T Nation

Martial Arts and Training

Hello T men. I 've noticed that many of you are involved and are pretty passionate about Martial Arts. I have always been interested but never actually got into them. Now i think i’m ready to get involved. I was wondrering how they have effected your weightlifting , are your recovery abilities hampered, did you plateau faster with slow gains and did they effect your ability to put on size? I’m just very curious since my first love is weightlifting. FYI i’m probably gonna take gracie jiu jitsu, altho i would like to take something like tae kwon deo, but talkin with friends in my area …they say that the quality places to train are minmal. Thanks for your help guys(&gals) Mike

The first thing you should do is purchase Charles Staley’s “The Science of Martial Arts Training”. It’s an excellent reference. I have trained in various martial arts since 1980. Starting with Shotokan Karate and, after meeting Dan Inosanto, Kali, Jun Fan Martial Arts, and Thai Boxing. Proper weight training is encouraged by most progressive martial arts instructors. Your recovery ability will be compromised due to the extra training. Often Martial arts instructors include body weight only exercises into their classes so you need to adjust your training and eating programs accordingly. Don’t go crazy at first and train every day, you will overtrain and begin to hate the practices. Don’t get sold on one martial art being the “best”. Like in lifting it’s the individual not the system. Gracie Jiu Jitsu is an excellent grappling martial art. The other aspects of combat also need to be trained: Boxing/striking, kicking, trapping, throwing, and even training with weapons all have their place in a well rounded martial artists arsenal. Not to go esoteric on you, but the physical aspect of martial arts are really only the tip of the iceburg. I am currently completing Ian King’s “Get Buffed” program from his book, same title, I still train (martial arts)with a private student two times a week, I’m a police detective, with a wife and two kids and I’m able to fit the training in. Have fun with your martial arts training, don’t develop a closed mind, train hard, and continue to evaluate and investigate other systems and soon you will be on of the “passionate people” who both weight train and practice martial arts.

I was also thinking about adding some type of martial arts training. I was curious as to how much time I should put in as an average to progress in it?

I agree with Kali…pick the style that fits you best. I practice TKD because of the fact that the teacher is one of the best teachers of any style in the area…combining art with realistic street self defense. For me, being 6’5" self defense isn’t of huge concern, however TKD has helped my flexability tremendously…which helps my weight training. My advice is NOT to do 2 styles…do one style and stick with it…too many people try doing a grappling art and a striking art and end up doing niether well and getting burned out. Stick to one until you reach black belt…then go and try another one if you want. Also know the murphys law of martial arts…the day you bench before class is the day it is guaranteed that your instructor will have you doing 200 push ups, bag punching work, and arm grapples…and you will look like a big wuss…the day you squat…he will have you doing all leg work…it just always seems to work out that way…lmao. In terms of recovery, I find all the stretching seems to help my recovery somewhat…but that is just the style I practice, TKD is an art that requires a large amount of flexability (But it is SO worth it when you throw a spinning hook kick and drop your opponent…lol!!)

I can’t add too much on what other guys said. You will have to cut down on your weight training,so I suggest you don’t go above three days a week in a gym. As for the martial art training frequency, it all depends on what is (or will be) more important to you. I train two days a week in kyokushin karate,and while many trainers and karatekas would consider that far below what is needed, I think it’s enough, if you’re doing it only as addition to weight training. And speaking of weight training, you will see all the benefits of it when you get into proper tehnique of kicking, punching etc. As for the type of martial art- it’s more important to find a quality school. For example, quality kung-fu school is rather difficult to find, as oppose to good karate school. I guess you’re pretty strong and all that so chose something where you will be able to make that an advantage. Good luck.

I agree, You should train in one art until you reach a level of competency (you be the judge) two to three years or so and then explore what else is out there. I am just warning against becoming dogmatic and closeminded. Most martial arts have common threads and mastery of the elements of one will help when training in others.

If your going to take Gracie JiuJitsu, be sure to investigate the instructor before forking out a lot of money to someone who is not recognized as an instructor by the gracie family. This is rather easy to do since you have internet access and the Gracie Family does keeps excellent records on the net about who is recognized by them. Keep in mind that there are several branches of the Gracie family (Look up their family tree) and that they are all excellent at what they do, which is primarily ground grappling, one on one. Gracie JJ is an excellent martial art to take up since it provides both an aerobic and anaerobic work out in the same session. You will have to cut your weight training frequency or face the consiquences of over training. Everyone is different, so you will have to find that balance of lifting and grappling that works for you. You will notice that no matter how well you may think your conditioned, your gonna feel out of shape for a few weeks while your body adjusts to the new training. Again, don’t let anyone bullshit you about a qualified instructor, there are alot of fakes in the martial arts world and they all talk a good game.

Good Luck .

