BEGINNING WITH THE BASICS
by Craig Smith
Pankration is going to bring a whole new reality to martial sport, and a major part of that new reality is going to be the dramatic increase of serious physical and mental conditioning.
Conditioning is more than building wind. And it's more than explosive force. Conditioning is an integrated development of all the body's systems so that they will operate at elevated demand levels in a synergistic manner for an extended period of time.
The three legs of conditioning are strength, endurance, and flexibility. Each works together with and enhances the others. If any one is short or missing, the overall conditioning is like a wobbly stool it won't stand under stress.
Most martial artists and athletes will find elements of pankration that are different from the disciplines they have studied before. These differences will point out the need for training that goes beyond the regimens they have followed in the past.
The five minute length of a pankration match will necessitate the need for increased endurance training for many. Those who are not used to taking blows to the body will be interested in specific training regimens for "body armoring".
Those who have mainly relied on speed in the past will want to work on strength training, as well. And those who have relied on strength will want to develop greater flexibility. It was no mistake that the ancient Greek philosophers called Pankration "The worthiest contest of the Olympiads, and the most important preparation for warriors", and the most complete martial sport will require the most complete preparatory physical training regimen.
In this section each month, I will work from the ground up, first introducing basic principles and then moving on to more advanced biomechanical and kinesiological issues. By keeping each month's segment, you will be able to build a notebook that will guide you to levels of physical training and abilities that you had not reached before and you will understand what you are doing.
The Four Principles
Developmental physical training rests on four basic principles: specificity, overload, body alignment, and muscular control.
1. The principle of specificity simply indicates that in order to develop or maintain any system or component (a system being such as the muscular system and a component being such as the quadriceps), you must choose an exercise that specifically addresses that system or component. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it is if you know what you are doing, but a lot of people waste a lot of workout time because they do not know how to best target the system or component they are wanting to work. In order to put the principle of specificity to work, you need to know exactly what the system or component does, and how it works.
2. The principle of overload states that in order to develop any system or component, it is necessary to place an overload on that system or component. In other words, work it harder than it is used to working. This also sounds simple, doesn't it? Again, it is if you know what you doing. But if you place too little or too great an overload on a system, it either won't develop as quickly or as well as it could, or it may be in danger of injury. Notice also the lack of the word "maintain", as it appeared in the description of specificity. Static workout levels, which do not increase in developmental overload, will not further develop a system.
3. The principle of body alignment stressed balanced development and indicates that in order to best develop any system or component, it is necessary to work that system or component according to its physiological and anatomical design. In order to make sure you are doing this, an understanding of musculoskeletal structure, comparative bio-mechanics and sympathetic contractile properties is necessary. Or, you can follow a program designed by someone who understands these aspects which is a lot easier.
4. The final principle, muscular development, tells us that in order to best develop the musculoskeletal system, or any component thereof, and avoid danger of injury, it is necessary to maintain constant muscular control over all movements and positions, throughout their full range of motion and duration. Never let any component respond to uncontrolled gravity or inertia. Failure in this can result in imbalanced muscular development and/or osteo- and syndysmological jeopardy (a fancy way to say it can endanger bones and joints).