back strength and martial arts

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back strength and martial arts

Postby strangedejavu » Jan 28, 2006 18:40

I have a question that's directed towards Mr. Kurz, time permitting of course, but others' opinions are welcome as well.

You suggest that martial artists obtain enough back strength to reasonably deadlift twice their body weight before doing serious kicking training. From experience, I agree with you. What sort of martial arts skill training could you recommend before obtaining that level of strength? Say, if a person can only lift 1x or 1.5x their body weight.
Last edited by strangedejavu on Jan 31, 2006 23:45, edited 1 time in total.
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back strength and martial arts

Postby Thomas Kurz » Jan 31, 2006 19:01

These few months when the most of beginner's training time is spent on conditioning are for learning and mastering basics. Before the beginners are strong enough for techniques that stress the spine as much as high kicks and have enough endurance for long sets of complex technical drills they should master fundamental skills. All respectable teachers of m.a. that stress striking and kicking teach those skills and the sequence is obvious. Here are those fundamental skills beginners must learn, in that order:

1. Standard conditioning exercises

2. Fist (or various forms of fist)

2. Stances

3. Punches

4. Blocks and deflections with arms

5. Footwork (including evasion)

6. Combinations of hand techniques

7. Foot (various forms of foot position for kicks)

8. Kicks
Note: Knee kick and groin kick do not stress lower back as much as correctly performed thrust kicks or roundhouse kicks so beginners can practice them before they can deadlift 2x their body weight. But if the teacher and students have high standards (not like twerps and morons one sees in majority of m.a. schools) then mastering the basics up to the foot positions takes enough time to build strength for deadlifting 2x body weight. The reason is given in my seventh column: “Each skill should be mastered to the point of being stable and reliable in contact sparring (except the groin kick, of course, which is forbidden in any kind of sparring), even under great fatigue, before the next skill is taught.”

9. Blocks and deflections with legs

10. Combinations of hand techniques and kicks

11. Combinations of kicks (multiple kicks)

12. Tactical set-ups using all of the above

Etc...

Note: Sequences of points 2-6 and 8-12 are repeated in course of training, each time with more advanced skills or with more advanced understanding of basic skills.

Another view of the sequence of techniques beginners should learn is in my article at http://www.stadion.com/column_stretch7.html .
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Postby strangedejavu » Jan 31, 2006 23:44

Thanks for the detailed reply Mr. Kurz. I was also wondering about other non-kicking styles like jiu-jitsu or judo. I remember you saying somewhere that grapplers might find the 2x body weight recommendation to be excessive. However, it would still take a robust back to pick up an opponent or grab an opponent and throw him (or her, but I try to be a gentleman). If I'm looking at a school for one of the grappling arts, what should I look for in terms of only teaching moves that students are strong enough to safely execute? How much back strength would you recommend for one of these arts? Also, is there a safe way of finding 1RM for the deadlift without supervision? I don't know anyone that knows the deadlift and I've found that most fitness trainers are idiots (but at least they compensate for it with arrogance).
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Postby Thomas Kurz » Feb 01, 2006 19:45

strangedejavu wrote:Thanks for the detailed reply Mr. Kurz. I was also wondering about other non-kicking styles like jiu-jitsu or judo. [...] If I'm looking at a school for one of the grappling arts, what should I look for in terms of only teaching moves that students are strong enough to safely execute.


Here is the rational sequence of teaching Judo and Sambo techniques to beginners, similar to that proposed by Anton Geesink:

1. Standard conditioning exercises (calisthenics, etc.) and beginning of groundwork (Ne-waza) beginning with simple holds.

2. Stances (Shizentai and Jigotai), and beginning of striking (Atemi).

3. Basic hold (Kumi-kata)
Note: Shuai-chiao has systematized techniques of obtaining and breaking grips.

4. Footwork (Shintai and Tai-sabaki), joint locks (Kansetsu-waza) in stand-up (for students over the age of 16), and fighting for the grip. Groundwork drills and free grappling with one partner standing and the other on the ground (helps perfect moving in a low stance [Jigotai]).

5. Off-balancing (Kuzushi) and choking and strangling (Shime-waza) in stand-up (for students over the age of 12)
Note: Judo teaches eight principal directions of off-balancing (Happo-no-Kuzushi), however, each stand-up technique may have more than one way of off-balancing, which are taught together with that technique--when students are ready. Sambo teaches 51 ways of off-balancing as a separate division of technique, but many of those ways are best taught when students know how to fall.

6. Breakfalls (Ukemi) beginning with side falls and progressing to flying falls. One simple and very effective teaching sequence for breakfalls is shown on the video Basic Instincts of Self-Defense ( http://www.self-defense.info/basic.html ).

