If you’re just starting out in Martial Arts, you may not be sure how to start. Whether you’re without a trainer or you feel like you’re just going through the motions in your class without seeing results, it’s a lousy feeling, being lost, exhausted, and clueless. We’ve all been there. But you don’t have to stay there; with a little bit of forethought and a good solid plan, you can get the results you need to either start doing MA, or come back to your class with a new lease on it.
Essentially, there are seven important elements to good martial arts conditioning, whatever the style. These seven are:
- Your ability to “act”, or attack.
- Your ability to “react”, or respond to attacks.
- How well you can use your range of motion.
- How long you can keep up your strength.
- Your technical ability. How well you can execute combinations and ground work.
- Your ability to keep yourself standing, whatever the condition.
- Explosive Power. The strength of your attacks or bursts.
A good martial artist will perfect a majority of these. A GREAT martial artist will have all of them.
So, the smart thing to do is work all of them at once, right?
That idea, right there, is the reason you’re too gassed to get out of bed in the morning, and you never feel like you’re improving at all.
One of the most important things you can do when starting out in martial arts, and by far the most overlooked, is to sit down and take stock of what you have, and what you hope to gain. By “take stock of what you have”, I mean the muscles that you already use in other sports or day-to-day activities; if you’re a boxer, you’re going to want to train a little differently than a kung-fu fighter. Without an Martial Arts specific teacher, your best bet is to start with the skills you’re already using. And any kind of physical activity can be a good starting point; simply sit down and think about the most physical thing you do on a regular basis, think about what it entails from this list, then work forward from that. Not only does this mean you know where you’re starting from, but it whets your appetite for the sport; if you know you’re not starting from square one (and you’re not), you feel more in control of your training schedule.
The second part, identifying what you hope to gain, can either come from what you have, or something you’d like to have. However, it’s important that you keep your goals focused. There’s an old Native American saying that, “If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” As Eric Wong talks about in his free Ebook, “Never Gas”, you can really sabotage yourself trying to improve on everything all at once. Training like a bodybuilder MAY give you the strength for Martial Arts (provided you have NO OTHER PHYSICAL TASKS to do), but you’ll never have the energy to develop good technique.
Whatever you choose to improve on will help you in MA especially in MMA. The fact that it is “Mixed” martial arts means that you can usually work to your own strengths to win matches, especially at the lower level. If you have great explosive power but no endurance, you can still craft a style to that.
Anyway, if you’re looking for actual exercises, I’ve got a few places where you can start. Remember to stretch all the relevant muscle groups before each of these exercises, regardless of what you do. For more information, check out Eric Wong’s free Ebook “Never Gas.” Available at this link.
Jumping Rope (coordination).
Speed bag (hand speed and coordination). If you don’t have a speed bag, punching a basketball or tennis ball against a wall as often as you can will work as a substitute.
Ladder Steps (agility, also improves footwork and coordination).
A whole host of Balance Exercises here (very good for martial artists that use kicks).
Stability ball drills (more advanced exercise for balance), very good for BJJ.
Plyometric Exercises: ( Great for explosive power).
Running, swimming: (Endurance, there’s just no better way).
Do you have a workout that works…out for you? Post here and tell us about it.