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Chiropteran_vir

Muscularity and martial arts

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbI_04n3lLU#t=0

 

Ideally, this is my goal to be big like and strong like him, and still be great at martial arts, but all my martial arts friends always tell me this impossible. I know its not though, because i see guys like him and guys like van damme who are buff and still great at martial arts. I think "buff" has some kind of stigma in the martial arts community. And i want to dispel this, but i dont know how, and since my community thinks im dumb and this is impossible, this is where i need you guys expertise. Can anybody help ? I also have some ideas and thoughts but i dont know if they'd work.

 
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Well, strength training for size (hypertrophy, which is what I'm guessing you mean by big) and explosive power are two different things.  They may have a point.  You can train for both but unless you're putting in substantially more time than the person training just for explosiveness, I'd guess they'd have the edge. Plus packing on a lot of muscle is hard work.  I'd guess a program to do both would have to be very individually tailored to get decent recovery time in as well.

 

You're also holding up 2 movie stars up as an example of what you're going for.  They have to have an "impressive" musculature to look good on screen, even if it costs them a little elsewhere (note, both could still kick me six ways from sunday obviously).  I've never heard of Yori but he looks impressive.

 

In short, I don't think it's impossible, just going to be substantially more difficult than training just for effectiveness in a chosen martial art, which I guess is what your friends are saying.Why not outline your ideas and see what people say?  Unless you actively compete/it's your job there's nothing to stop you trying it for six months or so and seeing how you progress.

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Well, strength training for size (hypertrophy, which is what I'm guessing you mean by big) and explosive power are two different things.  They may have a point.  You can train for both but unless you're putting in substantially more time than the person training just for explosiveness, I'd guess they'd have the edge. Plus packing on a lot of muscle is hard work.  I'd guess a program to do both would have to be very individually tailored to get decent recovery time in as well.

 

You're also holding up 2 movie stars up as an example of what you're going for.  They have to have an "impressive" musculature to look good on screen, even if it costs them a little elsewhere (note, both could still kick me six ways from sunday obviously).  I've never heard of Yori but he looks impressive.

 

In short, I don't think it's impossible, just going to be substantially more difficult than training just for effectiveness in a chosen martial art, which I guess is what your friends are saying.Why not outline your ideas and see what people say?  Unless you actively compete/it's your job there's nothing to stop you trying it for six months or so and seeing how you progress.

And im not skinny im at like 20-25% body fat, so just need to cut to look like that, right? 

 

Well i was going to make my workout routine like this:

Monday/ Wednesday: full body circuit

Tuesday/thursday: upper/ lower body tabata

friday : high intensity/ low intensity cardio

yoga/stretches  after every workout session 

Training before every session

 

also im doing intermittent fasting/ with a pretty good diet, im hoping with this and dedication i can the look and along with pushing my skills futher. Please tell me what you think.

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And im not skinny im at like 20-25% body fat, so just need to cut to look like that, right? 

 

 

Maybe.  I haven't got anywhere enough information to make that call.  I'm currently at 19% after a bulk but when I was ~11%, I can guarantee at least 8% of it was still on my gut.  You would need to cut bf% quite a lot and then if your genetics are that way inclined, you will have a six pack (for example).  Note: both the people you're referencing have a lot of muscle as well, so just telling people bf% doesn't help there (marathon runners have very low bf% but I think that yori guy would need at least four to make a decent meal).   I don't know enough about tabata or yoga but I think you need to be lifting heavy (or doing a seriously intense BW workout regime) 3 times a week at least if you want to pack on a decent amount of muscle in any sort of reasonable time frame.  I'd suggest getting down to 10-12% body fat and then figuring out if you need extra muscle for the look you want.  That way your program looks more reasonable.  I'd suggest either reading up on lean gains http://www.leangains.com/  or roman fitness systems http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/ - I've had a lot of success with the book Engineering the Alpha (http://www.amazon.com/Man-2-0-Engineering-Alpha-Muscle/dp/006222087X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388917533&sr=8-1&keywords=engineering+the+alphabut all the info is in those blogs for free if you piece it together.  It's perfectly possible to drop from 24.3% body fat to 11.6% in three months of intense effort (that's with a full time job and a four hour commute).  Of course you'd also have to factor in the martial art you train into that as well.

