Hi everyone. This is a thread I wrote for a taekwondo forum, but its just as applicable to any martial art really. hopefully some people will find it beneficial. We get told over and over again that combat sports are 'Explosive' or 'Anaerobic' and the vast majority of online articles about sports from boxing to wrestling will tell you over and over work your anaerobic system. Do sprints. Taekwondo especially can be seen as a purely anaerobic sport because of the fast explosive movements and the long rest periods between strikes.
What people fail to understand is that the anaerobic and aerobic systems work in tandem and in a continuum. Taekwondo undoubtedly places very high demand on the anaerobic system so anaerobic conditioning through sprints or 'tabbatas' (even though I hate the word) are great. However another way to increase the anaerobic systems it to actually increase your aerobic output.
Firstly, when it has the option your body will use the aerobic system. if your using the anaerobic system it means the aerobic is already working at max. increasing the ability of your aerobic system can take the pressure off of your anaerobic system leaving you fresher.
Secondly, when the lactic (one of the anaerobic energy systems) system is working it creates lactic acid (or what we call lactic acid) and this damages the muscle causing it to stop working as well. this is what makes you tired. However your body has a way of getting rid of this acid through a system called buffering, where mitochondria in the muscle cell breaks down this acid and carries it away in the blood stream, meaning you can work longer. These mitochondria are called 'power plants' because this is were alot of aerobic energy comes from inside muscle cells. unsurprisingly then aerobic work is a great way of increasing the number of mitrochondria.
Lastly, the alactic (the second anaerobic energy system) system . The chemical your body uses for energy is called ATP. both aerobic and lactic systems create this. the alactic system is simply the ATP that is already stored in your muscles as 'backup' incase you need to use them. This runs out very quickly, but is replenished through the blood stream, which once again is helped by aerobic work.