Last week we began looking at cold performance as part of our training. Your cold performance is the immediate starting level of your body and mind when you first move from a non-martial to martial state. This week we’re looking at the ideas you should consider to prepare your body for high functioning and safe cold performances.
Training the Body for Cold Performance
Range of Motion
Cold muscles tend to have a shorter range of motion. This means if the range of motion you call on from your body in martial performance is at the limits of your range of motion (meaning you need to be warm to do them safely), you’re more likely to injure yourself in a cold performance where those ranges are even shorter. Be sure in your physical training regimen to work on increasing your overall range of motion beyond your performance optimums. This means that your training rapier lunge should be larger than your combat lunge. That your training cutting should be done with a heavier sword so that at performance time you’re working inside your load limitations.
Structural Stability and Proper Execution
If you are doing movements in a non-optimal fashion that does not appropriately align your skeleton, particularly at your joints, you’re more likely to injure yourself when performing cold. Be sure to educate yourself on the proper execution of the fundamental movements of your art so that optimal movement is your default pattern. I recommend the book Becoming a Supple Leopard as a resource for learning about optimal body performance and range of motion.
It’s easy in martial arts and sports to train more with your dominant side than your non-dominant side. This can create a musculature imbalance that leads to a skeletal imbalance. Asymmetry will make your body more susceptible to injury when performing cold. This can also happen with internal and external rotation as well as between upper and lower body strength. Make sure you’re balancing the tension of your muscles so that no one group is significantly stronger than its complimentary group.
Cold physical performance really means keeping your body in good shape. Be sure that you are using your body regularly and stretching your limits particularly in a functional movement environment. Lifting weights at the gym is an excellent way to build power and endurance, however you must combine it with a functional movement practice to have a body that’s ready to lunge, jump, and twist on a moments notice, without injury.