During my time in the Marines, we trained in physical fitness (PT) at least 3 times a week. PT could be running, gym, martial arts, or just about anything my seniors wanted. Before every session, we would warm up and stretch. I never liked the idea of warming up and stretching before physical activity. When I gained rank and started to run the PT sessions, I never stretched or warmed up. In fact, I didn’t for several years. My reasoning was, “I’m not gonna have time to stretch and warm up when it’s for real, so what’s the point?” I have the same mentality about warming up and stretching before self-defense classes, martial arts, MMA, Krav Maga, or whatever it is I’m about to train for. This video sums up my mentality back then.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe we should warm up and stretch, just not only before we train. A couple of years ago, I read Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence by Rory Miller. In his book, he had similar thoughts about stretching and warming up, but he gave a much better solution than not doing it. The idea is simple. Warm up and stretch when you wake up, and stay warm all day. The reason is, if you are stretched and warmed up all day, you can respond will full force with less of a chance of injuring yourself and putting yourself at more of a disadvantage when attacked.
Staying warm has several benefits to it. First of all, you will be wide awake and focused, which makes a perfect mindset for situational awareness. Secondly, you will feel better throughout the day. Lastly, and most importantly, you will know exactly how your body will physically work and feel when you have to defend yourself. If you are cold when you have to defend yourself, you don’t really know how your body will respond to immense physical strain. Going all out with a cold body can cause unnecessary injury like muscle and tendon tears, that may limit your ability to escape or fight off an attacker.
Warm ups and stretching can be done in less than 15 minutes. Learn some basic stretches (dynamic or static, whatever works best for you) and dynamic warm ups (basically anything that involves multiple muscle groups like burpies, 8 count body builders, dynamic push ups, etc.) and do them before you leave for the day. Staying warm during the day can be more challenging. I understand that not everyone has the freedom to exercise at work. So for those of you that work at a desk or have limited down time, during your breaks, go run up and down a few flights of stairs. Stop after 30 or 45 minutes of work and do some warm ups. If you smoke, skip that smoke break and do some exercises. Adapt it into your routine however you can.
What I want you to take away from this post is to know your body and how it will respond in reality. The only way to do that is to train like you fight. Stay warm and stay safe.