your body to move in ways that it was not designed for.


We have a lot to learn yet but, it will be done so through scientific principles. Better education gives us a stronger, safer, and fundamental basis in which to function, develop, defend and grow.



OXYGEN - is essential, and without it we would have brain damage in four minutes and death in five to six minutes.


At top performance, a training martial artist may process over 300 liters of air each minute, where as a couch potato will only use eight liters of air a minute.


Your nose acts as a filter and treats about 50 (fifty) cubic feet of air each day, the amount contained in a small room. Your lungs inflate and deflate between twelve and twenty times a minute when we exercise, thus we breathe more rapidly because our muscles are using more oxygen that must be replaced. Running along side busy traffic and in the heat of the day is putting undo stress on your lungs, while filling them with vehicle exhaust poisons. Common sense dictates that joggers should run in early morning or late evening, and definitely away from heavy traffic.


It would also be beneficial to practice your breathing exercises in a clean air environment several times a day.



YOUR EYES - should be protected during class workouts and in competition. Most martial arts styles teach that a finger poke in the eye will disable an attacker. Children must be made aware that this should be done only as a last resort and only if his/her life is in danger.


The eye is built like a camera but, it is much more sophisticated. The best camera film can handle a ratio of 1000 to one photons in terms of light intensity. Your retinal eye cells can handle a ratio of ten billion to one photons.


There are ten million rods and cones in your retina, which are packed together with a density of 200,000 per square millimeter. It has been estimated that ten billion calculations occur every second in the retina before the image even gets to your brain. Comparing this performance with the best output of the most powerful computer, it would take the computer 100 years of computer time to simulate what takes place in the eye each second.


Dr. Ronald J. Glasser, M.D. stated “It is the body that is the hero, not science, not antibiotics, not machines or new devices”. Your body is viewed as a community that consciously seeks out the most favorable condition for itself. It corrects imbalances in fluids and salts, mobilizes to heal itself, and deploys resources on demand.


Your hormones are powerful chemical messengers that keep your body healthy. They circulate throughout your body in the bloodstream until they find the organs they are to influence. The question is asked “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?” [Job 38:36]


If only one chemical variable in your body gets out of balance, disorder, disease, or even death can occur.



FLIGHT OR FRIGHT REACTION - The sympathetic nervous system reacts to intense emotions, such as fright or anger, with large amounts of hormones being released, which may cause a “flight or fight” reaction. Blood pressure rises, pupils widen, and blood is fed to the most vital organs and skeletal muscles. The heart is also stimulated. The mind becomes clouded and the rational thinking process rapidly shuts down. The saying is “The way the student trains in class is the way he/she will react in the streets.” You cannot constantly practice easy and soft in class, and suddenly you are confronted with danger and put in harm’s way, and expect to make rational decisions. Constant realistic training will help you curb the “flight or fight” reaction.


You will need to immediately reduce stress. This is controlled by the adrenal cortex that secrets two hormones, cortisol and aldosterone, which are stress reducers. Emotions like anger, worry and fret have been shown to harm our body due to high levels of cortisol released during times of negative thinking.


During severe stress and painful injury, the nervous system overrides the feedback control of cortisol secretion, which initiates a stress response to help suppress inflammation. Prolonged inflammation damages tissue. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” (Psalms 37:8).


Obviously, this is a good time for lessons in martial arts control, meditation and experience to kick into gear. Training in the martial arts has more advantages than just learning self-defense.


Did you ever wonder why your body temperature remains about 98.6° F.? It stays this way in the cold winter and in the hot summer. Your hypothalamus gland is responsible for maintaining this fairly stable temperature.


This is done in two ways, involuntarily and voluntarily.


  1. The amount of heat loss is controlled. More heat is produced by metabolism (chemical changes) than is needed, so excess heat is removed by sweating. When you exercise vigorously, or the air around you is very warm, sweating increases. When you get hot, your skin gets red. This is because blood vessels in your skin enlarge, allowing more blood to flow near the skin surface. When you are cold, the skin turns pale because blood vessels contract, keeping the blood deeper in the body, so that less heat is lost to the air.


  1. The second way body temperature is regulated is by controlling the amount of heat being produced. When you get cold muscles contract, causing shivering. Also by rubbing your hands together or running in place create heat. Both processes generate heat, one involuntarily and one voluntarily.



WATER BALANCE - means that the quantities of water and electrolytes entering the body are equal to the quantities leaving it. Drinking water before, during and after exercise is essential for the balance to remain constant.


Also during exercise more acids are produced than is needed. One such acid is known as lactic acid. The kidneys have a responsibility of controlling and removing excess acids from the body by controlling the amounts of electrolytes, acids and water from the blood. The kidneys regulate the quantity and composition of the blood at an optimal functional level. This is where drinking plenty of water each day comes into play. Water flushes out the acids, cleans the kidneys and helps maintain PH Balance.



THE SKIN - Not all martial artists can be beautiful or handsome but, we can be pleasing to the eye by keeping a clean outer appearance. We can be good stewards of our bodies by keeping our skin clean and displaying a healthy glow. Your skin has at least six functions.


  1. Regulation of body temperature. As discussed before, during high temperatures or extensive exercise, the evaporation of sweat from the skin surface helps lower body temperature.
  2. Protection - the skin covers the body and provides a barrier that protects underlying tissues.
  3. Sensation - the skin contains abundant nerve endings and receptors that detect touch, temperature, pressure and pain.
  4. Excretion - water, salts and several organic compounds are excreted by sweat glands.
  5. Immunity - certain cells of the epidermis protect against germs.
  6. Synthesis of vitamin “D.” - exposure to sunlight helps produce vitamin “D”, that aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the digestive system into the blood.



YOUR CIRCULATORY SYSTEM - is composed of a 60,000 mile network of blood vessels. Your heart pumps about 2000 gallons of blood each day for a total of about 680,000 gallons each year. Your heart beats from 120 to 170 times per minute during strenuous workouts; to about 50-60 beats per minute during sleep. The average normal walking pace heart beats are about 70 times a minute. Some ten billion capillaries lace throughout all body tissues, bringing blood within reach of every cell. Veins carry blood from the capillaries of organs and tissues toward the heart. The veins have small valves that open to let blood through and then close to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. During exercise, muscular contractions squeeze the veins, forcing blood through them toward the heart. Exercise will strengthen the veins, tissues and the heart to create a healthier body, which of course leads to a more energetic life style.


All of these cells, tissues, organs and systems can be influenced by one’s mental state. In 1991, The New England Journal of Medicine published a report showing a direct link between mental state and disease. Stress and psychological factors could affect the function of the immune system. Those people who do not exercise, smokers and those under stress seem to catch more colds.


A healthy lifestyle and “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine : But a broken spirit drieth the bones”. [Proverbs 17:22]


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This page was last updated on 02/20/11    

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