Inside Kung Fu — Hee Il Cho… Man of Contrast

Inside Kung Fu January 1978

Hee Il Cho… Man of Contrast

Here’s one Korean instructor who stands above the crowd.

by John Corcoran

Contemporary martial arts are inundated with claims that many times have no factual basis. It seems everybody’s a champion; everyone has taught their art to military troups; everyone is a hrghranking black belt. The stories get old; the pattern monotonous. In the past few years, America has winessed a rapid and widespread importation of Korean tae kwon do instructors. There seems to be Korean karate schools on every block from California to Rhode Island to Florida. Sadly there are many controversial claims stemming out of these schools, most of which have, at the very least, incessed American Karate instructors has bred heated rivalries and, at times, outright hostility. In the worst cases rival schools have come to blows.

In the entire United States, there are perhaps only two-dozen Korean tae kwon do instructors who have earned the wide respectof all martial artists. They are people who have achieved recognition based on actual accomplishment, not rumor, like entering tournaments and proving they can fight. And win. Or by producing highly competent students. They are men of contrast who have faced incredibile odds to become successful. Cho i s a member of this elite group.

A flamboyant performer~ Hee Il Cho is just as much at home fighting in the tournament ring as he is in wowwing audiences with precise kicking demonstrations of hair-splitting skill. But his martial arts activities do not end there. Cho has turned out a large number of proficient students; has pioneered a chain of schools centered in Providence, Rhode Island (which he later sold), and has even promoted a full-contact world championship, which isn’t the easiest venture in the world to undertake. He now operates a modern dojang in Santa Monica, California that was formerly one of the Chuck Norris studios.

It is more than just his versatility, however, that characterizes Hee Il Cho as a man of contrasts. First and foremost, it is his martial philosophy, an open-minded approach which many times exceeds that usually considered the domain of the American Karate instructor. Yet
wisely, Cho understands that evolution does has roots and he therefore maintains part of his traditional background.

Now that Cho has been established as one who stands above the crowd, let’s examine the facts to back it up. Perhaps the best examples can be quoted from his recently published book, appropriately entitled Man of Contrast In his chapter on hand techniques, Cho states: «In Korea, it is forbidden in tournaments to hit to the face with a hand technique. Due to this rule, tae kwon do has a reputation, in this country (America), of not having enough hand techniques. / teach as many hand techniques as I do kicking techniques and encourage my students to utilize these hand techniques in their sparring.»

In his excellent chapter on weight training, a practice that was once abhorred by martial artists, Cho writes: «Many martial artists do not understand how weight lifting can be helpful to their training. They say that lifting weights slows you down and tightens the muscles, hampering stretch. This depends entirely on how you train with weights. . . By following lifting with equal amounts of stretching you will gradually build up strength and length of your muscles.»

Proof of his statements lies in the eye of the beholder. Cho is fine specimen of a man, solidly constructed yet extraordinarily flexible. He has a swimmer’s build which, by the standards of some authorities, is the finest physique on the athletic scale. Weighing in at a modest 150 pounds, Cho can bench press twice his weight. And it doen’t hinder him from performing some of the most intricate and difficult kicks of the ieaping and spinning variety.

The execution of Hee II Cho’s kicks have also set him apart from the common martial artist, and even from the run-of the-mill tae kwon do master. His speed and accuracy are highly acclaimed by his contemporaries. «One could almost say that there has been a revolution in the development of new kicking techniques,» says Cho. «When I started training in Korea, we only used a limited amount of kicks which were practiced until perfected.

These were mainly side, roundhouse and front snap kicks, and side thrust kicks. Most prominent of all the new kicks are probably the spinning kicks.»

As we’re all aware, the martial arts have evolved considerably since the 1960’s. Many technical and theoretical changes have taken place since then. Cho is one Korean who is well aware of the evolutionary process and the responsibility he faces in keeping up with those changes. «As martial arts have had to adapt to the American lifestyle, the methods of training and teaching have developed, and the old traditional methods have given way to the changes.

