Monday, 30 March 2009

The Side Kick in Martial Arts, Is it Effective?

The side kick is probably the most used kick when it comes to martial artists posing. Fighters who have good leg techniques love throwing a high side kick for cameras to take pictures of. It was one of the most used kicks by the late great Bruce Lee and if thrown correctly the power it can deliver is staggering. So why is it used so seldom by many of today’s martial artists?

Well, first of all, it is slightly slower than other more used kicks such as the roundhouse or front kick. When performed in a thrusting manner the whole leg is used to thrust the foot towards the target rather than swinging or snapping the leg like the other kicks. This makes it slightly slower and because of this, people tend to not use it as they can be easily countered.

Also, the side kick takes a large amount of training to become effective. Many months if not years is needed for one to obtain the correct technique for performing the kick and martial artists today are sometimes lazy to put in the time needed, wanting to become experts as quick as possible and choose to perfect other easier kicks instead.

The side kick is not an ineffective technique however. It is very useful and very powerful, but only if it is performed under the right circumstances. Below are a few suggestions on how it can be of value,

Use it sparingly – One of the few techniques where it is possible to use it again and again, constantly, is the jab. Every other technique must be used at the correct time. The side kick is no different. When the right time comes, use it. Many people use it way to often and when another technique is probably more acceptable.

Don’t use it to attack the opponent, rather as a counter or during a combination – As mentioned above, use the side kick sparingly. Some of the best times to use it are either as a stop hit counter strike or during a combination, attacking the head area with punches then thrusting a side kick low to your opponent’s legs or just above the hip.

Its best used as a thrust rather than a snap – A lot of people snap the side kick as opposed to thrusting it. By snapping, although it may be the quickest way to perform the kick, you lose a lot of power as the striking area, which is the foot travels in an arc fashion towards the target rather than in a straight line as with the thrust variation.

Strike with the heel rather than the blade or sole of the foot – The heel is one of the hardest striking weapons on the human body. Striking the heel is much more devastating than using the blade or sole of the foot and is safer. It is very easy to twist the ankle when striking with the blade. Also striking hard surfaces like the shin with the sole can be very painful.

Use the front leg – In order to perform a side kick with the back leg, one has to bring the kicking foot off the floor, bring the kicking leg in front of the body, pull the leg back then thrust the foot towards the target. This not only takes far too long but also exposes too many targets to the opponent allowing for easy counter attacks. By kicking with the front leg, these targets are not exposed and it is far quicker.

Strike low – To strike high, aiming towards the face may look impressive but is very unnecessary and by the time your foot reaches the target, your opponent will have easily moved out of the way as it is slow to perform compared to other kicks. For self defence purposes, kicking low is more advisable and effective as there are more easier targets to strike than high. In sport, a side kick to the torso, just above the hip can be very painful when using the methods outlined above.

The side kick requires the same amount of attention and patience as with any other technique. Be it a submission hold, a combination or a spinning roundhouse kick, they all require practise and experience through sparring. If one puts in the endless hours of practise with this technique, it can become useful for them and could be seen as one of the most effective techniques.


Marks

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Friday, 27 March 2009

Shaolin Kung Fu Training Methods

I’m sure most people here know who the shaolin monks are and the fact that they are famous for there hard training systems and there extraordinary demonstrations.

I found the following video outlining some shaolin training methods and various demonstrations. Some of the demonstrations will be familiar to most but some will not.



The following impressed me the most,

The double bull hold – Holding the bulls with his arms seems a great isometric exercise for the chest muscles and one Im sure requires much strength and control.

The breaking of the bricks – Normally brick breaking demos are done so as each brick is separated by small spacers rather on top of each other as in this video. By spacing them out they are easier to break as the force of breaking the top brick breaks the ones underneath. As mentioned, this video shows no spacers between the breaks which makes it much harder to do.

The hanging exercise – In the film Drunken Master there is a similar scene. Filling up the bottom jar by obtaining water from the top jar makes this a very painful abdominal exercise. Also if you notice, the top jar is slightly to the left of the performer meaning that he must twist at the top of the movement working also his obliques and intercostals muscles. Truly painful!

