Are You Strong or Are You Powerful?

01 Jun 2015

Recently I began giving private lessons to a friend who wants to learn some basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My friend is 6’4″, 230 lbs of solid muscle! The guy looks like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, and he’s amazingly strong!

Last week he asked we can do a light spar on the ground and I agreed. After he got swept, choked, arm bar’d, leg locked, ankle locked, and basically destroyed in a playful manner he said, “Jeez Nik, for a little guy you’re strong as hell!” Funny that he calls me a “little guy” when I’m 6’2″ 205lbs. He asked what I do to be so strong, and I laughed.

Although he belongs on the cover of a Muscle Magazine, his strength was virtually useless. As we rolled he tried to “muscle” me or force me to submit. I explained to him that he has superficial strength, and my “power” comes from a few different things.
1) Body Mechanics
2) Positioning
3) Usable Strength
4) Leverage
5) Overall greater knowledge

My friend might be absolutely ripped, but that kind of fitness is mostly for looks. It is the exterior of the muscle, not the belly of the muscle or the joints. So it looks great, but serves little purpose. So I invited him to my home to workout with me. He quickly realized that all the exercises I do replicate the dynamic motions that I use daily whether it’s in martial arts or house cleaning. Secondly he realized that I constantly tie all my muscle groups together for every task. So I never really use just one limb or set of muscles, it’s full body.

I put him thru a quick 30 min workout showing him what, how, and why I do what I do. Suddenly he stares at me and says, “What the hell am I benching 400 plus pounds for when I can’t use it?” Excellent question!

The true question that he asked is the comparison between Strength and Power. Strength, although very nice, is not very useful and very tough to maintain. It will not have any longevity. Power on the otherhand, will have greater use and easier to maintain in your 40’s, 50’s, and beyond.

What kinds of things can you do to develop power? Functional Power/Strength? Sustainable Power? Well, I can tell you that our fitness classes are designed completely around those things. You’ll just have to come in and see for yourself. But here’s a little hint…. Look into kettlebell training. The fundamentals will show you how to tie the body together as one unit.

What do you want to be…strong or powerful?

Sifu Nik



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