Pullups the key to Martial Arts pt1

In my view pullups should be a key component to any martial artists training regime. This post will be me giving a detailed explanation focusing in all key areas of mind, body and spirit and giving examples on why this relates to martial arts both modern and traditional.

Let’s start with the easiest section the body, pullups will help both a budding and serious martial artist develop a strong more athletic body, it stimulates virtually all the muscles in the torso, with a great emphasis on the back muscles and core.

Some people may think that training for your body is a vanity thing, but we as martial artists focus so much on our front muscles that we are endanger of causing imbalances which often leads to injury. By doing pullups or variations both much easier and much harder we can help make us stronger fighters with a healthier body.

It makes our backs stronger and much more powerful, in my few months in China my sifu in the white crane style was of the view that the secret to his style was a strong back, that his power generation over the inch punch or any short distance was developed from a strong back. People who studied his style at length doing sanzhan for at least an hour a day developed very large lats as a result of this training.
I have noticed from my experience that it is the same for me, my power or explosiveness in my strikes as increased because of this. Katas like sanchin or tensho equally help develop the lat muscles.
Think of the sportmen today compared to years ago, they are so much stronger, faster and much more explosive thanks to their aim of training to get stronger.

Your grip strength increases tremendously as your hands and forearms have to carry all your weight (or more if you add weight) which aids in alot of joint, strangulation, holds, throws and groundwork.
Alot of the white crane kung fu and alot of okinawan martial arts focus alot on grip work, which is also useful for styles like judo, bjj etc.

When someone kicks you in the ribs, there is alot of muscle there to protect your ribs from the power of the impact.
But with bigger stronger lats, whilst they don’t protect the ribs, twisting your body at the right moment can mean that they obsorbed some of the impact helping to protect your ribs.

They engage your core, and as we know the core is the key to everything from striking in boxing and taekwondo to throwing in judo they all say the same thing a stronger core gives you more power and protects your spine.

No matter how good or bad you are at pullups, they are always a mental challenge as it is not something we do every in our daily lives. (we probably did thousands of years ago) and so you have to focus your mind on completing a pullup, matching or beating your previous goal and trying not to cheat. Unlike with most exercises it is so much easier to cheat yourself on pullups, a focused mind is the key to pullups and a focused mind is the key to martial arts.

The battle of the mind and body both help to cultivate a stronger spirit which is at the heart of many martial arts like goju ryu karate, like in its key kata Sanchin (sanzhan).

In my opinion I think either all dojos should get a pullup bars, or better encourage their students to get one and incorporate pullups as part of their training, to make them more rounded stronger healthier fighter, who have strong grips and powerful strikes. In fact I change my view slightly they should only encourage the students to get a pullup bar. Like karate it can be a personal and everyone will have different limitations on pullups, ideally everyone’s limitations can be worked through so everyone can make progress.

Pullups to me are a key component of my martial arts training, there are other reasons why I do them, one being if I ever fell off a high ledge, would I have the strength and ability to pull myself up. When I realised I couldn’t all those years ago I have been heavily focused on pullups. Like karate not that I am to fall of an edge or fight someone in the street, but to prepare myself if I have to save myself or someone I hold dear to my heart.

In part 2 I will give examples of how to progress to different kinds of pullups, ones where anyone can do, to more challenging ones and how to train differently like focusing on grip work, more muscle or how to stimulate them so your able to do them.

Never give up, never back down, Osu.


One Response to Pullups the key to Martial Arts pt1

  1. Nice – I’m looking forward to pt2. I’ve always struggled with pull-ups.

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