“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Teaching Tips: Incorporate Strength Training

Tonight, I received a call from a good friend of mine who lives in Florida, as I was leaving my school. He and I caught up on old news, and as always, Doug asked me what we did in class. Anyone who knows me, knows that my memory is horrible, so the best time for me to recall what we did in class is to ask me right after class… because I’ll forget!

And as always, he got excited about what my class did. For my students, it’s nothing unusual, as they are used to it. But Doug’s reaction made me realize that we actually do things that different, so I thought I would share this small, but helpful tip with you.

In my school we have dumbells and two pull-up/dip stations. When I studied with my Grandfather, we often practiced while holding bricks, practiced Eskrima with ax handles, and did push-ups and climbed a rope in my backyard (no feet, of course). With my Kung Fu teacher, Sifu Dean Chin and Sifu Raymond Wong–my closest Si Hing–we used the brass rings. With Boggs Lao, we used rubber inner tubes and did pull-ups and dips. Because of those who taught me, strength was always something I emphasized with my students, and the result was a much stronger fighter, compared to his counterparts from other schools.

Tonight, we really only practiced one thing–the round kick to the mid section (between the thigh and the rib cage… the soft area to the pelvis), but in three different combinations–for 50 minutes, and then we spent the last ten minutes of class alternating between push-ups, dips, pull-ups, and one-arm dumbell snatches. The students had their choice of a 25 lb weight or a 40 lb weight. Before you go snickering, keep in mind that in this class I had two middle aged students and two 20 year old guys (one Filipino and one Chinese) who weigh less than 130 lbs–plus, we did it at the end of class for 10 minutes.

That’s it. No, seriously… that’s it! One technique for 50 minutes and 10 minutes of strength training. It doesn’t sound like much, but they got plenty of practice attacking basically one target with one weapon and we closed it out getting “swolled up”, as my teenagers would say. Not exactly what many would expect out of an FMA class, but if you wanted to develop the ability to crush your opponent, workouts like this will give you that skill. Of course, my home boy Doug, who trained in Korean style dojos most of his life, doesn’t get to see workouts like this very much so he was in awe. There’s not a lot to this philosophy:  spend enough time developing your weapons, and then train to make sure you have physical ability over your opponent. It’s simple, but for some reason, simple is not complex enough for most FMA teachers.  This method will get your students on the quick path to power, speed and ferocity. Plus, their progess is, in this way, measurable.  These guys pay me to teach them how to fight and to train them so that their ability intersects with their knowledge; a place many martial artists have never visited. Try it yourself, I guarantee that you will realize the benefits in one workout.

And if you liked this tiny little bit of advice, you’ll love my book, Mustafa Gatdula’s How to Build a Dominant Fighter in 12 Months. You can order it from the “Offerings” page. Get your copy now!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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2 Responses to “Teaching Tips: Incorporate Strength Training”

  1. I like the mindset that is revealed in this training. It tells me you’re not about click-clacking sticks aerial backfists, but about crushing somebody.

    “There’s not a lot to this philosophy: spend enough time developing your weapons, and then train to make sure you have physical ability over your opponent. It’s simple, but for some reason, simple is not complex enough for most FMA teachers.” Great stuff.


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