5 Old School Martial Arts Training Methods That Still Pack a Punch

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When it comes to martial arts training, there’s a rich history of time-tested techniques that have been handed down through generations. These old school martial arts training methods, often rooted in tradition and discipline, continue to be effective and relevant even in the world of modern MMA training. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into five of these classic methods, exploring their origins and how they can enhance your martial arts training and, subsequently, your MMA training.

Kata Practice: Precision through Repetition

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Kata, a term used in many traditional martial arts, refers to a choreographed sequence of movements, strikes, and blocks. It is a fundamental part of old school martial arts training, serving as a means to practice and perfect techniques in a controlled environment. This ancient method is still a cornerstone of martial arts training today.

In kata practice, martial artists meticulously perform a set pattern of movements, aiming for precision and fluidity. This not only helps in refining individual techniques but also enhances muscle memory and focus. In the context of MMA training, kata practice can improve your striking skills, footwork, and defensive maneuvers. It’s a meditative exercise that builds a solid foundation for fighters looking to excel in the modern arena of mixed martial arts.

Iron Palm Training: Toughen Up Your Strikes

Iron Palm training is a legendary method that originated in Chinese martial arts. It involves conditioning the hands and forearms to withstand powerful impacts. While it might sound intimidating, this old school martial arts training technique can significantly benefit MMA fighters.

The process typically involves striking various surfaces, such as sandbags, wooden boards, or even gravel, with the palm, fingers, and forearms. Over time, the repeated impacts toughen the skin and build bone density. This conditioning not only reduces the risk of injury during MMA training but also enhances the power and effectiveness of your strikes. Iron Palm training is a testament to the importance of resilience and strength in martial arts.

Chi Sao: The Art of Sensitivity


Chi Sao, also known as “sticky hands,” is a unique training method developed in Wing Chun Kung Fu. This old school martial arts training method focuses on sensitivity and reflexes. Practitioners engage in close-range combat, maintaining constant contact with their opponent’s arms, and respond to changes in pressure and movement.

Chi Sao hones your ability to read and predict your opponent’s actions, enhancing your defensive and counterattacking skills. While it may not directly translate into the cage, the heightened sensitivity and reflexes developed through Chi Sao can be a valuable asset in MMA training, allowing fighters to react swiftly to their opponent’s strikes and takedowns.

Running Mountains: Conditioning the Warrior’s Spirit

Before the advent of modern gyms and equipment, old school martial artists often relied on nature itself for their training. “Running mountains” is an ancient method of building endurance, stamina, and mental fortitude. Martial artists would traverse hilly terrain, often carrying heavy loads or practicing martial techniques in the challenging environment.

While today’s MMA training focuses heavily on structured conditioning programs, the spirit of “running mountains” can still be integrated. Incorporating outdoor training sessions into your regimen can not only boost physical fitness but also reconnect you with the roots of martial arts. The mental resilience gained from conquering the natural elements can be a valuable asset in the cage, where fighters often face grueling challenges.


Mokuso: The Meditative Mindset

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Mokuso, a practice rooted in Japanese martial arts, is a form of meditation performed before and after martial arts training. It involves sitting quietly, clearing the mind, and focusing on the present moment. This old school martial arts training method serves multiple purposes, including relaxation, mental preparation, and self-reflection.

In the fast-paced world of MMA training, taking a moment to cultivate a calm and focused mindset can be immensely beneficial. Mokuso can help fighters manage pre-fight anxiety, enhance concentration during training, and develop mental resilience. In the midst of intense bouts, the ability to maintain composure can be a game-changer.

In the world of MMA training, old school martial arts methods still hold immense value. From kata practice to iron palm training, chi sao, running mountains, and mokuso, these techniques offer a unique blend of tradition, discipline, and effectiveness. Incorporating these methods into your training regimen can provide a well-rounded approach that not only enhances your physical abilities but also nurtures the warrior spirit within you.


So, whether you’re an aspiring martial artist or an MMA fighter looking to gain an edge, don’t underestimate the wisdom of the past. Embrace these old school martial arts training methods, and you’ll find that they still pack a powerful punch in the modern world of combat sports. Remember, martial arts training is not just about physical prowess; it’s a journey of self-improvement and mastery that transcends time and trends.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as professional advice and should not be construed as such. Consult with a qualified martial arts instructor or MMA trainer before attempting any of the old school martial arts training methods mentioned in this article. Training in martial arts and MMA involves inherent risks, and proper guidance and supervision are necessary to ensure safety and prevent injury. The author and publisher of this article are not responsible for any damages or injuries that may occur as a result of following the techniques or recommendations presented herein. Always prioritize your safety and well-being when engaging in any physical activities or training programs.

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