When Hee Il Cho arrived in the United States and critiqued the status of American karate, he was smart enough to realize that he had to modify the austere and strict training methods of Korea to suit American needs. This was probably the most instrumental factor in his road to success. He learned how to adapt the training methods to the customs of this country.

«Although I was a sixth degree black belt and an instructor,» Cho points out, «I fought in many tournaments and got to know many young fighters at their level. I listened to their conversations and assimilated their opinions of martial arts. The emergence of point tournaments has contributed to the innovation of new kicking techniques. Certain traditional kicks didn’t work in a tournament situation, Cho says. «The traditional method was for one blow to finish the fight. Now, with the point system, it has changed fighting techniques to give fighting an added dimension. «

Cho believes full-contact has contributed substantially to the changes in modern martial arts. To him, it poses a question about the future status of the arts. «Full-contact, in a way, has caused division of thought in martial arts,» insists Cho. «It’s the traditional art versus the sport. Full-contact has nothing to do with tradition; all that really remains are the kicks. When fighters started wearing protective equipment in the ring, they found that many of the old techniques that were considered deadly were, in fact, totally ineffective.

«Many hand techniques don’t work with equipment, so contact fighters turned to boxing gyms to develop hand skills. Contact has a long way to go before it is an established sport. Attendance is low at events. The failure seems to hang between contact karate not being specifically defined. It’s somewhere between boxing, kick-boxing and martial arts. »

In analyzing all the elements, Cho concludes that the martial arts are rapidly becoming more of a sport than an art. «One tends to associate sport with competitiveness,» advises Cho, «but at the studio level, martial arts are not based on competition which would then be an argument against the art being a sport.

Cho believes there is much good that should be maintained from past traditions. His informative book displays many sophisticated kicks that he has helped develop over the past seven years, coupled with some traditional techniques which are their basis. But if Hee II Cho is considered the outstanding instructor that he is, it will be due to his innovations in the areas of spectacular kicking, weight training which enhances martial expertise, and exacting breaking maneuvers, some of which he publicly performs blindfolded.

Perhaps his open-minded approach. Not content to rest on his merits and ability, both of which are sizable, he hopes to continue
developing and searching for new techniques to broaden his horizons.

Compared to other instructors, the contrast may be startling.
But, then again, Cho is after all the man of contrasts.

© copyright Inside Kung Fu January 1978


Taekwondo’s Hee II Cho values the stability of tradition, but recognizes the need to move forward
by Jose Fraguas (circa 1990)

He is one of the most renowned taekwondo mas­ters in the world. In the highly competitive taek­wondo community – where there are more kick­ers than pro football has punters – Cho’s reputa­tion lands him right at the top of the pack. His open mind and flexible sentiments about full-contact karate and boxing, along with his unorthodox teaching methodology, put a black mark on him among tra­ditional taekwondo instructors. At the same time, this has attracted flocks of students who are interested in learning the true essence of mar­tial arts. After decades of sharing his knowl­edge and experience with students from all over the world, Master Cho still trains every day and is living proof of an everlasting youth that can be obtained through dedi­cation and attention to training. Fittingly, his trademark is the most powerful spinning back­ kick the world of martial arts has ever known.  Hee Il Cho would have it no other way.


Q: How did growing up during the Korean War affect you?

A: I’m the eldest of three brothers. After the war, times were hard. I still remember going hungry and scrounging around for a bowl of white rice. Today I consider that experience extremely valuable, because I’m conscious of whatever I have and am always thankful for it.

Q: Why did you start taking the martial arts?

A: I began my training in a typical fash­ion. At a local fair, I was beaten by five other youths, and I was black and blue for days. The worst was not the physical pain but the humiliation. As soon as I recovered, I began my train­ing in tang soo do. The classes were absolutely grueling. We trained for five or six hours a day and only the strong sur­vived. My instructor was incredibly rigid – we never ques­tioned anything and treated him like a god. After classes, I would sometimes have to wash his feet, and he still didn’t even speak to me for the first year. After training for three years, I received my black belt. After that, I moved with my family to Inchon, near Seoul. While living in Inchon, I realized that martial arts were my destiny in life.

