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Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: TASK RELATED FITNESS TRAINING: Part One IMPACT WORK   Sun 09 Aug 2015, 12:51


While any training is good, CQC involves specific requirements. Close combat is a high-intensity activity, with a total energy output, utilising gross motor skills. Anaerobic training essential. The effects of sudden violent confrontation have to be felt to be believed. A good friend who is a very fit doorman told me  “I train regularly, but in this fight I threw only three techniques and was totally knackered and couldn't speak.”
We need specific, hard anaerobic work to build, support and maintain Combative fitness. In future issues we will be discussing such training in detail, including such routines as the Meyer building program, CQB circuits, partner drills and our infamous Vasbyte routines. However, to start this series I want to emphasise the importance of the fitness value of the combatives techniques themselves. Bruce Siddle, founder of PPCT has taught has developed an integrated approach which includes diet, nutritional supplements, and weight training. He has taught this subject to many prestigious agencies, including UK Special Forces. I attended his presentation in 1997, and following the lecture I asked him about the value of impact training on pads, mitts and heavy bags, for anaerobic fitness and he confirmed that it was excellent. So this article will discuss heavy, full-force impact-target striking as the basis for our task-related training.

ÂToday training on various impact targets, pads, mitts, bags is common in self-protection training, but it wasn’t always the case. Boxers have always trained this way, but more traditional martial arts shunned this aspect, and some continue to do so.
Terry O’Neill had the first kicking pad in the country. He was given it after visiting the Los Angeles Police Academy, where they used pads in both empty hand striking and in baton training. Today martial arts shops offer a range of such equipment but back then when Terry introduced the pad into his classes it was revolutionary.
Eventually pads were manufactured over here and I bought a few and used them on our first VIP Protection courses. It was an eye opener!  We had guys with all sorts of high grades in the martial arts, as well as serving members of the military, security personnel as well as applicants with no prior formal training. I remember really bracing to hold the pad for a heavyweight 5th-Dan TKD stylist expecting real force, only to find he hit like a feather. The next guy in line, with no previous training hit really hard. Over the years this was repeated on almost every course. We did have martial artists who could deliver impact, but we found they had always trained on pads, or, bags before.
By the way, those early pads were quite soft, and easy to penetrate. I’ve still got one lying around somewhere, and daren’t bring it to train with our Combatives group… it would be as useless as holding a pillow today.

There are numerous types of impact training devices offered. Here are the main ones we find useful:-

“A”  KICK PADS, also called “shields”. Full length, filled with closed-cell foam, and fitted with strapping to hold the pad in various ways. Essential for full power kicking and knee-strikes.

“A-2″  AIR-SHIELD. This has an inner tube which needs to be inflated. This pneumatic  shield provides a very different feel when striking. Your kick wants to bounce off, so we learn to really commit our strikes when using the Airshield. By the way, I bought this pad several years ago and took it do a garage to be inflated. Since then it has been used on numerous seminars, and hit thousands of times, yet never needed re-inflation. The striking surface displayed some wear, so I’ve taken the precation on wrapping duct-tape around the shield to prevent further abrasion.

“B” is the HALF-SHIELD, a smaller, square version of the pad. Quite versatile. Can be used for kicks and knee-strikes, or, held for elbows, hammerfists and other hand strikes. I think I’d prefer to buy two half-shields rather than one full kick pad, if finances were tight.

“C” are THAI PADS, these strap to the arms and are held at the appropriate angle for kicks or hand strikes. Especially good for close-in knee work. Also heavy elbow drills and Axehands are ideal on the Thai pads. I prefer the leather versions, more expensive but worth it.

Finally “D” are FOCUS MITTS, well know in boxing as “spot mitts” these are excellent for working combinations, incorporating movement and changing target angles. Again, go for a quality product.
Another useful training device is the BODY SHIELD. These are a kind of deeply padded protective armour, which is strapped to the chest and abdomen.

The wearer’s hands are free, so he can play the role of attacker, while the trainee defends and counter-strikes to the armour. We find this especially useful in counter-weapon training

There are other devices, but these are the ones we find most useful. We have a couple of devices, which we have made ourselves, as nothing commercially available fits the bill. For Chinjab training  we built up a “head and face” onto old focus mitts. This gave us the realistic angle required to replicate attacking the shelf of the jaw. (The photo shows this better than I can describe it).

