This morning I was looking around Google and stumbled upon this “question” on Yahoo and thought it was worth talking about.
“I am 43 and have been strength training for four straight years, but have never trained for cardio or anaerobic exercise. I am done after only 60 seconds!”
Practice Like You Play
My best advice for people in this situation is to practice like you play. I took a combatives class recently that focused primarily on ground fighting. Reminded me a lot of wrestling in high school. For our graded events in that class, we had to dominate a three minute fight against someone else whose grade was dependent on doing the same. Obviously this requires some conditioning to be ready for it, but our course was only 8 classes long (about 3-4 weeks). How do you get into shape that fast?
Increasing Match Length and Number
The answer was increasing the match length. We would have free practice at the end of classes to build endurance for the real match. It went something like this:
Day 1 3 matches X 1 minute each (1 minute break between matches)
Day 2 4 matches X 1 minute each (1 minute break between matches)
Day 3 4 matches X 2 minutes each (1 minute break between matches)
Day 4 5 matches X 3 minutes each (1 minute break between matches)
Day 5 No Practice (Test Day)
Day 6 5 matches X 5 minutes each (1 minute break between matches)
Day 7 No Practice (Test Day)
Day 8 Free Wrestle 45 minutes
When we first started doing this, most people were quickly winded after the 2nd match. By the end of the course we all were more than capable of having a non-stop wrestling match for 7-10 minutes. If you have never tried this, it is the longest 7-10 minutes of your life.
This kind of process can be quickly transferred to sparring. If you are currently getting winded during sparring matches, I encourage you to take this kind of approach. Get together with someone else, pad up, and practice just like you would play – only do it for significantly longer than your real sparring matches at the tournaments or your own dojo.
This is going to sound mind blowing, but, don’t stop. That is the secret. You will be tired and may struggle or even do very poorly in the match. That is ok, just do not call it quits or tell your partner you need a break. If you need some motivation – have them keep hitting you when you try to call it quits.
Start slow and build up, but keep building up and adding time or number of matches until you no longer feel winded when sparring in the dojo. If you are having trouble setting up a plan – mention it in the comment section and we can probably find you a more specific plan to build your endurance and get you into fighting condition.