1996 I was fortunate enough to attend the Navy SEAL Hand to
Hand Combat Instructor Course. The biggest lesson I learned
was to target a man’s body from any angle and waste
no movement trying to get into a “favorite” position.
A lot of that was about dropping the ego and quit looking
for the “big shot” that was going to knock a guy
out and win you free drinks for the rest of the night. No
matter what position your body was in, you found a way to
inflict pain and suffering on your opponent.
Fast forward approximately one year and I
found myself training with the great Egan Inoue. When I would
grapple with him, it was no longer about me finding ways to
attack from all angles...it was more about me defending
myself from all angles. I was now on the other side
of the fence! Not only did I have to defend strikes that came
from the least expected places, I had to develop a bodily
sense to know whether one of my limbs was being manipulated
for a submission attempt or something else like a guard pass.
Once that was somewhat established the strength was needed
to pull the endangered limb out of harms way! I know that
some of you will have a nice cliché saying about technique
versus strength but you know as well as I do that, while technique
cannot be ignored, sometimes you just have to muscle
yourself out of a bad situation.
So, the question arises: “How do we
train ourselves to be strong at all angles?” There is
the obvious conventional way of training via lifts in the
Power Rack: squats, dead-lifts, overhead press, dips, weighted
pull-ups/chin-ups, Olympic lifts, etc. These are all great
exercises and have been proven to develop incredible amounts
of strength in athletes. But, do they necessarily have a specific
cross-over benefit to your chosen sport? I don’t think
anyone can argue that they don’t have an impact, but
is it the most effective way to address the Specific Physical
Preparedness aspect of your training?
If you haven’t read Scott Sonnon’s
Clubbell Training for Circular Strength, I suggest you do
so immediately. On page 68 you will find a quote by Dr. Hartle
which addresses the “big lifts” and their impact
on athletic performance:
“Most weight programs focus on the
big lifts to enhance their athletes’ sports performance
and decrease incidence of injury: squat, bench press, dead-lift,
power clean, etc. While these lifts will enhance an athletes
performance on the field, they are all done essentially in
a singular plane aspect. They will allow an athlete to jump
higher, run faster, hit harder, etc., but all sports
will require the athlete during practice and competition to
utilize their body in one, two, or all three planes of motion
at the same time. This means the athlete needs to
have the motor units of the rotary and angular/diagonal muscles
ready to assist the prime movers as they function in a near-maximal
or maximal state and are ready to function when called upon.”
When I think of being strong at all angles
I think of being strong even when you don’t
have conventional means of supporting yourself. In
my opinion, very few exercises represent this type of challenge
more than the Turkish Get-Up (TGU). I first did a version
of a Turkish Get-Up many years ago when I first started taking
Karate at the YMCA. Our sensei would make us keep our hands
in front of our faces so we couldn’t use them on the
ground for support. This demanded flexibility in the knees
and hips and a good sense of balance so you could get up without
leaning too far over and exposing your face or any other targets.
Turkish Get-Ups also came into play when I
was training with Egan as he also made us get up from the
ground without the use of our hands, and I started using a
weighted version of them when I did sandbag workouts as well.
With sandbags you have the option of either holding the bag
against your chest as you get up or you can hold the bag over
your chest when you’re on the ground and, as you change
positions, move the weight over your head and proceed in that
Now we’re going to take the Turkish
Get-Up and perform a two-handed version of it with Clubbells!
Before we start, I highly recommend that you read these precautions:
- If your just starting this exercise, use
only one Clubbell.
- If at any time, you feel that you can't
hold the weight...push it away from your body!
- Start with a light enough weight that will
allow you to learn the movement first...then
add the pounds.
If you don't have Clubbells,
you can certainly perform this exercise with Kettlebells and/or