Marks

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Cardio Exercises, Which is Best?

Supplementary to martial arts training I have for many years used weights to build strength and have performed cardiovascular training in order to build stamina. When it comes to cardio training, people either love it or hate it. There is no in between, nevertheless it must be done if one wants to become as fit as possible.

When I first started cardio training, all I used to perform was running. I did not do much of it, probably about once a week, and did not do it for long, only ten to twenty minutes at a medium intensity. As time went by however, I started to learn about low intensity cardio, high intensity interval training and I started to use various cardio machines available at the gym. I have found each machine or cardio exercise to be different and below are my personal experiences of them.

Exercise Bike – A tough machine which produces great cardio benefits and strong legs. The only time it uses the upper body muscles is when you push down on the legs as they rotate. Probably not best to use the day before or on the same day of a leg workout with weights, or a strong martial art session which involves a lot of kicks. I have found it best to use a low intensity long duration approach with this machine as high intensity produces too much strain on the legs.

Cross Trainer – A great machine which works nearly all the muscles of the body and high intensity training will not place too much strain on a certain muscle group as opposed to the exercise bike. If you have a joint injury it is a good machine to use to get a cardio workout done without stressing the injury to much.

Rowing Machine – Although people swear that this machine gives them a great workout, for me, it has never done so. I don’t feel it produces many good cardiovascular benefits but does provide a good pump in the arms. I tend to stay away from it.

Stepping machine – Similar to the exercise bike in the fact that the legs get a great workout. However, I do not feel that it produces as good cardiovascular benefits as the bike, but when used for two minutes or so with high intensity after a long low intensity session on the bike, it can produce a great burn in the legs which helps condition them.

Walking – I have always felt that in order to feel any cardiovascular benefit with walking, I must perform it for at least an hour and at a slightly faster pace to everyday walking. Personally, I think cardio time is best used up with another exercise.

Swimming – A great exercise that helps tone the muscles while producing good cardio benefits. However, as I do not have a waterproof iPod (something I definitely need when doing cardio) I tend to swim only when on holiday.

Skipping – I find skipping to be great. It really helps tone the shoulders and I have found it to work wonders when performed using a high intensity interval approach. I usually skip at a medium pace for 30 seconds, then skip as fast as possible for 30 seconds then rest for twenty seconds. After about 10 - 20 sets the workout is done.

Running – For me, it is the ultimate cardio exercise. Some days it shall be high intensity interval training, other days it will be low intensity long duration cardio. At home, I mainly use a running machine at the local gym. If I am on holiday I always use running as a way for me to get out, explore my surroundings and enjoy the heat (as long as it’s a hot climate). People claim that running is bad for the joints, however, I feel the opposite. When I run, I feel much better for it.

There are plenty of other cardio machines and exercises that people use, but these above are the main ones which I have used and my own personal experiences from them. Others will probably feel differently and I invite you to leave comments outlining your own approaches to cardio training.

Although I favour running, it’s always best to constantly rotate the cardio exercise you perform in order to stop boredom developing, to train different muscles from different angles, to train different intensity levels and to become knowledgeable with different machines and exercises. Just with martial arts, its best to cross train in order to gain as much experience as possible.


Marks

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Monday, 23 March 2009

Karate Lunge Punch Practical Applications

If you read an article on this website a few days ago about the karate lunge punch for self defence training, (here) you may think that I am totally against the technique. For anything but basic self defence training, that may be so, but it does still have its place in karate and fighting.

The lunge punch is the basic of all punches in the karate syllabus. It is drilled for hours and hours up and down the dojo until it becomes as natural as breathing. It is used for breaking demonstrations, one of the main punches used in most kata’s and is the symbol on the top of many karate trophies. However, ask most people, karate ka or any other martial artists weather they have seen it used in sparring, competition or a self defence situation and they will say, never. Ask a few karate ka who really study the art and its practical fighting applications and they will say “all the time”.

