Video update: Conditioning for more power in your techniques

This Summer, I’ll be shooting two new videos with Paladin Press. One of these is about conditioning training for more power in your techniques.

I’m approaching the topic form a slightly different angle than most conditioning videos that teach you how to hit harder. My main premise is this:

Hitting harder by developing stronger, more explosive muscles isn’t all that difficult. Controlling that increased power is where most people fail.


I’ve written extensively about training and developing your muscles in The Fighter’s Body so I won’t go into detail here. But there was always something that nagged in the back of my mind. Another catalyst is how I received numerous emails with the question: what kind of conditioning do you do? These two points inspired me to work out this video project and I’m now in training to prepare for it. Some thoughts:

In my pretty biased opinion, almost anybody can get stronger. You just need to do the work and stick with it.

When I competed, I did conditioning five times a week. I kept that up for about 15 years and only slowed down about five years ago. Nowadays, my conditioning consists of 3-4 sessions a week and they’re never longer than 20-30 min. That’s because of a variety of reasons:

  • I’m not looking to get bigger muscles, I’m already a heavyweight and don’t need more muscle mass.
  • I don’t have the same amount of time to train than before. Time is precious now so I have to cram in more activities in the same 24 hours. So I train more intensively but less long.
  • I’m less interested in becoming stronger than I am in being more efficient with the power I do have. Which is the main thing I’ll be demonstrating in my upcoming video.

The last bullet is what I think is missing too often in the conditioning programs I see for martial artists and competitive fighters. The basic premise they seem to follow is:

Power in technique = explosive strength =>Train to become stronger and more explosive => Use that new found strength and explosiveness in your techniques => Your techniques are now better than before.

Sounds reasonable and for the most part it is. But the last part of this logic doesn’t always apply.

There seems to be an inherent assumption that all that hardcore training automatically translates into more effective techniques. I disagree. I think it translates into a greater potential for more effective techniques. But it remains to be seen if that potential is used correctly or not. I don’t think this happens automatically.  I believe you have to train specifically on how to control this increase in power at the same time you’re developing it.

Here’s an analogy to illustrate this point, use your imagination a bit to follow it:

You’re a Nascar driver  with 10 years of training and competitive experience. Your car has a pretty strong engine and you’ve learned how to drive it well: you take split decisions on steering, breaking, accelerating, etc and manage to not crash your car while you do these things. One day, the engineers say they have good news for you: They found a revolutionary new way to soup up your engine. As a result, your car now has an additional 150 horsepower.

When you test out the new engine, you’re immediately amazed at how much faster you can drive, how much more acceleration you get. But as you take the first turn, you have a fraction of a second to realize something is off and the next thing you know, you’re being rescued from the wreck that is now your car.

What went wrong? You forgot that the differences are just as important than the similarities:

  • Acceleration and top speed aren’t the only important factors in knowing how to drive a car. There’s also steering, braking, shifting gears, etc. All these factors influence each other: E.g.: the better your brakes, the longer you can wait before you use them.  So when you change one factor (the 150hp more), how you handle all the others changes too because they’re all connected.
  • Your engine may have changed but your car hasn’t: the aerodynamics haven’t changed, nor has it’s weight, balance, etc. Just because you drive faster now, doesn’t mean you can suddenly do a steering maneuver at 200Mph where before your car already flipped over when you tried it at 180Mph.
  • When time is measured in split seconds, reactions you drilled in during years of practice are hard to change or unlearn.

If you want to avoid crashing the car again, you’ll have to do a lot of training to learn how the increased horsepower affects all the aspects of what it takes to drive a car on Nascar. It ain’t just about power…


I know the analogy is flawed but you get the point.

I believe it’s the same with martial arts techniques: becoming stronger is only one aspect. Controlling that strength, getting that strength in the technique and not wasting it away; that’s the additional challenge. And it’s just as important as getting that extra strength in the first place.

So that’s what I’ll focus on in this new video. I’ll let you all know how it’s going as things progress.



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  1. Brilliant slant, Wim. Looking forward to it.


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