Should a Warm Up in a Martial Arts Class relate to Self Defence?


Of course it is important to warm up properly for any training session at the gym. A Martial Arts class is no different, but should your warm up be specifically related to Wing Chun, San Da Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or should it be functional for self defence?

We believe that a warm up for any martial arts class should be short but practical in order to build the basics for functional strength, fitness, and conditioning. However, different styles of martial arts have differing demands and requirements, so in most cases the warm up will be specific to that martial art.

For example, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu relies on a certain amount of core strength, especially in the hips, back, and abdominal muscles. Therefore, many BJJ schools focus on warming up with floor exercises that not only strengthen the body but rehearse the specific movement for actual application. In other words, what is practiced in the warm up is applied in training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools also warm up with the Self Defence syllabus instead of this typical conditioning warm up. This is a great alternative to exercising for any martial arts class, because it not only allows your body to warm up gently but gives you some practical self defence as well. It also switches you on to a self defence mode straight away (without warming up) which is more realistic for a real self defence confrontation.

San Shou Kickboxing also warms up with a series of practical exercises that strengthen the body, but also places an emphasis on practical application. Our Kickboxing class run through a series of Boxing and Wrestling drills to warm up in addition to some conditioning exercises. In contrast, traditionally for most Wing Chun schools the approach to warming up is not always as vigorous. Many Wing Chun schools rely on the Sui Nim Tao form (1st form) to warm up, while others schools have no constructive approach for preparing a student to train in the lesson. While, one could consider the Sui Nim Tao form as a method of strengthening the body and rehearsing specific movements similar to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing it does not however prepare the student for training or combat. This approach also lacks the fitness and conditioning aspect required for self defence. The London Wing Chun Academy has overcome this problem by applying a structured approach to training students in Wing Chun.    



How We Warm Up for a Wing Chun Class

A warm up in a typical martial arts class should be simple, lasting around 10 to 15 minutes, but focused on developing functional fitness and strength for self defence. The Wing Chun classes in our gym typically start with a brief agility exercise that encourages the student to think and move under pressure. This is essential; it creates a sense of alertness required for self defence, while making the student move in a practical way. This phase is typically followed by core exercises that are functional for self defence. These include press ups, sit ups, crunches, and squats, but key to these exercises is the Press Up.

The mid phase of our warm up is important, practical for self defence, and similar to the Self Defence approach adopted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It relies on a range of pad work drills similar to San Shou Kickboxing, but there is a greater emphasis on responding to common self defence attacks, such as grabs, tackles, and overhand punches. This phase typically warms down with more traditional Wing Chun training aimed to strengthen, condition the shoulders, and co-ordinate the body. At times our warm down phase also includes practical footwork training.   

An effective warm up should be designed to develop practical martial arts skills as well as application for self defence. It should always be simple and not over work the students to the point that they cannot train in the lesson. At our gym, we warm our students up gently, and encourage them to think while physically distracted. More importantly our warm up is always practical and serves the purpose of preparing a student for a self defence confrontation. So our students learn the basics of Wing Chun, but the advanced concepts of self defence all in one package without requiring a complicated explanation. 



The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>

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