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Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts

Kali Eskcrima

Developing Filipino martial arts (FMA) skills requires access to quality instructions that unfortunately for my experience are difficult to find, the complexity of this art and the various areas of expertise require hours of training alone and with partners and requires a real dedication to improvement.

Often as I have already repeatedly stated on the blog many people outside this art have a very limited view of Filipino martial arts thinking that it is just the stick, a serious error of perception.

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

The use of weapons in general requires the development of coordination, timing and a variety of other skills specific to the application of Filipino martial arts that have huge benefits even with bare hands, consider that weapons have an incredible speed of movement compared to bare hand.

The vastness of the Filipino martial heritage with time will make you prefer some areas that you will deepen the most, such as the bare hand part, the dumog, the stick, sword y daga, double stick, etc., a necessary selection that you have to make and you will find the style and area that you most preach going to create your style and your approach to art but regardless of this there are athletic skills that go to the athletic skills.

Now returning to the theme of this post, the fact that a good athletic physical condition improves your martial skills is NOT new, but it is an important and incisive aspect that is often neglected in Filipino martial arts practitioners.

But why????

This is a mistake!! Because Kali with “belly” you can practice it but I don’t think it makes it better and more effective.

If you improve your ability to perform basic athletic movements (running, jumping, throwing, etc.), there will be a significant improvement in your skills as eskrimadores and as a fighter.

If you develop strength, you will see it replicated in strokes, takedowns, or other techniques, becausethe stronger you are, coordinate, loose, the more force you can generate, the faster you move.

Not to mention that the bare hand part like Panantukan or Sikaran require athletic skills such as boxing or Muay Thai and therefore require training and athletic preparations not different from that type of sport, also for this reason Filipino martial arts are complex and require dedication and integration with other combat sports whenever possible (personally I did so for example).

Now even if it is something that is known and that is taken for granted, I often see that there are many practitioners eskrimadores who neglect too much their athletic ability that instead has a lot of impact on your ability to apply Kali.

It’s not the fat that makes Kali more “round” but you need a specific athletic preparation to develop your all-round athletic fitness.

When I started with some people who only practice the use of weapons in particular to do a job on their strength and conditioning I immediately saw important changes inthe application of techniques, the year developed greater confidence and coordination in their movements with improvedproprioception and balance.

Even if you do Kali it doesn’t mean you don’t have to train athletic skills like it does in combat sports.

You can hit harder, move faster and save more time without diminishing your skills and accuracy.

It is clear that an added strength improvement and conditioning are an excellent support system for art that make you better.

Below I point out the basics of what you need to incorporate into your training sessions. Note: The tips are very general for fitness because I don’t know your condition, but they are all tips tending towards the performance needs of Filipino martial arts.

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight SportThe core of what worked for us includes:

  • strength-building,
  • explosive power development
  • increased stamina.

All three of these components are important.

Build strength

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

More strength will help you hit harder.

Strength is one of the components you need and it’s your ability to generate power in your shots but not only. Whether you hit with a weapon or with your bare hands, if you can strike harder, you will increase the effectiveness of your shots.

Strength helps you move faster.

You have to generate high levels of strength to push your body. Strength is needed to generate high levels of explosiveness. By developing more strength, you’ll be able to generate more explosiveness and then move faster. Although there is a limit, in general, the stronger you are, the faster you can be. This allows you to have a faster “game” and faster shots.

More strength also results in better control of your opponent when using levers, imbalances and other controls.

Although these are typically leverage-based tools, if you’re stronger, you have more leeway to make the technique work, even when you’re not in the perfect angle or position to apply it. Your strength will allow you to compensate more when your technique is not performed perfectly. attention!! Good technique is important and cannot replace it. However, the technique requires strength. The more you have available, the more options you have. Land stronger people are harder to “kill.”

To build strength, find an all-round program that incorporates push ups, squats, dead endes, pull ups, parallel dips and other free-body exercises.

Barbell training combined with free body exercises can be very effective in building strength. Focus on training designed for strength and athletics, not bodybuilding.

There’s a lot of difference.

Do your research butmake sure youuse a program that produces measurable increasesin strength. At the beginning of your strength training, almost everything will work, but over time, you need a well-designed program to keep seeing progress.

Ps. I want to make a specific note for your hands, because consider that the grip strength of your hands when handling a weapon is something you can’t overlook.

Explosive power development

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Explosive power helps you execute your techniques more effectively.

If you hit someone with your stick, you want the shot to be effective. You want to be able to stop your opponent with hard shots. To do this, you have to hit them using power. Power is not only useful when performing an attack, but also when performing other techniques, such as throws and takedowns.

Explosive power is the ability to produce maximum force in a minimum time.

That means you have to have strength to have power. Once you’ve developed your strength to its potential, focus on reducing the time it takes to produce this force. Reduce the time to develop more energy.

To develop power, use exercises that allow you to work on maximum output strength and speed.