Q: When did you join the military?

A: When I was 21. At the time I was already a fourth­ degree black belt. I taught taekwondo to the servicemen and continued my studies under general Choi Hong Hi. It was through his federation that I had the opportunity to teach in India, Germany and finally the United States. I came here as part of a demonstration team and I found the country to be a place where you could achieve anything you wanted to with hard work and dedication. I spend time in South Bend, Indi­ana, then in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and finally in New York City. I was living at the YMCA because I had no money, and my weight was down to something like I 15. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I knew I was not going to do it in New York. So I took off again and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Just when I was ready to quit the martial arts, a sympathetic landlord offered me six months free rent on a small building. With the last of my money I took out a tiny ad in the local newspaper. Just days later I had 50 students! From then on I never looked back.

Unless the mind is still, you cannot see anything.

Q: When did you move to California?

A: In 1976, I sold my schools and headed for California because I felt there was something more in store for me. I purchased a Chuck Norris school on Santa Monica Boulevard and [subsequently] opened Cho’s Taekwondo Studio. Califor­nia was like a foreign country to me. People were different. They still are different and I am not sure why – perhaps it has something to do with the climate and the easy lifestyle ­but students aren’t as disciplined; they are softer. Today, I have adapted my methods somewhat to accommodate their lifestyle, but back then I was still quite strict. I had students sparring full-contact with no protective gear. Also, I didn’t recognize the belts they’d gained under previous instructors. Of course, some parents thought my teaching methods were too harsh. My brethren in the Korean martial arts community criticized me because I was teaching boxing in my classes, and I didn’t have my students attired in white gi’s.

The Winning Attitude


We are bound only by the limitations we place upon ourselves. People spend more time saying, “I can’t,” and giving excuses than they ever do thinking, “I can.” I hear excuses all the time: “I can’t do this Master Cho because…” and so it goes. I. am no superman, but I always say to myself first, “I can and I will” – Hee Il Cho

Q: Why did you break with tradition?

A: I don’t like to live in the past. In the old days, the orig­inal reason why uniforms were white is because it was the only material available. But that’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the present. If you want to know why I started box­ing, just look where the best physical conditioning is and look where the money is. There is a reason why full-contact and kickboxing fighters use boxing and not karate punches – it’s because boxing works better! Although I agree it is not for everyone, martial artists can still learn a lot from boxing even if they still prefer their own art. And when the two are truly blended, taking the best from each, the result is effective. That blend is the martial art of the future.

Q: Don’t you think that inner peace can be attained through the study of martial arts?

A: If there is, you are not going to find it by going off on some mountain top and sitting for three hours in a cross-legged position. No, the only way you are going to find it is through actions – because life is action.

Q: You competed in the United States during your early years. Why?

A: I believe that you will never know how good you are if you don’t test your skills against other martial artists. When I came here from Korea, I saw that the Amer­ican fighters were doing things differently. I had to see if the way I trained really worked. Of course, I did lose once in a while but that was mostly from excessive con­tact. I knocked a lot of people out. In the tournaments at that time, with the exception of punches to the face, the blows were rarely pulled, which was fine with me. In Korea, we fought with no protective gear and went full-out. That’s the way it should be, because if you practice pulling the blow, that’s the way you are going to react out on the street.

Q: Were you impressed with the masters you met here when you first arrived?

A: It was funny, in a way, because when I first came to United States I was very rigid. I adhered strictly to tradition. But gradually I came to see that the masters were really just people who had a little more knowledge than I did. They cer­tainly weren’t gods, though there was a time when I regarded them as such. But that was a long time ago.

Q: What point have you reached in your personal mar­tial arts journey?

A: I have reached a moment in my life in which much dis­turbs me about the martial arts. The time has arrived for the fresh air of change to sweep away the static insular attitudes and exchange them for new ideas and rejuvenation. This needs to be a porous acceptance of change within all aspects of the various systems of martial arts, especially from the martial artists themselves.

