INDIGO Voyages

ex Spanish Karate Champion: José Luis Castillo

Martial arts and fitness training expert José Luis Castillo has a life-long experience practicing and competing in the fighting arts.
Second Karate black belt and multiple champion of Spain and the Balearics, as well as Nunchaku-Do Eurpopean champion, he now offers his unique talents to the wider health and fitness community at his own sporting and massage centre SHAMBHALA GYM. Passionate about all fighting disciplines, such as boxing, kick-boxing, K-1, and Muay Thai, José teaches his students how to integrate the various arts to become a physically and mentally superior athlete. Thanks to his professional manner and deep knowledge, José Luis has achieved stunning results as a trainer.
At his sport and massage centre, Shambhhala Gym, a conventional gym experience is combined with other disciplines and techniques. The instructors at Shambhala are also professional competitors. José took a few minutes from his busy schedule to chat with us about his passion and its benefits

Q Hi José, how and why did you get started in the fitness/martial arts industry?

I started practicing Karate at the age of 7, and since then I have always wanted to practice all forms of martial arts. I just can’t make a choice and focus on one; I like them all and I still keep learning from each one of them, from Karate to Jiu Jitsu, boxing and Thai boxing. The only one missing is Kung Fu.


Q What are some of the misconceptions people have about martial arts?

The prevailing perception of mixed martial arts is that they are very violent and extremely dangerous. It is not just about fighting, it’s a life style; it is about having a deep knowledge of the human body, the mind and the energies. Moreover, you do not need to fight. In my club we do not foster a culture of street fighting. I make it very clear to my students that we do not teach a martial art in my club so that they can use it to fight in the streets or in a disco. We do not accept students here with that kind of mentality.

Q What are the benefits of incorporating mixed martial arts in regular training programs?

Martial Arts are great for improving self confidence. Confidence grows not only as you progress through the belt ranks, but also because you learn to defend yourself and you feel more secure; you get to know your own limits. Physically speaking you get stronger, lose weight, and improve your overall condition.

Q What kind of influence does a good grounding in the martial arts have on a person's life?

It has been proven that through martial arts training, a person learns to align the physical with the mental. Thanks to martial arts you will learn the essence of how to breathe and even relax under pressure. Last but not least, you learn to deal with fear and either control or harness it to your advantage.

Q Of all the martial arts, which ones do you consider to be the most effective? Is there one martial art that encapsulates all the right elements?

Nowadays, the martial art that encompasses all disciplines is the MMA (mixed martial arts). It is the most complete sport, as it focuses on a combination of styles that include both upper body and lower body fighting.

Q Which is your own favourite discipline and preferred method of exercise?

I love them all, but I personally prefer to fight K1 (the letter K stands for karate, kickboxing and kung fu). K1 is a mix of Thai and Kick boxing; it focuses on both striking and clinching techniques. The points of contact include punches, elbows, knee strikes and kicks. A fight normally consists of 3 three-minute rounds, unless it is a championship, then you have five rounds of three minutes. And it is pure show.

Q. Describe the Shambhala philosophy.

Our philosophy is quite unique, I think. My centre is not just a place to train and work out, I think the atmosphere is one of harmony; people who come here blend with each other regardless the reason why they come here. We give a lot of support to one another, and create the right circumstances so that everyone can get the best out of themselves.

Q. Where do you see yourself in the future?

I’d like to keep growing, both on a personal and professional level. I am very satisfied about the way things are at the moment, because my profession allows me enough freedom and time to devote to my family and friends, and allows me to create a solid balance between my personal and professional life. I would like to keep competing on an international level as we have done so far, keep preparing fighters to represent the Balearic Islands and Spain, who embody the Shambala philosophy. Last but not least, at some point I’d like to expand the centre infrastructure to make it available to new members, since people stay with our centre once they have tried it.
I have worked in several fitness centres, and learned that what really makes the difference is not the size of the installations but the personal and the professional approach. This is what people really need and it is what we offer.
We develop a custom training scheme based on individual needs and goals, and it is paramount to know the body potential and limitations of each person in order to design the best fitness program for them.

Q. I understand that massage is a valuable component of Shambhala fitness programs. Why and which techniques are especially being implemented?

Indeed, I believe a wellness/fitness program has to have a multidisciplinary approach. Through massage we are able to assess the specific physical condition of a person, locate aches, muscle damage or imbalance, and design an effective work out routine integrating training and massage tailored to specific individual needs. I created our own signature massage, which consists in applying the use of hot stones to different techniques in combination with an oil I developed. Recently we also started implementing the Rolfing method developed by Ida Rolf. According to her theory, the body’s aches and pains arise from basic imbalances in posture and alignment, which are created and reinforced over time by gravity and learned responses among muscles and fascia - the connective tissue that binds muscles together. It is a system of soft tissue manipulation that works with all the layers of the body in order to repair damage and re-educate movement, so as to ease strain patterns in the entire system

Q. If you could give every one of your clients one tip or piece of advice, what would it be?

To always keep in mind that the best results can be achieved when we integrate training, nutrition and supplements, and training is seen as a practice to enjoy instead of an obligation to meet, or some high mountain to climb. We help them to achieve this mind-set change.

By Enza Valiante Valentini
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