Sunday, 27 January 2013



Resistance training offers many different benefits to the body than cardiovascular exercise. Traditional weight training do not burn many calories during the session as we spend a majority of the training session resting between sets. Cardiovascular exercise on the other hand does for hypertrophy (muscle growth). Most clients, I have trained look for the benefits of weight loss in addition to muscle gain in a short period of time as key goals in their exercise programs. The question arises as to the training modality that can optimize gains in both areas and the answer lies with circuit training, a modified type of resistance training offering the key benefits from both areas.

What is circuit training?
In general, Circuit training is a high volume, low resistance training session with short rest intervals and is geared primarily at improving muscle tone and strength while improving the cardiovascular fitness. This session involves exercising all major muscle groups in one continuous cycle, alternating between the different areas to allow for muscle recovery and to force your heart to work harder in pumping blood and oxygen to these constantly changing areas. Given the nature of your short rest periods, it is strongly recommended you use machines and exercises that do not require much time to manipulate and have everything you need in close proximity to each other.

General Circuit Training Template involves the following:
Goal: Muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, orientation to strength training
Duration (weeks): Varies, traditionally 1-12 weeks
Frequency (# times/week): 2-3 times/week
Intensity: 40-80% of your maximal effort
Number of Repetitions/exercise: Varies, anywhere from 10-25 reps, depending on time and intensity
Rest interval duration between stations: Typically, 15-30 seconds
Number of Muscles groups (stations) exercised/cycle: Anywhere from 6-15 stations
Number of Cycles/workout: Start with 1 cycle, progress to 2-3 depending on available time

Before attempting to design your own circuit find out what your objectives are and complete a needs assessment and give thought to:
• Your objectives, what are you training for?
• Are you interested in all over body improvement or specific areas?
• How much time do you have per week to commit to resistance training? Ideally the most benefit 2-3 times max, 15-40 minutes
• Does your facility or home gym offer everything you need to complete your designated circuit training?
Here is a Combat Circuit I use for all my athlete, clients and fighters. This circuit can be done at the gym or the comfort of your own home. Its especially good for people on the “go”. This circuit helps in upper and lower body development ,muscle endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

As a combative instructor my aim in all my circuits is geared towards challenging the individual mentally, spiritually and physically. This will not only strengthen the body, but develops the individual’s will to win when the chips are down.

Combat Circuit Example:
30 reps at each station, 30-second rest intervals between each workstation and time limit is 10mins. Begin with one cycle and progress to 2-3 cycles or as you desire.
Station 1: Push Ups
Stations 2: Body weight squats on the balls of the feet
Station 3: Push ups on the edge of your hands
Station 4: Abdominals – Machine, mat or on a stability ball
Station 5: Shoulders – Any machine
Station 6: Leg Curls – Any machine
Station 7: Triceps – Any machine or cable
Station 8: Biceps – Any machine, cable or barbell
Station 9: Calves – Any machine
Station 10: Low Back – Low-back extension bench, mat or stability ball
A more advanced version of this circuit is 50 reps at each station, 30 seconds rest intervals between each workstation and time limit is 15mins.

Circuit Training Variations
Perhaps you may want to emphasize a specific body part while doing circuits. For example, if you would like to emphasize your shoulders, simply add in additional shoulder exercises at spaced intervals within the cycle (every 3-4 exercises).
Perhaps you may want to emphasize more cardio throughout the circuit. Either adopt shorter rest intervals or include some dynamic activity during the rest interval (e.g., jumping rope or bench stepping during the rest interval).
Circuits are a great way to experience total body training, burn calories and improve aerobic performance. Anyone can benefit from including circuits into their exercise regimen. With circuit training, you are simply limited by your own creativity and imagination. Now, armed with this information, get going with the program—circuit that is.

As you can see a circuit training program is going to be different for everyone. With this template you can design your own program according to your needs and lifestyle.

"Stay safe and Stay strong".- Edward Wong




As a fitness trainer and combative instructor, I am often asked a plethora of questions regarding training and self protection. A question that has commonality between street survival and weight training is,”Can I be a good fighter by fighting in the club? or can I become stronger by just going to the gym?”.