Each today is the only true reality. We may be the sum total of our past, and the pasts of millions who lived before us, but life is what we are doing, thinking, feeling, and creat­ing now – at this moment. That is reality. I cannot live cap­tured by the ideals of the past or in fear of my future. Neither am I afraid to admit change into my life, especially within my teachings of taekwondo.

If there is a superior way of teaching or developing tech­niques, I want to know about them and adapt that way into the methods I have established. The future of all systems of martial arts depends on continual growth. While holding onto our noble traditions, we should explore new concepts and training methods.

My martial arts’ ancestors may curl up and cringe at my ideas, but I am interested in analyzing and exploring the most effective scientific methods for developing techniques. The great masters of the past were indeed excellent teach­ers but, surrounded as we are today by new technology and innovative research into new training methods, there may be better ways of developing certain techniques. I, therefore, do not feel guilty nor compelled to stick to one method for­mulated many years ago.

Q: What’s your opinion on full-contact karate and kickboxing?

A: Full-contact karate has definitely put pressure on tra­ditional martial arts and questioned its effectiveness. Often, when matched with an experienced full­ contact fighter, the traditional stylist gets slaughtered. However, I don’t want to compare a full-contact fighter to a , martial art and say which is better. Kickboxing is beneficial for, developing physical strength, endurance and prowess. But it is a sport and not a martial art. Full-contact kickboxing is com­petitive and should only be done by those who wish to make a tremendous commitment to the sport. Why, though, have the Amer­icans so successfully dominated the full­ contact and point tournaments? Because they have usually not limited themselves to training solely within one system. They carefully observe many different systems and take the best each has to offer, putting the various techniques together to suit themselves. I am not – by any means – advocating that a student jump from one style to another. However, I do think it is important for instructors to analyze the success of these types of fighters. I have only trained in taekwondo and believe it to be one of the finest systems of martial arts. But I will adopt a technique from any other style if I see that technique is more effective than my own method.

Q: Have you made changes in the art?

A: I have incorporated basic boxing techniques into my advanced classes. I trained as a boxer in Korea and realize that my knowledge of boxing definitely helped me become a successful fighter. Boxing is scientifically designed to gener­ate the most power possible from each motion executed; additionally, it teaches good avoidance techniques, which is vital to any fighter. My students’ fighting has vastly improved and the results from our tournaments are excellent. There’s no use hiding beneath the precarious umbrella of our so-called mystical past, which sanctions the belief that one blow will finish a fight every time. Rather, we should accept change and be open to other options and outcomes. I don’t want to give the impression that I am hoping for an amalgamation of all systems – I’m not. I hope, rather, for an adaptation and acceptance of all styles. Taekwondo is a great kicking style; Japanese karate masters have some of the fastest hands; Chi­nese systems are designed more for the aesthetic aspects of the martial arts. Each system has its own diverse and unique set of principles and rules, which could never merge. What we should do is learn more from each other with open minds. Personally, I have put extra emphasis on weight training and increased intensity during workouts, and I have added boxing techniques to the training regimen as well. The weight train­ing program should be a specific routine to meet the individ­ual’s needs; however, it is a supplementary training for a martial arts workout, not a substitute for it.

Q: Do you consider yourself a non-traditionalist?

A: I see myself as a traditionalist and non-traditionalist. I follow the mental, ethical, and moral principles of traditional martial arts, which includes self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit. As a non-traditional master, I have adapted my training regimen to my students and will incor­porate new techniques to benefit them. As I said, I maintain an open mind to all styles of fighting and recognize the ben­efits of each discipline.


Q: What is your opinion of all the jealousy in martial arts?

A: It is arrogant egotism that has created bad feelings between martial artists. The days when instructors strutted about puffed-up with their feelings of importance are long gone I hope. Because all that nonsense gets in the way of presenting martial arts to the public for what it is: a physical and mental art form that gives students a deeper under­standing of themselves and a greater capacity toward achieving self-fulfillment.

