Throughout every station in a man’s life, they are expected to be capable of holding their own. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grown man protecting your family from a mugger, a boy squaring off against a bully on the playground, or you’re protecting yourself against a horde of beer-throwing Canadian feminists. You need to know how to defend yourself.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, fighting is looked down upon as unnecessary or simply for entertainment purposes. Many men go about their day-to-day routine without ever giving it a thought. They are in for a rude awakening when a little violence comes their way and they are totally unprepared.

Enter Fighting Fit

Fighting Fit is a system I have been working on for some time now. Its primary purpose is to train individuals to be able to defend themselves in the shortest amount of time. It focuses on simple, gross motor movements and bodyweight exercises, so anyone can train anywhere with little to no equipment.

Some of you may be thinking, “I hit the gym regularly. I’m already in good shape and don’t need to do any kind of specialized training.” As an avid martial artist, I respectfully beg to differ. Size and power is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s even better if you know how to maximize its potential. I have about 30-40 pounds on my instructor and am about 15 years younger, yet he can still throw me around like a rag doll all day long.

Fighting Fit is a hybrid between two principles: strength and skill. It’s going to kick your butt into shape as well as familiarize you with some basic techniques that you can instantly apply in an encounter. No fancy Shaolin monk stuff here; just simple, effective, and brutally devastating techniques to end a fight as quickly as possible.

Note: What I am providing here is NOT a comprehensive self-defense routine designed to handle every situation you may encounter. These are just a few simple techniques that anyone can work on. Let’s keep the keyboard warriors to a minimum…or at least focused on legitimate issues.

A Basic Fighting Fit Circuit

This is a simple circuit that you can do right now. You can go through the circuit once for a quick warm-up before your main workout, or you can do it multiple times as a workout all its own. As we go through the different exercises, I will provide substitutions to help accommodate all levels of fitness as well as what equipment you have access to.

What You Will Need

For this circuit, you will need only a few items:

  1. A jump rope
  2. A standing heavy bag -or- a partner with training pads
  3. A pull-up bar or something else to do pull-ups on

You will do each exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 15 second rest before starting the next exercise.  If you are going through this circuit multiple times, give yourself about a 60 second rest between circuits.

1. Squat Jumps

This exercise is pretty straightforward but great for building leg strength and stamina. From a standing position, squat down low and then explosively jump up into the air. If you are not fully warmed up, keep it slow and low. Also, be sure to land on the balls of your feet to keep things gentle on the knees.

If you unsure about the jumping aspect, simply perform regular body-weight squats.  Alternatively, if you want to make this exercise more difficult, perform a 180 degree spin during each jump (or a full 360 degree spin if you’re feeling especially ambitious).

2. Low Roundhouse Kicks

round kick.jpg

Be sure to pivot on the standing foot or you risk hurting your knee.

This kick is aimed at either your opponent’s knee, the inside of their leg, or their IT band which runs up the outside of the leg just behind the quadricep. Swing your kicking leg around, pivot your standing leg in the direction of your kick, and aim to hit with the top of your foot (about where the tongue of your shoe sticks out). Kick hard and follow through the point of impact. The idea is to completely demolish their leg.

Be sure not to lag between kicks either. As soon as you land a kick, you need to be resetting for the next one.

3. Push-ups

Not much to say here. Everyone knows what push-ups are. If standard push-ups are too easy, try one of the many variations out there. I personally prefer knuckle push-ups as they help strengthen the wrists. It’s hard to go wrong here so get creative.

4. Shadow Boxing or Punches on a Heavy Bag



Now that your arms and shoulders are burning, it’s time to hit the bag. We’re going to focus on the three basics; the jab, cross, and hook. Keep your hands up protecting your face and go to town. Don’t forget to mix up the tempo between big knockout punches and quick flurries. Also, be sure to switch your lead so you’re comfortable on both sides.

If you are worried about injuring your hands or wrists, you can either practice with open hands (palm strikes) or don’t use a bag at all and just shadowbox.

5. Pull-ups

Again, not much to say here. All variations are fine. I personally prefer neutral-grip pull-ups (palms facing each other), but chin-ups and standard pull-ups work just as well. If you’re not quite strong enough to do a full pull-up yet, work on doing negatives or Aussie pull-ups.

6. Thai Clinch With Knee Strikes

thai clinch
We’re going to further strengthen your back and grip by working the Thai clinch. Having a partner helps with this drill but isn’t necessary. Wrap your hands around both sides your partner’s head. Do not interlink your fingers!

From there, try to pinch your elbows together. It isn’t necessary to get your elbows to completely touch though. Doing this keeps your opponent from pulling their head free from your grip. From there, pull them in for knee strikes to the groin. If you’re training with a partner, be kind and pull your strikes.

This can also be practiced using a heavy bag or simply throwing them in the air, shadowboxing style. Elbow strikes to the temple and jaw add an extra element to your training.

7. Elongated Plank

This is just like the standard plank except you increase the distance between your hands and feet. It doesn’t take much distance for you to start feeling this.  If you are just starting off, begin with the standard plank (hands placed directly below your shoulders) and progress from there.

Another great option is to use an ab wheel. Whichever option you prefer, be sure to brace your abs and don’t let your hips dip.

8. The Shrimp Scoot

This is a great drill that will blast your hips and abs as well as help you get comfortable working from the ground. Lay on your back with your legs bent in the sit-up starting position. From there, push your hips up like you’re doing the hip bridge exercise. Now, you’re going to use your arms and feet to slowly work your way backwards. Keep your elbows close to your body and your hands up to defend yourself (even when training by yourself it’s good to develop those good habits).

shrimp scoot

The yellow arrows signify movement of the left arm and leg while the orange arrows signify movement of the right side.

9. Jump Rope

The boxer’s secret weapon. This is great for improving your stamina, coordination, and rhythm. Honestly, whether you’re a martial artist or not, you should be jumping rope regularly. There’s countless variations, but you don’t need to get fancy. Jumping with both feet together is perfectly fine. It won’t take long for your calves to be screaming.

Wrapping Up

Depending on your goals and fitness level, you can apply this circuit in a few different ways. Go through this circuit once if you’re just wanting a quick warm-up or multiple times if you’re looking to get a full workout with some self-defense training mixed in. Increase the difficulty by increasing the work times for each exercise or by cutting down on the rest times.

Regardless whether this is your primary workout or merely a warm-up, you will see improvements to your general fitness and fighting technique. Remember, you get out what you put in. You should be pushing yourself in every exercise trying to go faster and harder. You never know when you might need to defend yourself and training routines like this might very well save your life!

Stay tuned for more training routines, tips, and variations. Got questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments section and I will be happy to address them.

Read More: Fighting Another Man Could Change Your Life

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