When untrained people and many trained people for that matter witness the lunge punch, they see just that. A person lunging forward and striking with the fist. However, if you break the technique down (not thinking about the arms) you have the start (figure A), the middle, where the back foot comes off the floor and the leg proceeds to step forward with the knee slightly bent (figure B) and the end, where the step is complete (figure C). It is at the end that the punch is also performed.

Not many people think about these three parts of the lunge punch as anything more than a simple step forward in order to close the distance for the a successful strike. This is also where some points of the impracticalities of the lunge punch appears. Stepping forward to punch is not fluid enough, it leaves to many open targets, is slow and is not how anybody moves on the street or in competition.

Now, if you know anything about Muay Thai or if your art practises knee strikes, you will know how sometimes the knee strike can be practised. With a partner who is holding a padded target on his/her torso, you bring your back leg off the floor and thrust your knee into the target. After the strike you can either step forward or step backwards, depending on your opponents placing.

If you step forward you are performing the exact movements which are shown in the above diagram. Starting from your leg back, you bring your foot off the floor, thrust your knee into the target (which could be the torso, groin, thigh or even the knee) then step forward.

This knee strike (or supposedly, lunge punch step) is best used when grappling with an opponent. When two fighters are grappling whilst standing, the back leg can be thrust straight forwards just as in the Figures A and B, to strike. If it is on the street, a strike to the groin can be used which may be enough to successfully defend oneself. If its competition where groin strikes are not allowed the strike could be to the thigh which can be very painful. To complete the full lunge punch technique one would then land forward after the knee strike and punch with the front arm whilst holding/controlling with the back hand (hikite), which is a common dirty boxing technique (to hold and strike).

From this basic step and punch which is one of the most basic of all karate techniques we have seen that it can be used as a very realistic, close quarter knee strike and a follow up punch if needed. Just because the technique involves a step forward and a punch does not mean that when performing this particular application a punch must always be performed after the knee strike. Sometimes the knee strike may be enough to end the conflict which means that the step forward and punch is not needed.

So is the karate lunge punch a bad technique? Yes, if performed in the unpractical way of stepping forward and punching your opponent from a distance, but no, if the practical applications of it are studied and regularly practised and this all comes down to the practitioner, not the art, or the technique.

All techniques of karate are designed to be effective and practical for use just as this one. But it is up to the person studying the art to really think about each technique and how they can be effective. Karate is a very complicated art and the beauty of its techniques is that they have numerous applications. Study them wisely but most important, practically.


Marks

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Friday, 20 March 2009

Guard Pass Counters when Grappling

Regardless of what style you practise, attack and defence go hand in hand. No attack can be performed without leaving yourself available to be countered, weather you are throwing a punch at your opponent, attempting a takedown or throw or trying for a submission hold.

When trying to pass your opponents guard there is no exception. There are many simple and very effective guard passes but they do leave an opportunity to be countered.

The following video is a demonstration by Stephan Kesting of grapplearts.com (a website worth checking out by the way) of two well used guard passes and counters to these guard passes. What is good about these counters is that when performed, they enable you to be on top of your opponent rather than still in full/half guard. Enjoy!



Marks

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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Karate Lunge Punch for Self Defence Training

Karate is one of the most popular forms of self defence training. Although Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a few other arts have gained a great amount of respect and popularity since the MMA boom (and quite rightly so), Karate is still one of the most popular martial arts for learning how to defend oneself. However, there is one main flaw which must be carefully considered if self defence is the main priority of your Karate training.

The typical karate lunge punch is the most basic of all techniques. It is a technique which is taught so as body mechanics, timing, balance and concentration can be developed. For self defence situations however, it is not very practical to always practise defences too.

In the street the chances of being attacked by a person performing a lunge punch are virtually zero. As mentioned it is a technique which is taught in the dojo. No untrained person will attack with a stepping lunge punch and yet a lot of the times karate self defence training is carried out from a lunge punch attack.

The lunge punch requires fighters to start at a distance away from each other. This is so the person attacking can step forward into a long front stance extended there punching arm nearly fully to perform the technique. The reality of fights on the street is that nearly always the first technique which is executed is done at close range. Maybe verbal exchanges are given from a distance but techniques rarely are. For this reason it seems unpractical to practise all of ones self defence techniques from a lunge punch attack.

