Saturday, August 18, 2012

Question concerning Training for Martial Arts


my name is Marcel. I live in Germany and have recently started to learn Wing Chun in a martial art school. I wrote Sifu Lee an E-mail with the following question/request:

"I am looking for a guide line to train my body in order to get more out of my martial art training but most importantly maintain a good health and flexibility. My teacher recommended the following books to me: Infinite Intensity and Never Gymless on the following website: However these books are not available in Germany and as I am a student the costs to ship them overseas exceed my budget.

Before I started learning Martial Arts I exercised in a gym according to bodybuilding procedures (I was instru cted in the gym), but I feel that the results are not salutary, neither for a martial art nor for the body. I wanted to know if you happen to be familiar with these books or if you have other suggestions on low tech martial arts training. I just wanted to hear another teacher's recommendation in order to gain a broader perspective on this matter. I believe one can always learn from one another, no matter which style one is practicing.

It would be very kind of you if you could reply to my question."

Firstly I want to thank Sifu Lee for inviting me to this blog. I also would like to invite everyone who reads this post to recommend guide lines for a  low-tech workout for martial arts. Thank you in advance!

I would like to close my post with a quote from Aristotle which I always keep in mind when I train and during all my activites: "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


  1. Hey Marcel! This is a really fun question, because the answer is obvious, and the resolution is everywhere around you, just waiting for your exploration. In my opinion, there's an almost infinite availability of low-tech and low/no-cost training apparatus available to anyone creative and crafty enough to use his imagination, and there are plenty of options out there for the unimaginitive too. Actually, I've considered starting a video blog series entitled something like, "10,000 Reasons You Don't Need A Gym Pass"

    Some of my first experiences working-out were absolutely low-tech. At my grandma's farmhouse, my uncle threw a heavy rope up over a sturdy branch of a massive walnut tree, and I would climb up and down the rope using just my arms, keeping my legs up in an L-raise. Then he secured a metal bar across a couple parallel branches in an apple tree, and we used that for pull-ups and pull-overs (a.k.a. mountain climbers). A similar metal bar with heavy boulders attached by rope to both ends and a simple wooden bench became our weight set. It was completely ghetto, and I loved it

    I like to train outdoors whenever possible, in the open air, so I'm always looking for opportunities. At present, my every morning includes a workout in a small patch of mature cottonwood trees. You can do a lot of power development of your techniques against trees (the original heavy bags) if you build into it gradually. My only rule is that I'll never hit a tree that I can injure. I also found a nice fallen tree in a nearby forest that I've begun using by walking up on the trunk, about five feet off the ground, and shadow boxing, to help with balance. The same can be done with a good bunch of large boulders. I'm on the lookout for nature's own mok jong in these same forests, and am sure I'll find it before long. I have logs that I lift and maneuver, and I'm working on developing more exercises with. Every steep hill or staircase is an opportunity for legwork. Every solid ledge a chance to build shoulder, back, and finger strength. My coffee table is my splits leg-stretcher. There's a completely cheap but effective makiwara in my back yard, made from a salvaged 2x4, padded with a good wad of folded wheatgrass wrapped in a hemp rope. There are many easy-to-find things that can be turned into heavy-bags and kicking/striking shields. For instance, you could use old tires, hay bales, or a military-style canvas duffel bag. I have focus mitts hand-sewn from worn-out jeans and filled with rice. I have a small makiwara that straps in the palm of my hand, made of a squarish piece of old tire, with a tight leather casing glued over it, and a thick elastic band to secure it to my palm. One of my buddies uses propane tanks (like the kind for barbecues) as dumbells

    Do not overlook your local playgrounds. There's a reason they're also called jungle-GYM. There are hundreds of body-weight exercises, with various levels of difficulty (some quite extreme), that can be practiced with the tools available at just about any given playground. I know Sifu has good playground exercises in some of his videos. I've been posting a few on mine as well. There are many other playground workout videos on YouTube to survey for ideas

    Also, don't overlook your plain-old human body, and the fantastic workouts you can do without any training apparatus at all

    I'm glad you've joined this blog, and hope we can swap ideas of this kind into the future. Like I said, I'm always looking for different low-tech training opportunities that can be taken advantage of outdoors. I'll certainly continue sharing those that I come up with in my video posts

  2. Of course, none of the above ideas are 'guidelines'... just ideas for opportunities to keep the play interesting and productive



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