Body Hardening Exercises

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Kwanjang, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Kwanjang

    Kwanjang 3rd Black Belt

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    In a couple of other threads Fellow MT member Dancingalone has articulated he doesn't believe as many (if not any) TKD Schools do not partake in 'body hardening' exercises.

    Myself being a 'ol School TKD'ist, knows quite a few of these conditioning exercises, and drills

    Such As:

    Alternating knife strikes, ans inside low blks-followed by outside low blks (the whole time making bone to bone contact with you partner)

    Then there is the makiwara training for fist and hand conditioning (I also use the makiwara on the floor- for the back of my heel.

    I know there are of plenty others out there. Can we start a discussion on some of the things you do.

    Dancingalone, Terry, Exile, Stuat, Simon, Bluekey, Iceman, Kacey or anybody who has something to suggest and why that particular exercise.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2008
  2. SJON

    SJON Blue Belt

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    Good topic, KJ.

    I have mixed feelings about body hardening. For a professional fighter, or for someone whose work involves a lot of violence, I can see that general "old-style" body hardening would be beneficial. For the average individual who has to hold down an office job or a post involving fine motor skills of some kind, we have to be selective.

    Generally I consider body hardening to have two functions: to withstand blows and to deliver them.
    In terms of withstanding blows, there's not much to be done beyond strengthening the midsection and some judicious hardening of the shins and forearms. I tend not to recommend the kind of Muay Thai-style shin hardening because of the possible ill effects it can have in the long term, and because the SD-oriented style of TKD I'm concerned with doesn't actually involve very much round kicking or shin blocking anyway.
    For delivering blows, the main concern is to be able to deliver force efficiently and to avoid hurting your knuckles, wrists and other bones/joints, and to avoid your skin breaking on contact. Personally I do a lot of training with focus pads, heavy bag and recently a wall bag (like a padded makiwara) using the bare forefists, hammerfists, knifehands, palmheels and elbows, as well as the knees, shins and various parts of the feet. The emphasis is on hand strikes, both for toughening the skin/bones/joints involved and for learning good bone alignment to avoid getting hurt. I also do a certain amount of straight punching on the heavy bag using bag gloves, as this allows me to do hundreds of repetitions of midsection punches (the only forefist punches I use) without too much wear and tear.

    So yes, I think body hardening is a must, but we must have a coherent methodology for it.

    Cheers,

    Simon
     
  3. HM2PAC

    HM2PAC Blue Belt

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    When I practiced Hung-Gar, there was a lot of body hardening. We even practiced it outside of class so we could get past the pain sooner and get on with further instruction.

    In the ATA, there seems to be very little hardening. Most of the students are soft. Being hard gives me an edge in class and in sparring. I still do some on my own, and have my kids doing a little as well.

    Excellent point. If I beat myself up too hard, it would be counter-productive to my actual profession. Some of the things I've done in the name of hardening as a young man, I look back on now and shake my head.

    I also believe there is value in being able to take a bit of pain. After all, pain is just weakness leaving the body.
     
  4. IcemanSK

    IcemanSK El Conquistador nim!

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    I agree with SJON on his premiss that "hard core" hardening of the body is not necessary for most MA-ists. I am a big fan of bone-on-bone blocking drills for students, however. My reasoning is simply because if one needs to block in an SD situation, they know what to expect when they go to block someone "for real."

    Core strengthening is important for general fitness, not just to "take a hit."

    Those are my thoughts on it.
     
  5. StuartA

    StuartA Black Belt

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    We do a fair bit of conditioning work, fists, knuckles, forearms, shins, thighs, stomachs, neck (occassionally) etc.. as a class it can be hard going but we dont go OTT, mainly just to help toughen them up a bit. I think its a good part of training and some should be done.

    Use to have two dollyo jangs (makiwara's on the wall in my older dojang.. which was replaced and now we are not allowed).. had bags etc too, but the dollyo jangs were great for conditioning work.

    It was also part of Gen Chois "composition" of TKD! :)

    Stuart

    Ps. I used to do loads myself but havnt done it so hard for years... it always meant the oppoenents ended up with teh sore shins on clashes :)
     
  6. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Good topic. For the record, I do think most instructor-level black belts will be familiar with the external conditioning methods many of you have already described in some detail. But I don't believe these exercises are practiced to any reasonable level of proficiency. It's one thing to do it occasionally as part of your curriculum - it's quite another to actually practice it to the point that your 'blocks' can bring tears to another man's eyes. I had a sempai that I honestly feared to cross forearms with, since even a few minutes of practice with him would leave purple bruises up and down my blade area. I eventually would have to adapt and block isshinryu style with my muscle when working with him just to avoid further trauma across the bone. He once smashed a baseball bat into two with just a forearm thrust, which is a feat I've only seen a handful of times from men who were all superior martial artists.

