Training in the Elements by Jon Haas

Here is a great article written by a friend of mine, Jon Haas regarding training outdoors. Enjoy!


If you are a martial artist, it is essential to train your art outside in the elements.  Since most traditional arts were born outside, and not in a gym or dojo setting, it is important to every once in a while get back to the roots of your art.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know most wars have been fought outside in the elements, through all different types of weather conditions, and on changing terrain.  I think we have all become way too spoiled and comfortable by training in a sheltered and heated (or air conditioned) dojo, on a flat, mat covered surface all the time.  Get out of your comfort zone!  Start to get comfortable being uncomfortable!  Get a little wet and dirty.  Have some fun!

How Do You Know?

How do you know your footwork is correct if you’ve never tried it on ice?

How do you know how well your mental fortitude will hold up in a fight if you can’t even fight the cold and damp?

How well do you do when encumbered by layers of winter clothing and your freedom of movement is restricted?

How effective are your strikes when your opponent is similarly garbed?

How well can you move when there is gravel, mud, ice, or uneven terrain?

How does your movement need to change, or does it?

How does your body respond to the extreme cold or heat?

Can you handle the added stress when confronted by an opponent?


Training on ice, as we have been finding out this winter, reveals many small flaws in your kamae, structure, and balance.  Footwork cannot be sloppy or exaggerated; it must be precise!  It quickly becomes evident who is carrying themselves from their center and who is moving like Frankenstein!!


In addition to all the above points about training outside in all weather conditions there is one other quality developed that provides tremendous additional value.  That ineffable quality is the mental toughness developed through training in extreme conditions.  Mental toughness is defined as your resistance to failure.  This quality alone can carry you through the most difficult of situations, in or out of the dojo.


By Jon Haas ~

Jon Haas is a certified Underground Strength Coach and has been involved in the martial arts for over 30 years. He has been training in the Budō Taijutsu arts of the Bujinkan for more than 22 years and is currently ranked as a Kudan (9th degree black belt) under Jack Hoban Shidōshi.

Jon is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for VX Global and is a certified VX Sport Coach. He is the owner and founder of Warrior Fitness Training Systems and author of the book, Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Arts.


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