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Conditioning Work-out

I've been working with Jason, an athletic trainer at Carle Sports Medicine, to help rehabilitate and finally strengthen my defective genu. Today he presented a new whole body horror, that I thought I would share:

Set #1

  • Lunge twist with medicine ball

  • Abdominal pass (passing a physio-ball from feet to hands)

  • Single arm row

Set #2

  • Medicine ball squat and jump throw

  • Medicine ball slam

  • Medicine ball twist throw

Set #3

  • Sled (with 240#), push and pull

  • Twist with feet up using medicine ball

  • Physio-ball push-up

Set #4

  • Lateral box jump

  • Davies (essentially lateral box jumps using your hands)

  • Straight leg curl

Infinite Vectors

"All right now, remember. A war is mostly run. We run whether we are defending or attacking. If you can’t run in a war then it’s already over."—Shichiroji, Seven Samurai

Movement, from an idyllic stroll in the park to a sparring match in a ring, can be described by a series of vectors. A vector is a variable quantity that can be resolved into components, it has both magnitude and direction, each movement described by a distance covered in a given time at a specific angle. A rapid advance may be described as a single long vector, while an evasive half turn is described by a series of short vectors of increasing or decreasing angle.

How does understanding a theoretical mathematical construct make you a better fighter? It doesn't. However conceptualizing movement in vectors may help you understand how to vary and texture movement, a valuable skill in setting up offense and optimizing defense. The more uniform your motion, i.e. the more identical your vectors, the more predictable your movement. The greater the variability in vectors, changing magnitude and direction, the more chaotic movement will be and the more difficult it will be to predict your next position.

Let's start with magnitude, the speed of movement, which already allows you two variables to vary. The distance covered and the speed it takes can be varied to set-up both offense and defense. The Starfish would be an example of changing magnitude toward and away from your opponent using essentially the same angle. Another example, would be drawing your opponent on defense, by shortening the distance you withdraw each time to pull them closer for countering.

The other component of the movement vector is direction, that is varying the angle your moving at. Traditionally, martial artist divide the compass of movement into 45° units, which is a convenient if artificial discretization. We have to remember that movement is three dimensional, we're moving both in the horizontal but also vertical planes, thus you are changing angles within the horizontal plane but also above and below that plane. The Corkscrew uses an increasing angle to set-up varied movement. Switching from a left retreat to a right one, is another example of varying angle without changing magnitude.

Thus when we use drills to enhance movement, work on timing, or spar we should incorporate an understanding of movement to enhance our ability to randomize our movement and maximize our offensive and defensive arsenal.



In fighting we describe the activity provoked by an opponent's offense as "reaction". For example in muay thai after we defend an opponent's combination and return a cross-hook-cross we have performed a reaction. In jiu-jitsu when an opponent tries to break and pass the guard, the change in hand position and posture that sets up an arm bar or triangle, could also be considered reaction. Reaction is typically trained as the "turn" we take after an opponent presents an offense. This has a very specific advantage in being low risk: defend first and once your opponent is punched out with their hands out of position initiate an offense of your own. Unfortunately it also has disadvantages, particularly how long the reaction takes (i.e. the time the neurological impulse travels from where it lands to your brain), the training of "taking turns", and letting your opponent to get off first. A good reaction should teach your opponent that, if you survive their onslaught, that they will be punished.

Thus it might be better to avoid their onslaught, by controlling the range and by evading, and then counter. That is, punishing them without them punishing you. This has the advantage of not getting hit and letting your strikes land in prime targets with greater impact but it takes more speed and experience to read an opponent. Using this strategy still allows your opponent to throw leather, but forces them to expend more energy throwing misses and allowing you to hit openings created by your opponent's offense.

The "good offense is the best defense" strategy of reaction is presumably the level above the evade and counter. As soon as your opponent encroaches into your territory with the intent of offense, start yours. You need to retain the ability to cover and react while using the ability to read the path of evasion to set up a pre-action. You become a motion detector, that alarms violently.

These strategies each demand more and more skill as well as time in conflict (i.e. timing and sparring). They also develop increasing strategic complexity. In the classic, simplest style of reaction there is little more strategy than absorbing and administering kinetic energy. As one develops the timing of fighting one could consider the second, evasion strategy, as a "pulling" technique, luring an opponent in offense and typically giving ground to set up counters. The pre-reaction is a "pushing" style, aggressively attacking the attack before it is fully conceived. In all these strategies are not exclusive, the simplest cover return will form a back bone upon which "pulling" and "pushing" strategies can be implemented.