Training vs. Exercise

“If I had to choose between technique and conditioning, I’d probably choose conditioning.” – Guro Dan Inosanto

As we get into 2014, the gyms are full, people are watching their diets and students are back into training.  I started martial arts before I ever really got serious about exercise, and even when I did exercise it was to help my martial arts skill.

A few years ago I lost a significant amount of weight with a combination of calorie counting and running.  I ran probably between 25-35 miles a week at my peak.  I biked to work.  I cut out carbs.  I felt and looked great.  But I realized that I was conditioning probably twice the amount of time (if not more) per week than I was training my martial arts skill.  And that is when I made a conscious effort to insert training into my daily regimen.

Although I was getting pretty comfortable at running and putting in some decent time weight training at the gym, I was essentially training to run and lift.  I was not training (to the extent that I wanted) to be a better FMA practitioner.  Now don’t get me wrong, the conditioning, the exercise is crucial.  Because of my conditioning I have been able to keep up with or sustain training sessions even when my actual skill was not superior.  But it wasn’t until I started incorporating footwork drills, that I really advanced my mobility when I sparred.

“The wolf hunts on it’s feet.” – Chris Bengson

Mark Rippetoe has an interesting critique of Crossfit here, wherein he comments that training programs such as Crossfit are excellent conditioning activities, however they don’t train a specific skill but rather train individuals to be good at exercising.  Training, by his definition (which I do very much agree with) has goals and measurable outcomes.  So while the trend in martial arts conditioning is moving huge tires, sledgehammering and complex motor movements, there is nothing like the actual act of doing something that makes you better at it.  The best way to get better at runnning for instance, is to run.  And while box jumps and burpees are great for your heart, they won’t necessarily make you a better runner.  I really appreciate the combination that certain schools have that combine hard conditioning with regular sparring on top of their technical curriculum.  Kick Connection does a great job of this for their competitive eskrimadors.

Be conscious about your training, be intentional and be balanced.

Footwork Workout/Warmup (20 min total)

4 min Forward Triangles (2 min Right then 2 min Left, 1 minute rest)

4 min Reverse Triangles (both sides, same as above)

4 min Diamonds (both sides, same as above)

4 min Hourglass (both sides, same as above)

Once you’re comfortable with that, add in your bob & weaves, hand strikes and covers, sikaran and single or double stick.

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