It is more likely that self defence techniques on the street are performed in defence to attacks such as wild swing punches, grabs, tackles, head buts or swings and slashes with weapons. Also, the attacker will probably not just attack with one technique but will keep attacking over and over again.

For these reasons above it makes sense to practise self defence techniques with your partner using these types of attacks rather than the basic lunge punch. By learning to defend only against the lunge punch one will develop a false sense of security, thinking because they can defend against this attack that they can defend themselves on the street which is wrong.

The lunge punch does have its place, especially when just starting out or when trying to practise a defence which is unfamiliar, but as one progresses, they must start practising defences to the common street attacks, so as to be prepared as much as possible if the situation occurs where one must defend themselves.


Marks

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Monday, 16 March 2009

Does Size Matter in the Martial Arts?

In order to be a good martial artist, very good crisp technique is a must. There is no doubt about it. With regards to striking, you must obtain correct instruction in order to be able to use your body to generate enough power without gaining bad habits, and to be a successful grappler, you must be able to create and use leverage in order to throw, control or submit your opponent. Is this enough though? Can your body give you an edge over your opponent no matter how good your martial art technique is? Does size matter in the martial arts?

This is another classic topic where many say yes, being bigger than your opponent will give an advantage while others completely ignore there opponents size and believe that good technique will always provide victory.

In UFC 1 Teila Tuli took on Gerard Gordeau whilst heavily outweighing in. His size did not matter however. Gordeau finished his opponent with ease. Fedor Emelianenko also had a relatively easy time against Hong Man Choi who towered above him. This though, was not a problem to Fedor, who caught him in an arm bar early in Round 1. Frank Mir looked like he was getting beaten to a pulp against Brock Lesnar on the ground, but managed to use his grappling skills on the giant Lesnar to gain a knee bar victory. These are just a few examples of how smaller fighters have took on bigger fighters and have used pure technique to gain victory over there adversaries even when the odds where stacked against them.

However, what about if a fighter is big, but also has good technique. Going back to Brock Lesnar, he tried to use brute strength against Frank Mir but ended up losing the fight. It seemed though that he learnt from his mistakes. Against Randy Couture, who many consider to be one of the greatest, most technical fighters in the world, he relied not solely on strength but also displayed some good technique. He ended up winning that fight.

The truth is size does matter to some degree. Most of the time, the bigger someone is, the more power they will have. Grapplers will know that having a bigger person on top of them can be a great struggle sometimes to get them off. Strikers will also know that being hit by a bigger person with larger limbs can be quit painful.

However, people train for this, get used to fighting people of all sizes and work out the best ways to deal with them. Size most probably will present initial problems to some, but bigger people regardless off there size are still human and can be knocked down by strikes and submitted with techniques. Having solid martial art training in ones arsenal with the knowledge of how to use leverage, body mechanics etc to ones advantage is of more value to a fighter than being big with powerful limbs.

Training to acquire good technical skills should be the top priority for all martial artists, but strength training in order to create more power should not be abandoned. Being strong will make you a better fighter and will complement your fighting skills providing you with stronger faster strikes, quicker shoots, will enable you to throw and pick up your opponent more easily and will allow you to scramble on the ground more explosively.


Marks

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Friday, 13 March 2009

Mario Sperry Guard Pass

Guard passing is a must for anyone involved in MMA or any style which included ground fighting. With more and more people nowadays coming up with interesting and very technical guard passes sometimes it is easy to forget about the fact that nearly all the time, guards are passed during sparring or competition via the simple, basic and time proven techniques.

Grapplers know that shrimping is a major part of becoming a successful grappler. Controlling your own hips in order to move back and forth from your opponent is needed in order to defend the guard pass. For the person trying to pass guard, being up against someone who knows this can be very frustrating.

The following video shows Mario Sperry getting round this problem. He uses a guard pass which is useful and one which I use many times and see as one of the best. Obviously it works best against an open guard or butterfly guard or when you have controlled one leg.

