Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Physical Testing for Combat Sports

Assessment and testing is an important part of a training program. It allows you to track an individuals progress. It can be used to compare members of a team and to compare to normative data.

Tracking progress can allow you to objectively determine what areas still need work in the program. And tracking can also be a powerful motivator for the athlete.

Here is my suggested set of assessments for HEMA, WMA, SCA and similar combat sports. This set of tests is not the same as the ones I'd use for grappling but it is similar.

Anthropometric Tests
Body Fat %
Arm length and "Wingspan"

Mobility-Flexibility Screening
A good explanation of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) can be found here. It's important to note that the FMS has not been demonstrated to be correlated to performance measures. The FMS seems to be much more useful from a physical therapy and pre-hab - that is we can use it to identify potential areas of weakness and potential failure, and then tailor the program to compensate and correct those problems.
  1. Overhead Squat*
  2. Hurdle Step
  3. In-line Lunge
  4. Shoulder Mobility
  5. Trunk Stability Push-up
  6. Rotary Stability
  7. Active Straight Leg Raise*
* These tests are relevant to a strength training program and less relevant to the fighting.


Explosive Power Tests
1RM Hang Clean – Power style*
*this test is the hardest to do since it requires significant technical skill in the lift. The combination of the the other power tests and the leg strength test may be sufficient.

10# Sandbell Chest Pass – Athlete stands with toes on start line and feet flat on the floor. The sandbell is held at sternum height close to the chest with the elbows close and the hands cocked back (wrist radial deviated, extended and supinated). Throw is performed without stepping and with both heels held flat on the ground. Wrists should ulnar deviate, flex and pronate as throw is performed. Since the sandbell does not roll, the distance is measured from the position where the sandbell stops. Measurement is made from the start line to the nearest point of the sandbell.
Left and Right throws will also be measured, with the athlete standing facing perpendicular to the start line.
* This test does not appear in any literature as a validated test. However, tests like this are being investigated for their relevance to various sports. At this time the test can only be used for tracking progress on the individual athlete.

Plyometric Power - Standing Broad Jump

Reactive Strength Test - Standing Triple Jump

Maximal Strength Tests
1RM Bench Press
1RM Back Squat - with an athlete unfamiliar with squat a leg press/hip sled can be used instead.

Muscular Endurance
Endurance Cutting – Test is performed with the same sword each test to standardize the measure. Cuts are made from an over the shoulder start position. Each cut is performed with a lateral passing step. Cuts are made at a 60 per minute cadence tracked with a metronome (available as a phone app). The test continues until the athlete is no longer able to maintain cadence or good cutting form. Good form includes full extension to a target above waist height and start position with the cross at least at the level of the point of the shoulder.
This version of the test is specific to the Lichtenauer school, but only minor variations should be needed for different styles.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance
Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test – A Beep Test app for is used with a 20 m course. Test continues until the athlete stops or can no longer run at the start signal.

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