Category Archives: conditioning

Strength Training in Martial Arts pt 2

So we all agree, strength training in martial arts has always been around in some form or another, and we also take for granted that any boxer or UFC fighter will be doing some form of strength work.

So how do you apply it to your training schedule?

You can train with or without equipment, in a gym, your dojo or your home, on your own or with a partner/group.

So you’ve opted for no equipment
Great choice, as you can do this anywhere anytime. But how do you put together an effective bodyweight only programme?

Same as any other programme!
You will want to work your pushing, pulling and leg muscles.
Push: Press ups, 1 arm press ups, hindu’s, divebombers, handstands
Pull: Pull ups, towel rows, bridge
Legs: squat, 1 leg squat, lunge, split lunge, hindu squat

If you want pure strength stick to low rep 1 arm push ups and 1 leg squats a la Pavel Tsatsouline’s The Naked Warrior, if you want massive muscular endurance and conditioning go for high rep hindu pushups and squats with holding the bridge for time.

For some great bodyweight workouts for muscular endurance and conditioning check out Craig Ballantine’s bodyweight 100, 200, 350 and 500 workouts, I believe he’ll soon be launching a BW 1000 (yes thats 1000 total repetitions).

I love to do a quick set of hindu’s most mornings when I first get up, I find they loosen me up and prepare me for the day ahead. I’d leave the strength work for later in the day.

Just remember, try to train regularly and don’t be afriad to change things around from time to time.

Strength Training in Martial Arts

Happy New Year to you all, I’ve been a bit slow off the mark getting back into the swing of things in 2008, but I’ve got one more Xmas party to attend and thats it, back into good hard training.

The subject of strength training has been debated long and hard in the martial arts world for a number of years. Many instructors simply refuse to accept that it is of any use at all.

How they justify this is usually weak cop outs like:

“It slows you down”
“Strength doesn’t matter if you have good technique”
“Your time is better spent practicing punches/kicks/etc…”

And many more, but you get the idea.

In my experience, many students come to me wanting not only to learn a martial art/self defence but also to get fit.

Many senior students I see are unable to perform optimally because of a lack of strength and conditioning.

How do we fix this?


Look back into old style training methods and you’ll see Japanese Karate-ka performing a high tension kata called Sanchin (also see seishan), have a look at Tai Chi masters training with huge heavy weapons and see the Shaolin Kung Fu stome lock training.

These are all forms of strength training.

Sanchin, and similar forms/kata, are methods of High Tension training. Since tension = strength, the practioner is actually learning to recruit more muscle fibers into each movement. Much the same as a power lifter. This type of training is often refered to as Dynamic Tension and is a variation on Isometric Training.

An Isometric contraction is basically a muscle trying to contract but being prevented from doing so.
Question: Whats the heaviest weight you can lift?
Answer: One you can’t

Try this, place your hands together in a prayer possition, palms pressed together infront of your chest. Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale push your hands together as ahrd as you can for about 7 seconds or a 10 count.
While your arms don’t move, you’ll feel massive tension through the chest. Next time you try it, your muscles will respond with even greater tension, in other words you get stronger.

I will write more on isometrics at a later date but for the moment may I refer you to an associate of mine at

The Tai Chi master that is training with a sword thats bigger than he is performing slow, graceful movements is also strength training. Although he’ll never admit it.
A muscle held under tension for an extended time, will adapt and get stronger. That means when a smaller, lighter weapon is used, you’d better look out, he will be lightning fast and massively powerful.

And finally the Stone Lock. There is a Russian equivalent called the Kettlebell, I’ve spoken of these before, and will again in future articles. Put Stone Lock training into YouTube and you’ll see footage of chinese ma’ers lifting and throwing these mad looking objects around. Then look here and you’ll see many of the same excersises performed with kettlebells.

Why do I not mention the standard type of training you see in most gyms today? Why do I not advocate doing 10 sets of bicep curls on monday, 10 sets of leg extensions on tuesday………etc???