    Well, you can do a bit more than that. Consider the various natural strengthening exercises in Goju-ryu karate using weights like the chishi or tan. Performed properly, the increased muscle coming from these exercises is greatly more flexible than those gained from modern bodybuilding regimens, and combined with correct stance training can allow
    a Goju karateka to withstand and divert force much greater than fighters who don't use these methods. (Not being a style egotist, all styles have their pluses and minuses - this just happens to be one of Goju's strong suits.) It's a combination of raw power from your legs and abdomen, strength and flexibility from your shoulders and back, and the sense of gripping and chi expression from your head through your spine through your core through your feet and toes.

    Also, consider the dynamic tension strength built by practice of sanchin. Mas Oyama of kyokushin fame was a big supporter of sanchin strength practice and he always maintained that sanchin was a key component of his imposing physicality. Uechi-ryu karate has a soft version of sanchin as does hung gar gung fu. If you go read the Dragon Times interview with Sensei Shinyu Gushi, he has a few interesting words to say about sanchin:

    "[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]I don't do any weight training. I used to do a little when I was young but Uehara sensei told me that it I should concentrate on the quality of my muscles and not just their size so I cut it down to a minimum. It's good to be strong but in karate it's speed and "snap" that you need. What muscles I have comes from Sanchin training and using nigiri game. Muscles developed this way serve to protect the body, weight training just produces a pleasing appearance.

    [/FONT] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]When you are fighting (drops into Sanchin stance) you pull your shoulders down like this and tense your muscles, including those around your throat to make a shield. With your body round and compact and your muscles tense you are relatively safe and protected. We pull everything into the center, lower our bodies like this and make them round and smooth. Techniques are performed in front of the body, we don't block above the level of the head for example because that would weaken our defenses."[/FONT]




    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]http://www.dragon-tsunami.org/Dtimes/Pages/article18.htm
    [/FONT]
     
  7. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    We do alot of conditioning with crunches, leg kicks ro both the inner and outer parts of the legs. We also do inside out block agaginst each other, we have always done board hardening with the hands and knuckles and the shins. We also do alot of hitting drills to help the body get used to recieving pain. One thing I have not notice on this thread is the conditioning of one's mind, to me this is an absolute must for any serious person envolved in Martial Arts.
     
  8. bluekey88

    bluekey88 Senior Master

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    I'm not a big fan of the body conditioning excercvises that lead to deadened nerves, fused knuckles and the like. The long term effects of such training outweighs teh benefits (I want to continue playing piano and guitar well into old age).

    For fist conditioning, we do lots of knuckle pushups. Also, punching a heavy bag (with wraps and/or gloves) is enough top condition the fists/wrists. Getting used to taking blows and engaging in proper excercise (not necesarily for big, sghowy miscles...but for powerful hard muscles) will take care of body hardening.

    Peace,
    Erik
     
  9. Kwanjang

    Kwanjang 3rd Black Belt

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    Thank you everyone for the discussion. I liked Terry's post You always put a neet flair on things :)

    As far as knuckle push-ups on, lets say a board for each fist. Focusing your complete body weight on 'just the big two knuckle only' For me, still takes a lot of concentration. Is it really the knuckles, or the wrist you developing. Wrist strength is important.

    I remember old school (mentality) training on the makiwara hitting it hard, 'with what ever part of your hand you were 'conditioning'

    I also read somewhere that light & high repetitive strikes will accomplish the same result as the 'old school' way- With less negative affects.

    One of the drills we do is grab each other in judo randori position and alternate 'controlled" stomp kicks against each others stomach (intensity depends on your partner) helps with leg strength and tightning abs.

    What are some other favorites?
     
  10. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    We do some dallyon (forging), especially for breaking - but mostly students do that on their own, outside of class, as they prepare for higher testings where breaking is required. As much as I would like to include more dallyon in class, there's only so much time, and an awful lot to cover in the time available - since I teach a class at a Y, rather than own a school, time is even more at a premium for me (since we sometimes can't get in, or stay after, class - it varies) than it would be for those who have exclusive use of their own facility.
     
  11. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    As someone who has conditioned his punching knuckles, I would say you cannot achieve the same results with light contact. "Conditioning" your knuckles is a non-scary way of saying what you actually mean: building up bone tissue to increase both the strength and size of your striking surfaces. This cannot occur obviously without creating first the physical trauma that your body must heal. As you repeat the process of bruising and injuring your hands, over time you create more and more of a natural weapon.

    Obviously this is something only adults should consider doing, and only under expert supervision, and only if they feel a real need to do so. I work a white collar job, and I had no need myself, but as this was part of traditional karate training, I elected to experience it firsthand for myself.

    Now, hand conditioning doesn't mean you hit the makiwara over and over again until your fists are bloody and broken. You sometimes only need one solid twack. Enough force to injure your knuckles, but not break them. Then you rub a good jow on it and let it heal for a week or so until it's good enough for hard contact again. The idea is to get it in a constant state of injury and rehealing over and over again without interruption, otherwise the process takes longer as your body has to rev up again to calcify your knuckles.

    Once you've got the conditioning, it takes much less effort to maintain it, and then your idea of lighter repetitions will be more effective.
     
  12. jks9199

    jks9199 Cause of War & Destroyer of Civilization Staff Member

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    There are many methods of body hardening. Not all involve doing harm and eventual impairment.

