Box your way to increased health and fitness. The beauty of MMA.

MMA Workout
Body and Health through MMA
The Science of a healthy life

Movement in feet and body. Hooks, cross, jab, kicks and uppercut. Knees and elbows all combined make for a wonderful way towards better health and fitness. Mastering martial arts makes you better at self defense, sure. But more importantly it provides tremendous health and fitness benefit no matter age and previous experience. And it is great fun too, enjoyed as much by men as it is enjoyed by girls.  

Writing & workout plan by Mike Koontz

music of the day while you are reading our article
Business suits and combat boots by The Agonist

Striking starts with the movement of your body & feets.

Yes, I know, everybody wants to bang right away.
And you will get to do just that. But, let us start with the basic movement because the way you move your feet and body is what actually builds the foundation for proper striking. Not to mention, great movement improves your defence and the general health benefits of training martial arts.

And the substantial health and body benefits of a fit and active lifestyle is, of course, the main reason why we are all here.

So let us start every lesson going forward with the late Muhammad Ali´s own philosophy summarized in this one simple sentence.

'Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee'.

Let those simple words create the foundation for your own MMA adventures and I promise you not just a lifetime of fun and rewarding workouts, but greatly improved health and fitness too. And if push ever comes to shove. Mastering a smooth and continuously fluid movement will allow you a way of fighting and self-defense that work wonders.

So, if we visually picture your lonesome self in a room with nothing but a standing floor bag, learn to move around and with the bag. From side to side, back and forth, up and down. Move with your strikes and the movement the impact will cause. Move with your own strikes and move with and away from inbound strikes.

Learning to fluidly move with a perpetually going movement weaving together technique to technique and fluid never pausing movement between stances, as you strike, without pausing for each kick and punch will give you a tremendous advantage against most fighters.

And health wise it will up the intensity and cardiovascular challenge by a pretty substantial margin. From the lactic build up and muscular drain in your muscles to your heart and lungs and your body fat burn. The body and health benefits of moving & striking while in motion are huge because it is much, much more challenging for your body to cope with. 

But there is no need to dive into the deep waters right away. Instead, you can start with the simple things.

Move with light feet, some like thinking of it as standing on your toes, others prefer having most of their feet grounded, yet learn to move with the same fluidity. Try it out, feel the difference and master the way you prefer to use your feet, but let a fluid, never ending movement be your primary goal.
Move back and forth towards and away from the bag, move side to side if you consider the floor standing bag the center of your world. Bend your knees and implement a vertical  movement too, and move your upper body up and down by bending your legs. Move your body, arm and legs, and feet with predominantly fluid, small movements.

Just like a dance.

Ali. move like a frisky butterfly, dance and strike baby.

Another option is the classic jumping rope getting you up on your toes and learning to be light on your feets while providing a very healthy challenge for cardio and coordination.

Another neat one to target early on is the switch "kick" stance.

Start with your left foot front and rapidly switch your stance by pushing off with your feets and in one fluid motion switching the entire stance both feet at the same time, so your right foot will end up as your front leg.

And depending on your skill and fitness level, this initial movement drill can be your entire workout early on. It´s perfectly ok to drill just your movement for quite some time.

Closing Words
[ The winding down ]

Strike 1, the jab

But, once you are ready to throw down as well as move.
Let´s do just that.

Start with the basic jab. Left foot and hand front, and jab with your front hand held up at face height. If it´s over the top for you to move and jab, plant your feet firmly and learn the distance, jab the bag lightly. Tap, tap, tap. It´s about technique and speed, not heavy hands. So keep it light, just as your movement.

Move like a butterfly, sting like a bee, remember?.

And in order to sting like a bee, always return your hand, with each strike, to its starting position in front of your face/chin/chest. Rinse and repeat. Jab, jab, jab. That never ending repetition will create the necessary skill and fitness challenge.

You can do the jab as a singular punch, or in two and three, and more, strike combos. It´s a stinging, fluid punch. Speed and skill make up the key to this highly effective punch. So, lash that bag like a whip with your hands. 
And once you feel that you have nailed the punch with planted feet it is time to evolve and learn to move and jab.

Back and forth, to the side, up and down, round and round the story go, work that bag and lash it like a whip.