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That would be Scott Adkins, who is said to be 5'11, weighing around 13 stone in that movie. That's not a bad weight-to-height ratio for an athlete. Take a look at these guys, who have a bigger ratio. I believe some of them are considered "obese" if you go by BMI.

Kevin Randleman

kevin-randleman.jpg

 

Seak Sherk

sean_sherk.jpg

 

Thiago Alves

thiagoalves.jpg

 

There are no absolute rules. Muscle mass won't slow you down, Randleman moves like a vampire. It won't kill your cardio, Sherk can fight for days. It won't make you uncoordinated, Alves is one of the best Muay Thai guys out there.

 

A lot of factors go into this. What martial art do you actually train in, and at what level? What is your level of fitness and exercise experience? Operationally, what exactly are you hoping to achieve?

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That would be Scott Adkins, who is said to be 5'11, weighing around 13 stone in that movie. That's not a bad weight-to-height ratio for an athlete. Take a look at these guys, who have a bigger ratio. I believe some of them are considered "obese" if you go by BMI.

Kevin Randleman

kevin-randleman.jpg

 

Seak Sherk

sean_sherk.jpg

 

Thiago Alves

thiagoalves.jpg

 

There are no absolute rules. Muscle mass won't slow you down, Randleman moves like a vampire. It won't kill your cardio, Sherk can fight for days. It won't make you uncoordinated, Alves is one of the best Muay Thai guys out there.

 

A lot of factors go into this. What martial art do you actually train in, and at what level? What is your level of fitness and exercise experience? Operationally, what exactly are you hoping to achieve?

Im doing krav, muay thai, bjj and im a beginner ar all of them, im pretty fit, and i dont have any experience aside from what ive researched on the internet. And my goal is too be somewhat like batman, by becoming extremely fit, learning parkour, and martial arts    

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Be careful you don't burn yourself starting 3 different arts at once. My suggestion would be to focus on general health for the time being until you get some experience in the arts, after which you could bulk up. That way you wont train in any bad habits as a result of your size, and you can make an informed decision on whether or not the extra mass affects your martial arts ability.

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Im doing krav, muay thai, bjj and im a beginner ar all of them, im pretty fit, and i dont have any experience aside from what ive researched on the internet. And my goal is too be somewhat like batman, by becoming extremely fit, learning parkour, and martial arts    

 

What does your training look like for these arts? Confucius say, man who chase two rabbits catch none.

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Be careful you don't burn yourself starting 3 different arts at once.

 

What does your training look like for these arts? Confucius say, man who chase two rabbits catch none.

 

Quoted for emphasis.  Trying to do three martial arts at once (and three that don't line up especially well) is going to get your wires crossed.  Burnout will be really likely, or injury.  Or both.

 

Im doing krav, muay thai, bjj and im a beginner ar all of them, im pretty fit, and i dont have any experience aside from what ive researched on the internet. And my goal is too be somewhat like batman, by becoming extremely fit, learning parkour, and martial arts    

 

Mind you, Batman spent years practicing his arts, and also had enough money that he never had to do anything else to support himself, and, uh, had no family or friends to maintain relationships with.  Not that he's a bad role model for fitness and awesomeness, but it's kind of like saying you want to be ripped as Ryan Reynolds in Blade 3.  It's possible, but as a normal human being with normal means, you are very unlikely to ever get those results.  Again, good motivation, but don't think that the results will pop up quickly simply because you want them.  Unless you fully intend on making bodybuilding/competition your career (and therefore the thing that pays you), you're not going to have the resources to build yourself up to where you want to be in such a short period of time (based on what I've seen of your posts - though I could be misinterpreting thing, I'll admit).

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Muscularity absolutely contributes to martial arts, and I have yet to see where being stronger has impeded a martial artist at all.

 

One of the practitioners I've been lucky enough to learn from was very muscular, very very strong, and faster than pretty much anyone else I've had the privilege to train with. That being said, he never trained for hypertrophy/mass. He trained for strength, and that was what resistance training was for. He kept conditioning up with large amounts of sparring as well as running or p90x/insanity style workouts.

 

Strength training makes a wonderful addition to martial arts training when the mindset/goal is in line. I do my strength training to be a better martial artist by having more durability to avoid injury in training, having each movement need less of my total power, to allow me to train for longer, and lastly to be stronger and tougher in a fight.