Q: How important is forms training in your teaching?

A: Students often ask why I teach forms and how does per­forming a hyung benefit them. On a simple level, performing forms has been compared to learning the letters of the alpha­bet. Put the letters together and you have a word; the words can then be made into a sentence.

It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline, well­-practiced techniques and men­tal concentration to perform a form well. We start with the sim­plest forms, containing only a few simple movements. Grad­ually, we build up a repertoire of more complicated forms with increasingly varied and complex techniques. The prac­tice of forms helps develop precision, controlled timing, breath control, balance in movement, focus and much more.

From the instructor’s point of view, forms also provide a perfect vehicle to enable the instructor to evaluate a student’s progress on many different levels. Forms also provide a means to physically illustrate the aesthetic aspect of a partic­ular style and a student’s personal interpretation of that style. Styles that don’t have forms, to my way of thinking, lack in depth and miss an important part of the arts.

Q: What is your expectation for the fi1ture of the arts?

A: It is my hope that the future will bring martial artists closer together and that the childish egotism of the past will become a thing of the past. I eagerly await the prospect of change within the arts, of exciting new training methods, and the further prosperity of the martial arts all over the world.

Q: Do you agree with the description “Hee Il Cho is a man of contrasts?”

A: Yes, I guess it’s true. I am a man of action, but I also admit to having many contrasts. Like many Koreans, I am quiet, reserved and introspective. And yet I insist on being open to change and to throwing out what is unessential. If one hopes to improve his art and his life then that is an absolute necessity. Life is change.



Tape 1 TAE KWON DO BASIC TECHNIQUES 60min {amp}amp; STANCES Step-by-step demonstrating all basics.

Tape 2 THE COMPLETE STRETCH 60min Master-Cho’s proven stretching techniques, designed for excellence.

Tape 3 ONE {amp}amp; THREE STEP SPARRING 60min Take-downs arm-locks and jumping techniques, improve fighting and defensive skills.

Tape 4- I.T.F. HYUNG (1-10) 60min DVD Chun-Ji, Dan Gun, Do San, Won Hyo, Yul Kok, Joong Gun, Toi Gye, Haw Rang, Choong Moo and Gwang Gae.

Tape 5 I.T.F. HYUNG (11-20) 90min DVD Ge Back, Po Eun, Choong Jang, TOO Sin, Ko Dong, Ui-Ji, Choi Youn, Sam II, Sejong, and Tong II.

Tape 6 DYNAMIC KICKING 80min Ground kicking, the awesome master Cho way.

Tape 7 DYNAMIC JUMP KICK 90min Advanced kicking, Master Cho’s secrets.

Tape 8 CHO’S WORKOUT SYSTEM 60min For the Complete Martial Artist only! Weights, bag, boxing…the works.

Tape 9 DYNAMIC BREAKING 90mm Not magic, but technique and focus. Techniques include mid-air, spinning, blindfolded and combinations.

Tape 10 SELF DEFENSE {amp}amp; FALLING 120mm Falling dropping techniques self-defense against weapons, ground fighting and controlling assailants.

Tape 11 FREE SPARRING- AMATEUR 90min Amateur Tae Kwon Do and American One Point Tape 12 FREE SPARRING PROFESSIONAL

FULL CONTACT 60min Full contact fighting skills.Sharpen your technique and confidence.

Tape 13- DYNAMIC BAG WORKOUT 60min Learn balance, timing and precision, speed and power, both hand and foot techniques are covered.

Tape 14 INSTRUCTOR TRAINING-ADULT 60min Complete Adult’s Class. Learn how to motivate your students and develop their self-awareness {amp}amp; self- confidence.

Tape 15 INSTRUCTOR TRAINING-CHILDREN 60min Follow Master Cho step-by-step. Learn how to instruct, control and inspire children.

Tape 16- DYNAMIC WEIGHT LIFTING 120min Master Cho teaches different exercises to develop individual muscle groups, making you nothing less than awesome.

