The Empire State Building is one of the tallest and most historic buildings in the United States. For decades it has towered high above the New York skyline and stood as a testament to the innovative spirit of our culture, but this American “giant” could not have stood the test of time if it weren’t for one thing, a secure and solid foundation. Before you can build something that will last you must first lay a strong foundation to build upon.
This rings true to many things in life, especially in the Martial Arts. Most often when people think of “laying the foundation” in any Martial Art, they immediately think of basic stance, footwork, techniques, etc, but there is one huge building block that many forget about. In fact this “building block” should actually be the corner stone that supports the rest of the building. This building block is Conditioning. Conditioning refers to the fitness of the body, but more importantly the bodies ability to adapt and perform particular strenuous activities with relative ease over time with the proper sport specific training. Having and, more importantly, maintaining a proper level of fitness and conditioning is imperative to excelling in any martial art or combat sport. You must have the strength to throw punches, or the gas in the gas tank to throw kicks when you see an opening. It is even important in basic self defense. A person who is in shape and conditioned, will be much less of a target to an attacker. If attacked, they will have the speed to run away to safety, or worse case scenario their body will be stronger so they can survive the attack. Improving your fitness and conditioning is the first step to anyone’s journey in the martial arts.
There are many ways to improve your fitness and conditioning but one of the best ways to really improve your actual “fighting” conditioning is through “fighting” drills. The first drill is fast/hard drills. You can do this drill with a partner holding focus mitts/thai pads or by yourself on a punching bag. Start in a fighting stance in front of the bag or your partner holding the mitts, and throw continuous jab/crosses for 30 second intervals. The first 30 seconds throw the jab/crosses fast with little to no power working speed, then the next 30 seconds throw the jab/crosses slower and harder really working on your power. Repeat these 30 second intervals back and forth for an entire 3 minute round. You can also do this same drill with kicks, throwing fast round kicks for 30 seconds working speed followed by slamming 30 seconds of slower, harder kicks for power, then repeat. Another really good “fighting” drill to work your “fighting” conditioning is mixing exercises such as jump squats or push ups in with your bag work or pad work. Stand in a fighting stance in front of the bag or partner holding pads, then throw a hard Jab/Cross/Round Kick then drop down and pump out 10-20 push ups as fast as you can, then immediately jump to the feet and throw another hard combo, and follow it with 10-15 jump squats, then back to throwing a combo on the bag. Repeat this for an entire 3 minute round. The last conditioning drill is a popular drill all Muay Thai fighters use to build the stamina needed for a hard 5 round fight, Skipping Knees (Running man knees) on the bag. Stand in front of the bag, grabbing it with both hands at head level, and drive your knee straight into the bag, then skip and drive your other knee hard into the bag. Continue skipping and alternating your knees into the bag for the entire round. This drill is often called “Running man” knees because it resembles the “Running Man” dance.
Here is a sample workout you can use to really help jump start your conditioning routine. The work out consist of 5 rounds of anywhere from 1-3 minutes, depending on your current fitness level, incorporating some of the drills we’ve talked about. Beginners should do this work out in rounds of 1 minute, those with decent fitness should do the work out in rounds of 2-3 minutes.
Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any kind of conditioning program.
Round 1: Fast/Hard Punches
-30 seconds fast punches/followed by 30 seconds slower harder punches
-repeat for 3 minutes (1min for beginners)
Round 2: Fast/Hard Kicks
-30 seconds fast round kicks/followed by 30 seconds hard power round kicks
-repeat for 3 minutes (1 min for beginners)
Round 3: Jab/Cross/Kick/Jump Squats
-Throw Jab/Cross/Kick on the bag, perform 15 jump squats
– Repeat Combo and jump squats for entire 3 minute round (1 min for beginners)
Round 4: 10 Punches/10 Pushups
-Throw 10 hard fast alternating left/right punches on the bag, followed by 10 push ups
-repeat for entire 3 min round (1 min for beginners)
Round 5: Running Man Knees
-Throw alternating left/right continuous knees into the bag for the entire 3 min round (1 min for beginners)