 

If you want to get big, get strong, do the compound lifts and get your squat weight up.

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Muscularity absolutely contributes to martial arts, and I have yet to see where being stronger has impeded a martial artist at all.

 

One of the practitioners I've been lucky enough to learn from was very muscular, very very strong, and faster than pretty much anyone else I've had the privilege to train with. That being said, he never trained for hypertrophy/mass. He trained for strength, and that was what resistance training was for. He kept conditioning up with large amounts of sparring as well as running or p90x/insanity style workouts.

 

Strength training makes a wonderful addition to martial arts training when the mindset/goal is in line. I do my strength training to be a better martial artist by having more durability to avoid injury in training, having each movement need less of my total power, to allow me to train for longer, and lastly to be stronger and tougher in a fight.

 

If you want to get big, get strong, do the compound lifts and get your squat weight up.

 

^All of this.

 

I'm super excited to start a strength training program that is not based bodyweight, because of all of the above reasons.  I don't want size, I want strength and stamina.  Which a strength training program will definitely increase.

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oh such a good thread!  Sorry I just found it.

 

I do a ton of power lifting and assistance work and train in Muay Thai.

 

 I am, by far, the strongest female in the classes and stronger than many/most of the men.  I can pull more than most of my coaches.  BUT I am not necessarily the most ripped.  Although I will admit to being more ripped than most.

 

Here's the deal - there is a lot of anti strength training bias in the community.  There is a perpetual belief the development of muscle mass will slow you down and/or limit punch range, etc.  To that end, some fighters strength train, some do not.  It's a mixed bag of beliefs. 

 

Strong as in lifting strong does not necessarily equate to power in the ring or a better arm bar.  Those are techniques.  (you'll see where I'm heading in a minute).  Strong lifting strong also does not equate to better endurance.  Getting stronger makes you.... stronger.  Oh and also it doesn't make you ripped. 

 

Keep in mind I weight train 4x week and train Muay Thai 3x - so I totally support doing both if you want.  But here's what to know (esp re: pros and yeah I've got pros who train my classes):

 

1.  To be ripped - sorry that's diet.  Yeah, you need the muscles underneath, but it's diet.  My coaches look different when they are fight ready from walking around.   It's low bf.  All the cario helps a lot but yeah, diet.  Also, to be ripped takes a lot of work and actor athletes have the time and incentive to do that.  They are also not fighting for 5 rounds.  They do a take, take a rest, do a take, etc.  It's different from being fight ready.  Look at real MMA fighters - they run the gamut from skinny/scrawny to the big boys.  I've got two coaches who fight at weights below me and generally look really ripped when they fight and a coach who weighs more than me and is a lot softer looking.  Oh and one who is skinny!  All types. 

 

2.  Pro athletes are going to train their sport first and do assistance work as necessary.  You are not a pro.  Train however you choose.  I believe Muay Thai is a blast and I've learned a lot and it provides a greath athletic opportunity for me.  I am not a pro.  I can cross train however I feel suits me best.  Two of my coaches (one is a pro and one is a pro coach/cornerman) see my lifting as great but as limiting my fighting.  Why?  Well... I tend to be stiff when I fight.  It's not a question of range of motion or loss of endurance, it's that "getting ready to lift" mode I'm usually in.  Meh.  It's technique.  It's practice.  It's I can't be a master of everything.

 

3.  I firmly believe being stronger makes me a better athlete no matter what.  However, it does not improve my technique, it does not improve my endurance.  To improve technique and get accurate, good, powerful strikes - you need to learn striking and practice striking.  Etc.  You will not use less of your power if you are stronger - that is technique.  You will not avoid injury if you are stronger - that is a combination of technique and luck (Silva).  If you train more, you increase the risk of injury.  Also, If you train so many different things, how will you become a better fighter?  If you want to be a better fighter, you need to train for fighting. 

 

Finally, I think you can totally train BJJ and Muay Thai together.  Many many students at my gym train both.  But that doesn't leave much time for anything else, right? 

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Cline, you make a lot of really excellent points and observations. I've had the pleasure of meeting some actors and fighters in real life. 1) They still put on their pants one leg at a time and, 2)  most of them are physically pretty tiny people face to face.

