T Nation

Martial Arts


I was just curious as to here what some of you thought about weight training and martial arts. Like what kind of training would one suggest for point sparring and/or continuous fighting. Explosive? Hypertrophy gains? Would one want to gain as much strength as possible without gaining weight? I know it has alot to do with prefference, but I'd like to here some of your ideas.



Great question! I'd like to hear some other people's training when it comes to point and continuous sparring.

What I do is:
Monday and Wednesday: jog 4k
Tuesday and Thursday: 6 sets of 100m
Saturday: 5 hours of martial arts (it's not all sparring)

Right now, my schedule is shaky, so Saturday is my only constant. But, if I'm able to make it during the week to the dojo, then martial arts overrides whatever workout I have planned.

I think the training is heavily dependent on strategy. Being a short guy (5'4), I have to move around a lot, have to be light on my feet, use angles, etc.
So I train my stamina and legs more.

I don't do that much strength training, since sparring is usually not full contact. I need speed and stamina a lot more than strength.


Yeah when it comes to point sparring, I'd say speed and agility wins it. But I compete in mixed events, so I'm often confused on what types of training I should do.


Go for slight gains in hypertrophy, but your primarily focus should be max strengt and power. Don't hypertrophy the chest too much as a chest too big can inhibit hand speed.


Honestly for Point and continious, you don't need any strength training. Your time would be beter spent on things like plyometric drills, medicince ball drills, and HSS (high speed skipping if you can break 240 jumps in 60 sec you are a badass). Being power full in any martial arts contest that isn't full contact will just get you kicked out for excessive force.


For mixed events olymipic lifts are king, they are great for imporving balance stability and explosive strength. and depending on you training for hypertophy may be a good idea, you hae to find the weight range you feel the most comfortable at, but know that when you increase you muscle mass you decrease your cardio, because your new muscle needs a blood supply and it takes more time for you heart to adapt.




I've never seen a person disqualified for excessive force on a body shot.
There is nothing like a good hard body shot to put the fear into a points competitor. Just don't go head hunting with power that's all.

The most important thing to remember about point fighting is that it is a game of tag that has so little to do with actual self defense that it can actually compromise your ability to defend yourself.

Back when I used to go to tournaments I would compete in forms and fighting and I even took home a few trophys which I have in a box in storage. One thing I never did was train any differently than if I was preparing for a real fight.

I've seen a person take home a first place fighting trophy on a stretcher. So keep the game play in perspective.

The most important thing you can gain from point tournaments is the self confidence that comes from getting in the ring with a complete stranger who you do not know what they are going to do.

My Sensei taught me: "The essence of karate is self defense. If after several years in the dojo you can't defend yourself in a real life situation, you have wasted your time."


One thing that has helped me in the past is punching and kicking hundreds of times with light dumbells in your hands and ankle weights.Get use to doing this and when you stop useing them you will feel and be faster on your strikes.Great for point type sparring.


You need to develop explosive power and stamina for martial arts.


I would strongly advise against this training methodology unless you want a torn rotator cuff and hamstrings.

Speed is only one part of the eqation here. Timing is at least as important. Get yourself a double ended speed ball. Once you get used to timing it practice moving and angling as you hit it. One of my favorite combo's on the speed bag is reverse punch it then as it is traveling away round house it before it can get away this will make you quick.

Another thing is to just spend the time sparring.

Last but certainly not least is a realistic appraisal of the martial art you are studying. I know it's not diplomatic to say this but some of the most popular systems just plain suck when compaerd to the best that is out there. Some are better thought out and that's all there is to it.

I don't mean to turn this into the standard childish my styles better than your style pissing match that goes on in the arts so please don't start a flame war.


I respectfully disagree with Sifu.
First of all you should never over extend a punch or kick with weight or no weight,thats where you will possibly injure yourself.I know this from personal experience with a partial tear of my hamstring from an over extended round house kick from my first year as a martial art student.And my advice was not to spar with the weights just drill your kicks and punches under controll.And yes as Sifu mentioned there are many other factors involved in throwing a quick powerful blow.My advice was just a bit of information that may help you.I guess we should of asked how much experience you have first off.I would mentioned that the great Bruce Lee used light dumbells in his hands for hundreds of punches with 1 to 10 lb.dumbells.You should make the judgement for your self and see if there is any benifit for you.I do see where sifu is coming from as far as the injury concern just don't over extend and be under control.


by what rationale is punching with dumbbells a good idea?


