T.A.W.G. Workout Rewind 5/20/11 – Power and Focus training

Form, Power, Focus, Speed… This is the technical progression from the Kenpo influence on TacArnis training.

Tonight’s workout targeted POWER and FOCUS by using a ‘functional training’ approach.  It’s challenging, fun, and good strength/conditioning to boot.


  • Using objects as visual and ‘touch’ references to develop awareness of where energy is going and how much energy is being creating
  • “POWER” training using the 10 pound medicine ball to ‘trick’ the nervous system into recruiting more muscle/energy than just empty hand alone
    • – it’s also a lot of fun to bounce that ball around the room.
  • “FOCUS” training with a focus mitt (no pun intended) held in both hands.  This helps students ‘see’ where their energy starts and where they send it because they know where they are starting/sending the focus mitt when the throw it.

Many times – especially as beginning students – we only ‘throw’ our energy TO the bad guy  instead of THROUGH the bad guy.  By using this type of drill/training, students learn faster, get stronger and better conditioned – as well as ‘smarter’ about their movements.  Students ‘own’ their learning since they observe what they are doing, adjust/orient themselves, decide  what to fix or repeat, and act by trying again.. and again.. and again.  This is the OODA Loop in action.

For Self Defense focused martial arts, this is a BIG win win since they are learning to operate independently –  to succeed –  by using the OODA Loop.  I won’t be there to tell them what to fix in a crisis or in daily life.  Don’t get me wrong, I still coach and guide things, but this approach builds self confidence vs. the ‘is this right?’ (constantly seeking the teacher’s opinion about what’s right or wrong).

3 thoughts on “T.A.W.G. Workout Rewind 5/20/11 – Power and Focus training

  1. Great stuff. Something we use in our FMA for power is tire training. The paradigm I follow in my classes is similar. We often use a tire suspended on a tree, fence or anything stationary as a striking target. This allows us to experience hitting something at full speed and full power. This is something you can’t really do when training impact weapons with a partner.

    When training with a partner, everything is accuracy and precision (of form and focus), which eventually leads to fluidity (flow), With the focus on accuracy and precision comes good body mechanics, which is essential for generating power without having to rely strictly on muscular strength. “Power” isn’t part of this mode of training, as if you were to strike your training partner with full power with a stick during a drill you would injure your partner and would probably have to find a new training buddy.

    Striking the tire adds a new dimension to the training paradigm. It brings form and focus together with together with power and speed. This marriage of modalities allows you to feel what it’s like to hit with full power and full speed while maintaining fluidity that comes from focusing on accuracy and precision.

    Tire work also has the added benefit of conditioning. It’s a lot like running sprints. Start with 30 second drills, and build up to a minute, two minutes and maybe five, or start with 25 strikes and build up to 1000 or more.

    • I love striking drills/practice on stuff. Tires are great because of the resistance they give. Form, power, focus, speed are a delicate balance to maintain because you always have to consider if you want to ‘power’ through a strike – knowing that you will be sacrificing form/focus/speed for the next strike and those after… so it better be a decisive moment for a ‘finishing’ move. Pick any one of those four elements and you run into the same problem. The big thing in FMA’s is exactly as you mentioned – fluidity. Learning to be fluid at full force/power while maintaining good form/focus and sustaining a controllable speed is tough to do. Practicing on something ‘real’ instead of just the air is the best way to find your ‘pivot point’ of form, power, focus, speed and then figuring out which one of those four needs some attention to ramp it up to the next level.

      For our approach, because I’m using the ‘functional training’ terms/approaches from exercise/fitness and so on, I tend to specify “POWER” training by keeping it short and explosive – no more than :60. “POWER” moves burn ‘cell energy’ not oxygen so you burn out quickly. Beyond :60 it’s more likely to be considered ‘muscular endurance’ training which is about sustaining a certain level of intensity for longer durations – but it isn’t the same thing as “POWER” training because the activity continues even after the intensity starts to fade. The longer the duration becomes, the more the conditioning moves to Aerobic conditioning. All of these different ‘energy systems’ need attention and development, but to really concentrate on ‘raw’ power, I like to keep the number of strikes very low per ’round’ with at least equal if not double time for recovery. This is easy to do if you have multiple students simply by rotating them through the drill – ‘Hit the tire as hard as you can with 5 strikes then go to the back of the line…” kind of thing. Gives the body time to recharge. Like sprint/intervals for the arms.

  2. Very interesting way of putting the form, power, focus, speed sequence into practice. I like it. Good tools and conceptual thinging really pay off well.


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