Training for Combatives Should be Simple, not Easy!
I have been training in Martial Arts for over a decade and I’ve been lucky enough to train with some extremely talented and knowledgeable individuals. We all agree, training and conditioning does not need to be and shouldn’t be complicated, ever! Truth be told, training to improve movements and all the factors that encompass those movements should be extremely simple, no matter what type of training you’re doing. There is no need to complicate things with expensive machines, or complicated training programs and protocols. Keep in mind more does not = better, better = better! Improvements can always be made, doing more of the wrong thing leads to more problems down the line and far less improvements.
Fundamentals = Key to Success
Fundamentals are the foundation on which movements are built. Without a strong foundation, the movements will fail. Being fundamentally sound greatly increases the quality of the movements in all areas. I have seen too many people attempt to “go big/heavy” without the ability to perform basic movements correctly. If we can’t perform a motion or exercises without weight properly, loading it with weight is only going to make it worse.
DO NOT LOAD DYSFUNCTION!
Loading a dysfunctional movement will only amplify the problem.
In martial arts competition if you don’t have the basics down, you’re in for some rough days. Take the time to perfect the basics! Loading a poor movement takes you away from efficiency and effectiveness. It should be very clear that all of the best athletes in the world perform the basics of their craft almost to perfection. Practice might not make perfect, but it definitely will get you closer.
Tools for Martial Arts Conditioning
There are a wide variety of things to do to improve your movements and increase your performance levels. The only machine you should ever have to use is your body! Here is a list of things that have helped me and many others improve….
Bodyweight training has been used since the beginning of time and is easily one of the most effective training methods. If a person can’t control his or her own bodyweight, then there is no foundation to build upon. Start with the basics! Push ups, pull ups, squats, sit ups, etc, are all extremely beneficial. Any martial artist should be able to perform the basics.
I’m not being biased because I’m a kettlebell instructor (RKC), kettlebells are tailor made for any type of combative art. When the exercises are performed properly they work your body from head-to-toe. Kettlebells increase power, speed, strength, endurance, range of motion, and grip strength. In my opinion, kettlebells are the most effective form of weight lifting available, the results you get from training with kettlebells are life changing!
The sand in the bag shifts, making lifts and movements harder to control. Sandbags can be used very similarly to kettlebells and offer many of the same benefits. Sandbags can vary in size and weight, it is important to have a durable bag, otherwise you’ll be very busy cleaning up.
Grip training, in my opinion, is one of the most under utilized forms of strength training in martial arts. A strong grip goes a long way, especially when it comes to grappling. Being able to grab and hold on to a limb or gi is extremely beneficial. Also, strong hands + strong wrist = painful punch (imagine getting hit with a brick).
Band training is great for martial arts training for a variety of reasons: They’re light, portable, and come in different sizes/resistance levels. Bands help add resistance to punches, kicks, pulls, presses & throwing movements. I’ve used resistance bands for years, and have personally seen the benefits of band training. When used properly they can increase endurance under resistance and build explosive power for striking and grappling.
Medicine balls have been used in fight training for a very long time. Strikers use them for explosiveness, grapplers use them for balance, and everyone uses them for conditioning and core work.