About punching with dumbbells:

Nothing about that is a good idea. The resistance of the dumbbells (down) is wrong for training for faster or stronger punches. They also have no effect whatsoever on speed/power. They do however have a very powerful placebo effect that after doing them you Feel very fast indeed.

About Weights training with martial arts, I've been wondering that myself. Mostly thinking about max-strength training with very little volume, because more often then not in ma, volume is quite high with the skill training and such.


I guess you guys have more wisdom and knowledge than the late Bruce Lee.You must truly great martial artists.
I guess everyone has an opinion.What works for one may not work for another and this form of training didn't work for you.And if you've read the post it is only a bit of advice and not the only solution.Instead of criticize offer a positive answer to the main question that was asked.


hey steve B, be a man or go away.


Eh. Bruce Lee was into strength training though, and concentric movements, bodyweight stuff, etc. I'd say pushups. dive bombers, single leg squats, etc, and more for speed/strength than for all out strongman strength.

There's a saying I've heard that they have in the military, and I think it applies to martial arts also; they dont want guys that can shrug hummers and bench press volkswagons (i have read in various publications that the first guys to drop out of hell week for the SEALS are bodybuilders). They want strength x speed, and endurance to match. hell, i've boxed a couple of times, and its hard to keep your arms up at all after five minutes...


Steve B.

You clearly know not the science of what you speak. The law of specificity should be considered with every drill, every exercise you ever do. What specifically does punching with a dumbbell train? It trains you to get good at punching with a dumbbell, not at punching without one. To punch better, practice punching. If you want to be faster, train the nervous system to be more efficient. If you want to be more powerful in your punch, train for strength.

Here is an example of one way to greatly increase your power in a punch.
1. Get your close grip, three board bench as heavy as humanly possible, keeping your elbows tucked as much as possible the whole time.
2. Mimic your punch with exercise. Lay on an incline bench with a dumbbell in hand with extended arm and hand in prone position (end of a punch), then lower the dumbbell to the position you would start your punch from. For me my elbow is tucked, hand neutral and close to my cheek. Basically punch with the dumbbell straight up. You will use a weight that allows you move down then up again in just less then 1 second, if you are slower, it is too heavy. Do two reps per set and no more then about 8 sets. This is stressful on the elbow, if you experience elbow pain, go back to 1. or decrease your range of motion.
3. Punch a bag, do this with great power on every punch, if you lose punching power you did too much. Next time stop before you lose power.
4. Punch the air. Do this fast like lightning and with perfect form. When your form breaks down, you did too much. Next time do less.
5. Use these same principles with the reverse of your punch. You figure that one out, or this will turn into a full blown article.

  1. Trains max strength, 2. Trains motor recruitment, 3. Trains power (puts 1 and 2 together), and 4. Trains coordination and speed. 5. Trains balance of strengths which makes you faster then just training the puch. (your body will only allow you to push with as much speed and force as your body can pull back with speed and force)

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = holly shit punch.

Fight well,


A lot of the training style will depend on what sort of martial art you are studying. A grappling based style will obviously train differently to a striking based style.

I train in JuJitsu based grappling. Increases in explosive power have help this enormously, as well as tabata and movement specific circuits.

Punching with weights around the wrists has helped with speed training in the past, but I'm finding just doing a lot of explosive lifts (especially in the bench and push press) has helped even more.


And here lies the reason everyones martial art is better than everyone elses closed minds to others ideas and ways of doing things.You guys have your ideas on things and i have mine.I have point sparred in the past and won at the national level.I'm not saying i'm great or anything by any means, but i do have point sparring experience.

Rolo here is my reasoning behind why i say "light"d.b.1 to 10lbs.or wrist weights punching drills may be benificial to some.It was to me.I believe that if you have weight in hand/wrist area it will take more energy to start and stop your punch and having to overcome inertia when pulling that punch thus training the body to overcome this with some resistance.It makes you quicker when you don't have to overcome a resistance/weight if you will.Not to mention the benifit of working the delts and back to help keep your arms up from tiring out when sparring.

So after training this way for a peroid of time and then sparring without weight you should be a little quicker.It's not throwing strikes wildly but under control for a workout.This is not a power drill either.Try ten minutes of this or shoot for a certain numberof reps.Incorporate it with other drills.It is just one approach to a question asked as there are many ways to help quickness.If you don't agree thats fine.Everyone has there own ways and ideas on training.