SP Archives: Your Training Programme

Rob Dick asked:

Your always in great condition & ready to fight.
Whats a week of training in the life of Steve Morris entail.

Steve’s answer:

I don’t train in a routine way. The only time I ever did that was in Japan, and as you know, then I was putting in 8-10 hours a day so I didn’t have much time for innovative expression!

I’ve always been an experimenter, so it’s always been a case of trying lots of different things. And recently, having the three kids in the house and not a lot of space or time, I’ve had to get creative. For example, I’ll walk up and down with the youngest in my arms doing knee-ups; twenty minutes, kid goes to sleep, I get a mini-workout. Or I’ll keep a sandbag and a punch bag in the barn, and every time I have to go outside for some reason, I’ll do a few lifts or some short-duration bag work. Not so much as a workout, but as if suddenly somebody’s appeared who I have to deal with. I’m imagining scenarios and working them out.

It would be misleading for me to just give you a list of some of the exercises or drills I might do in a given week, first, because that’s always changing, and second, because the training isn’t just about physical exercise. It’s more of an internal process.

I’ve always looked for ways to facilitate the response of the neuromusculoskeletal structure in time and intensity. With me it’s always been stimuli/reactive response oriented, particularly with regard to explosive release.

What I’ve found over the years is that that process has got more to do with the impression in my mind of the explosive effect I want to achieve than with the physical exercise that might achieve it.

One thing I’m doing when I’m at home is shadow-fighting with mini-situations in my mind. Anybody looking through the window would see me moving about the house and periodically breaking out with a burst of explosive shots. I’m working in my mind’s eye, and I know how to facilitate that. Long experience has allowed me to understand the processes. So I’m working to enhance the neuromusculoskeletal structure’s response to an imagined stimulus. And because it’s a total body movement, I get a total body workout.

I’ll do that sometimes with a weighted vest on. I’ll do it with 5lb dumbbells, as well as other supplementary exercises. But whatever it is, it’s always explosive.

The main thing is that my training isn’t just about performing exercises. I never train blind.

I not only train externally with the idea of an opponent/opponents, but internally with the idea of how to go about enhancing the structure. Because I understand, for example, how the muscle spindle works and how motor recruitment depends upon the rate of stretch or the final length of muscle fiber in which the spindle is embedded, I can set about enhancing that recruitment with combat in mind. That’s what I do.

In particular, I work to increase the sensitivity of the muscle spindle so that minimal stretch or no stretch at all elicits the myotatic response, and that’s done through the clarity of the impression. This sets the reactive sensitivity of the spindle via the gamma efferent system. The way the spindle has been set and the physical stretch of the muscle in turn determines the number and type of motor units recruited to overcome a load.

Rather than doing external plyometrics, I’m doing internal plyometrics, so to speak. And I know it’s not a normal training program!

I’m not being mystical here. Nothing to do with chi!! I’m coming from my understanding of Western sports science plus an instinctive/intuitive understanding of how my body moves.

Having said all that, as you probably know, my main way of maintaining a basic aerobic and anaerobic condition is indoor cycle. But I don’t just ‘cycle’. I understand the key points of a skill, so when I cycle I actually work those components repetitively within the cyclonic motion of the bike. For example, working on my posting leg, I’ll be focusing on using the ‘post leg’ to press down and make the effort whilst cycling, and freeing the other leg to be thrown into the target with the assistance of the hands.

I also use the cycle by sitting behind it, something I discovered in 1975 or so when I’d injured my knee and needed to rehabilitate it. I got an indoor bike and just worked the good leg giving the bad leg a free ride until I could start to use it. It was while doing that that David Dubow asked me to help a friend, Larry Brodie, who had one leg. How could he train? I thought about it, then I sat behind the bike and used my arms. And I’ve been doing it ever since! Don’t know if he did it, but I did! And we’re finally seeing it being used in gyms.

That’s one of the influences on my cyclonic way of punching.

I also saw an article by Lance Armstrong a couple of years ago, how when using a training bike, he talked about rotating a barrel, so that you’re not pressing on any specific point when you pedal. Instead, you feel you’re making contact and delivering pressure for the full point of the cycle. I’d also discovered that for myself back in the seventies, and it’s part of that clawing action for kicks both in the kicking leg and the support leg. I’m working flexors and extensors within the movement. Sometimes I focus only on one or the other, but you can actually focus on both.

And when I do that work, I’m working the reflex patterns of my body. It’s rather like I’m sitting up there, running. My body’s zigging and zagging reflexively. I’m strengthening the movement patterns I need for fighting. It’s a great way of interconnecting the body. Hard to describe, but easy to show.

And I do that training every morning, anaerobically. I always watch fights; lately I’ve been watching Ramon Dekker, the one with the Eminem soundtrack. You get a great attitude workout as well! Brilliant. I do it in intervals. I’ll ride through the clip very high intensity working on whatever particular part I want, I think it’s about a four-minute clip, I’ll get off, switch over say to sitting behind and doing arms, and repeat the clip. I’ll do that either with two arms or one arm, concentrating either on punching or pulling or both. And I’ll keep this up for about 30 minutes.

I also put on Tito Le Bambino’s music and do my knife and stick drills freeform. Trish saw it the other day and went, ‘Wow!’ So if I fail in the martial arts, she reckons I can open up a Latin dance club…but seriously, I do that to work on the syncopation of the movement with respect to the knife, the free hand and the footwork. That really gives you a great sweat and it’s fun. And you can be really creative on that one.

I used to do the same thing in the late Seventies to Buddy Holly music, all my stick and knife moves, but times have moved on. You gotta get with the current flavour. And I suppose there’s another secret, Rob. I’m not an inhibited guy! And I’ve never taken my 63 years seriously. I’m from Mick Jagger’s generation, ‘I hope I die before I get old.’