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The Fighting man's basic training

Martial arts is a physical activity that requires physical training.  Training the body for action is often neglected in the martial arts and in Jeet Kune Do.  One of the most important aspects in achieving great skill is to prepare your muscles for the performance at hand.  The entire body should be trained.  Almost every muscle group has some impact on skill. 

Just as a Basketball, Football player, or long distance runner, trains his body, so should the martial artist.  A martial artist is an athlete as well.  If a professional Basketball player would fail to run to supplement his training, he wouldn’t be a professional very long.  In order to stay on top of his game, he must continually run and practice many other drills that boost his ability to out play his opponents. This is the same in Jeet Kune Do. Pure physical fitness can be the determining factor in the outcome of a fight or sparring session. 

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

              “Jeet Kune Do is like a Ferrari.” –Ted Wong. 

Jeet Kune Do is a high performance art that requires constant movement and footwork. Like a Ferrari, it is powerful and fast but needs maintenance.  The maintenance of your Jeet Kune Do is the physical training and the practice of skill. 

Building a training program to boost your Jeet Kune Do performance is very important.   Consistent, organized training yields higher results.  In order to organize your training, each of the following areas should be addressed. 

o Aerobic Endurance

o Anaerobic Endurance

o Strength

o Flexibility

In my mind, any exercise that puts stress on the body and achieves results is good.  It is, although, somewhat important to keep exercises as close to the performance of JKD as possible.  This is more in the interest of time than anything else.  As said earlier, all exercise is good exercise. There are some, but very few, exercises that could be of detriment to your training. 


              “Endurance is the fighter’s gas tank.” – Ted Wong

Endurance should be attacked from two different angles.  In JKD, you need both aerobic and anaerobic endurance.  Aerobic endurance is the body’s ability to maintain physical output over a long period of time ‘in the presence of oxygen’. Meanwhile, anaerobic endurance is ‘in the absence of oxygen.’ In other words, aerobic exercise is an activity where the inhalation of oxygen and the exhalation of CO2 are balanced. In an anaerobic situation, not enough oxygen is taken in and the body must perform without enough to do the job. 

As said, JKD requires both aerobic and anaerobic. Although, probably most important is the building of anaerobic endurance.  An example of aerobic activity would be circling or moving with your opponent.  Examples of anaerobic would be, a burst forward with a kick, a flurry of punches, or footwork moving in broken rhythm. It is a constant back and forth.  You may find yourself moving, squaring off with your opponent without much need for anaerobic conditioning. Then, in an instant, you may need to burst into action. Surely, you cannot survive an entire fight or sparring session without oxygen. You must go from an aerobic condition to an anaerobic situation quickly without preparation. 

Now, as skill is achieved, the body becomes more efficient and can turn a, normally, anaerobic condition aerobic.  This is due to the body’s ability to adapt to movement from practice and repetition. Through repetition, the body becomes more efficient in the motion and will require less effort to perform the task. With less effort, the body will be able to perform the skill in a normal aerobic situation.  Ever notice that the first several times you attempt a newly learned skill, it wears you out extremely fast?  This is mostly due to the fact that you are probably using more muscles than needed for the act. This is an anaerobic condition. Also, breathing in a newly acquired skill is not steady and not in control.   


Strength training is something that will enhance your skill greatly. Common mistakes I see are people training as if they were body builders rather than functional athletes.

Resistance training is awesome but should be done in a way as to be able to translate the strength gains to function.

In lifting weights, compound lifts such as deadlifts, Snatch-clean-press, Squats etc are great for working several muscle groups at the same time. While performing these exercises, concentrate on explosive motions. This translates to useful strength gains.

Plyometrics is a protocol that can give you success in functional strength along with explosiveness. Squat jumps, Plyo pushups, Burpees and the like are an excellent way to employ them.


Flexibility is something that has quite a bit of impact on your training. There's the obvious, where you'd like to be able to kick higher than your knees. But also, flexibility is strength, strength is control. A flexible muscle is more able to handle the stress of any type of action, as well as being controlled through the motion. The more flexible you are, the more capable of being relaxed. Flexibility has a huge impact on speed. An inflexible muscle is an antagonist, applying the breaks when your trying to go fast.

It's not completely necessary to be able to do the splits or put your heels behind you head.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to train. Remember, consistency is key and being organized yields better results.

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