[Brian strikes with a Chinjab as Tony holds the target during a session at the Liverpool Gutterfighters]

Our targets also includes “eye”s which can be clawed on the follow-up face-claw attack. We have also salvaged a damaged kick-pad, and produced two smaller units, for placing on the ground to work stamping kicks.

We also put pads on the ground to work Hammerfists, AxeHands and similar strikes. An easy option is to fill a canvas bag with peas, rubber offcuts, or, gravel.

[Here Mika demonstrates the AxeHand to a gravel-filled bag, at Camp Get Tough in Sweden]

I made a ground pad for specific Axe-hand training:

[[The base is a couple of phone books, with a tubular section, filled with foam, mounted on top; the whole thing lashed with yards of duct tape]

By the way, it is a good idea to inspect your pads/mitts regularly and prevent splits and rips by judicious applications of duct tape. This will double the life of your equipment.

In cardio-vascular work we try to maintain an energy output as long as possible. In Combative anaerobic training we try to put out as much energy in as short a time as possible. Don’t go for reps at the expense of intensity… make each technique real, as if your life depended on it… which it does!

[James “encourages” the trainee, while Si braces the big pad]

No matter how fit you are, you should be totally drained after even a short burst at this level of intensity. Don’t get me wrong, cardio work is great, and shouldn’t be neglected, but it’s not what we are talking about here and now. I know guys who train to kick for an hour. Solidly, kicking with strong, fast kicks for an hour. This proves something, but I’m not sure what. They kick strong, but not as strong as possible…. and that’s what we need. Every rep is total, intended to put the man down, then do the next one even harder. The chant is “hard, harder, hardest”  If you train with this level of intensity you won’t be kicking for an hour.

Training with equipment gives you feedback, and feedback is what builds improvement. Feedback comes in two forms. Firstly, you get the kinaesthetic feedback from feeling your strikes hit the pad. Immediately you know whether the strike was strong, fast, penetrating and accurate. Secondly, your partner gives you verbal feedback. He feels the strike through the pad and can confirm if it was strong, and, more importantly, was it stronger than the previous strike. He also watches to check that you are not telegraphing the blow. Finally, he monitors the pace, and encourages you to keep going, to work harder, to increase the workrate.
The pads I use in my own training are excellent, really well made giving great feedback. However while training in Clint Oosthuizen’s CQC class while in South Africa I noticed that I was finding the pad work unusually tiring. I came to the conclusion that the local pads, being filled with wool, absorb the strike and give very little back. They seem to suck the energy from your strikes. It’s rather like running on deep sand rather than on an Olympic track.

I’m definitely going to obtain some wool filled pads to add to our training over here.Â

Top US Combatives instructor Bob Kasper made a very important point during a course organised by Peter Robins. He warned us that for heavy impact training any arm pads should he held to move in the natural direction of the arm. This is sound advice. I had sustained a shoulder injury, and while being treated a boxing coach turned up with the same injury, with the same cause… holding mitts. Similarly when holding kick pads, we want to feel a certain amount of force coming through, this is a useful level of desensitisation. If it’s too much, though, it’s potentially injurious. Tony Rimmer, seen in the picture, penetrates even the best pads with his kicks. We make him use two pads together… and even then a lot comes through.

Tony has been hitting pads since he was a young boy, and has developed a fearsome level of impact. He is now a major figure on the door security scene.

Finally, in recent years realistic dummies have been offered for impact training. Most of the ones I’ve seen over here are not suitable for full power, combatives training. The Spar-Pro, and BOB, from the USA, are now available over here, and can be used for the kind of intensive training we  have been talking about.

[Steve attacks the Spar-pro, while the other course members get ready]

[John Brawn shows great focus on the Spar-pro]

A recent innovation is the HammerHead target. This allows strikes from numerous angles, and the anatomical features allow realistic Chinjabs, AxeHands, Webhands etc.

The Hammerhead is a highly professional version of our Chinjab target mentioned above, and we use them in almost every session.

No item of equipment is “the ultimate,” each has it's place. Humanoid impact dummies have a place in installing the ability to generate shock impact; which is later honed in live scenario drills.
We will be continue with the topic of fitness in further articles here but for now I want to emphasise that although the shops and mail order catalogues are full of shiny new products all you really need is a pair of mitts, a half-shield, a training partner and lots of sweat.

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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