Last month I talked about progressive overload and self protection, so this month I want to take a look at attribute development and how we utilize cross training to become better combat athletes, fighters or fitness enthusiasts. To be clear about what I mean by attributes, let’s take a look at some that should be on our list: Timing, balance, body mechanics, the different types of speed (initiation speed, reaction speed etc.), power, co-ordination, footwork, agility, stamina, line familiarisation and being stronger, to name but a few. There are hundreds of drills, techniques and training devices that I can utilise to develop all kinds of attributes and it is here that I introduce you to what my instructor, Mr Michael Wright calls the 90/10 principle. This is the theory that 90% of your training should be focussed on self perfection and 10% should be self protection. So if my 90% is the consistent development of abilities and attributes, why wouldn’t I want to use everything at my disposal to maximise my potential?
Now there are those in the martial arts community that believe to be a good martial artist you should just do martial arts. This in a way is true, but it does however depend on what you want from your training. Remember, being a good fighter and being a good martial artist can sometimes be two separate things. Sifu Paul Vunak stated that if two people walk into a room to fight, the one with the better attributes is going to walk out. This leads onto the age old principle, that when technique is equal, strength becomes a factor. Now, I’m not talking about suddenly running into the gym and taking up body building, as this in no way replicates what we do as fighters. Combative techniques are not isolation moves, so why would I train isolation moves (e.g. biceps preacher curl) for fight training?
If we take a look at one of the best conditioned athletes in the world today, the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, there isn’t a single one who doesn’t incorporate some form of strength and conditioning into his training program. The majority utilize kettlebells, clubbells, Olympic lifts, strongman training, bodyweight conditioning, circuit training and fight drills (e.g. sprawl and punch combos) to supplement their fight training. These types of training are more conducive to martial arts as the majority of the movements are compound and quite often multi planar, while some involve rotational movement. Thus, strengthening the body and joints in a way that mimics the physical stresses involved in combat. This in turn improves their overall game, by giving them better physical attributes such as strength, power and flexibility.
As a JKD fighter, the same cross over improvements can be developed in my reaction time, co-ordination and tactile response using Filipino knife drills, or sensitivity drills from Kali (Hubud) and Wing Chun (Chi Sau). I also include other aspects of training as well, such as Carrenza (a form of shadow boxing, using weapons and/or empty hand ) from the Filipino martial art Kali. In Carrenza, I use a heavy stick to develop not only power on my attack angles, but also to improve body mechanics, grip strength and technique. This then translates into an improvement in my punching skills.
I can also get similar training effects from a non martial arts platform. Horizontal and angular, fore and backhand strikes? Tennis anyone? How about Squash or badminton? This is where cross training comes into everyday peoples lives. You don’t have to stick fight and cage fight to take the concepts of cross training and attribute development into your everyday training. Go out and explore what has potential attribute development for you. Arnold Schwarzenegger did ballet training to develop his poses for Mr Olympia. Rugby players use wrestling drills. Bruce Lee was training and researching in about 28 different martial arts, isometrics, kettlebells, weight training and callisthenics before his unfortunate passing. He really opened the door for cross training way back in the 60’s and we should all take advantage of this concept if we want to maximise our potential as not just fighters/martial artists, but as functional human beings as well.
Take care and train hard.
Steve Gaulton AMC North Chief Instructor
Stephen has been training in the martial arts for over 16 years. The arts he has predominantly studied are Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Boxing and Praying Mantis Kung Fu, He has travelled all over the UK for his martial arts and trained with some of the best instructors in the world.
Stephen started the first AMC North class in October 2007 and has since progressed on to opening more classes in the Yorkshire area. Stephen also teaches private lessons in Adaptive Martial Concepts / Jeet Kune Do, Combat Athletics, Self Protection and Kettlebell strength and conditioning.
Stephen spent three years as a full time door supervisor/head doorman, so is familiar with conflict management and dealing with aggressive situations and likes to bring this knowledge to the AMC and Self Protection classes for the benefit of his students.
Stephen is currently a full time instructor and personal trainer and is training regularly in AMC/JKD and Muay Thai.
For further information on 1-2-1 session or daily classes go to Adaptive Martial Concept NORTH
Read previous article Attack is the best form of defence.