|Newsletter | July 2008|
Everybody who knows me knows I’m a martial arts enthusiast, practitioner and
instructor, they also know I’m a fitness enthusiast, practitioner and instructor. I live in
both worlds, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t overlap. I became interested in fitness
in order to improve my martial arts, I got fitter to go the distance, I got stronger to reduce
injury and got more powerful to hit harder.
As a result many of my students/clients ask me what training would benefit them most as
a fighter and some of my personal training clients ask me how to stay safe on the streets.
Right now I’m going to talk about the fitness, next time I’ll talk about the self defence.
What attributes does a fighter need?
Strength, power, muscle endurance, mobility/flexibility and mental strength.
So how do we build these?
It’s a question that can be debated until the end of time, but I’m going to give my opinion
on the best methods of training. But first we have to realise a couple of things:
1 - A competitive athlete knows where, when and with whom he will be fighting.
Police/Garda, military, doormen and unfortunate individuals have no clue, they can
become embroiled in violence at any time, any where and with any person.
2 - Competition fighting is divided into weight and skill categories to prevent
mismatches, on the street I only wish this was the case.
So it seems we must be prepared for absolutely anything, all the time. The professional
will cycle their training to peak for a fight, we may have to peak today, tomorrow, after
work, or Friday night after a drink or two.
So lets first look at the exercise selection, in no particular order:
Squat, Deadlift, Clean, Clean and Jerk/Clean and Press, Pull ups, Rows, Snatches,
Swings, Burpees, Press-ups, Thrusters, Planks.
The variations of each, too many to go into here, but as an example you can use Barbells,
Kettlebells, Dumbbells. You can train unilaterally, bilaterally, uneven, It goes on. For
fighters I think unilateral training is no one. In other words training one limb at a time,
for example doing the clean & press with a single dumbbell or kettlebell, training one leg
at a time with split squats rather then standard squats.
Well think about it, you strike with one arm at a time, when you step, you’re essentially
standing on one leg, or you’re pushing from one leg. So it makes sense to train like that.
One of the most important things to remember is to use FULL Range of motion, unless
you schedule partial reps into your training, always go full range even if it means using
less weight. On the squat that means at least parallel (hip joint and knee joint level). This
will help you stay flexible. One of the misconceptions of strength training is that you will
become muscle bound, slow and unable to move. If that was true, why do sprinters lift? A
great example of athletic ability are the WWE wrestlers, yes I know it’s all a pantomime,
but they are still 16 to 20 stone men doing back flips.
Train each lift with full range of motion. Train evenly taking the muscles and joints
through their natural range, and you will maintain and in some cases increase you’re
flexibility. You should also maintain a mobility program to keep the now strong
Next we need to look at the factors to train. Strength, power, endurance, mental strength.
In a three day training week you may use a strength day, a power day and a muscle
endurance/mental strength day.
Monday – Strength Day
3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, pick one push (e.g. bench) one pull (e.g. pull ups adding weight if
needed) and one leg (e.g. squat or deadlift)
You may start with a weight you can comfortably perform 3 sets of 3 reps, each week ad
a rep or set until you eventually hit 5x5, increase the weight next workout.
Wed – Power Day
Full body explosive lifts for example Push press or jerks, deadlift, power cleans,
kettlebell or dumbbell snatches.
Optimal rep range for power is no more than 3. However for power endurance go higher.
Never go to failure, stop as soon as you slow down or your form deteriorates.
Fri – Endurance/mental strength
Set the countdown timer for 20 minutes and perform a circuit e.g.:
Clean & Press x 5l/5r, pull ups x5, snatches x 5l/5r, bodyweight squats x 25
Use a single dumbbell or kettlebell and cycle continuously, no rest until the timer beeps.
Each time try to fit in more circuits to the 20 min period.
