(Not only) For fighters and kung fu/wushu serious practitioners
If you have been following my coaching videos, you probably noticed that I used bands a lot. I do and I love them. Both short ones and regular ones. They are very easy to use. You can use them both for the strength aspect of your training, as well as for the speed. If you are totally new to it, just take some of your movements, such as a strike or a kung fu technique, and add a band. There are plenty of videos on the internet and other learning materials, so you can read and watch and read and watch.
You can imagine what all the crazy things you can do. Punch, pull for strength etc.
But for kung fu, I love to use it when working on my footwork. Nothing gives you better awarness of the function of your footwork than a good resistance. In a similar way, I would war the band around my weist when moving forward with a technique, when working on my hands and footwork.
Delay video app
Video training is one of the most important training tools, in my opinion. I have been using it for years and years. This thing is however different. Get some video delay app (I am using Video Delay Instant Replay) and set your delayed time. For a single movement or a combo, I go for 2-5sec, for a kung fu form sequence longer. So you put your phone in a stand, start the app, set up the delay and then move. You stop, do not have to touch the phone at all, and in 3 sec (or so) you can see your movement. It is like a delayed mirror. It’s not a video, but a real-time mirror so you can keep fixing your moves.
And another great thing! If you are like me, you probably listen to Spotify when you train and then suddenly you need to take a video. The music stops. Annoying. But the Instant Replay app also can record, and it doesn’t influence the music. Spotify keeps playing happily on in the background. The recorded video is without sound, just to warn you. In case you are wondering, the app doesn’t sponsor me. But maybe they should! Hey, Instant Replay!
It’s 2020 so you should already have one. When I was traveling and doing my field work in China, I noticed them in the gyms of the wushu teams. Later that year I also saw them at wushu competitions. Let’s say wushu is not really the fastest area in terms of new training technologies, science and money to it, so when it reached wushu, it definitelly must have reached you! And that was years ago.
I really fell for the roller when I joined a workshop, which was about a spiky type of a foam roller. We did some mobility tests, such as full squats, used the roller for few minutes, and did the tests again. I felt the huge difference and got one soon after.
You can use the roller before and after training. Before, it will help you warm up, get the blood going. After training, it is basically like a massage. You can roll on it (move up and down), but you can also just find a painful spot and “melt” over it, without movement. Which bring us to all the other things, such as tennis ball or a harder massage ball, which is great for a more in-depth work and I always bring one heap ball from Decathlon with me for wushu competitions, figths and camps.
I honestly do not lift much weight. With my coach I do lift some, but for my solo training I am pretty green to that. I do have weighted bands, which I again use for kung fu footwork (on ankles) as well as for my hands (wrists). That work in a very similar way as when in a Thai gym you shadow box with weights in your hands. After you take them off, you are fast as Flash. I have seen lots of kung fu people wearing the weights and performing the entire form. That is not a good way of usage, stay away from that. They would often say, it is for power. But in fact, they use it in a way that develops (and not very well) strength. The difference is, you want explosive power in your techniques, not to move like a zombie, maybe strong, but slow as hell. For power, you need limited movements, such as 1 technique, or 1 short sequence, not the entire form. The difference between explosive power and endurance, people.
Kung fu forms in chunks
Just to add to the previous one (sorry, fighters, this part is probably not very useful for you), I seldom train the entire forms (taolu, like kata in karate). Because I want to polish and perfect each technique in the form. So instead of doing the form 4x, with my energy going slowly down, I would take a technique and do it 10x, or 50x, or 100x. Nowadays, people don’t train like this. In Hong Kong, I mostly seen them doing the entire forms. It is in some sense easier, does not give you that intensity. Of course, your legs are burning and your endurance is in some sense up. But that is just one area. And it does not help you at all with your explosivness or speed. Now some of the readers closed this page :) When I do my dozens of repetitions of one small thing, sometimes not even a technique, but only a part of it, my Hong Kong kung fu people would look at me with a mix of admire and shock “she is crazy”. On the other hand, sifu told me that this is how they used to train before, and it is also the traditional way of training, for a fight. But people don’t want to train too hard today. So you don’t be like that.