Just a side note, you may want to purchase a copy of Matt Furey’s “Combat Conditioning” this is an excellent book for supplemental training and may open your mind to some new possiblities. Remember that Poliquin said any execise in which your body moves through space is supperior to the ones that do not(i.e. wide grip pull ups as opposed to lat pulls).

Again, Good Luck

Bolo, It depends on what you want to accomplish. I don’t know if this is scientifically valid but I’ve been told that it takes 5000 (or so) perfect repetitions to engrain a movement into your motor memory. When I taught classes I inevitably had students who came in once a week and apparently never thought about practice until the next class. They always got frustrated and would drop the class. So bottom line, you need to go to a class and do some work at home. The other suggestions about decreasing the volume of your weight training are good.

Just a quick point that the other guys seem to have missed, shop around, there are usually a lot of schools around and make sure you go and watch a class or two at a couple of different schools before you make your mind up about which one to join, lets face it if your serious, your going to be training there for more than a few years. Plus dont just watch the instructor or be impressed with his “titles”, or technique etc, watch the students he might be the best martial artist in the world but if he cant teach or instruct his students properly what use is going to the class, and believe me just cause the guy is a good martial artist himself doesnt mean he is a good instructor.


Apart from that the other guys seem right on, it will slow your muscle gains but whats the use of tons of muscle if you dont know how to use it, I’ve taught a lot of big guys and when they first walk in the door they really dont know how to hit hard, still never fails to amuse me to this day.
I never train weights and MA on the same day, and two classes plus maybe a light home/Own practice session per week should be fine.
Lastly again I wouldnt recommend starting two styles at the same time, just way too much new info. Wait till your proficient at one till you expand your knowledge but the TKD mixed with jujitsu is an excellent mix- its what I’m doing now (12 years TKD; 2 jujitsu)
good luck

Martin…a fellow TKD person…glad to meet ya…now charyot…kyong-ye…si-jang…lets rock…lol! To add onto Martins point…when checking out schools…watch a beginners class…then ask to watch a black belt or advanced class. If the black belts are all fat and out of shape and can’t kick above their waist…bail out bro (believe it or not…I have seen it). In my school our instructor has a black belt boot camp…if you cannot pass the US Navy SEAL physical fitness requirements, you are not going to be a black belt in our school. Any school you visit…the workout should be rough as hell, and you should be sweating after…if they leave with clean and pressed and dry uniforms…bail…if they ask you to sign a long term contract…bail…if everything…sparring, promotions, belt testing…is an additional charge…bail…do your homework…and you will be a happier person!!!
barro…swieo…bows to Martin in respect. Peace Martin!

Hey T-Men thanks alot for the responses. I believe this is a quality outfit because i mEt Royce Gracie at the dojo , so it is endorsed by the Gracie family. Price is a bit steep for a college student (60 $ a month). I am gonna check out some other styles too though, but its a bit limited round’ where I live(bout 15 min from Scranton PA). Couple quick questions, at about 3 sessions a week , how long will it take for me to reap the benefits of the training, i know u guys can’t give me an exact answer and i’m not looking for one, just approx. Finally…will i be able to put size on while training 2-3 days a week of martial arts 3 of weightlifting. Thanks alot you guys have been a huge help, Mike

Oh Grasshopper…your last comment was spoken like a true bodybuilder…lol! (In other words,I want immediate results) How long until you see results…put it like this…physically in the first month you will see some changes…however with the martial arts you are reprogramming your body in a big way…for example…if I throw a punch at the average joe…99.9% are going to flinch…draw back…and throw their arms up…you have this conditioned into you for a long long long time. To reprogram your nervous system to step FOREWARD, throw a block and counter…takes time and to be honest…thousands of repititions…when adreniline hits you in a real life conflict, unless training has been done again and again…you will revert to your old self…and get crushed…lol. Be patient, practice daily, and you will retrain your nervous system in time. To sit in class and learn a simple counter, then expect your body to do it under “fight or flight” response is completely unrealistic…and will never happen. Just like it takes a long time to build the body you really want…reprogramming your body’s wonderful nervous system will take time…but it comes in slow steps…sometimes when you don’t even think it is happening. That is where a great teacher is worth their weight in gold…they will push you when you even doubt yourself. A great teacher has seen all types of students…and knows how to get the best out of each. Good luck bro!!

I have trained in brazilian jiu-jitsu for a couple years now. I find that I can train jiu-jitsu and weights 4 days a week without overtraining. I usually do both on the same days with weights prior to class. This gives me three days off for both my muscles and nervous system to recover. I think the most important thing is to keep your training volume low. I hit the weights for no more than 45 min. and usually go to a one hour class, sometimes 2 hours.
I think the only way you can truly instill something into your motor memory is to do it often. You could say that 5000 reps of a particular technique will get this done, but if you did these 5000 reps in the course of a week you would soon forget the technique after that week. I feel that training 4 times a week is the minimum for someone who is interested in becoming truly proficient in any art.