• First of all, he uses his body weight and arms to control his opponent’s hips and legs by dropping his chest onto him.
• Secondly when Sperry reaches to grab his opponent’s ankle in order to control his right leg so as he can not obtain guard again and which also stops him from shrimping with ease, he hides what he is doing by reaching under his bent left leg.
• Thirdly, Sperry crosses his right leg behind and over his left leg whilst still controlling his opponent, holding his ankle and keeping his chest pressed firmly on his hips.

This is a proven and yet very simple guard pass. It obviously needs the relevant drilling and practise when rolling, but because of its simplicity it will not take too long to become efficient in using it. As mentioned, there are a lot of very technical guard passes, but nearly always you will see grapplers passing guard using the basic techniques and it is probably good advice to make sure that these basic passes are practised the most often.


Marks

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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Martial Arts and the Deadlift

The deadlift is old school. It is a weight training exercise which many consider to be number one for building all over body power. It is one of the very few movements which uses up nearly all of the muscles in the body and requires a tremendous amount of energy in order to complete several sets of it. For martial artists, it is an excerise which can be of great value regardless of style and it is a shame that many do not practise it.

Its bad for the back, it places too much pressure on the knees, you can lose flexibility doing it, you can become too big and bulky which is not good for martial arts etc. These are all excuses which people use in order to simply get out of doing them becuase they are hard, instead favouring bench presses and bicep curls which for some reason the statements don’t apply.

With proper, strict form, free from any kind of ballistic jerky motion, the deadlift is a movement which will benefit the martial artist more than most others. Some of the benefits of the deadlift for martial artists include,


Leg power – The initial movement of the deadlift requires a strong push of the legs in order to take the weight from the floor to a resting point on top of the thighs. This builds powerful leg muscles which will benefit kicking and throwing, and will help provide a more explosive shoot in order to take down an opponent.

Back power – The whole of the back is heavily involved in the deadlift, especially the lower portion. A strong back is needed for all aspects of martial arts, from twisting the hips when punching to clinch fighting, to scrambling around on the floor during ground fighting.

Traps and neck power – By holding on to a heavy load at the top of the movement, the traps and neck get an isometric workout. Grapplers will understand the importance of having a strong neck which is vital for bridging and escaping choke holds. Likewise, strikers need a strong neck which helps in minimising the chances of getting knocked out.

Grip power – Judo fighters are forever practising obtaining a solid grip on there opponent. A strong grip helps you control your opponent and if you control your opponent, you control the fight. By holding such a heavy bar, the deadlift provides wrist and forearm strength in order to obtain this desired solid grip.

Cardio workout – The deadlift uses up nearly all muscles in the body and as mentioned a tremendous amount of effort is needed to complete several sets. By deadlifting you can work your cardiovascular system in order to boost your stamina. The best way to do this is to lighten the load so you are able to perform 20 reps but no more, and complete 4 sets of this.

Psychological factor – By performing heavy deadlifts, in order to complete the movement, there needs to be instilled in the mind the thought of success. The same thought of success is needed in your first day of martial arts training, your first day of sparring and during each competition /fight. Deadlifting is one of the best weight training exercises to train this, and by performing it regularly you can boost the thought of succeeding in your mind, which will carry through into other areas of your life.

All weight training exercises are important for martial artists, but deadlifting could be the most important, and I urge any one who does not do them, to start as soon as possible.


Marks

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Monday, 9 March 2009

Mount or Side Mount for MMA

In an MMA fight, probably the most useful positions for ground fighting are the side mount (yoko shiho gatame) and the mount (tate shiho gatame). When two people are grappling nearly always it is for one of these two positions that scrambling can be sometimes be so intense. The mount is considered to be the most dominant position. Whenever a person achieves it you always hear the “Ohs” and “Ahs” from anyone watching and rightly so. It is a very strong position to achieve and can lead to greater techniques which can end a fight. Is it a better position to be in than the side mount however?

The side mount first of all keeps your body pressed onto your opponent’s chest. This makes it harder for him/her to move or to strike with power. This position also gives you the opportunity to deliver knee strikes to your opponent’s body with a lot of power, which can be very painful. GSP is well known for delivering these kinds of knee strikes. Arm locks and leg locks can be applied from the side mount and it is a great position to easily flow with your opponents movements and move into another position if necessary. Also as you are low, pressed onto your opponents body, it makes it hard for you to be turned over onto your back.

