Fight Prep: Heading for the XX Open International Polish TKD Championships

Next fight’s up: this time, we’ll go to Cestochowa and take part in the [XX Open International Polish TKD Championships]. So far, the team consists of Chris, Frank, Alex and me. Now Frank and Chris are veteran, it’s the same guys I went to the [Open European Champions] with last year. Alex on the other hand is one of my students. He’s been with us since September, so he’s still a bit green. Nevertheless, he already competed twice: first, in the [Shinergy[battle] Autumn 2012] and immediately after that in the [Shinergy[battle] Winter 2013]. Never fought under any other rules than Shinergy rules, though, so it’s going to be his open style debut. If the setup remains as it is at this time, I’ll be the only one from our team to fight under continuous sparring rules. Everyone else is probably going to stick to semi-contact point fighting.
Today, we went through our new training program for the first time (at least, I did. The other guys already had a session or two). Since Frank was sick, Elias and Tino, two other Shinergy veterans, joined Chris and me for the session – Tino did semi-contact stuff with Chris, while Elias and I prepared for full-contact fights.
In a nutshell, our current program is built around modules (or slots) that offer a framework so that fighters with different interests (i.e., semi-contact, light-contact, full-contact, mma, …) can train together and everyone benefits from the session. In the following, I’ll outline those modules and give you examples how I implemented them today:

  1. Warmup – this is pretty obvious. The [Warrior Warmup Routine] is a great general-issue warm-up for combat sports, but since my shoulder is currently giving me issues, I decided to go for 3 rounds of what I call ‘progressive shadow sparring’ (i.e., each round is performed at a higher pace and with more technical possibilities than the previous one), followed by two rounds of zero-contact sparring.
  2. Specific speed training – speed is a very specific skill. Of course, general training in this regard makes sense, but being a great 100m sprinter won’t necessarily make your rear roundhouse fast. It might help – if you practice, huh, that rear roundhouse. This ain’t no rocket science. Practicing at different speeds makes sense, but at least from time to time, you’ll have to throw that kick as fast as you can.
    1. Since I’m not particularly interested in point-fighting, I chose to go for a combination in my first speed round (jab, cross, rear roundhouse to the body).
    2. For the second round, I just threw the front leg axe kick.
  3. Skill acquisition training – new skills should be acquired in a relatively fresh state. After the speed training, the nervous system is fired up to a max, so now it’s time to take advantage of that increased awareness. We did two rounds of skill acquisition training, which I honestly feel is enough. On super days, we might make it three rounds, but this stuff really requires razor-sharp focus, especially at a higher level, where the challenge moves away from a purely technical one. Today, I spent both rounds countering the rear roundhouse kick. Elias would just attack me and I’d react.
    1. In the first round, I countered his kick with a front leg axe kick. Worked like a charm. I’m not particularly fond of that TKD-style direct counter where you throw your own roundhouse beneath that of the opponent. From my experience, this seldom scores. Rather, it gets penalized as a low-shot. The axe kick (especially if done TKD-style, i.e. as a whipping snap kick) is an elegant solution – instead of going beneath the attacker’s leg, it just goes above it.
    2. In the second round, I countered Elias with a switch spinning hook kick. This is spectacular, energy-consuming and extremely hard to time correctly. Still, if it connects, it scores high or even result in a knock-out. For some eye-candy, consider the following clip, where Raymond Daniels (great point-fighter) pulls that maneuver off in a K-1 fight. Daniels does it from an open stance, but it can as well be done from closed stance, given the correct distance to the opponent:
      Raymond Daniels switch spinning hook-kick
  4. Skill maintenance training – at this point, we’re already almost one hour into the session (~30 minutes of warm-up, followed by a total of 8 rounds á 3 minutes (2 min round, 1 min break), makes 54 minutes), so it’s time to take a step back and focus on the basics. Here, we did another four rounds (each) where we’d just practice what we already know. For me, that was
    1. superman-punch + roundhouse kick combination in the first round,
    2. indirect counters  (evasion + punches) to punches in the second round,
    3. indirect counters (evasion + roundhouse kick / switch kick) in the third round,
    4. pumping kick offense in the fourth round
  5. Anaerobic strength-endurance training – to get into combat shape, we did a round of interval training, following the [Tabata Protocoll]. To stay true to the original idea and spare my knees, I did it on the stationary bike. I absolutely oppose doing Tabata with stuff like jumping jacks, thrusters, squats, burpees or whatever else. That’s just not how it was meant. If you feel you must use something else than the stationary bike, running track or maybe the rowing machine, go ahead and do it. Just don’t call it Tabata.

We’ll have those sessions Monday midmorning (11 am) and Wednesday evenings (7:30 pm). Also, it’ll be S&C Wednesday and Friday midmorning. I teach classes Monday afternoon and actively participate in drills and sparring whenever possible. Saturday is sparring at my Dojo, always great competition. Thursday, I train with Chris before his classes at our Dojo, after that I take Judo-classes. Tuesday is off (I don’t eat at all on that day, so working out intensively probably ain’t a good idea), so is Sunday.
I’m really looking forward to competing again – the [European Championships] didn’t go so well for me, so I have something to make up for.  As usual, I’ll keep you up to date on everything on this site.

So long,

take care

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