7 Critical Elements That Every Martial Artist Must Work On

As martial artists, we always want to hone our techniques and abilities in order to become the best we can be. We know that hard work and dedication play a big role in our improvement, but there are other elements of the art that are just as essential.

Today, Evolve Daily breaks down the 7 most important physical qualities every martial artist must train to acquire. Here they are:


1) Agility

Agility is a person’s ability to move quickly and easily in a way that is effective and efficient. For martial artists, agility is needed to quickly attack or defend whenever the opportunity presents itself. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) for example, passing the guard requires you to be nimble and quick to switch styles. For the more advanced BJJ practitioner, you should have three or more passing techniques up your sleeve.

A good exercise to develop your agility for BJJ is flow rolling. Flow rolling means sparring with a partner using zero force and releasing submissions when you get them. By training in this manner, you’ll be able to think ahead next time you do actual sparring.


2) Endurance 

Having endurance means that you are able to perform at optimal strength for an extended period of time. Any martial artist will tell you that endurance is important, especially during competition. You need that extra boost of energy and strength to make you last, even when you feel like you can’t do anything anymore.

In Muay Thai, fighters are required to run long distances in order to build endurance for five round fights. To build endurance, you can start with a simple thirty-minute jog at a steady pace and increase the distance as needed.


3) Speed

Being fast is essential in martial arts. You must be fast enough to defend yourself and quick to attack. It is especially important in boxing. You must be able to weave and slip to evade punches and hit your opponent the moment you see an opening. Fast footwork is also a must, so you can cover distance quickly and find openings to attack.

To work on your speed for boxing, you can use a speed bag. It forces you to hit fast, nonstop. Not only does a speed bag help you with speed, it also helps improve accuracy and timing as well.


4) Explosive Power

Explosive power is defined as the ability to use as much strength and force possible in one explosive movement or in a series of strong, sudden movements. In MMA, the athlete is required to use his or her entire body in striking, grappling, taking someone down or kicking. Thus, to work on their explosive power, they not only lift weights but incorporate mobility exercises into their routine as well.

Kettlebell swings and Olympic lifts are just some of the exercises you can do to work on your explosive power.  When performing these, make sure to watch your form to prevent injury!


5) Core Strength

The core consists of the muscles that run the entire length of your torso. These muscles play a critical role in stabilizing the spine and pelvis while providing a sturdy link in the chain that connects your upper and lower body. A strong core will improve your overall balance and stability and has the benefit of better injury prevention.

One of the most common traits among all high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors is superhuman core strength. According to Evolve Fight Team member Eddie Ng, a weak core makes you more vulnerable to sweeps and submissions.  A strong core will give you the strength and base to resist and defend against attacks. It will also improve your takedown defense.

To work on your core strength, you can do a series of planks, Russian twists and leg raises. Make sure that you keep your core tight at all times when performing these exercises.


6) Reaction time

Reaction time is defined as the ability to respond quickly to a stimulus. In martial arts, reaction time is extremely important. You have to constantly be on your toes, and ready for anything that might happen.

If you compete in Muay Thai, you will realize that good reaction time is essential, especially when your attacks fail or if you find yourself flat-footed. You’ll need to react quickly and defend yourself from your opponent ‘s attacks.

If you want to improve your reaction time, you can work on situational sparring. Situational sparring tests your reaction time in certain positions. It allows you to get the feel of a real fight, which pressures you to react quickly to any situation you are exposed to.


7) Flexibility

Flexibility is known to prevent injuries, especially in martial arts. If you are flexible, you will be able to withstand your limbs being in, uncomfortable positions and you will be less likely to get a sprain. It also keeps your muscles loose and stretched. In BJJ, flexibility is especially important if you are a guard player. Being a guard player requires you to use your legs, keeping your opponent from passing you through sweeps or submissions.

To work on your flexibility, attend a yoga class or do some static stretching after your BJJ or Muay Thai class. Don’t forget to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds each time for optimal results.
Remember, we should always try to improve ourselves at least 1% a day in order to get better. Having a goal to aim for, especially when it comes to martial arts, will always push us to work harder until we reach it.


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