Punch two. The cross.

Once you master the jab, next one up is the cross.
This is a much more powerful punch, so if you have your left foot/hand front, the right hand is the cross. And this punch starts with the rear foot, it moves through your turning hip and shoulders as you drive your momentum and hand through the target. This is not a whip that rips skin and causes chipping damage, this is a sledgehammer that crushes doors.

The cross is a straight punch.
It moves in a straight line from its rear starting position to the target ( body or face ), but do not rest with your arm out.

Hit and move, strike with power, but still like a pouncing tiger, vibrant and alert until the final kill. Pausing once you land your punch will leave you as unprotected as a wide open barn door would be, something you would obviously not want to do. 

Strike, and pull your hand back to the initial rear position.
And once you master the cross on its own, learn to initiate this punch by first doing the jab ,followed up by the cross together as one continuous movement.

Jab first, cross second. This really should be so fluid and smooth that it is as if it was one whole movement, not two disparate techniques. 

The third upgrade to the cross is to jab, cross and switch "kick".

While other, alternate versions would be to jab, cross and follow up with a hook or uppercut, or a jab,jab, cross, and straight kick, or roundhouse kick with your front or rear leg.

The combinations are endless really at this point and you can learn and evolve for an entire lifetime. I could go on for all eternity feeding you new combinations. But for now, learn to do a proper cross on its own, and to do it together with the jab.

The Hook, strike three.

For some, the hook is a close encounter punch.

Some do this while backing up with the opponents own strike hurling towards them, and as they back together with their enemies forward going movement they will strike the side of the opponents head or body. Others tie their hooks into an offensive jab and cross combination. Forcing your opponent to cover up or respond to your jab and cross can often open them up to a powerful and punishing hook and or kick towards their body, legs or head.

As you practice on the bag and you start to find a natural movement for your strikes, you will without a doubt, like most, find that the hook is easier and more natural to land when you do it with your lead hand. It is faster to do that way, and since it is closer to your target, it will connect easier and quicker, without leaving you as wide open as doing the hook with your rear hand will.

The traditional way to do the hook is by turning your front arm,leg and entire body with your punch. Keep the elbow at face height if you intend to strike the side of your opponents face. Some will tell you to bend your elbow 90 degrees, but plenty of fighters around the world find it far more natural to bend your elbow slightly less.

The answer is to simply go with the flow of your own body and the positions of you and the target. And the same thing holds true for how you turn your hands.

There is no real right or wrong, except to clench your hands ( to lower the risk that you break any of your own bones in your hand, those small bones in our hands are delicate and will break if you hit a hard bone or bag hard enough, unless you always clench your hand and hit the proper way ) and to hit with your knuckles and clenched fist as one flat concrete surface.

Having said that, there are of course striking techniques that will have you hit the target with the palm and side of your hand. Just as how some kicks are shin bone to target, while others hit with the heel and others with the toes or upper part of your feet.

But you do not have to worry about stuff like that if you are mainly training martial arts for the body and health benefits.

Rear leg round kick

Once you have those three punches down. Time to learn how to work your kicks inside your punches.

Start by planting feet down and simply jab relaxed with your front hand, and once you have your hand landing on your target, fire the rear leg. Kick low, towards the bags "leg/midsection" area. Hit the bag with your shin bone or at the very least the upper area of your feets. Do not try and kick the bag around the area of your toes. If you do that, you´ll increase the chances of hurting yourself, just as if you would punch the bag without clenching your hands. Learn to own the proper distance, allowing yourself to land your  kicks with the hardest areas of your foot and or the shine bone since that will reduce the wear and tear of your own body.

This is really the kick version of a cross or rear hook.

So start the movement with your feet and turn your upper body and front leg slightly to the side, by "following" the direction of your rear kicking legs force and movement - through the target. Once that movement is happening, let your rear leg simply follow that movement and drive the leg through the bag, try to kick so you can manage to turn your hips over and once you hit the target, that rear leg is more or less horizontal towards the floor.

This is a power kick. So let it sing and tear down the heavens :).
Jab to the face, kick low.

The follow-up is simple, jab, jab, cross and kick.

Switch kick

Once you have nailed the previous punch and kick exercise.
Time to once again upgrade your skills and go for the switch kick.