My answer is,”of course you can”. But it depends on what you’re doing at the dojo or in the gym. The most important element lacking in the both areas is MINDSET. Everyone concentrates on conditioning, exercises, reps, and skill development. Although those are all obvious things you need, the mindset seems to be voided by most though. But this area is particularly important for the people who strive to get better on a daily basis, be it fighting or pushing more weight, ignoring this will leave a person with “victim mindset”.

Many fighter I know, including myself have the mindset and the intensity to make even the simplest things work in a violent situation. And because of this, they are effective combatants. I am also safe to say most power lifters or strongmen can tell you that its 90% mental and 10% physical when it comes to pushing inhuman weight.

The mindset is the hardest to achieve if you don’t have it already. This is probably because either your dojo is more skill development based ,which in theory people think can help you against some real violent predators. “THINK” being the operative word. Or the instructor hasn’t gotten way to connect to his own killer instinct or teach it.

With my own clients, I make the mindset the primary point of training in all my sessions. It’s probably the most important lesson I teach all my students and clients. I educate them on focusing on performing movements with intensity. Not passively. You can either “move” the weight or you can “push” the weight. You can either just punch a pad, or punch it violently.

If my client or students have a hard to performing this way. I encourage them to watch high level athletes in different areas of performance. It can be anything from Mike Tyson training to watching strongmen contest. This method of training will help the person watching to emulate the energy and controlled aggression to perform at a world class level. Another method using your imagination. For example when Deadlifting , think of it not as a bar with weights on it, but maybe something else like a car. Imagine someone you love being trapped underneath it and use that as fuel and motivation to lift. In this way not only are you lifting with your body, but mind. Continually doing this will make every weight feel lighter. Remember, your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, it only knows what you give it. I have designed other drills to really arouse everyone’s killer instinct. These drills allow the individual to just let “go”. Once they do this often enough they will be enable to switch their intensity “on” or “off” at will. Which is conducive to lifting more weight or surviving a violent encounter.

An individual who has good command of his intensity can perform with more confidence which can lead to more gains physically and mentally gains. The spiritual side also comes but through the physical doors first. Most street encounter is lost due to not a lack of physical techniques, but a lackluster to finish off their adversary.

To summarize the mind leads the body. Not the other way around.

About the author,
Edward Wong has been in the fitness and self protection industry for over 10 years.You can contact him at his or



Strength training is an essential part of fitness and health for virtually every man and woman . The days of resistance training to just bulking up and hindering their ability to execute skills is long gone.
The benefits of strength training to athletic performance are enormous and varied. Not only is it an integral conditioning component for power athletes such as football and rugby players, but for law enforcement,military personnel,MMA fighters and civilians.Performance in endurance can be improved with a well-structured strength routine.
However, aside from the bodybuilding type of strength training routines there are other methods out there to increase strength it just depend one's aims and goals. You have to ask yourself,"What am I training for?".This will help in narrowing down the goal you want and to the route to take you there.

Since most people are familiar with the bodybuilding type of strength training.I want to provide more ideas to varies sport specific strength training.Sport specific strength training requires a more refined approach than simply lifting heavy weights to complete exhaustion. If you watch any game or fighting event it will confirm that most athletes require explosive power, muscular endurance, maximal strength or some combination of all three in order to excel. Pure mass should not be the primary focus as other elements of strength are just as equally important.

Hypertrophy is basically muscle bulk and size. Contrary to what peoples "perception of strength" is, bulking up is only one aspect of sport specific strength training. Even if massing up is the primary focus its usually for one selective group of athletes. Football players for example need bulk to withstand the aggressive hits to the body. For other athletes too much bulk would be a hindrance . And remember a large muscle doesnt necessarily mean a stronger muscle. Here are a few example of different strength training methods.

Maximum Strength Training
Max training require an athlete to generate as much force possible.Its not necessary to do max training all the time as it taxes the central nervous system due to demand of the highest possible force one has to produce for this type of training. But again it all depends on what your training for. Basically you take a weight that is 80% off your 1RM (REP MAX) and 1-3 reps for 6ets. Your looking to generate as much force and power in each rep. Its all about quality and not quantity here. Keep the reps and sets low. Some of the excericses best used for Max training is Deadlift,Squat and Bench press.

