Farang Fitness

There just isn’t enough time in the day to squeeze in all the fitness and martial arts training that I want. It always feels like I am sacrificing one or the other. It’s one of the reasons why training smarter is so important.

Take tonight’s training schedule as an example. I worked all day, then taught an hour long belly dancing class, drove home, ate dinner, trained for another hour in martial arts, and worked on my business webpage. I got a ton done but always feel like it isn’t enough. I do meal prep on the weekends to save time during the week, but I still feel like I run out of day light and energy. That is why I have started combining my fitness training with martial arts practice.

Not all forms of martial arts practice is good for fitness. For example, if I am studying new material and going slow, then I still need to squeeze in a fitness workout. However, if I am drilling material I already know, then I can turn it into a great cardio workout.

Tonight I was practicing material from the Farang Mu Sul system. It is a Korean style of martial arts brought to the United States by Grand Master De Alba. I needed to drill these combinations, because in a street fight if I am defending myself I will not have time to check my notes. I will need to be able to respond quickly without thinking about the ”right move.” By increasing my speed and intensity with these drills I was able to get a great cardio burn in and lock down some much-needed practice time. A double win!


This website contains material derived in whole or in part from the teachings of Grand Master Michael De Alba, the International De Alba System Confederation™, Modern Farang Mu Sul ® and their students, instructors, and associates. International copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws protect these materials. Users, guests and visitors may not modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute in any way or in any form, any material from the Service including code and software. Users, visitors and guests may download material from the Service for personal, non-commercial use only, provided all copyright and other proprietary notices are clearly visible and intact. Commercial use, reference or linkage to the Service site, without the express written permission, of Michael De Alba or his assigns, by registered letter, is prohibited.Copyright 2001® DeAlba Productions

Open Mind vs Ego

I am a school teacher by day and a martial artist by night. The other day I was working at my desk as another teacher had a small group of students in my classroom. She had pulled them aside because they were struggling with math and needed extra help. The students were all working on the same problems from their math books. The teacher asked them to share out the answer. She got 8 different answers from her 8 different students. None of them gave her the right answer, so she proceeds to break down the problem and teach them the steps to solving the math problem. Halfway through her explanation one of the students asks if he can work ahead because all of the current problems are too easy…..Think about it, none of them were able to give the teacher the right answer. The teacher tells him no because he got all of his problems wrong, which means they are not too easy for him. The student proceeds to argue about how amazing his math skills are, dispute the obvious evidence, he could benefit from learning a few things. This is a great example of an ego getting in the way and preventing him from learning. Instead as a student, no matter what you are trying to learn, open-mindedness will get you a significantly higher rate of success.

That technique doesn’t work….on the street

There are many times I am working on a technique, and I like to share my training videos, just to get a comment that what I am working on would never work in a “real” street fight. There is any number of responses to that comment, but before going into the responses that comment is a classic indicator the person has a closed mind and their ego is speaking. When you are first learning a technique most people will make decisions about the technique within the first 30 seconds. That decision is heavily influenced by how fast a person can grasp the concept of the technique. If after being shown the technique a person is immediately claiming it will “never” work they are speaking from ego and ignorance. If instead, they tried setting that ego aside and learn the technique first, the applications of the technique will become much more clear.  Keep in mind martial arts techniques are like pieces to a much more complex puzzle.  One-piece by itself will never give you a clear image of the overall picture.  Here are a few reasons to consider keeping an open mind.

Teaching Perspective

Why learn a technique that doesn’t work for you? If you plan on being, or currently are, a martial arts instructor learning techniques could be beneficial for your future students. Different body types and personality types can influence how appealing a technique can be. For example, Master Pinto is shorter than me. Master Pinto loves using head butts. He gets lower than his opponent and rises up to execute a very effective head butt. I, on the other hand, am 6 feet tall. It’s rare for me to find someone taller than me. Due to my height, it is awkward to get lower than an opponent to execute a rising head butt. I still learned the technique, and strive to understand the application of this technique. One day I may have a shorter student whom this technique will be a perfect match.

Expect the Unexpected

No matter how hard we train and try, age catches up with us all.  You won’t always be young and strong.  As you age you will lose speed, strength, and reaction time.  Your body will change in ways you could never hope to imagine.  A technique that doesn’t suit you now may be better for you in the future.  Softness can replace strength.  Learning how to flow, use your opponent’s momentum against them, the efficiency of your movements will be super handy as you age.  Even the “soft” skills of meditation, concentration, and having a peaceful mind will one day be the most important lessons of your life.  We don’t always appreciate the lessons we learn at the moment.  Sometimes it takes years before the light turns on and we understand what our teachers were trying to tell us.

Of course, time doesn’t always need to thump us on the head.  You might find yourself in a situation you never expected even while you are young and fearless.  Take the head butt example from earlier.  I am tall, so I don’t run across opponents who are bigger than me very often.  That doesn’t mean it never happens.  There is a good chance I will one day face an opponent who towers over me, then a head butt might be a perfect solution.