7. Leg sweeps (De-ashi-barai, Okuri-ashi-barai, Ko-soto-gari) and hand sweeps (Kibisu-gaeshi)--in all these techniques uke (fall guy) slides down (at least in the beginner's version of those sweeps) and lands on his/her side.
For info on De-ashi-barai see Tip 32: Stand-up grappling drills for striking skills—Forward foot sweep at http://www.real-self-defense.com/sd_tips.html .

8. Leg rips (Kouchi-gari, Ouchi-gari)--landings are harder and more on one's back so these techniques are taught to students who mastered back falls.
For info on Ouchi-gari see Tip 33: Stand-up grappling drills for striking skills—Large inner reap at http://www.real-self-defense.com/sd_tips.html .

After that follow throws in which the uke falls from a considerable height because he/she is flipped or thrown overhead. Each division of throws has its teaching sequence that best instills the movement habits common to the whole group. Some groundwork techniques (defenses, entries) require mastering of back falls and rolling falls so their teaching must follow teaching of those falls.

strangedejavu wrote:I remember you saying somewhere that grapplers might find the 2x body weight recommendation to be excessive. However, it would still take a robust back to pick up an opponent or grab an opponent and throw him (or her, but I try to be a gentleman).


I know only one Judo technique in which one carries the full weight of an opponent and that is Daki-age. It is prohibited in competition but can be useful in self-defense. I could do it easily as a young boy to people in my weight class long before I could comfortably (if at all) deadlift 2x my body weight. As far as other techniques are concerned, if one supports or carries the opponent's full weight, then it means that one does not do the technique correctly--I mean a major error.

strangedejavu wrote:How much back strength would you recommend for one of these arts?


Norms for grapplers, for example for Sambo wrestlers, stress muscular endurance rather than maximal strength, for example, 25 reps of leaning forward (like a “good morning” lift) with 1x body weight on a barbell. You will see that leaning forward until the trunk is horizontal while keeping knees nearly straight, with such weight, requires similar strength as deadlifting 2x body weight. If I lift such weights in “good mornings” I do it only with knees bent--like in a 3/4 squat.

strangedejavu wrote: [...] is there a safe way of finding 1RM for the deadlift without supervision?


One simple and safe method of testing one's 1 RM is described in Science of Sports Training on page 360. But why test? If one keeps on training, doing deadlifts in sets of 6 to 12, gradually increasing the weight, then eventually there will be 2x one's body weight on the bar and one will have no problem doing several such sets with this weight.
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Postby strangedejavu » Feb 03, 2006 00:11

Wow, this is a lot of great information. I'll have to print it out and study it along with the links you provided. As usual, I'm grateful for your time and effort.
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 19, 2011 13:28

The problem with doing stiff-legged deadlifts, while keeping your back straight, is that you will be exercising or strengthening the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles more so, than the erector spinae or lower back muscles. So wouldn't you develop more lower back strength by rounding your lower back at the beginning position and then arching at the ending position for each rep? This doesn't make much sense to me.

Also, regarding this quote: "In the previous issue you have learned about the easiest exercises for the abdomen and lower back. Those exercises, especially the lower back exercises, are not enough to build as much strength as it takes to counterbalance the kicking muscles attached at the front of your spine and to stabilize your lower back. They only prepare you for the more intensive and more functional strength exercises for the lower back—such as the good morning and the deadlift." Why would strengthening the lower back muscles counteract the hip flexors? I thought it was the hamstrings and glutes that are the antagonists to the hip flexors (especially the ilipsoas muscle groups). In fact, wouldn't strengthening the erector spinae or lower back muscles actually contribute to more arching of the lower back along with the hip flexors pulling at the front of the lower spine?

This all seems very odd to me. I have tried for many days to understand the logic behind all of this, but I still don't get it. Please, someone help me out here.
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby dragon » Sep 20, 2011 08:47

REG wrote:The problem with doing stiff-legged deadlifts, while keeping your back straight, is that you will be exercising or strengthening the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles more so, than the erector spinae or lower back muscles.


Every compound exercise involves other muscles.From what you say,that would mean the bench press is no good for chest as it involves(and fatigues more) the delts and triceps.Even "isolation" exercises can never truly isolate.Performing a bicep curl requires your forearm to grip the weight.

Even if it were possible to isolate the lower back,what would that achieve?-You aren't isolating the lower back when you perform a kick,punch,etc...The core,hamstrings,glutes,hip flexors,etc will always have involvment so it's more practical to do a compound movement than an isolation one.This teaches the body to work as a unit as opposed to being a collection of strong body parts that have never worked together.



REG wrote:So wouldn't you develop more lower back strength by rounding your lower back at the beginning position and then arching at the ending position for each rep?