Explosive Strength
Other than powerlifting its very rare to have an athelete just perform single output of maximum strength. Most activities we do require more of a higher output of strength for longer period of time than max training does. Although Max training can lay as a foundation for potential explosive strength , if you can't converge this strength to one's required sport or activity the program as a whole is not as efffective.

If a strong athlete can't contract his muscles quickly he will lack substantial power.Plyometrics is the key. Plyometrics can improve the rate of force production and range of motion therfore converting max strength to explosive strength. The plyometric excercises are many. One I use for my combat athletes is to start in a squat position with your hands by your side. Than jump as high as you can, at the same time flaring out your arms and legs forming a "human star" and land back to the squat positions and rejump.The key is to have "on the spot" power and do not use momentum by dropping you hips down to to aquire the explosive movement. 5reps for 5 sets would be adequate.
Strength Endurance
Like in Max training , Explosive strength is not always the goal of the strength training program. For events like distance running, fighting, swimming and rowing, strength endurance is a major element. The goal here is to maintain strength for a prolonged period of time.
Strength endurance can be developed through circuit training or the use of low weights and high repetitions. However, many strength endurance programs are ineffective for endurance-based sports - a set of 15-20 repetitions for example does not condition the neuromuscular system in the same way as a long protracted event.
An exercise my fighters use to increase strength and endurance together is a Dumbell Overhead Swing. To get in the proper position to do a D.O.S. stand up straight and push your butt out as you bend over. Make sure to bend your knees slightly and to keep your back flat and neutral. If you are familiar with the barbell bent-over row exercise, thats the position you want to be in as you pick up the dumbell in a vertical position with both hands grasping the handle in a baseball grip. Look forward and grip the dumbell real tight and keep your body tight. Flex your butt and abs as hard as you can. Now with one motion, swing the dumbell between your legs and quickly reverse the swing forward. As the bell swings forward snap your hips forward and keep the dumbell close to your body. The momentum of the legs and hips drive the dumbell overhead, not the back or the arms. Just as the dumbell descends dip your knees slightly and get under the weight. This will help you absorb the impact safely as well as allow you to do more repetitions. I have my fighters do this exercise continously for 1min straight and 30 seconds rest for 3 cycles which equals to 1 round .Your aim is to go 5 rounds or more depending on your athleticism.

Stay safe and Stay strong.-Edward Wong


written by Ed Wong


Teaching combatives and functional fitness has allowed me the privilege to do seminars both locally and internationally. It seems wherever I go, two common question are always asked, “How do I train on a budget?!” and “How is it possible to train with time constraints?!” I am going to attempt to answer both questions with the same answer.

Being a student of Jesse Glover (Bruce Lee’s First student and assistant instructor in America). I had a chance to get an in depth look into Bruce Lee’s training and fighting methods .Jesse was Bruce’s training dummy ,friend and colleague when he lived in Seattle and studied at the University of Washington. This allowed Jesse to have full access to the “Dragon” every minute 7 days a week .In this regard, I consider Jesse one of the most knowledgeable men regarding Bruce Lee’s personal training regime and combative tactics. Bruce was a fanatic when it came to training. Bruce would train whenever he had a chance. According to Jesse, if it was at school, he would place his palms underneath the desk and push upward or place his fist against the back of a chair at the movies and push forward. In both situations he is contracting and tensing every muscle fiber, tendon and ligament and holding the positions for either a few seconds to a minute.
Bruce was doing one of the most efficient exercises for everyone.
Enter the Isometrics!