Incorporate Olympic stalls, shots, jumps, plyometry, medical ball shots, kettlebells and other explosive exercises into your workout. Be sure to develop a good strength base before trying to develop “power.” Starting power training too early will lead you to injuries like trying to do these exercises without learning the right shape.

To be able to produce energy, develop the strength in your core.

The more stable your core is, the faster and more force you can use to move your limbs. In athletic movement, your core must absorb and transfer strength through your body. Imagine how your arms and legs move as you swing a stick at full force. That force must be channeled from your legs, through your core, and transported through your arm. If your core is weak, you will lose energy during the transfer by interrupting the chain.

Core strengthening exercises should focus on resistance to flexion, extension or spinal rotation. The use of traction bars, kettlebell, TRX, vPlanck airs, AB Roll or barbell stalls, battle rope are some of the functional exercises you need to use.

These exercises can be used to improve the ability to stabilize the spine during movement and thus increase the potential to generate energy.


Increase your stamina

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Filipino martial arts include explosive movements performed at high speed.

The shots and techniques are executed with explosive sequences of multiple shots combined with movement and does not allow you to stop because the weapons move very fast.

In a very short period of time, you can shoot multiple shots at full speed, escape attacks with a quick footwork, and maybe take a snap or takedown.

Especially if you consider yourself prepared for multiple attackers, these combined high-intensity efforts can occur several times consecutively requiring considerable aerobic effort.

This type of physical effort must be developed with your strength and conditioning, otherwise you will find yourself after a short time with your breath and without the energy to move and become an easy target even more with weapons.

To develop this level of output or capacity, you need to take a specific approach to training because of the way your body feeds the activity.

Different types of physical exertion are powered by your body differently. The way your body feeds a slow jog or occasional bike ride is very different from how it fuels an all-round sprint, a jump for maximum height or a really heavy lift. The different systems that fuel these efforts include aerobic and anaerobic systems. Activities that are powered by the aerobic system tend to be more moderately stimulated, while activities powered by anaerobic systems tend to be at very fast rates or include maximum efforts.

For general fitness, a training balance is useful for both aerobic and anaerobic systems, but if you train specifically for better performance in Filipino martial arts, spend more time training anaerobic systems.

Performing Filipino martial arts at full speed requires greater use of the high-performance systems in which you work in anaerobic thresholds.

You must then train the same systems in your strength and conditioning.

This workout can result in multiple strokes at full speed first on the tyres when you train and then on the head/arm/hands/etc. your opponent’s, being able to continuously apply explosive movements for different rounds in a fight, or even have the energy to fight more attackers.

To develop this ability, use a combination of interval training and high-intensity workouts that are mostly 10 minutes or less but high intensity.

Circuit training, AMRAP-style workouts (as many laps as possible) and other workouts based on timed activities that focus on quick set completion (with good shape and minimal rest) are some examples that might work for you.

Include more maximal efforts with things like sprinting, jumps and medical ball shots.

As you improve the thresholds by how fast, intense and “long” you can go before you give in and the more you’ll see your Kali improve.

This improvement will make you stay cleaner for longer in the techniques, fast, accurate and powerful before fatigue spoils your technique while running the Kali.

In practice, this means that you have a better chance of winning a sports race and surviving a violent encounter.

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Some tips

  • It uses exercises that incorporate general athletic movements. Do not isolate but do exercises that bind muscle chains to generate movement. Don’t try to make them look like Kali’s movements. Although in specific skill training, this can be valuable, in strength and endurance training, this can really ruin your “mechanics”.
  • Rather than focusing on developing a single muscle, think in terms of cultivating a good movement. For best results, use mostly exercises involving multiple joints and muscle groups rather than isolating muscles.
  • Train to improve your weaknesses. Don’t get lost in doing the things you like the most. The point here is to improve your performance. Having a functional balance of strength and conditioning to support your FMA skills is important for your performance.
  • Use the variation in your workout. To improve significantly, you need consistency, but you also need variations. It progressively develops strength and power, but avoids oversimpling yourself to a single routine. Vary the exercises and routines you perform to avoid certain fitness aspects. attention!! When you introduce variety, never eliminate your functional primary exercises.
  • Ask an expert for help designing a program and make sure you learn how to perform the exercises correctly. Bad form and overly ambitious programs can lead to injury and poor results. Remember that you are looking for performance results, not boasting rights or self-penance. A good program will allow you to measure the results.
  • Always remember the purpose for which you do it!. This means that now you don’t have to do more fitness than FMA, you work out for a purpose.

Athletic conditioning for Filipino martial arts Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

Although all this is very simple and obvious, it is actually a fundamental that will give you an advantage over your opponents and make you healthier at the same time. If you’re not already doing strength and conditioning, try for a few months and you’ll see the difference yourself. Don’t overlook this aspect, you’re always a fighter!.

Stay Kali Fit!!


Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento. La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale. La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco. Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità. Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! Andrea


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