Power Generation for Combative Training

I am sure many of you are familiar with the terms Power or Powerful. They are words that are used on a daily basis to describe many things.
In the Oxford dictionary power is defined as follows:
1. The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.
2. The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.
1. Supply (a device) with mechanical or electrical energy
2. Move or travel with great speed or force

In science power is defined :
 "the amount of energy put out or produced in a given amount of time".
Whatever way you look at it, power is good.
From a combatives perspective, power is very important. Even looking at some of the definitions listed above, one can clearly see the benefits of having power on your side.
However power and its development from a combatives perspective is often misunderstood.
Usually there is an emphasis placed on one particular aspect of power in any given combatives or fighting system. Some rely heavily on technique and drill countless repetitions of each defensive technique, each strike, each kick and each parry to achieve maximum power.
Others focus on strength. Hard conditioning drills, weightlifting e.t.c. Each of these is of great benefit of course but power development is not one dimensional or two dimensional for that matter, it's a little more complex than that.
In essence there are seven components to power for combatives or martial arts, and in order to maximize your power generation, each component should be addressed and trained.

These seven components are as follows:


This is the most basic component of power. Balance must be automatic, instantly fluid, and always present during continuous movement. Balance must be capable of being sustained as the momentum of the fighter increases.  

Balance is strongly linked with timing and is improved by working with moving targets such as live sparring or focus mitts held by an experienced coach. Balance is fundamental and without it progression in combative or fighting skills will be difficult. It's one of the first things I look at in a new student and it is easy to tell if they have any previous training under their belt from examining this component of power.


Endurance is the second component. Here we are talking primarily cardiovascular endurance as there are other types such as muscular endurance.  Endurance is improved through aerobic exercises such as running, swimming or bicycling, any exercise that gets the body moving, the lungs working and the heart rate up to over 65% MHR.  

A rule of thumb for a combatives student is to run one mile a day in preparation for every three minutes of a fight, that's right - you will use approximately the same amount of energy in a three minute street fight as you would running one mile!


Rigidity or lack of flexibility presents tremendous problems during a street confrontation.  It is tied to muscular tension, fear, nervousness and lack of confidence.  Flexibility is improved by stretching and relaxation.  Flexibility is enhanced when muscles are in dynamic tension, stretching exercises such as PNF stretches are beneficial to develop flexibility a little faster but it is one of the components that many may find more difficult to develop, it takes time and you should have patience and persevere. 

One problem with stretching is that unlike other aspects of combatives training we don't see an immediate benefit and we usually tend to prioritize components that we believe will benefit us faster. Don't fall into this trap, stick with it and make it part of your daily routine, if only for 10 minutes, you will feel the benefits over a period of a few weeks.


Focus is the fourth component of power and  is the result of proper mind/body coordination Focus occurs when the mental and physical systems complement each other to the point that total concentration can be directed to a specific technique even if just for  a short period of time. Focus is a powerful tool and there are many ways in which to enhance it. Visualisation or "picturing" in your mind what you want to achieve, going through the steps on how you will achieve it and self talk are all of great benefit to improve focus. If the mind can believe then you can achieve so to speak!
There are  two barriers to focus, these are hesitation and overcompensation.  Hesitation is often tied to lack of confidence or possibly social conditioning.  Overcompensation is defined as “trying too hard.”


Speed is the fifth component of power.  
It is generated through continuous repetition until a technique is both physiologically and
psychologically routine and lag time has been reduced.  
It is clear from ballistics research that speed is vitally important to the generation of devastating power. This aspect of power generation is where all of those repetitions come in, however remember, those repetitions all must have a purpose, there is no point in just going through the motions, the other components of power generation have to be applied to each and every repetition.


The sixth component of power is strength. The low ranking of strength in the power typology by most people is due to the other factors which can make up for the lack of strength and also  the manner in which alternative components can impair power if not present with strength.  The strongest person possesses little power when off balance, when they are exhausted or if they have poor flexibility. Strength training should be integral and basic.

Forget about fancy shiny gym machines and concentrate on the basics. If you decide to lift weights, lift free weight, barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells. Do not train like a bodybuilder, train to get strong with core lifts such as squats (full squats, not some of the squat like movements I see in gyms all the time), bench press, dead lifts, overhead press, curls and rows. Keep the technique ultra strict and do not sacrifice technique for weight, this will get you hurt.

If you choose to use bodyweight exercises, that's fine. Again start with basic exercises and strict form, full range of motion.

This is the only way strength can be built and is why humans have been training like this for over 2500 years - it works.


The seventh component of power is simplicity. The best way to define simplicity is "the repetition of fundamentals combined with clear, systematic sequencing". Keeping techniques simple helps to yield tremendous power.

Overly complex movements use up energy, strength and affect balance. Keeping it simple is energy conservation. Usually, combatives systems with complex movements such as weapon disarms are popular due to how good the technique looks, however if you can't pick up the basics of the technique and become reasonably proficient in it within 20-30 minutes of drilling it, its probably too complex and a simpler technique would offer far better retention value, meaning you are more likely to remember it. Keep it short and simple (KISS).

So as can be seen from these seven components of power, it's not difficult to achieve really. You just have to know where your focus should lie when you choose to adhere to a training plan be it for combatives or martial arts in general. By developing these seven components you will see an increase in power, particularly in striking. This will therefore allow you to fit within the dictionary definition of power both as a noun and a verb!

About the Author:
Brandon Clifford is the founder and Chief  Instructor at Krav Maga Combatives.
Coming from a traditional martial arts background, Brandon began to train in Krav Maga in 2001 after a particularly violent encounter while working as a door man in Central London.
In 2005 he completed the 150 hour instructors program with the International Krav Maga Federation and began instructing Krav Maga in the greater London area.
Brandon has also trained in BJJ with Roger Gracie academy and in Mixed Martial Arts with London Shootfighters, competing at both amateur and professional levels.
Brandon has a long background in frontline security, having served as a team leader in the Rapid Response Riot Squad in the Prison service, 20 years experience as a doorman and 15 years working as a close protection operative working with many A list celebrities including Jay-Z and Will Smith.
Currently, Brandon resides in Northern Spain and runs a Specialist Security Training company, IST-Academy along with running  intensive Krav Maga boot camps in Spain and monthly seminars in the U.K.

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