Drills To Increase Your Fighting Endurance

More than any other attribute endurance is probably the most important for a martial artist. The fact is that it’s EXTREMELY easy to gas out during a fight and the more stressful the situation, the more adrenaline is pumping through your body, the easier it will be to run out of steam. Your technique gets sloppy, you lose power, you drop your guard, your footwork slows, your will weakens, and you become more and more helpless with every exchange.

It is important to train to last in a fight. But this means knowing exactly HOW to train. There are different kinds of endurance and you need to know what they are and how to get them.

The different kinds of endurance are aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, and muscle endurance. Aerobic endurance is the kind of endurance needed by marathon runners. It’s the ability the last for a long time at a steady pace.

Anaerobic endurance is required for sprinting. It’s the kind of endurance that allows you to explode with all of your energy and last for longer than average as well as to recover quicker.

Muscle endurance is the ability your muscles have to continue a prolonged activity without failing. Remember doing wall sits in PE, feeling that burning through your legs? That takes muscle endurance to hold for very long.

As a martial arts athlete you will need all 3, though the most important will be your anaerobic endurance, followed by muscle endurance, and finally aerobic endurance. You need to be able to explode with combinations consistently throughout your fight, never tire of throwing punches and kicks, and last until the very end.

Basic exercises like running and weight lifting are obvious tools for developing these skills. But there are some unique drills that martial artists can use to develop all 3 and that relate specifically to the martial artist’s needs.

I will offer 3 drills you can add to your martial arts workout routine to start developing your fighting endurance. Just remember, endurance takes time to get and is easy to lose. So stay consistent, have fun with the drills, and change them up frequently to keep them fresh.

Drill #1: Punch-Out.

This drill requires a heavy bag or a partner holding a kicking shield. You’ll also need a clock with a very visible second hand or a partner with a stopwatch. Start with 3 3 min rounds. For 30 seconds you are going to punches on the heavy bag, going mostly for power. Keep the pace slower and alternate hands, putting your full body into every punch. After 30 seconds up the pace and go for more speed and less power. Do this for 20 seconds. Finally, after the 20 seconds has ended, finish with 10 seconds of full speed punching on the back. Don’t worry much about power. Just hit the bag as many times as you can in that 10 seconds. And remember to breathe. After the 10 seconds has ended go back to 30 seconds of power hitting. Complete the cycle 3 times for a 3 minute round.

You can also vary the times to make them 1 or 2 cycle rounds. For instance, a 1 cycle round would involve punching for 1 minute and 30 seconds, then 1 minute, then finish with 30 seconds. Also, as your skill increases you can up the length to 5 minute rounds or up the amount of rounds.

Drill #2: The Finisher.

This drill is done best with a partner to hold focus gloves or thai pads, but it can also be done on the heavy bag. Although you can substitute any punches, the combination I use is Straight, Cross, Lead Hook, Rear Hook, Lead Uppercut, Rear Uppercut. This drill is called The Finisher because your mindset in all of this has to be that you are going for a knockout with each and every punch. Full power, full speed. Start by throwing the combination one time. Take a brief break, just long enough to recover your breath. Then throw the combination twice without any break between the two. It should seem like one seamless 12 punch combination. Again, only a few seconds break. Then throw the combo 3 times, again as if it were one long combination. Do this all the way up to 5. Then pyramid them back down, from 5 back to 1.

The key is to really put everything you’ve got into every punch. To do this you could imagine that it’s the last 10 seconds of the final round and you’ve just stunned your opponent, with this last chance to put him away. Or you could imagine coming home to find an attacker assaulting your family. Whatever gets your blood pumping. You should be punching so violently that your partner is being forced backwards by your combinations.

You can change up the combination, go from 1 to a high number or from a high number down to 1 instead of pyramiding, or add a kick to the end of every series to change up the drill.

Drill #3: Kicking Chain.

This is a great drill if there are at least 4 of you and you’re feeling a little competitive. You and your partner both put on thai pads or focus gloves and stand across from each other. Begin by throwing a kicking combination to the pads (we vary the kicks up a lot, but a basic series might be Lead Front Kick, Lead Round Kick, Rear Round Kick, Side Kick, Spinning Back Kick). As soon as you finish you immediately set the pads for your partner, moving back to open the distance after every kick so that he has to constantly move forward and you are still moving between your kicking sets. The first training couple to complete the kicking chain 5 times each wins. Take a short break then repeat. Best 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 5 wins the whole thing.

You can increase the challenge of this drill not only by changing the type of kicks, the amount of kicks, or the amount of sets, but also by making some or all of the kicks body or head kicks.

Sifu Forrest

Nicole Thomas

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