Physical Training For Close
Combat And Self-Defense
WE were recently shown some apparent promotional material for “Cross Fit”, a popular physical training activity about which we have been aware for some years now. In our personal opinion this approach to physical training is NOT good. We vigorously recommend against it. That doubtless will do nothing to deter people from participation in Cross Fit, and that’s not our concern. We’ve said our piece; now do whatever you wish.
What prompted our writing this present piece is the fact that within the promotional literature that our friend gave us was mention of Cross Fit being followed by martial artists, and it being well suited to those who are involved in martial arts training. How unfortunate, as we see it, if those training in combat arts are drawn to Cross Fit because they believe it to be especially well suited for their requirements. Hold it!
The reality is that there is no single best “martial arts-oriented” physical training program. There are many physical training, exercise, and fitness systems that work beautifully in conjunction with that which is our specialty (i.e. close combat and self-defense), and it is simply not true to insist otherwise.
We happen to be very partial to all round sensible weight training programs, using adjustable barbells and dumbells. These programs build every desirable physical quality, and provide strength training that we feel is particularly important in man to man combat. We absolutely concede that the use of Nautilus machines, gymnastics, rock climbing, regularly swimming laps, and rugged courses of calisthenics training are also all excellent for use in conjunction with hard training in close combat and personal defense. During WWII our Marine Raiders trained with rifle P.T. (using their M1 Garands) calisthenics, log P.T., obstacle courses, and climbing/rappelling in conjunction with their “combat judo”. They did just fine! The British Commandos and American Rangers also worked with log P.T., tough obstacle courses, and climbing skills combined with their hand-to-hand combat. The “Devil’s Brigade” (The First Special Service Force) similarly trained with calisthenics, climbing, running, and negotiating obstacle courses, as they were taught the O’Neill System of hand-to-hand combat by Pat O’Neill, himself.
Using a barbell and dumbells is convenient, simple, easily accomplished at home —— even in a small apartment —— and takes relatively little time. It is safe when properly done, and the results are always impressive. It is a P.T. method suited to the needs of the modern individual who is not training in an elite military unit, and who cannot even join a good gym. With just a few hours of quality weight training a week, the combat arts student can enjoy total physical development, to include health-building and the increased self-confidence that comes from actually seeing oneself grow stronger as one becomes more skilled in techniques.
If you wish to build yourself up for outstanding ability in close combat and self-defense, then simply build yourself up. We’d urge weight training, but if you enjoy any other all-round exercising method and can do it regularly, go for it. The exception, in our opinion, is Cross Fit.
We are well aware of Cross Fit’s enthusiastic following. We believe that adults must be left free to do that which they personally choose to do, and so we have no desire to see Cross Fit “banned”. However we are aware of certain potential very dangerous possible results of doing Cross Fit that have affected some people, and we do not wish to see anyone so harmed. We know from our own personal training experience and from training thousands of others over the years that the simple, basic non-frantic weight training workout that utilizes basic exercises, progressive resistance, strict form, adequate rest between sets, sensible time limits, balanced body work, rest, a good diet, and a healthy attitude, will provide the greatest, surest, lifetime training benefits to all who participate. We also know the serious potential for harm that doing Olympic type lifts entails. In fact it was the genius Arthur Jones (inventor of the Nautilus Machines) who warned that —— over time —— Olympic lifting causes damage to just about every single individual who participates in it; even those whose natural physical structure and capability is favorable for doing the lifts when they are youngsters.
“There are plenty of people who will laugh at all this and go right on enjoying their Cross Fit workouts. That’s fine with me. There are a lot of people who, in their 80’s, still smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and scoff at the idea that doing so is harmful. So long as I am free to avoid smoking —— and Cross Fit —— I say “do what you will”, But I do want to give my visitors my best, honest advice, based upon a lifetime of participatory and teaching experience.
1. Weight training provides a simple, inexpensive, convenient, and certain means of building up physically in every way. We’d recommend it for all who train in self-defense.
2. If you enjoy and prefer an activity other than weight training, so long as it works your entire body well, you do it regularly, and it combines well with your close combat training, that is perfectly acceptable. There is no special “martial arts p.t. program” for everyone.
3. We suggest —— rather strongly —— that you avoid Cross Fit (as well as Olympic lifting).
Combat training certainly contributes to overall fitness and well being, but it is wise to supplement your combat training with a definite program of physical training.
Hope we’ve helped you to a useful understanding of the right way to do it.