Jab, cross and do the switch "kick" movement. Moving your front leg back and rear leg to the front, and to do it fluid enough for it to happen in one single motion, it´s not a step, it´s almost a floating jump movement that has your feets flowing across the ground.

This time, however, once your front leg lands at what is now the rear leg position, fire an immediate round kick to the midsection/legs of the bag. This is still a powerful kick, but it´s about speed now.

So keep it light on your feet, move fluidly and smooth, sting like a bee and move between strikes and punches like a butterfly on fire.

And yes, this will exhaust you like few things will. And that is great!.

The alternative is to kick with the front leg instead of rear leg once you have finished the switch "kick" movement. Making it an even faster-kicking technique. Kicks, however, should always be weaved inside of strikes, or together with other kicks.

So keep those hands up, jab, jab, cross, kick - and follow up with punches and more kicks. Punch, kick, move fluid and smoothly in never ending perpetuity.

Repeat and have fun until I am back with harder and more varied mma workout ideas.

Oh, before I forget. How much and how hard?
I mentioned earlier that MMA is very much like a sprint interval workout. So treat it as such. Do these exercises and techniques in blasts of super high paced movement and full on strikes and kicks that drain you as if you would be running at full speed.

Do that for 30 seconds and rest for 10 to 15 seconds by lowering the pace.
Work your way up to an entire Spotify song by doing those intervals.

Then, rest by going at it for a lower pace during the first 30 seconds of the new song, before you once again up the pace to "sprint" levels. Rince and repeat.

When you lower the pace you do it by still boxing, moving and kicking at the bag. The difference is that you box and move in a slightly lower pace that allows you to recover.

But do not rest by dropping down on the floor.

Repeat this sprint based interval pace for 10 to 40 minutes. And you will have one hell of a workout that challenges your entire body. Muscles, heart, body fat, lungs and all.

It will benefit your entire body and health. Mood, blood sugar, body fat, endurance, strength and muscles, heart health and all. Do this with all the other things you have incorporated in your fit and active and healthy life. Do it one to three days per week.

No, really. As much as you might love martial arts, and people of all ages and both genders fall in love with these types of workouts right away. They are that fun and that effective, but it is also very taxing for your body, so you can not do it every single day of the week.

1 to 3 days per week is enough, you need time to recover from the wear and tear in order to improve your health and body instead of breaking it. Instead, learn to do daily low impact walks outdoors. Some yoga perhaps, lift some weights. Run once or twice per week, make love, climb some mountains. swim or just enjoy the garden.

Have fun until next time :).

Photography by NASA. This gorgeous photo of Saturns rings was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera on June 9, 2016.
It was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the rings.The real life scale is 7 miles (11 kilometers) per pixel. And how mindblowing is not that?

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Writer and photography

Mike Koontz
Space photo by NASA
To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

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   Author page, Mike Koontz

Last Few Published Books and Articles

  • Available Fine Art & Lifestyle products by Mike Koontz. All of our products are produced and sold through #Society6.

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    Each of us is the sum of our own unique lifestyle, thoughts, and touch. Be it in person, or through the way we live. This uniqueness is evident even in our own persona. Each and every one of our life choices in all of life´s big and small moments. It is further, ever-present in the way we have slowly built and shaped the castle and life which we call our home.
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  • Fitness school, question 44: What is the actual weight of one cm3 lean muscle mass, and will that weight per cm3 be able to also differ ever so minuscule between fit people and out of shape people (generally speaking that is).

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  • Fitness school, question 39: Telomeres, the fancy sounding tail that connects healthy fit aging with fitness activities. Dive right in as we take a look at recent studies.

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    We already know that obesity ( and a fat powered high BMI ) increases unhealthy factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And it often increases depression, drowsiness and general sedentary choices. Which indirectly leads to worse health in numerous ways. But if a person with a high fat powered BMI is deemed healthy as far as those traditional markers are concerned is excess fat itself still bad?
    Put in another way, will a higher amount of excess body fat still lead to worse health even if your bloodwork turns out ok and you do not feel depressed and drowsy and you do hit the gym?.

  • Fitness school, question 37: Can something as simple as a reduction of daily walking decrease our lean muscle mass in a noticeable way in just 2 weeks time?

