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Battling Rope Drills for Martial Arts

Battling Ropes have exploded on the scene of late.

Have to say, when I first started hearing about them I was dubious. Mind you, I was just as dubious about the kettlebell before buying my first one back in 2005/6. I’m not the type to be taken in by glamour and fads. I don’t like shiny and new.

But I’m not the type to pooh-pooh something untill I have enough info and ideally have tried it for myself.

The turning point for me and the rope was when I heard about John Brookfield who came up with the concept. John is a world renowned Grip expert. He’s a world, ah fuck it, read this, i just lifted it from his website:

#1 – John just recently pulled a truck weighing 24,000 pounds a distance of one full mile in one hour and 23 minutes. The mile pull was done without the use of any pulling ropes.

#2 – Just recently, John rolled up one-quarter mile of steel nonstop in 59 minutes. The world record was done by using 62 twenty-foot steel bars, which were 9/16″ in diameter. Each bar was laying on the ground and had to be rolled up so tight that they fit into a small suitcase.

#3 – John Brookfield and Jon Bruney pulled a semi-truck weighing slightly over 32,000 pounds a distance of one full mile in one hour and thirty-six minutes. Much of the route had an upgrade.

#4 – John tore 100 decks of plastic-coated poker cards in half in two minutes and fifteen seconds.

#5 – John tore 60 decks of plastic-coated poker cards in half in one minute exactly.

#6 – John performed 1,200 kettlebell snatches in one hour exactly using a 53-pound kettlebell.

For John (left) and his mate, pulling a truck for a mile is just another day out

#7 – John performed 302 kettlebell snatches in ten minutes using a 53-pound kettlebell.

#8 – John bent 520 nails into a U-shape in one hour and forty-two minutes. The nails were 60-penny nails.

#9 – John rolled up a 20-foot, 5/8″ steel bar in 33 seconds so tight it could be placed in an average-sized suitcase.

#10 – John used a 50-pound sledgehammer for one full hour and struck a tire about thirty times a minute non-stop throughout the hour.

(unashamedly stolen from here –

So he’s the real deal. If says Battling ropes are good, who am I to argue.

So I started playing and Oh Dear Lord! they are a humbling experience. In a DVD presentation I have of John presenting he talks about the rope being all “output” and he’s not wrong, there is no break, even with the kettlebell swing you get a “break” at the top of the swing, with the rope, there’s nothing.

More recently I was chatting to Mick Coup, in his opinion the battling ropes are about the best single conditioning tool he’s come across. And Mick’s been around.

So here we are, I’m a convert, and I highly recommend you jump on the bandwagon for yourself.

This last few days I’ve been getting creative, thinking about the types of movements my guys need, most of them are involved in martial arts or contact sports in some way. So I grabbed one of our Judo/BJJ boys and spent some time getting creative. What we found was we could very easily and dynamically load some major movement patterns. This is something you simply can’t do with conventional weights, and is even tricky with Kettlebells and Sandbags. Traditionally wrestlers have always used sandbags, you can tie a belt to them and work various throws with them, but it’s always a dead weight. The rope by contrast is alive. It’s bucking and kicking and it’s trying to jump away from you, a bit like your next opponent will. We now have a moving force to deal with, we have windows of opportunity constantly being offered and taken away, so not only are we getting a phenomenal cardio workout, but we have to maintain good timing and balance as well.

Wrestling strength and training protocols are quite well covered, striking on the other hand, that’s always a bit trickier. Methods for developing punching power are hotly debated, but one thing is for certain, punching is more about body mechanics than brute strength. Although strength helps. Using the rope and turning to the side I discovered we can replicate punching actions, not an exact replica, but close enough, the force vectors and body mechanics are the same. In order to create a wave powerful enough to travel the length of the rope you must use the whole body, arm punching just aint gonna cut it. Standing square, we can throw hook or uppercut punches in an alternating fashion, this is as good an abdominal workout as you’re going to get, and once again the whole body is required to get the power from the hand right the way down that rope.

Today I tried putting together several of these drills into a workout to see how it felt. I set a timer to beep every 20 seconds for 3 minutes. Every 20 seconds I changed drill, but movement was to be continuous for the entire 3 minutes. 2 rounds and I was huffing and puffing like an auld one!

For your entertainment I filmed it.


Over the next few weeks I hope to get out shopping and get us a better rope, the one we have is ok, but for our competitive guys I think a heavier option would be better.

If you haven’t tried the ropes yet for yourself, you’re missing out, they’d be a great addition to any home gym set up.

Pretty soon I will post some Rope hybrid workouts combining the rope with Kettlebells and Bodyweight drills. Make sure you’re on the email list so you don’t miss ’em when they’re up (see top right of the screen for the sign up…)



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