Thoughts About Training and Practical Fitness

Hi All,

I thought I'd share some thoughts with you about training and practical fitness. How many times have we seen people casually walking on treadmills when they could be walking outside. Or the guy doing curls while his shoulders are smaller than his waist and his belly hangs over his belt. Obviously the "power" walker and weightlifter are both seeking to improve themselves. But their approach fell short.

Why? They failed to use their awareness to make their efforts pertinent. In order to get the most out of our workouts, we need to tailor goals around our true needs. For example, if we have bad posture, we should probably address that ,before trying to lift heavy weights. If we barf out a lung while taking several flights of stairs, maybe we should work on our cardio before trying to developour pecs. The list goes on and on. You guys get my point.

This brings me to our basic fitness philosophy at Miami Arnis Group. Posture before movement, movement before strength, strength before power, and wind before all. Our martial arts training is a three prong approach. We believe to be a successful martial artist, you need a strong mindset, great conditioning, and good skills. If any of these factors are not addressed, then they will be the weak link in the chain. But, where do we start? Probably the best place to start, is in developing the ability to move our body in a variety of ways. Yes, I'm talking about the basics here, body weight exercises. Calisthenics such as push ups, squats, and pull ups represent the minimum requirements for functional strength. Think about it, if you can't get up after you've fallen because your too weak, who's going to cry for you when you cry out, "Help! I've fallen and cant get up!"

Next time you are considering what type of exercise you should do, ask yourself a few questions. How many flights of stairs can I run up? Can I sprint fifty yards? How many push ups can I do? Would I be able to pull myself out of a pit if I fell in? My wife can do five sets of twenty strict man push ups. My friend and training partner Mario Guevara can do 500 body weight squats. That's the amount of squats Ken Shamrock makes his prospective fighters do as part of their tryouts for his fight team, The Lions Den. Did I mention He's over 50 years old. My friend and student Ozzie Melendez can do strict pull ups with sixty pound strapped to him, for reps, at a body weight of less than 150 lbs. What's your excuse?

Think about it folks if you can't push yourself off the ground, you probably have no business lifting weights. If your normal every day activities leave you gasping for air, what do you think you need to work on?

Nature is most unkind to creatures lacking awareness
-Moshe Feldenkrais

Your brother at arms,
Tony Torre
Miami Arnis Group


The Survival/Victory/Success Triangle

Since I brought up the survival/victory/success triangle in our recent youtube video titled "Wrist Conditioning", I thought it fitting that our first article should cover this to a greater degree. The survival/victory/success triangle is a model we use to design and evaluate our curriculum. Depending on the context in which it is used it could be either the survival, victory or success triangle. For example, in street defense it would be the survival triangle. In combat sports it would be the victory triangle and in life it would be the success triangle. It represents the 3 critical elements that will affect the outcome of a physical confrontation. Those elements put simply are mind set, physical attributes and skill. While we could break each of these elements down further each having several triangles of their own we’ll keep this treatment focused on the implementation of the survival/victory/success triangle.

As a tool of program design it is critical since it forces us to look at all 3 elements not just our favorite ones. Take a beginning student as an example, he’s there to learn martial skills however his body may not be physically prepared to endure the rigors of training like an advanced student might. While most skills are learned fairly easily they do not become reliable without hours of practice. However, like the old adage says, “it’s not practice that makes perfect, its perfect practice that makes perfect!” We know fatigue degrades skill so it would not be best to take a complete beginner and try to put him through the training volume of a more advanced practitioner. This would lead to bad habits and possibly injuries. Instead, we would work on developing attributes such as strength or endurance at the first sign of degradation in technique form. So a beginners class may begin with a general warm up, a more specific warm up, a skill session , some general conditioning and finally a cool down. Interestingly enough, an intermediate class may look similar to this but the warm up may be a little shorter, the skills session longer and more intense and the conditioning more specific and intense. In any case, by taking all three elements into consideration when putting a class together we not only make it a more appropriate training session we make it more effective too!

As a diagnostic tool the survival/victory/success triangle really shines. It allows us to pinpoint our exact weakness. Armed with this information we can now set out to fix it. For example, a fighter with great form and timing finds himself being bested by lesser opponents in the later rounds.

He may need to increase his endurance. If he is just giving up due to fatigue it may be a mindset issue. In either case with appropriate training we can fix the problem. A student can use these principles when choosing what he should focus on in his supplemental training. When learning a new skill, for example a kick, the student may practice that kick everyday in low volume. Staying fresh and doing it frequently is a very appropriate protocol for developing skill. If the student has good technical skill but needs more practical endurance he may choose to do conditioning circuits on the days he’s not in class. This will improve his endurance and may even increase his skill by allowing for a greater training intensity. If the student is inconsistent or unreliable in his training this might be a mindset issue which might be resolved with some goal setting or addressing time management.

In conclusion, we can see the typical commercial martial arts school curriculum which focuses primarily on skill training may be missing certain critical elements. Hopefully now that we’ve armed you with this powerful training tool you can take greater control of your training or teaching destiny. For more information on our martial arts or training group please visit our web page MiamiArnisGroup.com Thank you very much for your interest. Until next time, please feel free to share your questions or comments with us.

Your Brother in Arms,
Tony Torre