Conditioning for Sports and Martial Arts
by Thomas Kurz, author of Stretching Scientifically, Secrets of Stretching, Science of Sports Training, and co-author of Basic
Instincts of Self-Defense.
This is the eighteenth installment of my column on training that appeared in January 2002 issue of TaeKwonDo Times.
To read the previous installment click here.
This issue and a few following ones will deal with conditioning for martial arts. In the course of these articles you will learn
about conditioning exercises and their place in a workout, in a weekly schedule of workouts, and in longer cycles of training.
Strength and Endurance in Martial Arts
It is incredible how many people in martial arts are weak. Most of the people showing up at my seminars and people I see
when visiting some dojos and dojangs never bother to do any endurance work or strength training. Many people who call me
or write seem to think that just showing up and paying the dues in a place calling itself a martial arts school makes them fit—
even more, makes them fighters!
Often, when I ask some of my callers how many pushups they do, they say “Twenty.” When I ask how much they lift in a
squat, it turns out they do not do any weightlifting and then they wonder why their weak legs fail them when they try to do
In respectable martial arts schools students do hundreds of pushups, often more than 200 in one set, hundreds of squats and
sit-ups. Such strength and muscular endurance are what allow doing as many correct repetitions of techniques as it takes to
make them effective and reliable. There are more benefits of such muscular endurance: staying relaxed during sparring or
fighting (people with poor muscular endurance tense more and expend more energy than those with high endurance), the
ability to take hard shots on the muscles with less bruising than poorly conditioned people, and self-confidence—bullies find
it hard to intimidate someone who knows that he or she can outdo and outlast the bully.
In the s