Get Strong, Hit Hard & Toughen Up!

What Is Combat Conditioning?

Functional Fitness That You Can Bet Your Life On.”

… That’s the tagline I use for my “Toughen Up Training Guides,” and the essence of my philosophy about self-defense training.  Its also why I consider combative training to be the best health and fitness investment you could possibly make.

As I lay out the structure of my “Seven Components of Self-Defense” curriculum, we come back time and time again to the fact that the “training process” is the foundation of achieving the powerful, life-protecting, life-enhancing benefits of self-defense.

Training is the “Path” to Self-Defense

If you’ve read much about the martial arts, you’ll see reference being made again and again about “the path” or “the way” of the martial arts.  Many people interpret this to mean something secret or mystical.  It doesn’t.

What it is referring to is the “training process” as being the key to unlocking the powerful, life-enhancing benefits of self-defense.

To sit passively and read an article or two about self-defense or perhaps take a weekend seminar on the subject is one thing.  It’s better than nothing I guess.

However, it’s a far cry from making a legitimate impact on your ability to stay safe and protect yourself.

Its true that a big part of your ability to stay safe involves the “mental skills” of avoiding, detecting and defusing volatile situations BEFORE they turn violent.

However, when the shit hits the fan and violence does occur, there’s no way around the reality that a “street fight is an athletic event.”

Whether you stand and fight or run like a rabbit, the biggest factor on avoiding a severe “shit kick’n” is your legitimate fighting skill and functional fitness.

What is Functional Fitness?

Functional fitness is exercise that conditions your body while developing useful, athletic qualities with a real-world application. Functional fitness, unlike cosmetic fitness, will improve your performance in a fight for your life, a weekend tennis game or carrying your groceries up a flight of stairs.

Many popular forms of exercise DO NOT contribute to your real-world performance or your ability to protect yourself. You don’t “jog” away from a mugger.  You don’t “bench press or curl” a violent attacker.

Workouts build around bodybuilding concepts provide questionable benefits in a street fight. I’ve seen many people who have “pumped iron” for years who don’t have a coordinated bone in their body.

Many people who can whip of a set of bench presses with a 300 pound barbell, can’t punch their way out of a wet paper bag!

What is Combat Conditioning?

Combat conditioning uses “fighting techniques” as the primary form of exercise to improve health, condition your body AND develop legitimate self-defense fighting skills.

Supplementary exercises that are designed to enhance your combative performance are also incorporated to provide a full-body workout system with a real-world performance benefits.

Exercise is EVENT SPECIFIC.  If you want to get good at something, in our case street fighting and self-defense, then your workout program should “mimic” as closely as possible the activity you want to improve.

The best conditioning for an activity is achieved by doing the activity.  If you can get into great shape by doing the actual activity you are trying to improve, then do that activity.  Supplementary exercises should support and enhance the qualities

The best way to improve your punching is by punching, not by lifting weights or jogging.  That being said, “the right kind” of supplementary exercise can enhance but not replace your punching practice.

A Combative Training Recipe

Here is a shopping list of what you need to know to design your own safe and productive combative workouts:

  • Learn the fundamentals and exact body mechanics of the skills and techniques you will build your workouts around. Punches, strikes, kicks, shifting and movement etc.
  • Learn how to regulate the frequency, intensity and duration of your workouts for maximum progress in minimum time and effort.
  • Avoid wasting your time on “low-return” exercises that do nothing to enhance your athletic performance and fighting skills.
  • Buy or borrow the best combative training equipment you can get your hands on and learn how to use it productively and safely.  (Heavy bag, focus pads, Thai pads, boxing gloves etc.)
  • Supplement your combative drills with full-body exercises that emphasis balance, coordination, core-strength, and other head-to-toe qualities. Training “movements not muscle groups.”
  • Continuously vary your workouts to keep them from getting stale and boring.  When your body adapts to the stress of a new workout program progress stops.  You need to change things up to keep improving.

And… most importantly… the number 1 priority is to avoid the aches, pains and injuries of overzealous and improper training.

If you need a hand with any of these ingredients, check out my Toughen Up Training Guides at .

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me…

Take care, train smart and stay safe…

Randy LaHaie

About the Author:

Randy LaHaie is a trainer, consultant and author of the ” Toughen Up Combative Training Series.” He has been studying and teaching self-defense for over 30 years and has instructed thousands of people in dealing with dangerous, volatile and violent situations.

About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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