“And now hit your head against the wall” – Pleaaaase What?!
This is the first reaction many have when first starting to train in a Kung Fu School. The reactions of people, told to condition their body in all different ways, range from pure disbelieve to siriously questioning the teachers sanity.
You punch the wall, kick it, do headstands on the stone floor, pushups on fists or fingers, hit trees with your forearms and ellbows or let others kick and punch you.
Why the hell would you do that?
Because Conditioning is the base of many advanced and even basic Kung Fu Techniques.
Go and try blocking a punch with your forearm without conditioning. You most likely will hurt yourself. But if your arm is conditioned chances are good that you will hurt the other person by simply blocking their punch. If you are really good you might break the arm.
The same goes for Sanda or pretty much any fighting situations…kicks hurt a lot less if you are used to them.
The whole process is actually rather facinating and the Chinese Martial Artists have perfected it.
Throth against spears, breaking ironbars over the head, breaking stones with your hands, doing two finger pushups. The list is endless. All of these techniques are called Hard Qigong.
And it takes years of daily, painful conditioning to perfect them.
It is amazing how much the human body can deal with and what can be achieved.
What exactly happens is a bit of a mystery.
There was a reportage in germany about a Kungfu Practioner, who can do a headstand
on a thick nail 1cm…If he makes a wrong move or somebody untrained does this move the nail would go straight into the skull. Imagine that, the whole body weight on this small point of your skull. It took him years of training, that point is now hairless and really misshaped but it is a lot stronger then your normal human skull.
The theory is that throught constant repitions the muscles, the skins and eventually even the bones get stronger. By causing microfractures, the bones heal more dense and even the muscles and skin get stronger, bruises heal quicker and the body itself becomes stronger. It’s not called Iron Body for nothing.
If you don’t believe me, try forearm conditioning with somebody who has done it for several months or better years. I bet you you won’t last a minute. Even if you might beat that person with muscle strenght like during arm wrestling !
What does this mean for you?
This means there is no way around conditioning for anybody who is sirious about martial arts. It can give you that little edge you will need to win, wether in the ring or on the street.
Being able to take punches without flinching can make all the diffrence, as well as the fact that it simply won’t hurt as much and you’ll recover quicker.
How do you start conditioning?
Step by step. First off, a major bruise will throw you back instead of help you advance. So when you condition your body it is important not to damage the skin or your muscles too much.
Many people start with giving hard massages over the course of several weeks before they actually start hitting themselves or trees.
Guessing you are probably starting of by yourself I would recommend picking a tree and conditioning the forearms and ellbows. Start of slowly and when it gets numb, use a bit more force. But remember don’t whack your arms like crazy against a tree without any pretraining. You don’t want those bruises that will last weeks to heal-.-
Now for all the places harder to reach, use a wooden stick. Instead of conditioning everything I would pick things essential for YOUR Martial Art.
Let’s say you have many blocking techniques, the forearms and shins will be most important for you.
If you practise many grapples train your finger and palm with fist pushups, finger planks and catching heavy objects with your fingers to strenghten your grip.
If you have many elbow strikes, training these by using a wall or tree will be essential. Even striking a boxing sack full power will help. There are a lot of nerves around your elbow and you really want to toughen that area up a bit, otherwise it will hurt like hell.
Be creative…start with light pressure and slowly build up!
One book I really can recommend for Shaolin Kungfu or if you try to start training Hard Qi Gong is
1. Authentic Shaolin Heritage: Training Methods of 72 Arts of Shaolin– by Jin Jing Zhong (*affiliate link)
But please be careful and ask your teacher first or get help from somebody with experience. Many of these excercises can siriously damage your muscles and joints, so far that you won’t be able to f.e. straighten your fingers anymore. If you start getting any issues please consult a doctor. Remember mastering one cool skill doesn’t justify that you destroy your body for it!
Last Tip for Conditioning
Do it daily! While you will see improvments if you do it even just once a week, you will progress much faster if you do it daily.
It’s 10 or 15 minutes in the beginning and most exercises you can even do while watching TV.Remember Martial Arts is not just a Sport, it's a lifestyle 😉 Click To Tweet
So do you use Conditioning for your training? What techniques do you use? Or do you think it is total bullshit. Share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you =)