Or train everything in the same session:
Deadlift x 1, Clean & Press x1, DB/KB snatch x 5/5, pull ups x 5, 1 min bag work or
burpees. Perform as a circuit adding weight to the Deadlift and Clean & Press each
You can change the exercises next workout or keep them the same and vary the loads.
These are just examples, I have personally had great results from using these kind of
routines. By mixing things up, you can keep your training fresh, relieving boredom and
preventing the body from adapting, just remember to try and get in and out of the gym
within the hour and to take a break every 4 to 6 weeks.
For tailored training programmes you may find out online training package suitable, or
drop me a line on email@example.com .
Kettlebell’s have been called a fad by many of their detractors, but for those who have
tried them first hand the kettlebell is about as an effetive, efficient training tool as you
This was highlighted even more by the instruction we received by the 7 times world
champion and record holder, Vasily Ginko. When it comes to the sport of kettlebell
lifting, Vasily is a living legend. His specialty is the Long Cycle, or double clean and
jerk, it is in this event that he holds the world record.
Kettlebell sports consists of 3 main lifts, the snatch, 2kb Jerk and the long cycle or 2 kb
clean and jerk. The lifts are performed continuously for 10 minutes with the winner being
the person to complete the greatest number of reps. The pro men use 32kg bells, the pro
women use 16kg’s. Vasily and his organisation, the International Union of Kettlebell
Lifters are campaigning to have the sport entered into the olympics. Now does that sound
like a fad?
The idead behind the weekend was to ensure that there are genuinely qualified and
properly trained instructors able to teach kettlebell lifting and promote the sport. With the
massive populartity of the kettlebell, largely driven from america by trainers such as
Pavel Tsatsouline, Mike Mahler and Steve Maxwell, many people are simply picking up
a book or watching youtube and calling themselves instructors. The dangers of this are
obvious, hence the formulation of various awarding bodies, RKC being the best known,
but the IUKL and now it’s newly formed subsidiary the All Ireland Kettlebell Lifting
Federation (AIKLF) are currently the only groups that are asociated with genuine world
champions and real kettlebell experts.
By Paul Cox
Wild Geese Martial Arts believe that Ed Parkers Kenpo evolved out of a fusion of
Parkers early training and the FMA.
For years I have heard the arguments of whether or not Parker was taught forms, how
much did William Chow choose to show Parker? Did Chow ever award Parker with a
black belt? And how much, if any, of Mitoses’ Kempo is retained in Parkers Kenpo?
My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that Mitoses Kempo is more Japanese, Chow’s
Kenpo is more Chinese and Parkers Kenpo is more Chow than Mitose and more FMA
This article however is concerned with the theory that Parker’s Kenpo evolved from the
introduction of FMA to what he had previously learned, the evidence for which is both
anecdotal and technical.
Some members of Tracey’s Kenpo have said that because Parker made so many changes
to what Chow had taught him that it was no longer Kenpo and he couldn’t call it that any
more. Parker himself said he changed what he’d been taught, so where did the changes
Francisco Conde, a classmate of Parker who introduced him to Frank Chow, was an
eskrimador. As was Adriano Emperado, chows first black belt. Ben Largusa, the man
who introduced FMA to America at the Long Beach internationals, was a good friend of
Parker and was Parkers first choice for the role in the Green Hornet that eventually made
Bruce Lee famous. Largusa has said what most impressed Parker about FMA were the
principles of parrying and checking whilst hitting, something repeated time and again in
the Kenpo syllabus.
Huk Planas, one of Parkers first black belts had previously studied his family system of
Eskrima. Danny Inosanto, another of Parkers original Black Belts, started his journey into
FMA at Parkers suggestion. In the film Game of Death, Inosanto plays the “Kali man”
and is seen performing the Dance of Death technique with its full extension from Ed
Parkers Kenpo. As far back as 1985 Lee Wedlake wrote a comparison of Eskrima vs.