A bodybuilding type split is of next to no use to you unless your goal is to get big and slow. Plus the time you need to spend training will leave you exhausted for your Martial Arts training. My training partner did just this. He needed to put on size, so quit martial arts for 6 months and dedicated himself to a bodybuilding programme.

While this worked for him at the time, he realises that it is counter productive to spend 6 months of the year not practicing his Martial Arts. Now he uses much more effecient methods, and while he isn’t putting on size, he is stronger than ever, and when he hits the bags, they stay hit!

What all the above methods do is work the whole body as a unit, there are no isolations for the rear delts or the long head of the triceps. The whole body including the deeper supporting and core muscles, is worked quickly and efficiently, often a complete workpout will last around 30 minutes and will leave you stronger and more energised for the rest of the day.

I will post more on my favorite strength training methods over the next few weeks. I’m also building more pages dedicated to this subject for the website.

Keep an eye open for updates. You can also come to train with us, click here to find out how.

Till next time

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Wild Geese Kettlebells

At the risk of sounding like I’m jumping on the Kettlebell bandwagon, I think they are great pieces of kit.

If you don’t know anything about them, here’s a the brief:

Shape: A cannonball with a thick handle

Weight: You choose, they go up in 4kg increments, however the 16, 24 & 32kg are the most popular.

What do you do: Train!!

Now while their detractors will tell you that there’s very little you can do with a KB that you can’t do with a Dumbbell, I’ll agree with them, but they’ll never tell you that the reverse is also true.
It’s the shape and grip of the Kettlebell is what makes it hard, and the ballistic exercises, that can be done with dumbbells, were originally done with KB’s or Stone Locks (for all you Chinese Martial Artists).
Plus, they are so much more fun, I look at my KB’s and I just want to lift them!!

There is nothing magic about them, as some would have you believe, but I find that when I train using KB’s, I always work hard, they just don’e seem to allow you to go easy, this maybe the magic.

The Basics:
Swings, High Pulls and Snatches.
These will work your lower body, glutes and back and increase grip while at the same time frying your Cardio, in double quick time. Use a heavy enough KB and you’ll be crying for your mummy (at least I was, and probably will be on wed when I’m swinging again!)

Clean&Press, Military Press, Floor Press
The first load of exercises are your pulling moves, these are your push. The Clean & Press is the daddy, get a heavy KB, pull it from the floor to your shoulder then press to lockout, then call me to tell me a muscle that wasn’t invloved…

Add into the mix your Turkish Get Ups and Windmill for the “core” and you have a strength and conditioning routine that you can do in a corridor!!
All with a single Kettle bell.

Since my time schedule went nuts, I can’t spend an hour a day doing a weights split down the gym, so when I was looking for quick and effective home workout Kettlebells just turned up, and I’ve never looked back.

My shoulders are more mobile and stronger, my waist tighter and my legs durable and powerfull, in only 3-4 sessions per week, at home, the longest session is never over an hour.

Try them for yourself, here are some resources:

Or give us a call

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own

Quick Introduction

Wild Geese Martial Arts are are the Irish Reps for Rapid Arnis, Guba Doce Pares and Doce Pares “Original” Eskrima. Although we love all FMA, and martial arts of every style. We’re not into politics and ego’s just training, teaching and promoting martial arts, fitness and health.

The Wild Geese are Paul Cox, 3rd dan Ed Parker’s Kenpo, 2nd Dan Shaloin Kempo, 1st Dan Doce Pares. And myself, Dave Hedges, 2nd Dan Ed Parker’s Kenpo, 1st Dan Wado Ryu Karate-Jutsu.

Our official site is

In the near future (as when we get time) we will be putting together an Irish Council of Kali, Eskrima, Arnis Instructors. This will be based on the British council (, which in turn is based on the Philippine Council of Kali Eskrima Arnis Masters.

The idea of the council is to be a non profit, non political council, made up of genuine FMA instructors, with the goal of promoting FMA in all it’s forms and ensuring that the public is aware as to who are the real instructors.

If you have comments/suggestions/questions put em down here.

Wild Geese Martial Arts
any cause but our own