Old School Training Lessons

Sometimes, technology is wrong.

Sometimes, the old way really IS the best way to do things.

I know that in the martial arts, we love innovation and new ideas, but sometimes the truth isn’t fancy, scientific things. The truth is often the way things have been done. Look around you, and you will see that many changes have terrible downfalls. Don’t believe  me? Ask Ford about how much money they lost when they screwed up the Taurus for the ugly “500”, or when Coca Cola messed up the new formula. Or ask any Karateka about the new “XMA” garbage. Yeah, I know that over time martial arts often become more efficient and take on better strategies. However, can you name a modern-day Mas Oyama? Or a fighter who dominates the way Wong Fei Hung use to?

Today’s training methods supposedly preserve one’s body much better than many of yesterday’s antiquated techniques. On the other hand, much of what was lost in the pursuit of a “better” way has put today’s martial arts student several steps backwards.  For example, take the resistance training that fighters use today, like weight lifting. While it leads to nicer-looking bodies and bigger muscles, weight lifting does not enhance power in fighting as much as a good, solid bodyweight training program.

And they’re a lot simpler too. Look at NFL star Herschel Walker (left). This guy was a powerhouse on the field, and never lifted weights until he went to the pros. He outperformed his peers in a huge way, despite that his personal workout  included not much more than running, 1,000 pushups, 1,000 sit ups, 1,000 squats, and 1,000 pull ups a day. Most of us couldn’t do a workout routine like this in a week! As basic as it sounds, imagine how much strength you’d have, how much power you’d put behind every technique if you were capable of completing this routine.

There is a community of athletes who are returning to basics when it comes to their training, and I’d like to encourage you to at least look into it. We can talk about bag work and sparring drills till we’re blue in the face, but the kind of fitness required to accomplish this level of strength would do wonders for your martial arts skill.

And this isn’t to say that I possess this level of conditioning. However, I recognize the potential in this philosophy and have been thinking about it for years. Since tomorrow is the New Year, I might as well start with the Man in the Mirror (RIP, MJ!)

Anyone want to do it with me?

So here is what I’m proposing to make it easier on all of us:

  • We will workout four days a week. Saturday and Sunday, then you will pick two more days during the week. The workout will be no more than 20 minutes or so… for now. I don’t know how long it will take, but since it will consist of only five exercises–I will have 7–I don’t think it will take very long. As short as it is, we should not have any excuses not to finish it.
  • Here are the exercises:  Pushups, Reverse Pushups (since I know that many people may not have access to a bar for chin-ups or dips), Squats, Jumping Jacks, and Sit-ups. That’s for the weenies. For the soldiers, we will add Pull-ups and Dips (instead of Reverse Pushups) and Calf Raises.
  • Pick numbers. You may be able to perform 100 jumping jacks and push-ups, but only 3 pull-ups (I know… but it’s just an example!)  Whatever number you select for each exercise must be a killer for you to complete. But not so much that you can’t move the next day. You may have to play around with the work out for several sessions to settle on good numbers. The goal is to come up with numbers that are tasking, but realistic, and we will build on that. Let’s make it per session, rather that just in one sitting. That means that although you may only be able to perform 25 pushups at a time, you can do it 4 times during the workout for a total of 100 that day. So, can we agree that the magic number is 100? Or 50? You choose the number and we’ll build from there…
  • We will increase these numbers 10% every month. At 4 sessions a week, we will have at least 16 sessions in a 30-day period. My (untested) idea is that in a year, we should have increased our ability at least 100%.
  • Any day we miss will be made up the next day, but at the end of the week, we must have completed 4. We will not procrastinate by putting off workouts from one week to the next.
  • Get a journal (or blog), and start working! Or, if you’d like, please PLEASE comment here on your progress, and I will sticky this post to keep it easy to find. Let’s see what happens in a year!

In the meantime, I’d like you take a look at Matt Furey’s ideas. No, I am not being paid to say this, nor am I trying to advertise his tapes (books, or whatever he’s selling; I don’t even own any of his stuff). But I have a friend in DC who is a BULL of a guy and he swears by Matt Furey. He has not lifted weights in almost 15 years, and can knock out a horse with his punch. For those who are unfamiliar with him, Matt Furey is a Shuai Chiao expert who writes columns for Inside Kung Fu magazine and advertises this type of workout every month. I think it’s worth your consideration. Maybe I will invest in his book or whatever he’s selling and tell you guys about it here one day.

But in the meantime, who’s with me???

Thanks for visiting my blog!