No.Rounding your lower back in the bottom position would be stretching the ligaments of the spine.Arching at the top would be hyper-extending......If you choose to perform the movement that way,it is your own risk to take.There is more than enough information out there to find out why these are dangerouse practices.


REG wrote:Why would strengthening the lower back muscles counteract the hip flexors? I thought it was the hamstrings and glutes that are the antagonists to the hip flexors (especially the ilipsoas muscle groups).


The illiopsoas consists of the psoas and the iliacus-The iliacus connects to the hip bone.The psoas connects to the lower back.

REG wrote:In fact, wouldn't strengthening the erector spinae or lower back muscles actually contribute to more arching of the lower back along with the hip flexors pulling at the front of the lower spine?


No.It's the tightness/dominance of the hip flexors that cause the lower back to arch(lordosis).A strong lower back will counter this.

Dragon.
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 20, 2011 13:17

dragon wrote:REG wrote:
The problem with doing stiff-legged deadlifts, while keeping your back straight, is that you will be exercising or strengthening the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles more so, than the erector spinae or lower back muscles.

Every compound exercise involves other muscles.From what you say,that would mean the bench press is no good for chest as it involves(and fatigues more) the delts and triceps.Even "isolation" exercises can never truly isolate.Performing a bicep curl requires your forearm to grip the weight.

Even if it were possible to isolate the lower back,what would that achieve?-You aren't isolating the lower back when you perform a kick,punch,etc...The core,hamstrings,glutes,hip flexors,etc will always have involvment so it's more practical to do a compound movement than an isolation one.This teaches the body to work as a unit as opposed to being a collection of strong body parts that have never worked together.


REG wrote:
So wouldn't you develop more lower back strength by rounding your lower back at the beginning position and then arching at the ending position for each rep?

No.Rounding your lower back in the bottom position would be stretching the ligaments of the spine.Arching at the top would be hyper-extending......If you choose to perform the movement that way,it is your own risk to take.There is more than enough information out there to find out why these are dangerouse practices.



This all true, but I thought that in order to fully strengthen the erector spinae muscles you would need to exercise it dynamically and not isometrically. Otherwise, that muscle group would just act as stabilizing muscles for an exercise such as the deadlift, good mornings, and back extensions on bench. Also, if you keep your back straight throughout the entire range of those movements, then why don't you do so when you do back extensions on the floor?

dragon wrote:REG wrote:
Why would strengthening the lower back muscles counteract the hip flexors? I thought it was the hamstrings and glutes that are the antagonists to the hip flexors (especially the ilipsoas muscle groups).

The illiopsoas consists of the psoas and the iliacus-The iliacus connects to the hip bone.The psoas connects to the lower back.


Soooo.....how does that make the erector spinae muscles become the antagonists to the iliacus and psoas muscles? Aren't there antagonists still the hams and glutes?

dragon wrote:REG wrote:
In fact, wouldn't strengthening the erector spinae or lower back muscles actually contribute to more arching of the lower back along with the hip flexors pulling at the front of the lower spine?

No.It's the tightness/dominance of the hip flexors that cause the lower back to arch(lordosis).A strong lower back will counter this.

Dragon.


Yeah, but exactly how would the erector spinae muscles reduce the lordosis?
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby dragon » Sep 20, 2011 14:57

REG wrote:This all true, but I thought that in order to fully strengthen the erector spinae muscles you would need to exercise it dynamically and not isometrically.


Deadlits and good mornings are dynamic,not isometric.

REG wrote:Also, if you keep your back straight throughout the entire range of those movements, then why don't you do so when you do back extensions on the floor?


I don't do back extensions on the floor.My person choice not to hyper extend.I do back extensions on a bench and only raise to parallel.

REG wrote:
dragon wrote:REG wrote:
Why would strengthening the lower back muscles counteract the hip flexors? I thought it was the hamstrings and glutes that are the antagonists to the hip flexors (especially the ilipsoas muscle groups).

The illiopsoas consists of the psoas and the iliacus-The iliacus connects to the hip bone.The psoas connects to the lower back.


Soooo.....how does that make the erector spinae muscles become the antagonists to the iliacus and psoas muscles? Aren't there antagonists still the hams and glutes?

dragon wrote:REG wrote:
In fact, wouldn't strengthening the erector spinae or lower back muscles actually contribute to more arching of the lower back along with the hip flexors pulling at the front of the lower spine?

No.It's the tightness/dominance of the hip flexors that cause the lower back to arch(lordosis).A strong lower back will counter this.

Dragon.


Yeah, but exactly how would the erector spinae muscles reduce the lordosis?


My point wasn't which are the antagonist,my point was emphasis on lower back training and how the core should work as a unit....Lower back injuries are more common that hip flexor injuries.......It makes sense to strengthen the weakest link.

