Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Fighter's Training Continuum

Pic by Michael Walsh; Wikimedia Commons
So, while visiting a few of the forums I frequent I’ve noticed something of a trend: People arguing over the validity of a particular training method versus another.

I think ultimately it is a variation of “my martial art/fighting system is better than yours…nah nahna boo boo!”

If you’ve been reading this blog you already know how pointless such an argument is. Nonetheless, I want to take a look at the subject from a new angle.

Kata vs. Shadowboxing

A common point of contention between traditionalists and modern martial artists (mma, kickboxing) is the Kata vs. Shadowboxing argument.

On one side you’ve got the traditionalists who adhere to the belief that their Kata (or poomse or forms depending on the tradition) is superior in all ways to modern training methods (like shadowboxin) because within those kata lie the secrets of all fighting skills.

The modern martial artist scoffs at the traditionalist and sees kata as nothing more than a silly dance performed by silly old men. If you’re going to fight against and imaginary opponent, reasons the modern martial artist, shadowboxing is the only way to go.

Variations of this argument are everywhere: “heavy bag vs. makiwara (or iron palm bag)”, “freestyle sparring vs. push hands”, “competition vs. realistic street fighting scenario drills”, ect…

The Fighter’s Training Continuum

The funny thing is: ALL of these arguments are pointless! The martial arts are a dynamic practice that require the training of numerous attributes and skills. All of the methods used to train these attributes and skills fall on a continuum (which I simply refer to as the “Fighter’s Training Continuum”) that moves from general drills, like strength training and conditioning, to more specialized “specific” drills used for improving basic fighting techniques and skills and finally towards an actual fight.

So, saying a kata is superior to shadowboxing (or vice versa) is like saying the power clean is superior to the deadlift. The two drills have different functions in training so one is not better than the other they are simply used for different things. Both add value to your overall training program.



Click to Enlarge!


As you can see in the graphic how the training of a fighter moves from general training methods towards more and more “specified” drills which are intended to prepare the martial artist for an actual fight where his or her life could be on the line.

In the General section we see drills that build the fighter’s body and basic skill set (like correct technique, speed, power, balance, ect…), laying the foundation and providing the basic tools a martial artist will use in a fight.

Moving to the Specific section we see drills that utilize the basics from section 1 in more complex and functional ways. This is also where mental/emotion prep is introduced to help the fighter overcome certain stressors that could become problematic in later stages of training and in an actual fight.

Finally, in the Highly Specific section we move to drills that are designed to emulate as closely as possible an actual fight. It is at this stage a fighter can employ the things learned during earlier phases of the continuum in an environment that, while still highly stressful, is relatively safe. This stage also helps the martial artist to identify any weaknesses in his or her training and preparation – at which point he or she can move back down the continuum and address those points that are lacking.

It should now be fairly obvious why those silly, internet pissing contests about who has the “ultimate training method for fighters and martial artists” are nothing more than a waste of time. In a well designed and proper training program (a holistic program) many drills and modalities are utilized – at the right time and for the right reason.



Train Hard,

Josh Skinner (donjitsu2)

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