Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Heavy Bag, for Martial Artists

The heavy bag is one of the oldest and most useful training apparatus ever devised for the fighter. It allows one to punch with full power, which develops not only a strong punch, but also develops ones cardiovascular endurance. All in all, apart from sparring, some may think it is one of the best training exercises a martial artist can have.

In order to develop strong hard punches, one must do exactly that, punch hard! However, punching hard constantly drains a martial artist. It saps the muscles dry of there vital stamina which is needed to carry one through a workout, which is not very good if one wants to gain the full benefits of a heavy bag training session.

By using the heavy bag, one can work on their timing, distancing, body rotation with techniques and stamina. If one drains their energy through constant heavy, hard punching they will not be able to work on these vital attributes, which in some cases are more important than a powerful punch.

For this reason, the martial artist should save practising power punching for the last five minutes of their bag workout. They should use the last five minutes of the workout to hit as hard as possible, weather it be through rounds or repetitions of the same punch or combination. This is enough time needed to train for power.

The time spent on the heavy bag before the power punching phase should consist of punches performed at a hardness of about 50-70% of ones maximum power. This will allow for one to hit the bag with some force and will “move” the bag which is important in order to practise the attributes listed above plus more. Also it will not tire out the martial artist and he/she will be able to perform a solid, full workout which will also provide the cardiovascular benefits that come with it.

Amateurs quickly find out that hitting the bag with full force may be good for distressing, but for training to better oneself as a martial artist is not very wise. Use the heavy bag wisely and the benefits it can provide will quickly become apparent.

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John W. Zimmer said...

Hey Mark,

I have always loved training with the heavy bag and it is good to note just as one would not just head into the ring/cage and slug it out in the middle for the whole fight - doing that on the bag won't improve your game as much as mixing things up.

I tend to use to bag a lot to try different combinations without worrying about getting tagged before I try them out sparring.

On a lighter note I used to see a lot of guys with signs "Will work for food" and though of hiring them for one minutes hanging on a rope while I practiced a few moves. No matter what the food - I don't think I would have had any takers. :)

epicmartialarts said...

Saving yourself for the last 5 minute power section of the workout has the drawback of reducing your workout to a 'tippy, tappy' nonsense. At least that is the danger.

While other attributes can be trained on the heavy bag, it would be foolish to ignore these aspects, they should be incorporated into the power section. They may not be easily assimilated into your fighting style if not practised at full power, as the movement mechanics are significantly altered at slower speeds and lower power.

Perhaps it would be better to think of the session as technical to power continuum. Technical aspects can be worked slowly with less power. Once these have been 'mastered' they can be practised for power, and finally worked with other aspects practised to bring all the technical aspects together with power at a level you'd want to use in a fight.

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