Tape 17 COMPLETE TESTING GUIDE 120min White belt through 3rd Dan Black, The physical as well as the philosophical aspects of a belt test.

Tape 18- EIGHTH ANNUAL L.A. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, VOL. 1 60min Black Belt competition and team fighting.

Tape 18- EIGHTH ANNUAL L.A. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP, VOL. 2 60 Children’s events, weapons competition, Master’s demonstrations, American Freestyle, 9 musical patterns {amp}amp; forms.

Tape 19- A COMPLETE LOOK AT MASTER CHO’S TAPE LIBRARY 60min What it takes to be : The Complete Martial Artist Entertaining as well as enthralling.(Tapesl-18) Tape 20- BOXING BEGINNERS {amp}amp; ADVANCED 80 .

Boxing Techniques, stances and movements in slow-motion and full-speed.

Tape 21 ADULT’S DEFENSE WORKOUT 60min For the non-martial artist! Easy effective self defense techniques linked to an intensive workout.


Tape 22 ADULTS SELF DEFENSE 60min For both the martial artist and non-martial artist. Practical techniques involving joint locking and counter attack.

Tape 23A TENTH ANNUAL LA. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS. VOL1 60min Junior and adult sparring, black belt sparring, Grand Championship match and more.

Tape 23B- TENTH ANNUAL LA. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS, VOL.2 60- Forms competition, women’s sparring, masfer’s c/emonstralic Tape 2 W.T.F. TAE GEUK HYUNG 60min The official Patterns of the WTF Tae Geuk 1-8 as well as Kor the first black belt pattern.

Tape 25 CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING- 61 BEGINNERS Basics include meditation, warm-up, stretching, stances, bloc attacks, and kicks.

Tape 26 CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING- 6( INTERMEDIATE Combination techniques including block/punching, fighting, intermediate kicking and stick exercises.

Tape 27- CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING- 60 ¦ . ADVANCED Hand techniques, advanced kicking, kicking combinations, and target training.

Tape 28 CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING- 60- SELF DEFENSE A must! Escaping from bear hug wrist grabs, shoulder grabs, head locks, and restraining hole Tape 29 CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING- 60 SPARRING {amp}amp; BREAKING Sparring, arranged sparring, sparring training, jumping and board Dreaking.

Tape 30 HIGHLIGHTS OF TAPES 20-29 60min A collection of the most exciting moments from Master Cho’s library, tapes 20-29 Tape 31 W.T.F. BLACK BELT HYUNG 60-,n 65 Pg Color Catalog For Only $5.00! 2ND DAN to 9TH DAN WTF black belt patterns including Geu Gang, Tae-Baek, Pyeong-Won, Sip-Jin, Ji-Tae, Cheon-Kwon, Han-Soo, and ll-Yeo.

Tape 32- THE SCIENTIFIC STRETCH 90min Learn Isometric, Plyometric, and static stretching.

Tape 33 W.T.F. BEGINNERS 90min The defensive/offensive foot work and all the basic kicks.

Tape 34- W.T.F. INTERMEDIATE 70min All foot work and kicks combined to form an effective methoi training.

Tape 35 W.T.F. ADVANCED 90min Learn accuracy, distance, and timing of kicks/jump kicks wit! The use of targets.

Tape 36-W.T.F. SPARRING 90min Counterattacks, enticing, faints, and tournaments. Master Ch also discusses a weakness in the W.T.F. Style.

Tape 37- SCIENTIFIC CLASSES- BEGINNERS {amp}amp; INTERMEDIATE 90m -Instructors and students learn a new scientific class for all sty! Tape 38- SCIENTIFIC CLASSES- ADVANCED 90mm Instructors and students learn a new scientific class for all styl Tape 39 CHO’S TKD GRAND OPENING Exciting demonstrations by Master Cho’s students. Includes patterns, sparring and breaking! Tape 40 SYBERVISION-DEFEND YOURSELF 60 min. 10 Master’s Moves.

