Friday, December 5, 2008

Train to Fight - But Don't Fight, Kids... OK?

It's the dirty secret of Evolutionary Fitness: our ancestors were lean because they were killing machines.

When we talk about the functional roots of EF, we usually speak in terms of man versus nature. Food is scarce, mammoths are... mammoth, etc. But seriously, when was the last time nature gave humans our primary survival challenge? Even Neandertal had tools and weapons. The fishook and the deadfall trap don't require a barrel chest and hulking shoulders. Neither does running a herd of wildebeasts into a box canyon.

But KEEPING your food when Ogg wants to take it- THAT is a survival challenge.

Does it make sense? Modern subsistence hunters are lean, but not powerfully built compared to what we know the human body is capable of. The reason is, they don't kill each other so much anymore.

Now, what does this mean for your workout? It means do what a lot of us do already: train like a fighter. Look at the body of a man who fights for a living sometime!

Hand to Hand:
Absolutely requires total body strength, and powerful arms. Ogg is sitting on your chest? Ogg is behind you, choking? Now you know why your EF-optimized muscles can bench-press or jump-squat your bodyweight.

Striking means explosive power, of course, and anyone who knows how to punch knows that the motion involves the whole body.

AND you need strong, tight abs: for both offense and defense.

Workouts: full-body strength or explosive motion (Olympic lifts, all presses, deadlifts, squats, kettlebell lifts and turns, heavy bag)

Weapons, Melee:
The club is the classic example, but don't forget the spear and the long stick. The quicker you move and the heavier the weapon is, the more damage you'll do.

And don't forget the legs! The tactical advantage in a fight with weapons belongs to the fighter who controls the distance. Fencers lunge, spearmen jump-thrust, etc.

Workouts: kettlebells! and of course actually working with weapons, but that's more for the dojo and the salle d'armes than the gym. For explosive leg movement, snatches, cleans, etc.

Weapons, Ranged:
Well, throwing rocks comes to mind doesn't it? I know a lot less about this than I do the hand-to-hand arts, but one notices that Field events like shotput, javelin and discus are all weapons styles. I'd look at what those guys do to train.

Workouts: shooting baskets, throwing baseballs, medicine ball drills, kettlebell toss if you have the outdoors to work with.

I'm hoping for some good discussion on this one - and to incorporate more of the melee weapons stuff into my workouts.

Jeff, wanna wrestle sometime? ;^)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Richard,

    Awesome post. This makes perfect sense to me. I have been reading a bunch of evolutionary biology lately and this falls in line with their findings. Many times the natural selection is more based on competition between members of a species rather than hunting or preventing being hunted. There are apparently far more events related to fighting over territory, mates, and food than events related to running from prey, etc. It makes sense that we could have evolved to be good at fighting one another as that would have been selected at each progressive generation.

    Maybe we do need to get Tom to get a wrestling mat. I doubt he would let us fight with sticks or worse, swords. I think we might want to go over to the utility path where I run sprints and throw stuff as well! I saw a recent post from Mark Sisson on this as well. You might want to check this out:
    Clubbells sound like a weapon, right?

    Also Krav Maga is a martial art/fitness thing as well. I stumbled upon a book at the local Borders. Maybe we could get some ideas there as well.

    Good thinking on this one. Maybe we could call this "Combat Fitness". :-)