Bruce was doing one of the most efficient exercises for all athletes.
Isometric exercises are defined as force applied to a resistant object. They have a part to play in a number of programs for muscle strengthening. A typical example is pushing against a brick wall. Although there is a build up of tension in the muscles there is no actual movement. But your entire body’s musculature, tendons and ligaments are firing into the pressing movement. This will build strength and increase muscle tone. The proof is in the pudding, all you have to do is look at Bruce Lee’s physique.
To increase strength it is necessary to maintain a position in any one exercise for between 6 to 30 seconds. The exercise should then be repeated 5 to 10 times, each time ensuring maximum muscular contraction. Its very important to tense your entire body at 100 percent and contract your entire body all from your toes to your neck and everything in between to reap the full benefits of isometrics.
A number of important points regarding isometric exercise need to be emphasized:
1. Any one isometric exercise will only increase muscle strength at one joint angle. To strengthen the other joint positions requires repetition of further corresponding exercises.
2. Isometric exercises on their own are not recommended for strength training. They must only form part of a complete exercise program.
3. If you suffer from heart disease or raised blood pressure you should consult your physician before attempting any exercise. During muscular contractions in this form of exercise, blood pressure can rise quite profoundly.
Isometrics is time well spent. It provides some basic strengthening of the muscles, therefore prepping you to be able to start some type of exercise regime. It also a great “accent item” to your current training program.
Plus it’s very economical. Economy to me is defined as saving time and energy. Isometrics can be done anywhere, anytime and any place. There is also no need for equipment.
The amount of exercise you can do is endless and only limited by your imagination. I have provided some sample exercises.

Punching Isometric: Stand 1 foot in front of a wall, raise both arms and place both fists against the wall –shoulder width apart. Look straight ahead and apply pressure forward with 100 percent intensity. Contract your entire body and push from the ground with your feet, to the legs, up to through the back, chest, into your arms finally into the fists. Hold the position for 6 -10 seconds for 10 sets.

Single leg Isometric: Stand 1.5 feet from a wall, raise your leg and place your entire foot on the wall-toes facing up, keep a slight bend in the knee. Keep both hands up and makes a fist, tense and contract your entire body ,push forward into the wall with both legs. Think about pushing your foot through the wall. Hold the position for 6-10 second for 10 sets per leg.

Body Isometric: Stand perfectly still; head up and feet shoulder width apart. All you need to do is tense your entire body and hold the contraction for 6-10 second for 10 sets.

Desk Isometric: Sit close to your desk, place both palms facing up underneath your desk and exert upward pressure. Hold for 6-10 seconds for 10 sets.

In fighting you always want to do the most damage in the least amount of time. If we take that same idea to our training than your spending your time training for more efficiently, leaving the rest of your day for other things that complete our well being.
Isometrics provides you with maximum effect in a short period of time. Who wouldn’t want to lose weight, gain lean muscle mass, improve fighting ability and increase flexibility in 10 seconds.

Stay safe and stay healthy-Ed Wong
I would like to dedicate this article to my teacher, Jesse Glover

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

What Is Reality Based Fighting?

A guide to finding reality based martial arts instruction. 
Written by Guro Joel Huncar

Picture: (Left to Right) Guro Louie Lindo, Guro Ed Wong, Coach Vadim, and the Late Jesse Glover.

 Reality Based Training is a common catch phrase in martial arts these days. In fact it seems to be the martial arts fad of the twenty first century just as Ninjitsu was in the eighties and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was in the nineties.
            There is nothing wrong with this, fads are great for the martial arts, it gets people interested in joining a local club and increases enrolment for the people who teach the latest flavour of the decade.  This increase in interest is great for the reputable martial arts instructor who is offering legitimate instruction.
            There is a down side to fads in the martial arts, unfortunately.   During the heyday of ninjitsu many people who were teaching Karate or Jiu Jitsu one week were instant ninjas the next. When the Gracie family popularized BJJ in the nineties there were a lot of clubs hanging a BJJ sign above their dojo doors. Some were legitimate, many were con artists.
            The only way for the serious martial artist to avoid being conned was to question the lineage of the instructors. All BJJ can trace their lineage back to the Gracie family just as all Ninjitsu should be able to trace their lineage back to the Iga or Koga region of Japan and arguably the Fajita or Hatsumi families.
            Unfortunately there is no lineage for reality based fighting. You can't simply check out an instructor’s background and see if he comes from a legitimate reality based system. To add to this confusion many martial arts instructors feel that what they are teaching is indeed reality based, whether they are teaching sport jiu jitsu or Karate. They are not trying to misrepresent themselves they simply do not know what makes true reality based training.
            To figure out a guideline for what "reality based training" is I went to one of Canada's best sources, Guro Ed Wong of Urban Survival Systems in Vancouver BC. For him there are some core ingredients that make his training reality based. Some of these ingredients are unique to the Urban Survival Systems, but they will give the reader a good idea of what to look for in a fighting system if you want your training to be "reality based".
             For anyone who has not heard of Ed Wong, let me give you some background on him.  Ed has spent all of his adult life researching combat arts to find the most effective fighting skills he can pass on to his students.  He has been teaching reality based fighting for over fifteen years.  His research has led him to train in arts from virtually every corner of the globe.  Filipino, Russian, Chinese, Thai and Israeli martial arts are all part of the USS mix.  This art is under a continuous process of growth and change; it is an evolving entity. 

