When training for self defense many devote a lot of focus to technique. Surviving a tense situation requires repetition until you achieve perfection. But when the situation goes beyond your fighting fitness, techniques become sloppy, slower, and the danger level rises with each passing moment. Asking the question: “Are you fit to fight?” and knowing your personal fighting fitness is something you want to do before it matters.
There is a reason that professional MMA fighters are so dangerous. It’s not just their technique and skill, but they are athletes in every sense of the word. They push themselves to their physical limits every day of training to prepare for their matches. Obviously, most people don’t have the time to devote to the same regiment as an athlete. Fitting in training time for self defense techniques is a challenge. Take into account families, work, and any other activities, and you begin to see the problem. Still, when dealing with an attacker, remember that he or she may not be alone. Will your training last you past the first attacker, on to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th? What if you must carry an injured friend to safety? You want to ask these type of questions early to bring some reality into your training.
Building Fighting Fitness into TraIning
At Sifu Och Wing Chun, we build some of the fitness needed for scenarios like this right into our actual training. But to compliment the Wing Chun, Sifu Och includes a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) regiment within his schedule just before his kickboxing class to maximize cardio. Once students have pushed themselves to their limit, they can then begin increasing their cardio within the Wing Chun training. You cannot initiate hypertrophy in a muscle by going to its limit and stopping. You actually need to overload the muscle past its limit to get growth. The same goes for cardio. You want to take your training to the limit, and then push through that to increase the endurance capacity.
If a student is sparring, and they reach their cardio limit, it begins to manifest itself in weaker strikes and slower reaction time. In a situation hinging on split-second decisions, there’s no room for errors. One second could make the difference between life or death. Your fighting fitness level is your gas tank. The bigger the gas tank, the longer the drive. Without gas, your car goes nowhere. Without adequate fighting fitness, you go nowhere….Fast.