The mount puts you right on top of your opponent, which makes it very hard for them to move. With regards to striking, you can keep your head up and strike down with great power with fists of elbows. You can easily reach your opponents face to strike, but because you are high up, he/she can not strike you back. Their only hope in defending is to sit up, and hug there body tight against yours (body lock), cutting off any gaps in order to land effective strikes. This is hard to do though as you can push them back down or strike them as they try and body lock you. Strikes are the most dangerous from the mount and most times in order to stop being hit, your opponent will turn his back to you which puts them in line for a choke hold to end the fight. No leg techniques can be performed as you are bracing your weight on you knees. The problem with the mount however, is that if your weight is not directly on top of your opponents chest but on his/her bottom torso area, your opponent can arch his/her hips up in order to roll you on you back and for you to stop this from happening you must brace yourself with your hands on the floor. This can stop you from striking. Submissions that can be obtained from the mount are mainly arm locks, but again once you trap an arm in order to apply the lock, you are not able to brace yourself and your opponent can roll you over escaping the mount.

Both positions have disadvantages as well as advantages. The mount keeps you safe and out of danger of any fight stopping strikes from your opponent whilst giving you the ability to land some of your own. Sometimes though, you can be easily turned onto your back when mounting your opponent especially when going for submissions. The side mount allows devastating knee strikes which can do some real damage and can’t even be seen by your opponent, but he/she can move better in this position than when mounted and can even land some knee strikes of there own.

As regards to which position is better, there is no answer. Some will prefer the mount where some prefer the side mount. Practising both positions so as your proficient striking and applying submissions from both is best. If you favour one over the other that’s fine and natural, but don’t neglect practising one position as it will keep you limited as a fighter.


Marks

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Friday, 6 March 2009

Roy Dean Martial Arts

Roy Dean runs a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy located in Bend, Oregon, USA. Apart from being an expert in BJJ, Roy also holds black belts in Judo, Aikido and Seibukan Jujutsu and all of the experience he has attained in his martial arts studies is evident in his videos.

If you have not already checked out Roy Deans website, I urge you to do so. On it you will find his blog, in which he posts videos regarding competitions, his students grading, plenty of rolling and more.

Below are just couple of videos of his which you may find interesting.





Marks

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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Snapping or Swinging Roundhouse Kick

The roundhouse is one of the most used kicks for martial artists of a striking background. It is a strong kick and when the shin bone is the striking area, it can quickly do damage. Some people use it in a snapping motion where others use it as a swing similar to hitting a ball with a baseball bat. Which variation is better?

Well to say that one variation is better than the other is wrong. The whole point of a technique having variations is so that there is never just one way of doing something and depending on the situation, each variation has its advantages and disadvantages.

The snapping variation is best used when you don’t want your opponent to grab your leg. If your fighting a grappler for example who you know has better grappling experience than you, the last thing you want is for him/her to take you to the floor after grabbing your leg via a roundhouse kick because the chances are you will get submitted. The snapping variation can also be used in a jabbing manner, being targeted at your opponent’s thigh, which may set up follow on techniques for you to take advantage.

The swinging variation is a true power roundhouse. If you have ever felt a swinging roundhouse kick from a seasoned Muay Thai fighter, you will know it hurts. Also a swinging variation can be used as a sweep. If you have secured your opponents leg during a fight, a hard swinging roundhouse kick to his/her supporting leg using the shin should be more than enough to not only take your opponent to the floor, but maybe do some damage to the leg. The only problem with this variation is that if the swing misses your opponent, you will probably lose control and give your opponent a chance to counter.

Should one variation be favoured more than the other? Well that depends on the fighter, but not practising any variation would be a loss, and becoming familiar with both variations, not just by using them, but having them used on you would be the best option. There is nothing worse than thinking that you don’t need to practise a technique because you think it is not worth it, only to have someone else apply it on you.