Be sure to Support us on Social Media! #ironsidemedievalcombat

With all the exciting things happening this year, we would love to share this amazing training with our community to help inspire a love for martial arts.  You can help support these programs by following and sharing our various social media pages.  There is a Facebook Page, Instagram Account, and YouTube Channel dedicated to Ironside Medieval Combat.  Check out these pages, share them, talk about them, and together we can make Martial Arts an inspiration for generations yet to come.

Training Power and Body Mechanics

When it comes to generating power in martial arts it is about fighting smarter not harder.  Raw strength is a great asset for martial arts, however, muscles often distract from using body mechanics to increase your power.  The other benefit for using body mechanics is conservation of energy.  You can throw a significantly high number of hard hits blows faster and longer when you use body mechanics instead of the muscles in your arms.

Phase 1

Use this drill as a warm up to start training your core to help generate power instead of your arm:

This drill is designed to practice the downward strikes at the neck and shoulder. The strike comes in at a 45 degree angle. When practicing this strike on a straight pell like the one in the video it is normal for the sword to slide down. Make sure your initial contact is edge on at a 45 degree angle to the pell. Be sure to over exaggerate your movements as you learn this drill. It’s about teaching your muscles timing and firing to add speed and power to your strikes.

Phase 2

This next drill is training your feet to step in time with your body’s swing. Many new fighters will strike before their feet are on the ground, which results in having a foot in the air as they are trying to hit.  That means they lose 25-50% of their power from poor footwork.

Be careful with this drill! You will need about 3 feet of rope with some kind of weight on the end. I used a 2.5 pound weight. Do not go heavier than 2-3 pounds. You just need the weight to get the rope moving and feel the drag of the rope. Start with the rope a little shorter as you learn this drill, then you can go longer once you get the hang of it. Start by just swinging the rope around your head like a cowboy. Focus on the feel of your core muscles and how you are engaging your muscles with this movement. As you get used to the movement start to add steps. You want all of your muscles to move in the same direction driving your power into your opponent

Phase 3

Time to put it all together and start learning how to apply this technique in a fight.

The secret to this technique is turning your body into a whip.  Your hips generate the power sending it through your shoulders into your arms.  Once the power has been released you pull your hips, shoulders, and arm back to create that extra whip at the end.  The video above is a quick explanation of this concept.  If you want a more detailed explanation of this technique check out “Team Ursus: Jeffery Galli Polearm Training Exercises.”

This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!  We also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

Advancing Your Footwork: Training Videos Included

In our previous two posts we covered the Foundation of Footwork and Principles of Fighting.  Now it is time to combine those skills and start learning how to use them in a fighting scenario.  Here are some intermediate drills to start building your skills up.

Many forms of martial arts use a footwork star to help with placement and spacing.  When it comes to attacking and retreating it is important to attack and retreat on different lines.  This optimizes your rate of success allowing your feet to become part of your defense.



To get started the Sawtooth Drill or Circle Drill #2 both make great warmups.  They help develop the muscle memory needed for the next step in this training.  Ideally you want to be able to use these stepping methods without having to think about them or look down on the ground to make sure you are in the correct place.

The next step is to get your footwork synchronized with the timing of your opponent.  The Elastico Drill and Speed Drill Part 2 are the building blocks for this next drill.

Pendulum Drill


Even though this drill is borrowed from another fighting system the concept is incredibly useful for armored fighting.  When applying these principles to other weapons keep your range in mind.  Longer weapons are better at longer distances and shorter weapons are better at closer distances.  However, the ebb and flow of fighting is universal across the different styles.

This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!  We also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

DCV Training Method

There is a difference between being a fighter and a trainer.  Amazing fighters don’t always make the best trainers.  Amazing trainers aren’t always the best fighters.  However, we are part of a sport where experienced fighters greatly out number trainers.  Fighters are recruiting friends and family into this sport and are trying their best to teach the new generation.  For everyone working on developing their own training methods I would suggest the DCV method.  D stands for Define.  C stands for Choreograph.  V stands for Variety.

Start with Defining the skill or problem you want to work on.  Do you have a fighter who gets tunnel vision every time he fights?  The problem with tunnel vision the fighter lacks situational awareness.  That means the skills you need to work on for this example are hit and run, creating space, and head on a swivel.  Now that you have identified your skills you will need to zero down with one at a time.

The next step is creating a Choreograph scenario for a “perfect world” setting.  It is important to train and practice for the skills you want.  That is where drills come in.  They may feel slow and boring, but you are training your mind and body for a specific skill.  To reprogram the bad habits into good ones.  There is no shortcut to this part of training.

When Choreographed drills start to get easy and everything is working perfectly it’s time to add in Variety.  Variety slowly eases the fighter back in to real world situations instead of the “perfect world” of drills.  Variety can be increasing speed, intensity, footwork, a new strike or block, maybe even add more opponents.

Here is an example of the DCV method in less than a minute.  I was working on getting better with blocking, or hand check, with my non-dominate hand.  The drill started with a simple attack and block, back and forth.  When it became obvious I had the timing down my instructor started adding variety.  Eventually our drill evolved into slow sparring and a drill I had started off not being able to do.

A big thank you to Instructor Nelson Pinto for the self defense training.  If you want to learn more about Instructor Nelson Pinto’s fighting style visit www.farang-alliance.org.