 

I envy the ripped actor who walks around at 190, cuts out carbs for a few weeks, and can hit the set at 180-175 and be shredded to the bone. I don't, however, envy that actor or model if they had to get into a fight for their lives. This is my biased (and totally unscientific) opinion, but the magic key to martial arts is strength + technique + speed + endurance. And it really does work just like an equation.

 

You don't have to be super strong to be super effective. A well executed roundhouse kick, with your foot pivoting, hips engaged, and leg snapping over, will do damage - and it doesn't matter if you squat 150 or 700 pounds. Now, if you add the strength but subtract speed, can that roundhouse still hurt? Sure. God knows I've checked some slow kicks that still hurt. 

 

Ultimately, a martial artist needs to train in a way that's effective for their art. Did I cut back on the powerlifting when I was competing in taekwondo? Sure. But I didn't cut it out.

 

Okay, that rant's done.

 

To answer the original question - I think you can have a cosmetically good physique and still be an excellent athlete and martial artist. GSP is a good example. For that matter, professional wrestlers are also good examples, in the sense that they have impressive physiques and can also move athletically.

 

To use a pro wrestler and fighter, take a look at pictures of Brock Lesnar over the years. Look at him in the early 2000s, into his UFC days, and back to his current physique. He's impressive in all instances, but he's certainly carrying around more muscle as a wrestler than as a fighter. I think that's telling.

 

As a fighter, Brock is training like a martial artist, and his sport of choice requires a body that can withstand the challenges of 3-5 five minute rounds of stand up, clinches, and groundfighting. As a pro wrestler, Lesnar still has to move athletically and take physical punishment, but the expectations in the ring are different. He's an athlete in both instances, but he's training for the sport he wants to partake in.

 

For anyone who wants to be a cut, bad-ass martial artist like JCVD - great! It will be a ton of hard work, but you can get there with discipline and hard training. Is that an "ideal" goal? Who's to say. We all have our different journeys to travel, and different motivations for studying the arts.

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A very good thing to keep in mind when it comes to fighting, is that size and strength is an absolute advantage. There is a reason there are weight classes in competitive fighting as opposed to say, height classes.

 

Size and strength are not all that matter, but if try to picture a muay thai fight between a fighter that weighs 115 lbs. at 5'10 and one that weighs 185 at 5'10' I sincerely doubt that you are going to have a hard time picturing the winner. Keep in mind, I'm not talking about a well trained 115 lb. fighter against an untrained larger opponent, consider both to have similar experience levels.

 

The idea that strength does not matter is an utter fallacy, and if you believe otherwise, consider the idea of getting in a fist fight with a hippo who has not had any martial arts training whatsoever (you never know what they're doing underwater). I'll tell you now, my money would be on the hippo.

 

That being said, diminishing returns are a very real thing, and the time and effort put in to go from a 500lb. squat to a 600 lb. squat will likely not benefit a practitioner nearly as much as using that time to practice martial arts, but the much shorter time required to go from a 100lb. squat to a 300 lb. squat.can be very very worthwhile.

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^ This is just speculation, but I believe there is a stigma associated with weightlifting and muscularity in the traditional martial arts community because weight training has long been thought synonymous with bodybuilding and high-volume training ("pumping iron"), just like how martial arts are associated with karate chops and pajamas. The whole "weights are bad" tradition is more of a specificity issue than anything.

 

Martial Arts are all about skills. You want to learn techniques from that particular art that would increase your fighting ability. If you relied primarily on your strength your "martial art" would be called "superior strength", and whoever was stronger would usually win in sparring. Traditional masters therefore want students to concentrate on their art's technique, especially those who live in training camps. The time one could spend lifting weights would probably be better spent on perfecting technique (because let's face it: very few of us have put in their 10'000 hours). Of course, like with anything, there comes a point of diminishing returns. Like professional high-level competitive fighters, who need every advantage in order to win, already have very high levels of skill. But really, very few of us will have to worry about that.

 

So really it's more about priorities and pinpointing what exactly one wishes to achieve. e.g. If the most important thing is striking ability, then Muay Thai training would take priority. I was a professional boxer once and my traditional coach never wanted me touching the weights. In fact he didn't want me spending more time than necessary at the gym. I would do roadwork in the morning, train for an hour and a half on the afternoon (sparring hard on M, W, and F), and he would kick me out. He wanted me recovering, so I could be sparring at near 100% every time.

