- Raw strength = How much you can move. This includes how easily you can move yourself
- Speed = Ability to move you (or a load) fast.
- Agility = Ability to switch from one movement to another. note this includes moving the whole body. You cannot be agile if you cannot move yourself.
- Flexibility = Ability to move within full range of motion with power
- Endurance – Ability to keep yourself (possibly with a small extra load) in motion for an extended period of time. Swimming, running are great examples, as are high rep squats.
- Explosive = Ability to set yourself or an external load in motion quickly, includes plyometrics, sprints and such
- Isometric = Ability to hold a position with maximal contraction either with or without an external load.
Working on these various types of strength is should drive your goals for a workout.
The concept is that if you have the basic motions down, then you can specialize them to a purpose. Here are the basic movements you need to train. These naturally organize in pairs that are given here:
- Shoulder flexion/extension: Standing upright, raise your arm straight overhead/lower it
- Overhead pushing/pulling: handstand pushup, overhead press/pullup
- Chest pulling/pushing: pulling something to your chest/pushing something away from your chest
- Pushing or pulling with the legs. squating motions (includes jumping and swings) are pushes and deadlift type motions are pulls. Roughly, pushes are done mostly by the glutes, pulls by the hamstrings.
- Trunk flexion/extension: touch your toes/stand back up or tuck into a ball and extend
All of these should be done with a torso twist too, as well as unilaterally or bilaterally. Finally, you can move yourself or an external load (this covers what is called closed and open chain movements in training, by the way.) This thinking of movement training is ripped off of gymnastics where it has been shown to be extremely useful. These were chosen because they are the basis for most martial arts techniques. To reprise my thinking, actual techniques require some gross motor movement that is done in a variety of settings and orientations and require specific fine movements to finish. As it were, once the big movement is done, techniques effectively happen from the elbows or knees down. A lot (time-wise) of a traditional martial arts class revolves around tutoring these small movements, but there is no way that the large movements can be trained independently. This eats up a lot of time and often it is often not clear which part of a technique is what.
If we can get the big movements fluid, powerful and well practiced, we can concentrate on the hard (and fun) parts of the techniques. What’s more, practicing these large movements can be done alone without screwing up techniques, as I alluded to elsewhere. Don’t forget we grapple, so you might not be standing when you must perform a technique. If we had different goals, we would have different movements. For example, we don’t really kick much, so there are no motions for raising the legs independently.
The last set of definitions I want to add is to clarify our usage from other usages. Standard usage is that an isolation exercise targets exactly on muscle group, e.g., a seated bicep curl. A compound exercise is one that uses more than one muscle group, e.g. a squat. Pretty much very taiso exercise is compound. We refer to taiso exercises as simple that is to say, consisting of one of the basic set (swing, side press, push-up, pull-up, etc.) or complex which is some combination of these simple exercises. A complex exercise would be the swing + side press + windmill combination, consisting of three simple exercises.