The best decision would be to practise both variations using a heavy bag, pads and during sparring and make up your own mind how each variation should be used. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Find them yourselves and don’t listen to the ignorant people who dismiss one variation over the other, just because there style does not practise it.


Marks

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Monday, 2 March 2009

Strength Building for Martial Artists

Training should not be the same movements and exercises over and over again. Hopefully you will be aware that the body easily adapts to continuous repetition. In order to progress you must be constantly changing your training. For this reason many people add days of pure strength workouts into there regimes. They go to the gym and pump out heavy weights in order to force there muscles to adapt and grow. While this is good and needed, sometimes it may be worth including a week of strength workouts.

As martial artists your training should involve not just only working out with weights but also your cardiovascular training and martial arts style/s. The strength week training principle is exactly what it sounds like. A week of training where whatever type of workout you perform, it is done with full intensity and using as much strength as possible in order to gain as much strength as possible.

Weight training – This is obvious. For this week when you are working out with weights, warm up thoroughly then go straight to power sets where you lift weights for a maximum of 6 reps per set, increasing the weight per set. Each exercise will be taxing so rest adequately between sets. Remember, every single set should be a power one (after warming up).

Cardio – Your cardio should be high intensity interval training. This is where you perform a certain length of time (e.g. 30 sec’s) to your max, and calm it down for another certain length of time (e.g. 1 min). So if you’re running you would jog for a minute and then sprint as fast as possible for 30 seconds, repeating this cycle at least ten times. It is a quicker method of cardio compared to the aerobic style where you perform for a long period of time.

Shadow boxing – Using the round system, you can either use the interval training principle as with your cardio, or you can just shadow box as fast as possible for the whole round. Your rounds should be short because you will be going full out, so 30 seconds.

Bag work – I guarantee that if you are using as much strength for each strike on the bag, these workouts will not last more than twenty minutes if you are lucky. Using the round system of about 1 minute a round (because you will be striking hard) or whatever you feel appropriate, hit the bag as hard as possible each time. Imagine yourself punching and kicking holes in the bag. Go full out on it!

Isometric kick strength – For kickers, this is brilliant. Simply hold a chair, wall or anything else for balance and hold a kicking position as high as possible for as long as possible. Do this a number of times for each leg. It is a great way to improve the strength needed in the kicking muscles. The ideal time to perform these exercises would be after your cardio or bag work, once the legs are fully warmed up.

Strength sparring – Put on your 16 oz gloves, gum shields, head guards or whatever you feel you need to fully protect yourself and spar full contact with full intensity. If you grapple, find the heaviest person who is training and grapple with him/her.

Eating – For everyone who is now thinking what has eating got to do with it, let me remind you that proper nutrition is just as much a part of your training as sparring, and without the proper nutrients in you, you will never get through this week. Quality protein and lots of it, at least 1.5 grams per pound of body weight in order to repair the damaged muscles via your hard training sessions, and lots of complex carbs, at least 2 grams per pound of body weight in order to provide the energy needed to train.

Whenever I perform this strength week, my schedule looks like this,

MONDAY – Cardio in the morning, shadow boxing with bag work in the evening (hands only).
TUESDAY – Weights in the morning (back, shoulders, triceps and abs), bag work in the evening (kicks only) with isometric kick holds.
WEDNESDAY – Cardio in the morning, bag work in the evening (elbows and knees only) and pickups, throws and slams using the heavy bag (video here)
THURSDAY – Weights in the evening only (chest, legs, biceps and abs), cardio straight after.
FRIDAY – Sparring in the evening only.
SATURDAY – REST
SUNDAY - REST

I don’t like to spar more than once during this week, because as the sparring is very intense there is a big risk of injury. You may want to use the same weeks plan outlined above or come up with your own

If you are performing each workout using all your strength constantly, then this week will be taxing on your body, and you will need a couple of days to recover so take them. Likewise before you start this week of training, take a couple of days off in order to prepare your body for it.

It is a hard week of training but one which will bring great benefit. I recommend only performing this type of week about three times a year, just as a change to shock the entire body in order to produce natural raw strength.


Marks

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