 

It's like driving a car. Most of it is in the skill of the driver, but even the most skilled driver cannot win a race with a push-cart. Of course your body adapts to the martial training that you put it through, and it would eventually grow stronger by itself, so you wouldn't necessarily be Mike Schumacher in a Fisher-Price. But if you want to specifically increase strength in the hopes of it transferring over to your fighting ability, then you will have to strength train (improve your car). I believe Bruce Lee strongly believed in physical fitness being a big part of fighting ability. He was an avid follower of physical training, even trying traditional bodybuilding at one point, and believed that a strong body was necessary in fighting. In is notable however that he was already at a very high technical level, having trained in many traditional arts by then.

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I am really enjoying this thread. Really. Wish we could all hang out IRL.

Interestingly, there are a ewe segments of the hardcore lifting community (only a few) who hate and mock MMA. I've never heard MMA fighters mock lifting. Some might have an anti lifting bias but they don't mock lifters.

One of the reasons I'm with my lifting coach is because he used to do Muay Thai.

Btw, boxing.... Lift all the weights and then box!!

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I think it's more about testosterone than anything. The whole point of the UFC is "to see who the toughest kid on the block is". It used to be the Heavyweight boxing champion, but not anymore, as proven by Randy Couture a few years ago (and that is part of the reason why boxers hate MMA). A lot of people are intimidated of stepping into a gym, mostly because with guys everything is a dick-measuring contest, and they don't want to look stupid. That feeling is exponentially multiplied in the martial arts gym because of the possibility of getting hurt, making one look even more stupid. So a lot of gym rats, perhaps from denial, would just mock martial arts, doing all the karate chops and kiai sounds, effectively allowing them to convince themselves and perhaps people around them of their bad-assery. Notice that every guy believes he is athletically superior to everyone else. "Armchair Quarterbacks" as they call them. Or "Keyboard Warriors". Especially with fighting, every guy seems to genuinely believe that he can effectively fight. Or he can find some way to win ("that shit doesn't work on the streets"). Experienced fighters usually know how unpredictable a fight is, and, because of mere experience, knows what actually goes on in one, as opposed to this guy who supposedly "knocked someone the-fuck-out" one drunken night. That's what I think.

 

Haha. I tried. I was having trouble juggling weight training, all that running, the high-volume skill training, and all the concussions they gave me during sparring days. And school.

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As you said, each practitioner is going to have a different focus or focuses, and each trainee is going to have to find their own path. That being said, I haven't ever seen a martial art that could successfully claim that being weaker was an advantage.

 

I feel a lot of the "strength is unnecessary" dogma comes from the emphasis on technique. Improving technique is very very useful, but is not the only thing that matters, Machete, I can understand wanting you to be recovered because sparring gives a person what I consider to be the most important factor in winning a fight. Experience. On the other hand, the primary arts I practice are weapon based. Strength becomes even more valuable as now I'm moving something with weight. Being stronger lets me practice with and use heavier weapons. The other thing that I think affects people is that more strength allows a person to get away with sloppier technique in some cases, but from my perspective, in an actual fight, less than ideal technique/positioning is bound to occur.

 

I was lucky to have the training partner I did at one point, as I was practicing an arm/elbow that was an effective lock on each person I had practiced with as well as on me. I remember commenting that because of the size of his muscles it felt like it would very easy to damage his shoulder with the technique as it felt much easier to strain. He then chuckled, said "Hold that lock as hard as you can" and proceeded to simply straighten his arm arm out. I could feel that the work was being done by the muscles in the arm and shoulder only. He didn't even have to move his hips, feet or body. It was a clear demonstration of the benefit of strength as the technique when performed by someone weaker, simply didn't work on him.

 

I also feel there is a very strong bias against weightlifting right now. I think a good portion of people consider weight lifting to be something only vain people with insecurities do. I also find it funny that running is almost always considered a good addition to the training when in my experience sparring is far better cardiovascular training.