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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 21, 2011 13:46

oh i see. I think I get. The erector spinae muscles are supposed to be strong enough to keep the vertebral column straight (with natural curves). Right?

Also, yesterday, after reading other articles online on variations of deadlift exercises, I came to realize something. Isn't the stiffed-legged deadlift exercise that Mr. Kurz has been mentioning, actually called the Romanian deadlift?
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby dragon » Sep 21, 2011 14:15

Yes,that's right....If you were to hold your leg out in front of you in a front kick position,the hip flexors and quads would contract/tense....The glutes and hamstrings would relax/stretch.But it's the lower back which comes under compression.This is compounded further by it being an uneven load(standing on one leg).So a strong lower back is more important(to me anyway) than worrying about antagonists.

I'm not sure which version of the deadlift Mr.Kurz recommends,but yes there are differences between the SLDL and the RDL.....I personally only perform the RDL.

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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 21, 2011 20:46

Thomas Kurz wrote:One simple and safe method of testing one's 1 RM is described in Science of Sports Training on page 360. But why test? If one keeps on training, doing deadlifts in sets of 6 to 12, gradually increasing the weight, then eventually there will be 2x one's body weight on the bar and one will have no problem doing several such sets with this weight.


Actually, wouldn't you be more prone to muscle or connective tissue tears in the lower back, pelvis, thighs, and trunk, if you were strong enough to deadlift 2x times your bodyweight comfortably? If an individual was that strong then that must mean that he/she would have big type II or fast-twitch muscle fibers and according to Mr. Kurz in column article #24 and in both his books, Stretching Scientifically and The Science of Sport Training:

“Structural strength of a muscle is determined by the strength and cross-sectional area of the slow-twitch muscle fibers and by the strength of the connective tissue within the muscle. Slow-twitch muscle fibers have relatively greater structural strength than fast-twitch fibers, especially the fast-twitch fibers with low oxidative capacities (Fridén and Lieber 1992; Lieber and Fridén 2000). It takes more force to stretch, and ultimately to rupture, the slow-twitch fibers than the fast-twitch fibers. This is because the slow-twitch fibers are smaller than the fast-twitch fibers and have a greater ratio of cellular scaffolding to the contractile elements (which are built of long, thin proteins that are easy to tear). Several studies have shown that muscles with higher ratios of fast-twitch fibers to slow-twitch fibers are easier to damage or tear than muscles with lower ratios (Gleim and McHugh 1997; Jonhagen et al. 1994; Smith 1994).

“Endurance training, that is, doing many repetitions per set against low resistance, increases structural strength of slow-twitch muscle fibers (Gleim and McHugh 1997). Such training also increases the structural strength of the connective tissue within the muscle, probably through the anabolic action of hormones that are delivered to the muscle with the increased blood flow (Tipton et al. 1975). The connective tissue damage is considered another one of the causes of delayed-onset muscle soreness (McArdle, Katch, and Katch 1996).”

In addition, doing deadlifts in sets of 6 to 12 will cause maximal hypertrophy in the muscles and connective tissues, especially type II muscles. So, what precisely are the reasons for doing such an exercise, when instead you can just keep doing cardiovascular and muscular endurance training to prevent any injuries?
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby Thomas Kurz » Sep 21, 2011 21:29

Resistance training, practically in any range of reps, causes conversion of fibers IIb to IIa, which are smaller and have a greater structural strength than IIb. And as far as the type I fibers and muscular endurance are concerned, then doing DL in 4 sets of 12 will give you plenty of muscular endurance--if you ever do something instead of finding all the reasons not to.
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 23, 2011 05:14

What about maximal, submaximal, and heavy resistances, which respectively permit only one rep, 2 or 3 reps, and 4-7 reps? Even resistance training in any of those ranges will cause conversion of fibers IIb to IIa as well? Also, according to the end of your Spring 2007 newsletter article, you explained that it is not good to have big muscles or muscles that grow really big since they would consist of a lot of type II fibers, which grow quickly and are prone to more tears. So why not do a compound exercise such as the deadlift or barbell squat in sets of 1-5 reps (which increases maximal strength with minimal muscle growth) instead of in sets of 6-12 reps (which will primarily cause maximal muscle growth)? I am confused. Again, sorry for all these questions that keep popping up in my head. I can't help being so curious in learning anatomy/physiology as well as wanting to be as methodical as I can with my long-term planning.
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Re: back strength and martial arts

Postby REG » Sep 27, 2011 12:47

Can someone please help me out here? I would really appreciate it. I want to start to build muscle mass soon, but I am afraid that any increase in muscle mass will also increase the risk of muscle and/or connective tissue injuries. So, does anybody know the answer to my last question on whether or not reps 1-6 will convert IIb muscle fibers to IIa muscle fibers?
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