Kettlebell Training for Martial Artists

LOW TECH, HIGH CONCEPT — Russian Kettlebells Are Changing The Way Martial Artists View Weight Training and Injury Rehabilitation

Written by Dr. Mark Cheng, a certified kettlebell instructor under Pavel Tsatsouline.

In this article, Cheng powerfully shows how just two fundamental kettlebell exercises — the Swing and the Turkish Get-Up — dramatically made a difference in not only his martial arts, but his daily life.

Cheng was introduced to kettlebell training by Black Belt Hall of Fame member Dan Inosanto. He, admittedly, brought a lot of skepticism to the meeting with Pavel Tsatsouline, a former instructor for Soviet special forces.

However, Tsatsouline delivered his Hard Style training method in convincing fashion. Cheng wrote, “As much as I disliked weight training, I had to admit that everything the Russian was saying made sense — and it was changing the way I viewed medicine and martial arts training.”

Very soon, Cheng noticed improvement in his lower back and shoulders. He was moving better, re-grooving muscle patterns. He said, “Instead of trying to move my body with stabilizing muscles and stabilize with ‘prime movers’, my lower back, hips, legs, spine, shoulders and arms were moving with a coordinated power I’d never experienced.

“The biggest difference,” Cheng claims, “was in the drastic change in my pain level.”

Cheng describes how he occasionally suffered debilitating back pain since college. The episodes eventually limited his martial arts training. All his motions became less committed, more guarded. Some lifts and throws were avoided in his workouts.

In a matter of days with kettlebell training, he could get up in the morning without low back stiffness. His movements were stronger and he was pulling off throws that would have caused him pain if he’d tried them earlier.

“The improvement to my lower back was nothing short of incredible,” he wrote. Good-bye low back problems.

Likewise, Cheng had come to expect a certain amount of baseline shoulder pain due to his martial arts. But kettlebells fixed that up just as quickly. No more shoulder pain. Soon, his training partners were commenting on how much harder his kicks and punches were.

Whether or not you’re a martial artist, this is a great article to show you the power of Hard Style kettlebell training to not only improve performance, but also to rehabilitate injuries that foil other healing methods you may be trying.

I can relate. Kettlebells cured my low back problems. I had (or have) a herniated disk that prevented me from bending for almost any reason. To try and avoid surgery, I tried a lot of back exercises from a number of books with poor results. And then I found the books of Pavel Tsatsouline.

Everyone else is looking in the wrong place.

My back problems (and very likely yours, too) were not caused by weak low back muscles. Strengthening them didn’t help. Instead, the low back was compensating for glutes and hips that just weren’t working. The most powerful muscles of my body were just going along for the ride. This is also why elite athletes appreciate the kettlebell swing so much. It develops the ability to powerfully move with the most powerful muscles of the body. It makes a big difference in any sport. And cures back pain problems.

Even Bruce Lee . . . 
A previous issue of Hard Style interviewed John ‘Roper’ Saxon, co-star of Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, who explained how Bruce Lee showed him the kettlebell swing the day they met.

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