            Teachers such as Sifu Jesse Glover, Coach Vadim Slavin and Guro Louie Lindo are the main influences on Guro Ed.  However you will not learn pure Ikatan Kali, Non Classical Gung Fu or Sambo from Ed.  What you will learn is pure distilled fighting concepts that come from these main sources and many different minor influences.  What sets USS apart from these source arts and other traditional fighting systems is what makes it pure reality based training. 

One of the most important ingredients to reality based training is scenario based stress inoculation according to Guro Wong; "Your brain is a big filing cabinet and every time you train you create a file for future reference when you need it next. If you have never trained stress drills where dialogue is used, foul language is present and attacks on the mind are present, and then on the street you are in for a rude awakening-as you will be creating that file on the spot. This can lead to you being beaten or being reactive (instead of pro active). If you’re not in control (of your emotions), than (the fight will be) out of control.”
“Just as a fireman trains to fight fire, we to must train how most street altercation start. Before you spar add some dialogue so you learn not to be intimidated by an aggressor’s verbal abusiveness. By doing this you will learn how to manage the stress of verbal confrontation. Once it’s in control you can start to use adrenaline as fuel for fighting, as oppose to something that can hinder you."
            This type of psychological training has been used by law enforcement and security personal for decades.  This is one of the most important ways for students to prepare for the reality of violence.  By role playing various scenarios a student becomes acclimated to prefight aggression and posturing.  This will help you survive a real situation as you will act instead of freezing up during the pre fight phase of an engagement. 
Controlled aggression according to Ed is another important training key for the street. "Most fights are lost due to not lack of technique and skill, but of lackluster resolve to finish the enemy".
            "When confronted with violence and the option of "avoidance and awareness" are exhausted, ruthlessness and aggression are the key to winning or surviving a street assault.  You always want to start off with the highest level of force and dwindle down, as oppose to starting with the lowest force. If you start off with light attacks you could be (giving your enemy the advantage, as he is not going to be taking it easy on you).  Going forward with the highest level of aggression ensures you get the enemy to react so he follows your every step putting him behind the power curve". 
            "Please note controlled aggression is not being reckless. Being reckless just leaves opening for your enemy and side tracks you mentally."
            What Guro Wong is saying is that the key is to act and make your enemy react. This is where many systems fail, in that they rely on you reacting to an enemy’s aggression instead of initiating and making him react to you. If you wait for an attacker to act while you react you will be "behind the eight ball". While you are mentally and physically trying to catch up, your enemy will be overwhelming you with a tidal wave of violence. He will not be probing you with half ass feints and light jabs to get your fighting measure, that is sport fighting. On the street it is more likely to be pure focussed aggression. You should be the wave, not the boat that is about to be swamped!

Hitting targets, such as Thai pads and focus mitts full power with a high heart rate is also very important for reality based training.  A high heart rate and breathlessness simulates the effects of stress. By hitting targets in this state it will be very obvious why most reality based systems use strikes that rely on gross muscle movement and natural instinctive striking patters. Simplicity is the key for survival.
            When you are sparring you cannot go full power with a training partner, you have to hold back out of respect and care for your sparring partner.  This is why pad training is so important, because you don’t have to hold back.  You can go full out.  Because of this pad training is arguably a more important training drill then sparring.  In fact many reality based instructors believe that too much sparring leads to bad habits and a "sport mentality" that has no place in reality based training.
            As I said, the striking patterns that you practice should be simple and instinctive strike patters.  Watch what people do under stress in real confrontations and improve on what is instinctive.  Instead of training the body to do movements and patterns that are counter intuitive, take what your body does naturally and improve on it through training.  By following instinctive patterns your mind will not become overloaded and freeze up when you need to act. This is very important and something to consider if you are training for the street. Functionality is what separates the martial art from reality based fighting.

