Abs Every Day

I was grappling a while ago with one of the guys in our workout, and got myself into a terrible situation. My opponent got into the mount position, basically him sitting on top of my chest with me on my back, lying on the floor. We struggled for a bit, but he's bigger and stronger than me, and soon got into position for a choke submission. I was in trouble.

We don't wear gi's in our workout, just t-shirts and sweats, and neither offered a good grip. Out of desperation, I dug my hands into his waist and grabbed two handles' worth of tummy. The resulting leverage gave me time to trap his left leg and toss him over the side, letting me escape.

Ever since that workout, I've made it a goal to never give my opponent the same "handles" to use against me. They may be called "love handles" by some, but when you're trying not to get choked unconscious or have your arm bent beyond its normal range of flexion, you're definitely not in a friendly relationship.

I've committed to a program of "Abs Every Day." Every day, before hustling off to work, I do a quick abdominals workout. Granted,  resistance ab work alone won't do away with that "spare tire" around your belly. Only regular aerobic exercise and proper nutrition can help with that. But powerful abs are really, really important in the martial arts, and here's why:

  • Abs are the base of your body's weaponry.

  • In the martial arts, you're using your arms and legs as weapons, moving them in various arcs and paths around the center of your body--your abs. Strengthening your abs allows you to use your weapons from a solid base.
  • Your midsection is the source of your power.

  • Many Asian martial arts have a core concept that the body's midsection is the source of martial power. Specifically, power stems from a point just below the navel, called the hara in Japanese, or the tantien in Chinese. Strong abs = strong hara.
  • Abs are the armor for your midsection.

  • Protect yourself. Ken Shamrock, UFC Superfight champion, King of Pancrase, and current WWF pro wrestling star, puts it best in his recent book Inside the Lion's Den:
    ...your stomach is one of the parts of your body most vulnerable to attack. You can get hit in the arm, shoulder, even the back of the head, and not suffer much damage. But, if you take a shot in the gut, you will most likely feel it. So protect your vulnerable belly by covering it with a hard shield of muscle.
    My ab workout is really simple. I just do crunches. I don't need any equipment, weights, or gadgetry (although I will use the Nautilus machines in the gym if I'm there). Here's how I do the basic crunch:
    1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent. I lift my feet up in the air, but most books say to leave them on the floor. If you leave them on the floor, your heels should be about 15" away from your butt.
    2. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor.
    3. Either cross your arms over your chest or touch your fingertips to your head.
    4. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor by contracting your stomach muscles. Think "curl up," not "lift". Keep that lower back on the floor!
    5. Slowly lower your head and shoulders back down.
    6. Repeat until you can't do any more (failure).
    I try to do 2-3 sets to failure.

    If you need more reasons to work those abs, read these thoughts from Bruce Lee, from the book Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body:

    The abdominal and waist region coordinate all parts of the body and act as the center or generator. Therefore, you can promote the ability to control the body's action and master your will easily.

    Exercise the abs daily and with patience. Results will soon come.

    The proper way of doing sit-ups isn't just to go up and down, but to curl yourself up; to curl your back up, like rolling up a roll of paper.

    Join me in committing to strengthen those abdominals! For more information on abdominal training, consult the following links: As a result of a commercial relationship between, its Guides, and, video titles can be purchased directly from is solely responsible for fulfillment of video orders placed through these links.

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