Book Review - Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts
Preparing your body for the rigors of martial arts training.

Author: Sean Cochran
Publisher: Human Kinetics, 2001
paperback, $15.95

cover of Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts
 Related Resources
• Martial Arts: Conditioning
• Martial Arts: Fitness
• Martial Arts: Injuries
• Martial Arts: Stretching
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Human Kinetics
 Buy Books Mentioned in this Article
• Martial Arts Bookstore

Sean Cochran, a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)-certified specialist and a taekwondo blackbelt, provides extensive information about physical training in this new book. Cochran draws upon his experience as a major league baseball conditioning coach to improve fundamental skills like flexibility, strength, and explosiveness.

Cochran begins with a basic introduction to fitness conditioning, including a philosophy for governing a training program and starting with baseline testing. He then moves on to specific exercises to improve flexibility and strength, each exercise demonstrated with photos.

Cochran also covers plyometrics for explosive power, as well as nutrition and recovery. The majority of the book, however, is filled with exercise descriptions and photos.

Many students, knowing that martial arts classes themselves are excellent workouts, wonder whether specific physical conditioning is also required. Well, in the same way that football and baseball are great workouts, but pro football and baseball athletes are always conditioning themselves, martial artists who seek to attain a higher level must train their bodies accordingly.

I have one criticism of the book--while Cochran's expertise as a strength and conditioning coach is evident in the book, and it is certainly thorough in its treatment of sports conditioning, it is not exactly "complete" when it comes to martial arts conditioning.

For many martial artists, conditioning refers to toughening body parts to deliver and take impacts. Although many modern karate schools no longer require students to strike makiwara (striking posts) for hours until their knuckles are hard and calloused, many students of striking arts consciously strive to toughen their bodies. Muay thai kickboxers might not kick trees like in the movies, but tough shins are essential for winning in the ring. Kung fu practitioners seek the "iron shirt" power that makes their bodies impervious to attack, or the "iron palm" that makes their strikes unstoppable. These topics are not covered in the book.

As a primer on sports fitness and conditioning though, this book is an excellent introduction.

Other Book Reviews

All content copyright © 1999-2008 James Hom