Saturday, February 26, 2011

Explosiveness Rules!

Image by tableatny 

After sparring hundreds of other martial artists over the years as a competitor and instructor, I finally made the connection: the reason I was better was not just technique – it was speed (that’s physical, not mental speed, obviously!). I could react quicker and move faster, and, after enjoying some success as a purely offensive, attacking fighter, learned to take advantage of my quickness by become a sadistic counter-fighter. I’d leave something open (a draw), then stop-hit or counter after making my opponent miss. What I had was EXPLOSIVENESS!

I have always been relatively strong and quick, and definitely not a distance-running kind of guy. I knew I was quick around the playground, but didn’t know to what degree until I was went into 6th grade. We lived in Germany in the 70s and attended schools run by the DOD, and to save costs, we were bussed a long distance to large, consolidated schools. Mine had over 600 kids per grade, and I can imagine it could be a bit intimidating. Anyway, I got an objective measurement of my attribute when they had us all race against everyone in our grades in heats. I remember winning heat after heat until I was in the last one, and then they had all the winners of the grades race together. I came in 3rd, which disappointed me to no end, but that was that – I was a 6th grader racing 7th and 8th, and was amazed and surprised.

How can we increase the explosiveness that we’re born with, or develop what we can? Several ways:

  • Sprinting – what I was unconsciously doing as a kid by racing as much as I did was develop the fast-twitch muscle fibers in my body. As anyone who’s watched a race can tell, sprinting is a whole-body sport, not just the legs. You tense and contract everything from the core to the hips, thighs, and drive off your calves and are flexing even the muscles in your feet and toes. A big reason that some are faster than others is that they utilize that drive and increase it with their core and upper body assisting in the weight transfer and momentum. Olympic sprinters look like the bodybuilders of 20 years ago (uh, let’s not discuss any drugs at this time).
  • Weight training – squats, cleans, and almost any weightlifting (not bodybuilding) movement that utilizes the whole body will increase and develop explosiveness. I am not an expert in that type of training, but there are many out there. Enlist the aid of someone who’s involved in sports-specific or conditioning. ALL successful sports programs use this type of training now.
  • Plyometrics – dynamic training such as rope skipping, depth jumping, lateral jumps, clapping pushups, and medicine ball training are all examples of this.

The common denominator in all of this training is explosiveness, and whole body involvement.

I strongly suggest you check three sites for techniques, suggestions, and even instructional video, and they’re all FREE! – the author of one of my favorite sites is a well-respected trainer of elite combat athletes, and not only knows what he’s teaching, he’s an amazing physical specimen because he practices what he preaches. Many of his videos and articles include his demonstrations, and they are great! This is probably the most motivational site for physical conditioning, too, as he constantly features people who are in their 70s and older who put me to shame!

Combat Trainer – my friend Rob is fast becoming one of  the best bloggers on martial arts training, with an emphasis on training MMA and other combat athletes. Don’t discriminate if you’re a traditional martial artist, though, ‘cause what he’s teaching and demonstrating will work for all of us. His latest example is a video of Jon Fitch doing jump squats.

Straight to the Bar – this is a great collection of articles, links, and posts of all types of strength training, and also features strongman training techniques. It’ll spice up any routine, and you could browse it for hours.

Any other suggestions or links you would share? Comment!


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Rick said...

Zhan Zhaung (standing stake) practice. Reduce your internal friction and you will become quicker.

Nathan Teodoro said...

I'm going to plead ignorance on that one Rick! Have you posted on the subject? I'd love to read on it. I just checked your site for it, and have downloaded the ebook you linked at: