Fit for Combat – Routine #1
Warm Up Exercises for Martial Training & The Push Shuffle Drill
A warm up should be performed before participating in technical sports, exercising, or stretching, and Combative training is no exception. Warming up generally consists of a gradual increase in intensity of physical activity. This increase the heart rate, which in turn increases blood flow to your muscles and raises your body temperature. Warmer muscles are more elastic and less susceptible to injury. It is important that warm ups should be specific to the exercise that will follow, which means that muscles used in the warm up are the muscles required for the following activity. In the case of martial arts, where all muscles are being trained to react with speed and power, all major muscle groups should be warmed up with special emphasis on the feet and legs.
Footwork is the foundation of combatives, so proper warm up and exercise of the legs and feet is essential. Here are several useful warm up exercises.
The Rocker Step:
- 1. Stand in the Bai Jong stance.
- 2. Push off the rear leg, landing on the ball of your front foot.
- 3. Push off your front leg, and land on the ball of your rear foot.
Bouncing, or “rocking” back and forth like this, while not at all the sort of movement useful in martial arts, is a good warm-up for the legs and feet – especially as moving on the balls of your feet, basic to martial footwork, is not naturally practiced when walking.
Advanced variants: Consciously vary the distance covered on each “rock.” Switch leads a few times. Add a punch or two on every other forward “rock.” Beyond this, it becomes Shadow Boxing – throw combinations of punches/kicks while returning quickly to proper stance and moving more erratically.
- 1. Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.
- 2. Jump with both legs, spread them to a little more than shoulder width, land on the balls of your feet.
- 3. At the same time, swing your arms out and above your head.
- 4. Reverse the last two steps, returning to your original position.
Jumping Jacks warm up support muscles on the sides of your legs, and get shoulder muscles warmed up too.
Advanced variants: Lunge Jumping Jacks – Same as above, except as you jump bring one leg forward and one back. Reverse legs on the next jump. Gradually sink deeper into the lunge each repetition, being careful to keep the lead knee behind the lead toes at the lowest point.
Running in Place:
When running in place, practice *always* keeping your arms up. That is where you will want them in a fight, so train with them there. Run in place with the legs forward, your knees rising to your waist, to warm up the thighs, and with your legs down, kicking your heels behind you, to warm up the hamstrings.
The upper-lower body coordination, combined with mandatory quick motion, make jumping rope a great warm-up, and one that quickly transitions into a cardiovascular workout if kept up.
The Push Shuffle Drill:
A specific part of the Fit for Combat Warm-Up is the Push Shuffle drill. The Push Shuffle drill warms up the leg muscles, exercises support muscles not much used in regular walking, and increases the speed and coordination of your footwork. In the Push Shuffle Drill, the instructor calls out a set of 2 to 4 cardinal directions (forward, back, left, right), and the student quickly executes Push Shuffles in each indicated direction. I have automated the instructor’s part for you, so if you have an mp3 player or computer media player with a “random” setting and a place to work out, you can do the Push Shuffle drill by yourself.
My class always starts warming up with a few of these exercises. Remember: warming up will help to minimize your chance of injury, and maximize the benefits you get every time you train. After you have warmed up for 5-15 minutes, you can continue the exercises above with increased intensity for an aerobic workout, or move on to anaerobic training, technique drills, etc.
Train Hard – You Fight As You Train