197338_10150156697874994_2400593_nMy wife hit me, hard.

Gosh it feels good to write that, for many reasons. It’s very pleasing to write “wife” instead of “girlfriend” obviously. It’s also nice to feel that great transition that can happen when teaching boxing…when a student goes from hitting you with a kick, to chopping you down with an axe-blow.

We started getting serious about the unarmed training a few weeks ago. It’s not new to us, but we’ve switched up from some of our more familiar drills. I like to work flow drills, and build tactical awareness. Once that’s in place, I can use to the flow as a basis for corrections that build better technique, power, precision, speed, etc. It works for most students, but not all students.

We talked about approaches, and what we enjoyed, and what we wanted. We settled out on a variation of my old Shotokan training. I would teach her to hit hard…and I’d be the punching bag. Best way to build realism in training for impact is to hit someone, after all. And it takes a lot to hurt me, but I’ve been out of training for so long…I wanted a chance to build back up my defense skills. So she throws the kicks and punches, I sidestep, catch, or step into the hits. Once we’ve got a good rhythm going, and some good thumps, I start to work some back and forth combos. It’s working pretty good so far.

There was a forum post on the internet recently about training women for swordfighting. More of the usual crap was posted. It always surprises me what an incredibly poor education there is about fitness out there. It’s really astounding. It’s not like the information is hidden. Anything you want to learn is pretty much available for free on the internet. With a little effort and some critical thinking, you can learn a lot. Or, apparently, you can just stick to ignorance and assume that what is “common sense” to you is inherently correct.

I can’t remember off-hand who it was that wrote that people’s brains can be described as clay with words written on them. A good brain should be of the right consistency that new words can be written easily and retained well, but removed when needed. Some people have brains that are too runny…you can write easily, but the words smear and fade too easily. And some people are too dry. It takes serious effort to carve in new words, and once they are put in they stay forever.

In my experience, women respond best to what most people would consider a gruelling work load. Heavy weights lifted explosively and lots of sprint work are the rule. Adaptation happens quickly and real athleticism can just shine out in record time. It’s a fantastic process to watch.

I’m not a fan of exercise by sport-specific drills. I see this a lot from amateur coach wannabe’s, and it’s a terrible idea. They think fitness for swordplay should only ever involve a sword, which is about a stupid an idea as there is. Weapon drills should be used to refine and correct patterns, not as exercise. Fitness and strength conditioning is support for athleticism, specificity is inherently damaging and has to be balanced out.

Fighting is serious business, and needs to be respected as such. Eat right, workout right, train right, recover right, review right and revise right! Sure, you can just have fun and play around with swords, but the moment you start getting serious enough to try and get better…do it right. No damned excuse to do it any other way. And that goes even more for women fighters. Right training is hard training, and it’s smart training. It’s not, ever, taking it easy on them. Or going the opposite route and thinking you need to toughen them up by causing them extra pain.

The only way you treat women different when training them is to make sure they get a higher dose of sprint and maximal strength training. Train women for explosive power for the biggest bang for your training buck.