“One look at Mike Tyson’s back when he punched should make it obvious how important the lats are to a fighter. The lat provides a connection between your arm and the rest of your body at the moment of the punch’s impact. If the “armpit muscle” is not activated you cannot put your mass behind the punch and your shoulder is asking for trouble.”
I recently had a job change which resulted in my getting my first office.
The office is pretty big and has a couple of empty corners. A light bulb went off over my head.
One of my old workout routines had involved doing “one minute” negative pull-ups and after a while I was really strong at that movement and it really helped my punching power.
Later, I’d also had one of those pull up bars you put into a doorway, but 7 years ago I moved into an apartment which had weird doors and it didn’t work anymore. But back when I was doing regular pullups, I had really liked the feeling of being able to handle my body weight.
So I got one of these about a month ago.
Stamina 1690 Power Tower
And I started applying Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Grease the Groove” approach (daily training):
“The pullup is the logical choice of an exercise to strengthen your lats. If you ask an experienced bodybuilder how to work the latissimus most thoroughly he will tell you to look up, force your chest open, and draw your shoulder blades together on the top of the pull up.
This may be okay for bodybuilders, but what does this have to do with fighting?
You move in the ring in what gymnasts call“the hollow position” –the scapulae flared and the chest caved in. This is the way you should finish your pull ups. Look straight ahead and hunch over the bar. Touch your neck or upper chest to the bar to make sure there is no question that you have completed the rep. Lower yourself under complete control and pause momentarily with your arms fully straight before going for another rep.”
I found this progression and have been doing it more or less daily. I started with the first one and am now on the second one.
The 3RM Russian Pullup Program
3, 2, 1, 1
3, 2, 1, 1
3, 2, 2, 1
3, 3, 2, 1
4, 3, 2, 1
4, 3, 2, 1, 1
4, 3, 2, 2, 1
4, 3, 3, 2, 1
4, 4, 3, 2, 1
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
The 5RM Russian Pullup Program
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
5, 4, 3, 2, 2
5, 4, 3, 3, 2
5, 4, 4, 3, 2
9, 8, 7, 7, 6
9, 8, 8, 7, 6
9, 9, 8, 7, 6
Why did I bother to put all this in here?
I think this “Grease the Groove” concept is exactly how anyone can get “pretty good” at Wing Chun. A little bit every day.
To be great, I think you have to dig a little deeper and dedicate your life to it for a while. 20+ hours a week for a year or two, hitting all the drills and exercises regularly. That’s how they all did it. My teacher, his teacher, and so on. No one gets to be great without sacrifice.
But I think many of us would be happy to be pretty good. Even this level is not going to happen just from going to all the classes (unless you are at some school that trains every day and you go every day). That will make you competent at best.
You must practice in your regular life, every day, or close to it.
I decided I wanted to be able to do 20 pullups. How do you do that?
I followed the progression above for two weeks – now I can do 5 in a row. I think I’ll be able to add five each month, so I should probably be able to do 20 by the beginning of May.
My Wing Chun student’s ask me how I got (what seems to them) fast.
I did the movements until I learned to relax the right muscles and tense the right muscles in the right order, and that came through repetition. Lots of repetition.
As Montel Jordan sang, this is how we do it.
Grease the Groove – do it a lot. Think in terms of months and years, not hours. Plan to do each new drill or exercise daily for months.
How do you get good at punching? Start with 20. Keep adding one every day. Add a little power. Change what’s in the bag. In a year you’ll be punching very hard.
The pole? Do it five times every time you go to class. Buy one and do it a couple of times every morning for a year.
Wing Chun footwork? I did the X-stepping exercise four or five times a day for months.
If this all seems like too much, ask yourself, “how long have I wanted to be a good fighter?”
My Sigung Gary Lam often asks, “What do you want?” You can have whatever it is – but are you willing to pay the price?
I want to be able to do 20 pullups – the price is fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, for five months and the $100 for the equipment..
The price is time. Years. And thousands of repetitions. The how is by creating habits.
Milo picked up a calf every day a a young man. It slowly grew into a full-sized cow. He slowly grew and became a man strong enough to lift a full-grown cow.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!