I wanted to give insight on two different lines of thought regarding skill training and conditioning within martial arts schools and classes. I have experienced both sides of this as well as variations in-between.
- Schools where conditioning is paramount and strongly incorporated into every single class.
- Schools that are solely skill-based & sport specific that say you should be doing conditioning in your own time. With this option there is inherently conditioning built into sparring/live drills but no general conditioning.
Goals, time, and times per week: Why are you training and what are your goals? Are you doing this for fitness in place of gym time because it is more fun or are you interested in gaining a deep learning of the sport/art/system? Do you have enough free time to get to the gym in addition to getting into skill training? If you have a family and demanding job you might not be able to do both regularly. Another factor is how many times per week do you intend to train or exercise and what will your body actually allow you to do?
I am pretty much always immersing myself in some form of martial arts. I find it is a good way to improve movement, it’s fun, and it is a way for me to keep learning. For the past year that art was exclusively Muay Thai, which was good for learning footwork and striking, but less of a fit for me personally because of the amount of conditioning placed into each class (general conditioning, push ups, sit-ups, abs, etc.) Let me explain that a bit. Conditioning is important for fitness and extremely important for MT practitioners, but since I am someone who is motivated to do my own strength and conditioning separate from my 1-hour training class, it means less skill-work during that hour, and less general fitness training because of the amount of wear and tear from trying to do both in the same day (lifting weights or doing CrossFit the same day as Muay Thai was always a decision I regretted!).
I recently started training at a Sambo school that is nearly 100% skill-based training with their time (Sambo basically integrates throws, groundwork, and wrestling, with some different rules and emphasis) and completed 3 classes in the last week, as well as lifting weights three times. For me, this means I am getting a ton of skill work per week on top of my general fitness training, which will likely mean greater gains over time.
Think about what works for you and if you need to change it up. I have changed martial arts schools now three times within the last 3 years, and not for dislike of any of the places, but mostly to try something new and keep learning, and to see if I can create an accelerated learning curve for myself. There’s nothing wrong starting over and being a white belt somewhere new!
NOVA Self Defense
I would be interested to hear what your experiences have been with respect to skill vs. conditioning training and what has worked best for you or what has not worked out as well as you would have hoped. Please comment below.