Pros and Cons of Randomized Training for Martial Artists
I recently read an article that was critical of randomized training as it relates to the CrossFit Games.
My immediate response was: A) I agree that the randomized CrossFit protocol does not “tunnel in” — that is, adhere to speci�icity to create skill mastery in a given sport. Such mastery comes only from sport- and skill-speci�ic training.
B) It’s not surprising that the majority of CrossFit Games winners, as well as those who excel there, don’t adhere to the randomized protocol. Instead, they “gamify” their training to do better in competition. The Games are no differ- ent from any other sport in that they ask athletes to perform speci�ic tasks and the athletes must gear their training to those tasks or fall to competitors who have focused on those tasks. THE CONCEPT behind randomization — and the reason it should appeal to martial artists — is to prepare for real-world situations rather than competition. In the real world, we have no speci�ic task on the horizon, yet we may be called on to perform virtually any skill on any given day.
We have no idea if we might have to sprint to escape a dangerous situation, draw from a steady reservoir of go-to stamina in a mass attack or pump out an inordinate amount of power in a battle with a heavyweight. For martial artists, real life is not a game with a guaranteed task list. It’s unpredictable. It’s randomized.
The article’s critique pointed out that randomized training does wonders to a point‚ but then a plateau is reached. Is that a bad thing for us? Not necessarily.
A plateau will affect us only if our goal is to compete in, for example, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, marathons or the CrossFit Games. If our goal is to make the performance of an exercise our “sport‚” then randomized training is for naught once we pass the acclimatization stage. ALL PRACTITIONERS of the combat arts — traditional martial artists,
competitive grapplers, kickboxers, even operators in the military and law enforcement — have it different. As the true �irst responders‚ we need a plateau of robustness built by randomized training. What we desire to engage in after reaching that plateau is not more and more push-ups, heavier and heavier lifts, or longer and longer runs.
Once we hit the plateau, we want to maintain our level and use it as a jumping-off point for our combat training. Our goal is not to be the elite doer of exercises. We see clearly that exercise, no matter how elite the performance of said exercise, is a preparatory action and no more. Exercise is a means to prepare our body and mind for the rigors of our martial art.
To spend the rest of our lives getting better at our preparation is a bit of wheel spinning on par with getting better and faster at writing our ABCs or reciting the multiplication table as opposed to taking the alphabet and creating new sentences or applying mathematics to real-world needs.
That said, the article was correct: To excel at any given sport, we must groove that sport, so to speak. But to prepare for chance or chaos — which is precisely what martial artists train for — we must build a randomized base.
To all my combat brothers and sisters, I say go ahead and create an admirable randomized plateau. Then, instead of dumping all those extra hours into climbing to the next plateau, spend your time polishing your martial arts skill set.
In short, CrossFit is great for you, both because of the workout you get and because the short duration of the sessions leaves plenty of time for the dojo. Just don’t let the pursuit of a Hero WOD — that’s Workout of the Day for the uninitiated — distract you from your designated grappling WOD or heavy-bag WOD.
Once we hit the plateau, we want to maintain our level and use it as a jumpingoff point for our combat training.