    I think everyone who is serious about COMBATIVE training must do some, because without usable weapons, you're just dancing. Anyone who's going to do any breaking absolutely must prepare their weapons to withstand the breaks. But I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to end with deformed hands, and a good chance of arthritis or worse down the road.

    Push-ups and similar exercises are great for developing the strength of the wrist and hands to hold the various fists. Striking various bags and pads will also condition the hands, shins, and feet for striking.

    For many people, partner drills done with seriousness and intent will condition the blocking surfaces over time. There are other body hardening techniques (like the use of "sand sticks") that are specific to art or style, as well.
     
  13. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Master of Arts

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    I agree. Look guys, the objective is to flatten your opponent, not cripple yourself practicing.

    I just about always wear gloves when working out on the bags and I am not interested in damaging my fist so badly I don't want arthritis from it.

    I belive in training hard but using proper protective gear and not 'harding' the human body (at least by such methods, good weight lifting is another matter.)

    Deaf
     
  14. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    As with anything, moderation and caution is called for. Can you injure yourself with these training methods? Sure. You can also kill your knees and hips from excessive high kicking, but that's hardly at the forefront of your mind on a TKD forum, is it?

    Everything has it's place and time. If it's not for you, fine. At the same time, I daresay it's still possible to condition your natural weapons without experiencing debilitating effects later in life. I've seen it firsthand with my sensei and sempai.
     
  15. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Master of Arts

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    Actually, dancingalone, I got hyperextension in the left knee cause of tons of kicking with shoes on. One can overdo it at anything.

    Deaf
     
  16. TX_BB

    TX_BB Purple Belt

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    Like most of you, I believe you need a certain amount of hardening conditioning. I believe this is one of things that separates us from the general public. I also believe that you need to keep up with certain level of this type of activity so as not to get injured in normal practice. I also believe that it's the mind that needs to practice this most so as to use all this training in times of crisis.

    What I don't believe in is preparing for superman. By that I mean you don't need to train to for situations your not going to be in.

    Example 1 : If you are in Sport Taekwondo, why would you full condition your shins and knees for muy thai? You need to condition for what you are doing. I like walking without heavy medication.

    Example 2: Women who like to be feminine don't need to fuse their knuckles and build the calluses. They need to condition their knuckles for striking and breaking basically a process that does not require major scarring.

    By the way if your fighting start with Kryptonite, ie. strike their weak points.

    I know taekwondo is more than sport taekwondo but I don't believe you can condition for all circumstances. I believe this is where your mind takes over and where your will and focus can over come the body.
     
  17. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    Youa re right TX BB you cannot condition for everything but you stil need a hard body to compete at any level.
     
  18. bluekey88

    bluekey88 Senior Master

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    Absolutely, we should engage in conditioning. However, think about this...in thge polaces and times that extreme body hardening techs were develoiped. What was the life expectancy of the average person? How about a warrior?

    I'm guessing not very old. I'm no anthrolpologist, but I'm gussing living much past 30 was a rarity...even more so if onbe was a warrior. The deleterious effects of extreme conditioning would be less of an issue to someone who wasn't gping to live long enough to suffer them. In that case, the conditioning seved to extend their life in their chosen vocation...but the downside was missed due to all the factors that made life difficult in those days.

    Nowadays, that kind of conditioning is less necessary (I don't have to defend my village from bandits). Therefore, the risk of having a lesser quality of life due ot ahrd training is a more cogent factor in my training.

    I want to be able to sign my social security checks should I be able to receive them (another topic entirely). I train enough to condition myself to what I need to do...I hit th eheavy bag, I lift weights, I do lots of metabolic conditioning. It's enough...I cna always do more should my circumstances change in the future.

    Peace,
    Erik
     
  19. zDom

    zDom Senior Master

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    Two words: Direct Deposit :D


    Seriously though, the amount of training really depends on your goals.

    I think anybody who cares about defending themselves should at least do a LITTLE conditioning for their striking weapons (knuckles, knifehands, feet), blocking weapons (forearms) and develop their wrist strength by working the heavy bag WITHOUT wraps.

    I was a weekend musician for many years, and my training never interfered with my ability to play guitar or bass. And my training today doesn't affect my ability to type in my daily job.

    Woe to the poor sap, however, who has to defend and sprains their wrist on their first punch or is distracted by pain from executing a block or strike. What's the point? They might as well be doing aerobics or a dance class if they aren't going to prepare for actual contact.
     
  20. bluekey88

    bluekey88 Senior Master

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    You'll get no disagreement from me...but deadening the nerves in your shins by rolling bottles on them, punching hard surfaces to fuse your knuckles into "Super knuckles"...not neccessary.

    opne can gert stronger joints from a comprehensive weight training program...one will also hit harder, become faster, potentially have more flexibility (if they train that), have denser bones and better anaerobic endurance too.

    I'd rather spend time hittin ghte heavy bag and lifting weights as my conditioning. I get more bang for my buck and less possibly deleterious side effects.

    peace,
    Erik
     

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