 

Ultimately, I doubt many would disagree that the best martial artists are the one that put the most work into it. If I have a student that doesn't enjoy weight lifting, that's fine, they can do body weight exercise or just do martial arts, I'm not really concerned. I would disagree with an instructor that discourages weightlifting for reasons other than sparring/ some kind of more active training. Forms and technique drills are great to practice, but I have definitely noticed the ability to do them longer and with better technique after having raised my squat weight ect.

 

The other thing I found helps was that the weight training helped me spot problems in my and others forms. Working on keeping my weight in the heels in squats and deadlifts made it easier for me to spot when I or others had weren't on the balls of their feet in martial arts. Having good posture is very important in a lot of arts, and not only are those muscles stronger, by lifting I've gotten better at feeling whether I'm caving my chest or rolling the shoulders forward. I think one of the best advantages of strength training is that the student really learns how the body exerts force.

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I believe the whole "strength is unnecessary" is there mostly to "preserve" the art, and for students to trust in the superiority of their techniques. (e.g. Gracie Jiu-jitsu) Not necessarily a good thing, but then again one cannot really train effectively if one is in constant doubt of the coach and the art itself. A person constantly muscling techniques will never be able to learn how to perform them properly, and when he faces a person stronger than his usual training partners are, he will not know what to do because for some reason unknown to him, the techniques do not work. The stigma applies more in the journey, rather than the destination. Training, rather than competition. That is why it's kind of an insult in BJJ when someone tells you "you're really strong".

 

Some people merely rely on talents and get by with mediocre technique. Superior strength, speed, etc. They may have stellar careers in competitive combat sports during their prime, like Roy Jones Jr. But the mediocre athletes who took the time to master their art are the ones who have more consistent careers. (e.g. Bernard Hopkins).

 

There are some who take the opposite approach, building the body first before moving on to putting it into action. Again, priorities. From my own experience, I had extensive experience with bodyweight movements that helped me develop better kinesthetic awareness which improved my overall athleticism (in the same way heavy lifting helps with stability, alignment, and posture awareness). A lot of movements came naturally to me, particularly in no-gi grappling, and I was able to advance quite quickly. If one happens to choose this road, it would probably be good to set an endpoint. How strong is strong enough? When I was following 5/3/1 I had benchmarks that I wanted to reach by the end of the year, and I believe it would be good to set fitness goals for oneself so one does not lose focus on the main goal.

 

As a trainer and MMA conditioning coach, I do believe in strength as one of the fundamental building blocks of fitness. It's usually what I like to work on first, because raw force production is a factor of speed and power, and more work automatically means more output. I have learned to differentiate strength training from bodybuilding, and attempt (with difficulty) to teach people to do the same. But when people ask me "what exercise can I do to put more power in my kicks?" I always tell them to stand in front of a heavy bag, kick it as hard as they can, and repeat it 500 times. (Because anyone asking how to kick harder is probably not too smooth on his technique yet.)

 

Running and bodyweight training have long been associated with combat sports, probably because of weight divisions, and how fighters try to compete in the lightest weight possible. Heavy weight training usually adds muscle bulk, that's just biology, so maybe that's why they shy away from it. Running however is more of a general training method that builds an aerobic base for the chosen sport, just like how barbell training is a general strength training method that builds maximal strength. I wouldn't say sparring is "cardiovascular training" per se, I would classify it more under "conditioning" because of its highly-specific nature. Good old-fashioned "roadwork" is the simplest way to increase cardiac output, without getting too in-depth into it.

 

Of course for a person who just craves variety and is easily bored by monotonous drilling, one could probably do both at the same time effectively, as long as the periodization is in order.

 

P.S. focus, focuses, foci, focusae? I have no idea how to correctly pluralize that. Haha

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Yeah,  I think the reason it frustrates me is when someone who is underweight or just not very strong is told "strength doesn't matter." I can see the frustration in smaller students when someone newer but bigger comes in, and can seemingly do techniques easier than they can. If they're never told the advantages of strength, they'll just think that they're bad learners or just can't get it, when size really does matter.

 

I've seen smaller martial artists use superior skill and technique to out do bigger stronger people, but they were not beginners.

 

I'm never going to have my students strength train exclusively before learning technique, but those that take the time to build strength always outclass those that don't. Simply because they can practice harder, and for longer because having moved so much more weight made everything else feel lighter and easier. 

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