Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earthbending Strength and Conditioning

Earthbending is based on Hung Gar kung fu (except for Toph, which is Praying Mantis based, apparently).  Hung Gar trains in low stances and has large powerful movements. Practitioners build tough bodies for combat through years and years of training. 

Earthbenders are tough and powerful.  They can launch stones at high speed or move slabs of earth with just a few movements.  And it's not just rocks and dirt-- there are earthbenders who can manipulate sand and even metal.  Their training forces them to be sturdy and unbending against oncoming forces. They move the earth and so, they become like it.

Behold! A rock!

Warm-up and Stretch (Follow Stretches in Order)
  1. 1 Mile Easy Jog
  2. Neck Turning- 15 Reps Each Way
  3. Forward Bend and Stretch- 1 Minute
  4. Palms-up Overhead Reach- 1 Minute
  5. Palms-in Arms Behind Reach- 1 Minute 
  6. Waist Twisting- 15 Reps Each Way
  7. Side Bends- 15 Reps Each Way
  8. Standing Back Bend to Forward Bend and Stretch- 15 Reps
  9. Wide-Leg Back Bend to Forward Bend and Stretch- 15 Reps
  10. Wide-Leg Standing Hamstring Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  11. Side-Lunge Groin Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  12. Forward Lunge/Runner's Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  13. Low Lunge Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  14. Standing Side Split Stretch- 1 Minute
  15. Seated Side Split Stretch- 1 Minute
  16. Butterfly Stretch- 1 Minute
  17. One-Leg Seated Hamstring Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  18. Seated Turn and Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  19. Lying Knee-Pull- 1 Minute Each Side
  20. Front Splits Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  21. Standing Quad Stretch- 1 Minute Each Side
  22. High Foot Hold- 1 Minute Each Side
Then Choose 1 of the Following (see notes for exception)

1. Stance Training    (Rest 30 seconds between each stance)
  1. Horse Stance- MAX Time
  2. Long Stance- MAX Time Each Side
  3. Scissor Stance- MAX Time Each Side
  4. Cat Stance- MAX Time Each Side
  5. Crane Stance- MAX Time Each Side

2.  Combat Training
  1. Taming the Tiger Fist- 3 Sets
  2. Tiger Crane Double Style Fist- 3 Sets
  3. Five Animals/Five Elements Fist- 3 Sets
  4. Iron Wire Fist- 3 Sets
  5. Heavy Bagwork- 20 Minutes
  6. Sparring- 10 Minutes

3. Physical Conditioning and Iron Body (Choose 3)

  1. Horse Stance w/Gripping Jars to Side- 10 Minutes
  2. Horse Stance w/Gripping Jars to Front- 10 Minutes
  3. Three Star Training- 10 Minutes
  4. Turn and Punch (Slow) w/Kettlebells- 100 Each Side
  5. Front-Overhead-Lateral Circles with Kettlebells- 100 Each Way
  6. Spearhand into beans/sand/steel shot- 100 Each Side (notes)
  7. Forms Practice with Iron Rings- 20 Minutes
  8. Iron Palm Practice- 20 Minutes
  9. 100 Push-ups/One-Arm Push-ups
  10. 100 Squats/One-Leg Squats
  11. 50 Pull-ups
  12. Heavy Stone Lifting- 50 Lifts
  13. Barbell Ground-to-Overhead- 50 Lifts

  • I have provided links to the stretching, stances and forms for your convenience.
  • There is quite a lot of stretching, but it will be necessary to build the supple body necessary to handle all of the stances. 
  • After the warm-up and stretching, beginners should pick one of the three workouts below to train for the day. The progression and inclusion of other workouts will follow the same progression as the Firebending Strength and Conditioning.
  • The heavy bagwork can be broken up into rounds or you can push straight through. Work a single technique or combination or work your conditioning through High Intensity Intervals. 
  • As always, wear gear during your sparring and try not to strike vital areas. 
  • Your gripping jars will be held at shoulder height either in front or out to the side. If you cannot hold it for the whole 10 minutes, hold it for as long as you can during the 10 minute time period, resting when needed. After you can complete the whole time without stopping, add a cup of sand to the jars. Do this every time you can hold the position for 10 minutes. 
  • Three star training can be done with a partner or a pole. Please start light and work your way up to hitting harder. The first hit is on the inner arm low, the second is on the inner arm high, as if performing an outside middle block, and the last is outer arm low, as if performing a low block. This training can be done standing or in a horse stance.
  • The Turn and Punch with the kettlebells starts with a kettlebell in each hand, with a vertical fist so that the handle is vertical. You arms start at your waist and then, as you shift your weight to one leg and move into a bow stance, slowly punch out with the same vertical fist with the opposite arm of whichever leg has weight on it. Your punch will go in the same direction you were facing in horse stance, even though you have shifted to a forward bow stance facing another direction. Repeat on the other side without returning to horse stance. Start with a very light weight and only raise the weight when you can complete all 100 punches/side without stopping.
  • Front-Overhead-Lateral Circles are performed with a kettlebell in each hand. Perform a front delt raise until the kettlebells are overhead, then lower them as if performing a side-lateral raise. When the kettlebells return to the bottom, reverse the motion, beginning with a side-lateral raise up, until the weights are overhead and then lowering them in the fashion of a front delt raise until they are in front of you. That is one rep. Only raise the weight when you can perform all 100 reps in each direction without stopping.
  • The spearhands into beans/sand/steel shot can be done while standing or in a horse stance. Using a five-gallon bucket or large drum, fill it with the appropriate material and make sure that you cannot reach the bottom of the container with a strike. You will start with dry beans, thrusting your fingers into the container over and over until the reps are completed. You will not advance to the sand until you have performed this training at least 50 separate times. At this point, you will have two containers. One with beans and one with sand. You will do 100 reps on each hand in both of the materials from this point forward. You may not advance to steel shot until you have performed this training at least 50 separate times. At this point, you will have three containers. You will do 100 reps on each hand in all three of the materials from this point forward. 
  • The Iron Rings for your forms practice can be found here. The rings are worn on your forearms. You should start slow and gradually add weight over time. 
  • Here's an article I previously wrote on Iron Palm training.
  • For the Push-ups and Squats, the idea is to do as many one-arm push-ups and one-leg squats as you can and then finish up the workout with normal push-ups and squats. This way you can work strength first and then work endurance after. 
  • I recommend using many different hand positions for pull-ups throughout your training.
  • The heavy stone lifting is very open. Find as heavy a stone as you can and attempt to lift it. If you can lift it even just a little bit, that's great!  Spend as much time as you need on the training session and lift it 50 times. Rest as often as needed. If it's a little bit lighter of a stone and you can lift it to chest height or over your head, that's fine, too. The idea is to find a heavy stone and lift it as high as possible 50 times. Once you can lift it over your head, though, you might want to find a heavier stone. I recommend that you find a smooth stone or make an atlas stone or you can wear long sleeves if you can't find a smooth stone. 
  • Ground-to-overhead means you can use whatever technique you need to get a weight overhead. You can deadlift it, then curl it, then press it. You could even do that with just one arm.  You can clean and press/push press/jerk the weight. You can snatch it with both hands or just one. If the weight is lighter, you can use more muscle. If the weight is heavier, you may need to employ more technical lifts like the clean and jerk or snatch. Do this in however many sets with however much rest you need to get through it. Do yourself a favor and try to lift the weight in many different ways, so you can understand how the same weight can feel different in a very similar movement (i.e.- Ground-to-Overhead).
That's all for today! Until next time, good luck and train hard!

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