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    Fitness School
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    Question number 37 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, it is once again time for you to put your thinking cap on before you proceed without hesitation through the hallway of healthy fit wonders and science :).
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  • Fitness School, Question 36, Will lifting weights 1-3 days per week be enough to lower cardiovascular related mortality?.

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    Fitness School
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    Question number 36 in our School of Fitness.
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  • Going beyond 1.5C. Our world and daily life behind the IPCC report.

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  • Roundabouts in the milky way galaxy. The duality of a sustainable earth, and interplanetary living.

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    The science of health and fitness should always be your lifelong guide.

    Fitness is as wonderful for your health as it is for landing you a more sculpted and capable body over time.
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    Click through and let us talk about Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

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    Right now, if you enter any given gym, the wonderful world of barbells will conjure up as many opinions as there are fitness girls on Instagram, no matter the subject.
    And plenty of opinions are exactly that, personal opinions, formed by peer pressure in the gym, on social media, or by fit vixens looking to make a bigger following by posting daily stuff which may or may not be factually correct.

    There are out of date school gym coaches still living in the past, badly informed parents, friends, big brothers, big sisters, commercial interests only looking out for the next conference call, as well as uninformed writers working for big tabloids which just happened to draw the assignment to make a puff piece on fitness.

    So let us instead look at science and what it actually has to teach us about the range of motion for any particular exercise. And for the purpose of this article, let us focus on a Squat centric use case since legs and ass are thankfully all the rage anyway :).

  • Moments from the Anthropocene, the fox and my morning coffee.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    The scent of black coffee.

    And wild breakfast companions.

    'Today' (another today ) while enjoying my first cup of coffee standing outside on my sun-drenched porch, I could hear something sneakily make its way through the underbrush and thick tall grass and florals that intermix with the deep dark, and thankfully, untouched old forest at the edge of my property.

    Fast forward just a little bit and I could start to see the movement in the thin youngling trees and the tall flowers. Something was out there, touching here and there making the wild plants and florals sway as it drew nearer me.

  • The savagery that is the carnivore dietary plan vs the science of health and fitness.

    Quality time needed: 15 minutes

    The error of your way.

    Could be spelled 'the carnivore diet'..

    A growing number of people in the world adopt healthy, fit living by going increasingly more vegetarian for a long range of personal reasons and or due to scientific reasons. Some of those reasons often include the substantial increase in cancer and diabetes risk that eating red meat and highly processed foods causes, or the impossible mathematics behind an entire world eating ever higher amounts of meat, or the incredible amount of pollution that animal food production causes.

    And facts are, that all those reasons are equally good, sound and true, so it does not even matter why you do it. It is a good and healthy choice to eat less red meat, and by doing so you will contribute towards a healthier you, and a healthier world.

  • Anthropocene: 12 vaquitas left in the world before they too face the ultimate end of line which is called extinction.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes

    The vaquitas are sadly not alone.

    This is the Lost World of Planet Earth.

    Around the world, the vaquitas are sadly not alone, there are countless of animal species, plants and all that´s facing the threat of extinction in ever greater numbers. And the pace is accelerating, so it´s not business as usual.
    Worse, this is all down to man-made issues.
    It got nothing to do with prey and predatory fluctuations. And it got nothing to do with natural events and Earths naturally changing cycles.

  • Let us talk about the concept of 'Half Earth' and why both Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN and I share the opinion that it is all about 'Whole Earth'.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes

    People & Planet is just a mutual ecosystem.

    The Lost World.

    A long and well established connective tissue in the way I talk and write, and think about health & fitness is that we are all connected through this global ecosystem we all share.
    Which is why I have over the years pointed out that living in a sustainable way is ultimately all about health. Individual health & planetary health. People that are opting to eat shit just isn't healthy.
    Neither from a planetary or individual perspective.

    Just as how healthy fit people that´s living unsustainable, just isn't healthy living people either.