If I am training for a competition, my preparation would be around 8-10 weeks. Before that, I do more of the whole forms and lots of basics. Then I start with the small parts coming up to one half of the form. Before, I did also practice the entire form at the peak of my preparation. By practice, I mean with speed, power, timing, leaving you breathless. Not like a zombie. But I found out that half of the form is enough, bringing me to the top of my cardio and explosivness, and the competition atmosphere will take care of the rest of the energy I need fo the entire form. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to train the entire form. To remember, to develop your techniques and coordination, to train endurance and legs, but not for your speed and power.
Sleeve phone holder
I tried different types of phone holders. When training outside on one spot, I just put my phone down, but when running, I need to have it with me. The best holder whatsoever is for me a rashguard sleeve. I don’t like long sleeves, so when I have one, I cut off the sleeves into a short sleeved rashguard. Keep the sleeves. The fabric is stretchy enough for a tight hold. And then you use it like DIY armband sock holder. Except for that the rashguard works better than socks. Unless you don’t have rashguard (kung fu people).
The first thing you learn. The most important thing you learn. No matter if kung fu or MMA, the basic movements, patterns and principles always are in the core of everything else. I spend lot of time on my footwork. Feet are number one thing I look at when I see a kung fu performance. Feet are also what I look at when my coach explains to me something new in MMA.
Well this is a big topic. I have one notebook for techniques in MMA, one for kung fu. One for another inspiring master I met. One for thoughts only, memories and worries. Than I have a list of things I have been working on lately. Do you know that kind of masking tape, which is transparent but you can write on it, too? So I have a piece of paper with the list of techniques I am working on, and it is all taped around with the transparent masking tape, for protection. If I need to add something, I simply write on it, and put another round of tape over.
For competitions, I used to have a log. With kung fu, it is really difficult to do so. Because you can’t just say: this week I run 0.3 sec faster, I am getting better! Because, how do you want to meassure kung fu? So it is more about the feeling, or technical notes, mistakes. Later, I had an excel file with different training cycle, depending on the periodization of my training. If you compete, you NEED to learn about periodization. Actually, no. If you want to TRAIN SMART, you need to know. In the past year, I had it in my head well enough, so I would just use my daily calendar to remind myself, what part of what cycle I am at in each week.
In MMA, I write down notes from almost every training. After the 3h class, I am usually too tired, so I eaither make few notes on my phone, or mostly common I record an audio note. Or at home I have a magic notepad, which sticks to the wall and you can write on it and then erase it and write again. So I make some notes there, before going to bed. Once or twice a week, I would sit down a write things down in my notebook, with pictures, maybe some underlines. It sounds like lot of work, and it really does cost some time, but everytime I repeat what I learned, on my audio note or when I write it down into my notepad, I go over it again in my head and that helps me to learn.
Video training and imaginery
If you read my previous post about being too hard on myself, you remember that I use videos after competitions (kung fu or fights) to make a list of mistakes. Now, I also list what I did well (it is much more difficult than finding mistakes). I have been using videos for training in the same way for maybe 8 years. It helped a lot. But there are other ways how to use the video training. You can also, and I am sure you do that, go through the videos of your role models or opponents, note what they do well or not so well. In psychological way, you can use a competition video to bring yourself back to the venue and train yourself to deal with all the emotions and factors. You can also use the sound from the venue when you train, to get mentally ready for it. Which goes together with imaginery, or visualization. With surprise, I found out that entering a cage before a fight is for me much less stressful, than entering a carpet for a taolu competition. I think it is because in the cage I go with just myself and my body ready to do what it can do, with a plan but with a huge portion of improvization and reaction. Simply, it’s just me, my true me. But for a kung fu competition, in taolu (forms), it is a performance. You can’t forget a step. You must perform like an actor. And you are entering this huge empty carpet, just you in the middle. Being punched in the face suddenly isn’t that bad!
Get around you good people who inspire you. It can be somebody from your field, but also not, like a dancer, boxer, gymnast, psychologist, physio, etc. Have people on your list to who you can send a video or ask for advice, people who you respect and whose opinion is important. Even if you train solo, or far away from them, it is really necessary you have a TEAM. In fighting, I felt it more than ever, how much a team is important. You deserve such team no matter if you are an MMA fighter or a studying choy lee fut.
Let me know if you have some other tips for a training tools and tricks! Thanks for reading.
I have been practicing martial arts since 1999. It became the reason for moving to Hong Kong and it guided many of my life decisions. I am addicted to hung kuen kung fu and MMA. Follow my path to pro fighter on this blog or my social media.
Follow my journey on Instagram.
Please follow the Facebook page to be updated about new posts coming out.