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Functional Strength for Combat

By Kevin O'Hagan

With the martial Arts world turning more and more towards realistic fighting sports, competition, sparring and pressure testing, there has never been more need to be in good physical condition. In whichever arena I have competed I have never lost a fight due to lack of fitness. If you get beaten by a better fighter then there is not much you can do but go away and train to become technically better, but losing as a result of poor conditioning is your own fault and you cannot have any excuses.

I have always been a great believer in being a fit Martial Artist and those of you who have followed my articles or books will know my thoughts on this subject. If you have viewed my Impact Ju Jutsu Videos Vols. 1, 2 and 3, you will have seen a lot of interesting and diverse fitness drills.

Sometimes though, everybody gets stale in his or her training and the body seems to adapt to a certain workout and you don't seem to be progressing.

As a professional instructor I train six days out of seven, as well as teaching and, as I rapidly approach the big four-0, it can get tough to get motivated in your own personal exercise regime. Even after being involved in Martial Arts training for 25 years plus!

So you need to discover new routines and exercises to stimulate mind and body together to push to new levels.

I am a great believer in functional combat exercises. This means exercises that are specific to your chosen art/sport/fighting system. Being able to run a marathon or bench press 300 lbs are truly admirable feats but they will not necessarily help you in your Martial Arts training. For example if you lift weights to supplement and enhance your martial Arts skills you should be looking to develop functional muscle strength, which will simulate the activity you are doing.

In this article I am going to briefly touch on a method of weight training that I first read about in an old book about the wrestlers of yesteryear. Being intrigued by their methods I decided to explore them myself and experiment.

The exercises involve lifting a barbell plate and moving it around the body in different ways. Most of these simulate movements used in grappling and can certainly be adapted to the striking arts as well.

Lifting the unusual shape of the plate, rather than a bar, places more stress on your grip and forearm muscles. It can also give you more scope for movement.

Secondly the movements work many muscle groups together rather than just isolating one or two as in a body building routine.

Lastly it develops the functional strength that you will feel when grappling. Plus it will push your cardiovascular system to the limit, if done correctly. When you start, select a plate which you will be able to push in three sets of 12 repetitions at a time. The 12 repetition range gives you equal work on strength, power, endurance and cardio. It will not bulk you up so you feel too stiff or slow your movement, particularly on the floor. The first exercise is a clean and press. This explosive action of taking the plate from floor to chest to pushing above the head, is a great overall strength builder. It works legs, back and shoulders. Done in good form with a steady pace and minimum rest between sets it will shock the muscles and will also get the heart and lungs pumping.

The second exercise is deep leg squats. Clutch the plate to your chest with a four finger grip and then bend the knees deeply and push back up, keeping your back as straight as possible. Not only do the legs get a blasting, your grip will be put under severe strain trying to hold the plate tightly. This exercise simulates clinching and lifting a body perfect.

Next we go to the floor and rest the plate on your chest. From there, push up into a shoulder bridge position and hold it. Now press the plate directly upwards until the arms are straight and pump out 12 reps. Take a short rest and go again for two more sets.

The holding of the bridge works many muscle groups under a static dynamic tension exercise, the pressing of the plate helps work the correct muscles for pushing an opponent off the mounted position.

Still staying on the floor you then roll up into a reverse neck bridge. This exercise is an advanced movement for those who already have good neck strength, do not attempt this otherwise.

From bridging on your head with the plate, press it upwards towards the ceiling for your number of reps/sets. This is a massive neck exercise guaranteed to build great neck strength to help withstand the rigours of neck cranks, strangles and general wear and tear of grappling.

These four exercises are great ones to start with, the complete routine is outlined on 'my new video release', 'Impact Ju Jutsu' Vol.3. 'Hardcore training for a winning edge'.

Along with the plate drills, is an advanced 'abdominal blast' workout. Advanced standing to floor training, grappling, self-defence and much more.

For those who have viewed the Impact series 1 and 2, this 3rd volume will take your training to a guaranteed higher level.

If you use the plate routine regularly it will increase strength and stamina within a six week period, if you drill it strict and true. You will notice the difference in your grappling skills and overall fitness.

Have a good workout and train safely and smart.

If you are interested in Impact Ju Jutsu Vol. 3 click below...

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