            Before all you martial artists get mad at this statement keep in mind that you, like me, probably keep a set of techniques that are good for the street and a set that are simply fun to learn. These things we do to keep our training challenging, to give respect to the culture these arts come from and to keep us training for years to come. Some phenomenal martial artists will be able to knock someone out on the street with a flashy tornado kick or take a knife away with a picture perfect knife disarm, but for the average person this type of technique requires far too much coordination and skilful movement to do under stress.
            For the street, simple ballistic strike patterns and low kicks are the key. If you are looking for reality based training techniques keep in mind that they should be made for the average Joe to be able to achieve not the martial arts phenomenon.
            While Ed Wong's Urban Survival Systems places a lot of focus on instinctive striking it is not just a striking art.  Like any reality based system USS teaches its students to be able to fight in all ranges, striking, clinching and ground fighting are all covered.  It is important that when you are looking into a reality based fighting system that it will give you skills that you will be able to use in whatever fighting environment you may have to defend yourself in.  After all no matter how well trained you are you can never predict what will happen in a fight.
            Dirty tactics such as eye gouging, digit breaking and biting are also part of the USS curriculum.  It is important that you embrace an attitude of ruthlessness when you train for the street.  Training to do whatever it takes to survive is what reality based training is all about.  There are no unfair moves on the street. 
            Developing a tool user’s attitude is another aspect that should be taught in reality based fighting.  Ed Wong teaches edged weapons, blunt impact, and improvised weapons.  You should be willing to use whatever tool you have at your disposal to help you survive.  Even if you are not willing to carry a knife or other weapon you should know how to use them.  You may disarm an opponent or have to use an improvised weapon in a confrontation.  Remember at the end of the day it is your survival that matters when it comes to reality based training, not some outdated ideal of what is right and wrong in a fight.  
            Even if you live in a country or state where the carry of firearms is prohibited the use of firearms should also be taught.  You may manage to take a gun away from an attacker and need to turn it on him or his companions.  Without some rudimentary firearms skill you may not be able to do this. 
            However none of these physical skills matter one bit if you do not train the mental skills of awareness and avoidance.  You must learn how to spot danger before it happens.  This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of reality base training.  Guro Wong suggest reading books such as Gavin De Becker's "The gift of fear" and to try thinking like a predator.  Thinking like a predator develops awareness of where and when a predator might strike. 
This along with understanding crime statistics and local culture allows the student to be truly aware of his surroundings when he is out and about.  To facilitate this, a program such as the one Ed offers will also bring guest speakers in from various law enforcement organisations.  This is another ingredient that makes a program reality based and not just another martial arts class.  You need to get your information from professionals otherwise it is just theoretical.  What comes to real violence you need to base your training on what will work not on what might work.
            Also using outdated techniques or sporting theory does not really fit in the arena of Street self defence.  Standing stances like a boxer or a karate man just gives away the fact that you are ready to fight.  This also gives your attacker the knowledge that you are a trained fighter. You should be able to defend from positions that are non aggressive and don't look like martial arts stances.  This is one of the reasons Guro Wong stresses using de escalation techniques and a non aggressive stance if you are not sure the confrontation is going to get physical.  Not only does it make you look non aggressive but also it may appease an aggressor and stop the fight before it starts.  However when the time comes to get physical he stresses it is best to act first, act fast and act ruthlessly. 
            I hope this helps give the reader a basic guideline of what to look for in reality base fighting.  There is a couple of things I want to stress, if the class you are looking into does not teach simple, aggressive techniques that put you in the driver’s seat in a confrontation then it probably should not claim to be reality base training.  If it does not teach multiple ranges of combat, including the ground, it will definitely not be giving you a good base to help you survive the many variables of combat.  If there is no focus on dirty tactics, weapons use and employing whatever ruthless method necessary to gain the upper hand then that art and that instructor has no right to claim to be teaching reality based techniques.  Remember the old adage of buyer beware, make sure that you do your research and check out any class carefully before you sign a contract and join up. 

Guro Joel Huncar
Huncar Applied Natural Defence Systems
Cranbrook BC Canada