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Self-Defense Tip #22 — Selecting a gym or a martial arts school, Part II

In this self-defense tip I continue the subject of selecting a gym or a martial arts school and instructor. The previous tip dealt mainly with the material factors that affect safety of training and also with the quality of the instructor. This tip deals with the way a workout is to be structured for most effective instruction and fitness and for the sake of safety.

In a workout run by a good instructor, exercises “flow”—each subsequent exercise in a workout builds upon the previous one. Exercises start in a warm-up from general (nonsport-specific) activities of gradually increasing intensity, with each next exercise getting increasingly similar to the main topic of the workout, to gradually becoming less intensive and more general in the cool-down.

For example, a workout for judo wrestlers with three years experience may start with walking around the mat while warming up joints of the hands and arms, then walking in a defensive posture around the mat using sliding steps, then jogging and doing roll-out falls, then a game of tag or a simplified ball game, then forming pairs and in turns with the partner walking across the mat practicing pulls of an arm sleeve. Then the same pairs practice fit-ins for a throw, which will be the central technique of this workout, in one spot or while moving in any direction on the mat. After a required number of fit-ins—from one hundred to a few hundreds for each partner, depending on the task of the workout, less if new techniques or combinations are to be learned and more if developing endurance is the task—other exercises follow.

If it is a technical workout then either a new combination involving that same throw or a new set-up is shown and practiced, or judoka (judo wrestlers) proceed to stand-up grappling practice such as yaku-saku geiko, kakari geiko, or randori (grappling equivalents of sparring with increasing freedom of permitted actions). The stand-up grappling may include follow-up into groundwork right from the beginning or just in the last minutes of it. Then the groundwork-only practice may follow, which then flows into ground calisthenics that then blend with stretching and final cool-down exercises.

If it is an endurance workout, then long sets of fit-ins may be followed by grappling on the ground or just calisthenics “until you drop,” followed then by cool-down with stretching. Fighters with very stable technique may do stand-up grappling after prefatigued by several hundreds of fit-ins—to develop sport-specific endurance.

Such a smooth flow of exercises in a workout, with intensity of exercises gradually increasing until the main part of the workout, then staying at the reached level during the main part, and then gradually decreasing toward the cool-down prevents injuries. Abrupt changes of the character of movements cause injuries and so does an abrupt change of the intensity of efforts.

If there is a drastic drop of intensity during the main part such that athletes cool off and calm down, followed by intense exercise, it will be difficult for the athletes to mobilize for work again. Their performance will be impaired and they may get injured as they jump back into the intensive exercises.

To make exercises flow during a workout, the skills taught in consecutive workouts must build upon each other. An example of such a flow of skills where each skill builds upon the previous one is the system of learning self-defense presented on the video Basic Instincts of Self-Defense. Another prerequisite for such a flow during a workout is to teach only one new major topic per workout—for example, one throw or one new combination involving known throws. The reasons for doing so is explained in the book Science of Sports Training.

It is difficult to remember all the details of a planned workout, as consideration of just some of these details will suggest:

  • duration, or number of sets and repetitions of particular exercises;
  • the indicators of each exercise’s intensity;
  • alternative technical exercises for those who make errors in standard techniques; and
  • other individual adjustments.

This is why a professional—one educated for the profession of instructor, coach, or p.e. teacher—will have a written lesson or workout plan. In countries where physical education is treated as equal to other academic subjects, an inspector from the ministry of education will not be content with asking whether the teacher has the plan, but will demand it while observing the lesson. Such plans, with notes on what was actually done and how, are records of training or teaching and are necessary for planning and controlling further progress. Samples of workout and lesson plans for children are in the book Children and Sports Training by Józef Drabik.

The next self-defense tip will deal with individualization of instruction.

This self-defense tip is based on the video Basic Instincts of Self-Defense. Get this video now and have all of the info—not just the crumbs! Order Now!

Self-defense tip from Thomas Kurz, co-author of Basic Instincts of Self-Defense and author of Science of Sports Training, Stretching Scientifically, and Flexibility Express.

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