Kenpo in an article of the same name in Inside Kung Fu Magazine. Apart from Ben
Largusa in 1964, Parker also introduced other Eskrima Masters at his Long Beach
Internationals including Max Pallen of Senkotiros (also a Kenpo black belt under
Emperado) and Remy Presas of Modern Arnis. Also Narrie Babao performed in the
weapons forms section; he was the first to show the Ballisong or butterfly knife. Narrie
was also a training partner of Danny Inosanto and later a student of Ben Largusa.
Would Parker have been so close to so many masters of an art for so long without being
influenced by them?
Today, many Kenpo teachers in America also teach FMA, others teach a blend of the two
systems. Rick Fowler Kenpo advertises techniques being performed through a classic
FMA flow drill called Hubud, Ron Chapel can also be seen performing Hubud in his Sub
Level 4 Kenpo. The FMA drills and training methods are easily incorporated into Kenpo
and most Kenpo practitioners find FMA easy to learn, this is because by and large they
are the same thing.
The most obvious examples of FMA in Kenpo would be in the 5 Swords technique,
which is the same as the 5 count siniwali (double stick) and in Calming the Storm, which
is identical to the classic 6 count siniwali. It is the principles used in FMA that are found
time and time again in Kenpo, moving to the outside, angling away from opponents
weapons / friends and parrying, checking, hitting can be seen in Shield and Sword, Shield
and Mace, Circling Destruction, Reversing Mace, many of these appear in Kenpo’s form
7, the double stick (siniwali) form.
I have an instructional DVD of Doce Pares Eskrima where Grandmaster Danny Guba and
Master Val Pableo perform empty hand Tapi, a 2 person flow drill. Watching this you
can clearly see them doing many of the aforementioned techniques.
Kenpo also borrows footwork from FMA. Dance of Death uses the triangle footwork that
is a keystone of FMA, as is Retirada (Retreating Pendulum, Dance of Darkness), Palihay
(5 swords, Circling Destruction), Triangulo stepping from Totsada y Largada (Kneel of
Compulsion, Back Breaker).
While researching this article on the internet, quite an ordeal for a technophobe like
myself, I came across forums discussing FMA and Kenpo, not only does the link seem
generally accepted one group were discussing which of Parkers contacts in the FMA
world had the greatest influence. As all FMA work on common principles and because of
the extensive contacts Parker had in that world, I think it would be difficult to say with
any certainty who had the most influence, if indeed any one person did.
However one aspect of FMA that has not carried over into Kenpo is the importance of
free play. This is a pity as it is free play that makes the difference between a stick twirler
and a fighter. For example an eskrimador will learn the 6 count siniwali, the Kenpo man
will learn Calming the Storm, as stated earlier, they’re the same thing. However while
both learn them as a prearranged series of moves between an attacker and defender, the
eskrimador uses this as a starting point then quickly moves into free play training,
applying the technique against multiple strikes fed at random. Similarly Snaking Talon
and Entwined Maces are two specific Kenpo techniques, whereas in FMA it is simply the
Clipping drill designed to impart a specific skill for use in fighting.
To finish, at the risk of appearing controversial, I started studying Kenpo in 1976 under
Don Cassidy and Maurice Mahon, in 1984 I moved to Shaolin Kempo under Don,
Maurice and Des Treacy and Hughie Hanratty. In 1993 I started training with Shay
McNamee as he had just introduced FMA to Ireland and was teaching Ed Parkers
updated syllabus. With what little knowledge I have of Kenpo, I have even less of FMA,
but I have a deep love of both arts and mean no disrespect when I say to Kenpo
practitioners that there is more to FMA than picking up your Kali sticks and waving them
around. I find it embarrassing when I see demos of a Kenpo man armed with two sticks
defending himself against three or four unarmed assailants, I have students who have
done this for real. Instead show me an unarmed defence against three or four armed
assailants; I have instructors who have done this for real.
This article first appeared in the Irish fighter magazine, further detail on the Kenpo
techniques and it’s similarity to FMA will be discussed in future newsletters.