Martial art movies have had an enormous impact on our views of the combat arts. In the movies, ninja sword wielding heroes execute gravity defying flying kicks, jump-spinning techniques, and superhuman abilities. However in 1993, the Ultimate Fighting Championships were born. In this no-holds-bard event, we learned what would really happen in a realistic altercation between trained fighters. The death-touch, hovering in the air for extended periods of time, and jump-spinning reverse scissor kicks were just a few of the things we did NOT see in such a competition. In fact, the fights were nasty, bloody, and sloppy.
Let’s face it; karate has been exposed. There was a time when the karate man was looked upon with respect and feared. A time when, if someone said they were a black belt, it caused others to be impressed. You can say that karate has become outdated. There has been an interesting development in the martial arts in the late 20th Century and into the 21st. Martial arts have evolved and become much more true to life than ever.
If you are one of those people who like to question things then maybe this thought has gone through your mind. Why are there so many different martial arts systems in the world. We all have two arms and two legs don’t we? So why all the different systems of self defense? I know that systems were usually born out of a need such as one group of people having to fight another group who were better armed. So they developed systems to fight those men who used certain weapons a certain way. But then these same people showed others their incomplete system and sold it as unabridged.
So let’s look at what we have in the world without going into a deep history lesson. You basically have karate and ju-jitsu from Okinawa and Japan. You have a multitude of kung fu systems from China. You have Tae Kwon Do and a few others like Tang Soo Do from Korea; boxing and wrestling from Europe of course. Of these there is every variation under the sun. You name it and someone has tried to develop it into a fighting system. But what do we really have. Remember that all we really have is three men out there. It all boils down to those three. You have boxers or people who fight predominantly with their hands, kickers who like to use kicks as their main weapon and grapplers who like to take people to the ground and finish them there. That’s really it. Just those three. Now there are people who are good at one, two or even three of those methods. Those guys are now known as mixed martial artists.
Someone once asked, what is truth? I think we can ask that same question here. I mean how can the average guy deal with someone who is skilled in one or even three of the main fighting methods? You know, the boxer, the kicker and the grappler. If the guy is good at all three methods then do I have to be good at all three methods, too? Do I have to fight in the same manner? I know karate won’t do the job. Definitely Tae Kwon Do will not do. How about adding a self defense class or two. Will that help? I don’t think so. What about kung fu and all the various animal styles? No. You can pretend to be an animal but that won’t beat the skilled boxer, kicker, grappler. So how do we deal with this guy. It can’t be using his own methods. You can’t box a boxer and expect to win if he’s really good at what he does. Let’s just assume this guy is a really good mixed martial artist who happens to be a thug and wants to rob and maybe even kill you. What’s the answer if you don’t have a weapon at hand?
The answer is elementory yet intricate. In order to effectively deal with a skilled thug you must first put away all your preconceived ideas about what real combat is. Forget the ring. Forget what you see on TV. How can an older man; say middle-aged, defend against a group of younger, stronger and faster opponents. It will not be by speed and power. If he is to win; and he must, he has to do something all together different. Yes the older man is a master of self-defense. But his system is highly evolved. He relies on a core group of concepts rather than techniques. Of course he uses proper technique but it is all grounded in his core principals. He also has the amazing ability to fight in a very apropos manner because he is guided by highly developed contact reflexes. In other words, if he is touched by an aggressor, the older man instantly knows all about him and deals with him in proper time with super preparatory application. That means he stops the first attack and all future attacks immediately. He also uses skeletal alignment to enhance his power. He is able to hit much harder than his younger counterparts who use muscle to deliver their blows. The skilled older man delivers his strikes with his bones which feels like being hit with the end of an iron rod.
The answer is to unite with the opponent’s energy. No struggling or resisting but moving according to “the now”. To be able to discharge a highly potent “motion martial art”. Not static or choppy, muscular movements but relaxed yet aligned motions that can deal with an attack as if it were just a crude language. Yes, the answer is to have a highly developed and fluent martial language as a complete and elaborate communication. Yes, self defense can be like this. The only martial art I know that achieves this elevated dexterity is Wing Chun.
A barbell and some plates…what could be more simple? Its probably the way you originally started your journey. Maybe it was a 5 foot exercise bar and some cement weights, but it was still just a barbell and some plates.
Back then you didn’t care about the latest studies and fad exercise routines…all you wanted was to get big and strong, and that one tool was your path.
Somehow along the way, we’ve all been caught off guard by the “latest and greatest” – from late night infomercials to full page magazine ads – but it’s about time we got back to REAL training. Yeah, training with just a barbell might be “old school”, but in my book old school training is where it’s at.
Especially for MMA fighters and grapplers, where weight training sometimes gets a bad rap, some bare bones barbell training can serve you well. Current Wake Forrest strength coach and former Ohio wrestling coach, Ethan Reeve, used to bust out his barbells after or before tough wrestling workouts so that his athletes could get in their strength work. They worked the basics – Romanian deadlifts, power cleans, front squats from a power clean, lunges and back squats with the help of a training partner, military and push presses, and bent over rows. Nothing fancy about it, but they got RESULTS.
Out of those movements, power cleans were used very heavily for power endurance. Coach reeve would have his athletes do 10 minute combo drills, where they perform a power clean, hang clean, and then another power clean every 30 seconds. Another workout was the famed 10×10 power clean routine where every wrestler on the team was expected to power clean their bodyweight for 10 sets of 10 every 2 minutes…that’s 100 bodyweight power cleans in under 20 minutes!
While workouts like that might sound crazy, for Coach Reeve and his wrestlers, they were common place. They understood the value of hard work, and they knew what they could accomplish with simple training tools such as just a barbell.