Should We Condition Ourselves To Take A Hit?

Recently I read a post on Tim Larkin’s blog entitled, Conditioning to Take a Hit, and it gave me some things to think about.  Ironically, contributing author Freddie Lee was just finishing a YouTube video on fitness/conditioning/sparring with his FMK Todai.  I would suggest everyone read the original article first, followed by myself and Freddie’s input on the subject.  The world is full of varying opinions, but before you engage in any conditioning program, we at the Combative Corner hope that you are doing it for the right reasons and in the appropriate manner.

Coach Michael Joyce

There are two sides to conditioning; the obvious physical side, but also the understated psychological one.  Naturally, as we grow, the more we experience the more acquainted we become with pain.  Many of us martial art fanatics have images of Shaolin monks hardening their bodies to resist virtually anything; including direct strikes to the throat or groin.  Obviously from a health and injury prevention standpoint, this sort of training is ill-advised.  This is just my personal opinion.

As citizens of this modern world, it is not necessary to condition ourselves as a sports combative athlete would.  However, if you’re a person who has experienced very little in the realm of pain, it might be a good idea to “harden” your body-mind to withstand (at the very least) a moderate amount of striking (like what is pictured above).  The body can be “trained” to withstand a great deal, but it is the mind that must be “hardened” as well.  This conditioning can (in my opinion) best be trained through proper training drills, whereby the mind is not focused on quantity or of boring repetition, but of situation-like “give-and-take” between you and your partner.  Proper state-of-mind in self-defense helps in the production of courage.  Courage, along with the grit of “I can give as good (or better) as I get” will help to produce the positive results you wish to see in the fight.  Physical conditioning (as in “proper fitness & health”) should serve as your basis.  It should go without saying that the fitter you are, the more capable your body is to performing well under the extreme demands of a fight.  However, it should be understood and understood firmly that “Conditioning” involves a holistic approach and should be a skill-set that is slowly built upon.

Comment below if you have any questions or need any clarification

Sifu Freddie Lee

The main form of conditioning should be in overall fitness training, that is the healthiest. As far as conditioning in taking hits, forearm development through repetitive contact during normal training is required for men & women. The arms will be blocked & parried in self-defense situations & a Martial Artist must be able to withstand this natural contact. Fact is, men & women will need to harden their forearms to take damage so that their center line or vital areas of their bodies do not take the damage instead. Shoes will protect the feet so men & women don’t have to worry about developing shin strength like some competition fighters, this is optional, but I do not see it as too healthy if done with too much force as you are breaking down the bone & I wonder about the long term effects. Forearm hardening development I see as healthy as you are simply hardening the muscles, & the women I have trained have shown that they are more than capable of withstanding a decent amount of force while developing this part of the body.

As far as the center line is concerned, purposefully striking the vital areas of the body such as the face, throat, neck, sternum, groin area, etc. is not healthy & not advised even for the experienced Martial Artist. The abs can take hits in a healthy way as long as it is done progressively & periodically. Ab hardening in the form of somebody delivering slight force to the abs with a palm strike or exercise ball can serve to help the practitioner develop proper breathing methods to withstand real strikes. Proper breathing techniques will prevent the individual from getting their wind knocked out of them. So I would say, for serious Martial Artists, ab hardening is necessary, but it has to be done in a safe way. Never at full force, progressively from soft to hard, & to be done periodically. Once the proper breathing is developed, then simple ab exercises are more than sufficient & that type of contact training is no longer as necessary.

If men or women cannot withstand a decent amount of force to their forearms & abs, they cannot realistically expect to survive deadly confrontations of self-defense. Replace those forearms & abs with the vital areas of the body, & you will see there is no way they will be able to withstand these serious attacks. Of course we do not want to break noses, give black eyes, have broken teeth, broken ribs, broken knee caps, & things like that, that is obviously unhealthy training. But it shall be expected, your forearms & abs should be developed. The palms need to be developed in order to deliver an attack that will be sufficient to stop an attacker. Fist development can be optional as they can always use the palms. Fist development can be unhealthy if done improperly. Elbows & knees are naturally very strong, so not much concentration needs to be focused there aside from proper technique.

Comment below if you have any questions or need any clarification

Article by: Michael Joyce & Freddie Lee

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One Response to “Should We Condition Ourselves To Take A Hit?”

  1. bruce b smith sr Says:

    Great articles as always.i believe sparring that is controled is the best way to that conditioning in the practice of m a. Also that starting early with kids fosters moderation and tolerence in there learning.

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