Tape 41-AIMAA INTERNATIONAL TESTING 1992 15 min. Unique guide to all martial artists, white to 5th degree black celt.


hojo undo vs normal body strengthining exercises

No. Well, I dont doubt you will get stronger doing that, but its not the fastest or most effective way by a long shot.

If you do 20 pressups, or 20 squats, or 20 of those weighted things today, and 20 tomorrow, did you get stronger? No. If you do 20 today, and 50 a year from now will you be significantly stronger? No. Maybe a bit, and your endurance will be better, but generally your strength wont.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and the simpler something is the more likely it is to succeed. A much simpler program will get you much better results. If you want to get stronger, pick a strength exercise, and add weight to it. Say you can do 15 pushups now. Set yourself the goal of being able to do 5, really good pressups with perfect form with a 30kg bag of sand on your back. Set yourself the goal of being able to pick up a 100KG log off the ground.

To get strong, you need a big weight really. With a small weight like that you cant continually get stronger with the same exercises. you need to change the exercises so that the leverages are worse for you to make it harder. That means alot of your time is spent learning new exercsies, not getting stronger. Alteratively, you can switch exercsies so that it works smaller weaker muscles, but why would you want to? Its the big strong muscles that do the fighting.

IF its something you want to do then go for it, enjoy it, but if your goal is the best preformance possible adopt a simple, basic, common sense strength and conditioning program.

The Benefits of Weight Training for the Martial Arts

First of all I want to make myself clear that I a not intending to hurt anyone’s feelings or trying to prove one is better than the other. Myself 32 years old. Black belt Karate. Black belt judo. Wing chun kung fu 1 year, free style wrestling 1 year and Boxing experience in amature league for 2 years. And currently studying an ancient Indian martial arts knows as kalaripayattu (said to be the mother of modern shaolin kung fu). Weight training experience 2 years. Profession: teacher in Engineering.

OK to get to the point.
Human anatomy:
1. Upper body: built for speed and skill
2. Lower body: built for strength and power.
3. Core: to join and balance the functions between upper and lower bodies.

Two types of fighting needs:
1. Sportive fighting: mma, boxing, wrestling, King fu, kick boxing, bjj, muay Thai, judo etc. Requires skill, speed, stamina and strength.
2. Street fight or self defence: purpose is survival. 90% psychological and 10% physical. Requires the will to fight dirty and survive.

Since weight training is either to develop strength, power, muscle mass, it comes under the category of sportive fighting.

Power and strength: depends solely on neuromuscular activity which means the nervous system. Examples to develop such attributes are regular skill practice, such as sparring with partner, or punching and kicking heavy bags.

Muscle mass: weight training helps a lot. Which in turn does help to develop power and strength to an extent.

Muscles required to generate power from the ground (as power is generated from the ground): calves, quads, hips.

Muscles required to transfer the power: core (abs, obliques and erectors) and lats

Please note power generation and power transmission are totally different functions. Power generation requires muscle mass.

Forearms: required to block attacks, to strike, to deflect an attack and used in pulling sports such as bjj and wrestling.

Biceps: required in pulling sports such as bjj and wrestling.

Calves, quads and hips: required in lifting and throwing opponents: examples are wrestling, judo. They are also used in generate power in punches and kicks.

Gutt muscles: balance entire body movements. Requires strength and mass.

Triceps: power delivery during punching. And also for pushing during grappling. Does not depend on mass.

Core: purely depends on twisting it for power transfer from lower to upper body. Does not depend on mass.

Lats: punch recovery and transferring of power. Does not depend on mass.

Shoulders: requires muscular endurance for punching so that your arms don’t give out..dies not depend on mass.

Exercises I do for my martial arts other than fighting skill training:
1. Sprinting/Burpee
2. Shoulder width push up
3. Shoulder width Pull ups
4. Barbell back Squats with Calf raise: legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Targeting Calf, quads, hams, gutts, abs, obliques and hips
5. Rotary cuff training with light weight dumbbells to prevent injury during punching.

