Final part of the Ancient Roman techniques for Gladiator fitness (part 1) and (part 2)
Sprints (1 Energy Unit) (Approx. 4 Minutes)
Sprint training is an anaerobic workout, which means greatly improved muscle gain and fat burn over aerobic exercise like lighter jogging. My sense is that, for 99% of all competitive grapplers and martial artists, that the differentiation between Interval and Repetition training is academic. Basically, in Sprint training you are trying to go very hard (95% to 100% of max heart rate) for not very long (20 seconds to 2 minutes), recover for a relatively short interval, and then go again.
The Roman Gladiator version, however, is a lot more punishing than modern standards. Obviously, the harder one goes and the less rest you have, the more your performance at the sprints themselves will deteriorate over time. The Gladiators were expected to go for as long as 4 minutes. The more energy one burns the lighter one can get and the more ease the neurons can fire speeding the muscles into prompt action. To sustain that against trained opponents would require inhuman amounts of training. And the gladiators delivered.
Average yield:- 1% Increase in Physical acceleration
Form Rehearsal training (2 Energy Units) (Approx. 1 Hour 20 Minutes)
Form practice is a great tool to improve your physical ability and skills. In any boxing or kickboxing gym, you will find many fighters spending hours shadow boxing in front of a mirror or in the middle of a boxing ring. It is often seen as merely a warm-up routine which serves to gradually increase your heart rate in preparation for the tougher junctures of a training session, but in reality, it is so much more. It will enhance your speed, form, and also your spatial awareness. But above all, it will teach you how to move on the ground, before you ever have to step in there.
You don’t have to be a martial artist to train your form. Aerobic exercises, dance routines, high-speed yoga positions are all fair game. The point of form practice is to find form accuracy in increased movement speeds. To train speed particularly, I recommend my training method.
Try a move sequence at normal speed about 5 times, really let your body grasp the movements and the form. Then increase speed to a level you can go fastest without losing form and physical balance and repeat again five times. Now repeat the same movement five times at your highest possible physical speed, with no regards to form or balance, even if it hurts. After that, finish the exercise at the highest speed without losing form for 5 times again. You will notice your physical speed has increased remarkably. Take a break, to recover and then repeat with another set of moves.
Average yield:- 3% Increase in Physical acceleration
Sparring Practice (3 Energy Units) (Approx. 15 hours)
There are those that overlook the importance of sparring and actually dismiss it because ‘it is not representative of a real fight’. This is a very narrow view and completely ignores the multitude of benefits sparring can provide to a martial artist in training. Sparring may take place in a controlled environment, but the training and skills learned during these sessions are very real. Unless you plan on being embarrassed, you will need to use all your attributes and sparring will quickly enable you to sharpen your skills. And since a gladiator’s life depended on his skill in combat, they worked at it non stop for 15 hours a day straight.
Gladiators favored sparring because it teaches the distance and timing of striking effectively and is far ahead of other forms of training in this regard. When you have a good understanding of timing, distance, and also improve the speed of your reflexes, you will be able to improvise your defense in a range of scenarios, as long as you remain aware. Sparring gives you a better sense of when to attack and retreat, so when it comes to a real fight, you will have practiced your techniques and will make instinctive combat decisions.
Similar results are easy to see when a dancer tries practicing dance routines with a partner, or a ballerina performing ballet routines. The existence of an opponent forces the mind to think quickly, adapt fast and work instinctively. The routines can be varied, and the performer makes sly decisions to outwit the opponent while engaging in a strenuous physical activity.
Average yield:- 8% Increase in Physical acceleration
Favored provisions for Honored champions
Private Lessons (6 victories by beheading)
Attention to detail is the mark of a professional. Which was hard for a gladiator, whose moves are taught to them in a group. There are minor details, like kinds of grip, weapon angling, footwork, distance management that can only be seen by a skilled eye, and not one’s own. A private instruction in a LUDUS (training school) was a rare gift only for the select champions who brought great honor. Especially since a LUDUS housed hundreds of trainee slaves at once.
Be it any performance art, a private instruction improves skill. Makes adjusting to a new physical stance and movement easier. Once the body is adjusted and acclimated to a particular set of movements, the artist can be set to move with confidence and gusto, which not only livens up the act but also improves the physical performance speed by a high factor.
Average yield:- 2% Increase in Physical acceleration
Learning New Techniques (20 victories by beheading)
This is something you won’t find in martial arts blogs and training manuals. Only a true master can tell you this. Learning a new set of moves, especially for a skilled martial artist or a physical performer is an amazing leap of growth. The Gladiators understood this, this is why champion MURMILLO (heavy shield bearers) and THRAEX (light shield bearers) were also trained in DIMACHAERUS (dual sword wielder) style. Not only it prepared them in a situation where they could lose their shields, it also sped up their movements.
A body already moving at high speeds can be tricked into moving faster. As the Body starts adjusting to a new set of moves, it acclimatizes faster and adjusts to higher speeds and movement adjustment. This is why modern performers tend to generalize their training and not rely on one method alone. Also, with an already skilled performer, it’s easy for the body to figure out the technique with the least amount of energy usage, to adjust to different circumstances with least effort and remain skillful. That is the mark of success.
Average yield:- 10% Increase in Physical acceleration
SO that’s that.
The training methods used by the ancient gladiators are now yours. Think carefully, plan for your convenience and choose your actions. The results of the course you take are yours alone. This routine is not for everyone. And perhaps might not even be relevant by today’s fitness standards. But it is an insight into the lives of ancient warriors whose lives depended on their physical performance.
Maybe next time you choose to train or go out to perform, you might move as if your life depended on it. Act like it was the last fight of your life. And take pride even in mortal failure, saying something like-