  • Fitness School, Question 35, Let us dig deep down into 'standing barbell row' and the complete amount of muscles it will engage and activate.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 35 in our School of Fitness.
    Once we venture beyond the glorious realms of leg and glutes training, there is the never-ending hallway of kicking and boxing to explore and conquer.
    But what else lies beyond the joy of those fit & healthy cornerstones?.
    Well, if it was not obvious so far in life, martial arts and legs and glutes have their equal in the colossus that is weighted back training.
    And when it comes down to weighted back training, actually, when it comes down to working the upper body at all, there is one exercise which I will never hesitate to put front and center (together with deadlift), and that is 'Standing Barbell Row'.
    Here is my question:
    Standing Barbell Row will challenge and work you from top to toe.
    But can you list all of the muscles which you will activate when you do this bad boy in a properly challenging way?.

  • The things we see in the rearview mirror, the world meat free week, and Scandinavian winter scenes.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes

    Views we catch in the rear view mirror as we leave #worldmeatfreeweek behind us.

    The Lost World.

    Good and healthy vegetarian food is able to provide health & fitness improving nutrition for far more people, despite polluting much less and using up a lot less landmass vied towards animal farming.
    And you can quote me on that because that simple statement is 100% based on science & clear-cut facts instead of peoples personal opinions and conjecture.

    In fact, food production from animal farming is already using up 83% of our global agricultural land. Yet, it is only managing to deliver about 18% of the calories we consume. And does that situation not sound completely unsustainable and fool-hearted to maintain?.

  • Fitness School, Question 34, Is there a connection between weighted leg and glute training and your brain maintaining a healthy neurological cell production?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 34 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, we absolutely love our leg and glute day. The challenge it provides is a huge mountain of fun to climb every single week.
    But, did you know that you are not just strengthening your lower body when you are building stronger legs, ass, and hips?. Of course, you do. You know damn well that those leg days are crucial for the health and wellness of your lower back and abs too. And it sure does tax your heart and metabolic functions too. However, let us go upstairs towards our brainy area with this question.
    Here is my question:
    Is it true that weighted exercises in the gym for your leg and glutes will increase the production of healthy neural cells? ( which are crucial for the capacity and health of our brain and entire nervous system )

  • The Lost World XVIII and the enemy of all things living. #Connect2Earth

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes

    This is the lost world XVIII.
    And how life in the Anthropocene is the tale about the enemy of all things living.
    Healthy living is nothing but the science of life.

    With the rising tide of the Baltic sea far beneath me, I towered the surrounding world.
    Looking out from the crest of the Scandinavian coastline. This was still a place lost in time and mist. A mountain entirely dressed in green and trees, moss and berries, sand and soil, and it is, as much a mountainous castle growing ever taller as it is the place where salt and cold black water comes crashing in to embrace the land of the Vikings.

  • May 22 mark the crucial 'day of biological diversity'. But it is also so much more than that, #Connect2Earth.

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes

    At the crossroads of the Anthropocene.
    May 22 is 'The International Day of Biological Diversity'.
    A day which, is by now, our essential every day reality.

    May 22 is both a perfectly ordinary Tuesday in your life and the global 'International Day for Biological Diversity'.
    But that is not all this week is all about. We also have the endangered wildlife day, which happened on May 18, and birthday number 70 for IUCN. And, as such this entire week represents an opportunity for each of us to make it a healthy fit day for the entire planet and our individual self.

    Also, if you are present in the incredibly lush and beautiful high coast area of Scandinavia, Sweden next Tuesday you are more than welcome to join me and my coworker from Scandinavian.Fitness for a sweaty fit workout at the gym, lifting weights and grunting at Friskis, Örnsköldsvik at 0730. Once we are done at the gym, we will head outside for a walk at 0830 and hopefully enjoy beautiful weather together with the pristine nature of Scandinavia.

  • Fitness School, Question 33, Let us talk about that mighty beast called the Quadriceps.

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes

    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.

    Question number 33 in our School of Fitness.
    Legs and ass and back. That is the holy trinity ( together with the fourth pillar, our abs ) of building a strong and capable and athletic body.
    But what about the makeup of our upper legs?
    We have the backside of our legs, which we call the hamstrings, and on the front, there´s the thing most people simply call the quads.
    But let us dig deeper down into those mighty looking quadriceps and the rest of the anterior side of our legs.
    Here is my question:
    Can you specify which muscles make up the bulk of what we call our quadriceps and anterior leg muscles?.

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