Thus the only weight training I think might help for martial arts is barbell back Squats with Calf raise.
Make sure not to lift more than a bit higher than your body weight as you will be fighting in your specified weight division. Example if you weight 80kg you need not lift more than 90kg.

Body weight exercises: 2 sets with max reps
Barbell Squats with Calf raise: 3 sets with 10 reps, until the weights reach just above your body weight. Then you go for 2 sets and max reps

The weight training I think might be useful for daily life is Farmers walk with medium weight. It’s full body strength training exercise along with cardiovascular effects.

If you find my post useful I am glad I could help. If not am really sorry for ur time :)

A commonly overlooked aspect of martial arts training is weight training. It is assumed by many that lifting weights will make one too bulky, decrease flexibility and speed, while overall just bringing the skills of the martial artist down. This common misconception can actually cause the opposite problem by weakening the martial artist’s strength, hurting their speed and cardio, while also lowering muscular growth and athletic gains.

The issue in weight lifting is not the weight training itself but, rather…

HOW are you training?

Consider important questions such as:

WHAT is your goal?

WHAT are you training for?

HOW are you accomplishing those goals?

WHAT steps are you taking to achieve them?

Weight lifting as a whole has a variety of different end goals. Your goal will dictate the focus of your weight training.

How will weight training help me as a martial artist?

The goal of the martial artist should be to lift weights for athletic gains, in the same way a professional athlete weight trains. The exercise routine should be formulated to not only promote muscle growth but fast twitch muscle fibers for explosive movements, as well as endurance and strength.

By lifting weights, a martial artist is building a strong muscular and physical base, in order to perform technique more efficiently and in the most optimal way.

Hee Il Cho, a famous Taekwondo master stated, “Weight lifting can help athletes in any sport, including the martial arts. The more strength and size you have, the better you will perform. If two people weigh the same, the one with more muscle can hit harder.”

What are the different types and methodologies of weight lifting?

BODYBUILDING involves workouts that are constructed to reach an aesthetic goal, not to perform an athletic task. Lifting is done for size and appearance, with isolation based training to target specific locations on the body. Not to produce functional muscles for athletic tasks. For an efficiency in martial arts, body building is not optimal training

The same for POWERLIFTING, which has a goal of pure strength and mass, in order to support the body when lifting extremely heavy weight. While strength is important for martial arts, powerlifting involves slow, heavy lifts but, decreases the individuals speed, endurance and overall athletic ability, outside of completing heavy weight lifting tasks.

In FITNESS LIFTING, there is no real goal in mind other than working out to stay healthy. However, with no real goal in mind, this does nothing for a martial artist other than maintaining basic health and wellness. It will not help in increasing strength, speed, endurance or any athletic needs in the martial arts.

OLYMPIC LIFTING will help build power and strength, through explosive exercises and learning how to produce force quickly. The exercises in Olympic lifting are extremely functional for athletic training, building a strong base for strength and fundamental athletic movements. Most exercises in Olympic lifts require full range of motion and use of the joints in a small space, not only building strength and conditioning but, muscle control and good technique.

While HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training focuses on intervals of exercising in small bursts of time periods. HIIT is meant to build endurance, conditioning, stamina, cardio and burn fat, rather than strength like Olympic Lifting. The HIIT mythology relies on using intervals of exercises and performing them to either failure or until time runs out, building up the strength of your heart, lungs and muscular conditioning.

So what type of weight lifting routine should I be doing?

One of the best methods recommended for martial artists to train under is OLYMPIC LIFTING, HIIT or a combination of both. Through Olympic lifting a martial artist can build strong, functional power through athletic exercises. Olympic lifting will provide the ability to explode quickly and powerfully, without losing speed or strength. HIIT training provides the ability to perform draining tasks, while maintaining muscular endurance even when tired. These methods allow for the optimal preparation needed for a long drawn out fight or combat situation.

It is also important to find the right program for your schedule and personal needs. Make goals, follow that plan and stick with it. You’ll be surprised at how much you will improve in the dojo or on the mat, once you’ve begun a consistent weight lifting program.

So what are you waiting for, get started today!

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