Weakest Direction Theory is BS

Warning: The following post is going to conflict with the most basic, fundamental principle you “know” to be true in martial arts.  Chances are you learned this principle on your first day of martial arts class.  Since that day you have repeated it almost every class.  You have taught it as truth to every new person you’ve ever trained with.  It’s so ingrained into your psyche that it’s practically dogma.  Most likely you will read this a instantly brand me a Budo Heretic.  Yup.  It’s that controversial…

Strap in folks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride for you.  Destroying myths and beliefs always is!

Here we go…

I am calling BS on Weakest Direction Theory.  You know, the triangle point?  Draw a line between uke’s feet, then draw a line perpendicular to that line, and that is their weakest direction because the uke has nothing to brace their structure along the weak line, right? Wrong.  It’s a belief system – BS – (what did you think I meant by BS?) based on an old, outdated model of looking at the body.

The Old Model

The old model looks at the structure of the body as a conventional column, like a building.  In this model, walking and running are usually described as a ‘controlled fall’.  The body vaults from one leg to the other, loading and unloading, inelegantly transferring weight from side to side with each step. Empire_State_Building

In this model, the body is balanced precariously on 2 legs.  Pushing or pulling toward that triangle point, or 3rd leg, either forwards or backwards easily destabilizes the structure.  

This seems to make perfect sense to us since, as I said above, there is nothing overt with which to brace ourselves when pushed or pulled off center into that weakest direction.  The only way to regain balance is to step and once again reestablish our equilibrium. judo1911

The New Model

The new model is biotensegrity, or the integration of tension within the human body.

“Biotensegrity is a mechanical model of biologic structure and function based on construction concepts introduced by Kenneth Snelson and Buckminster Fuller in the 1960’s. In these models, the compression struts or rods are enmeshed and ‘float’ in a structured network of continuously connected tension ‘tendons’…”

“The structure is omni-directional and functions independent of gravity. Unlike a conventional column, it is structurally stable and functional right side up, upside down or sideways. A tensegrity structure can function equally well on land, at sea, in air or space.”

- The Mechanics of Martial Arts by Stephen Levin, MD  http://biotensegrity.com/martial_arts_mechanics.php

In other words, the bones in the human body act as compressive struts pushing outward while the fascia and other connective tissue wrap the body, pulling inward.  This creates a dynamic stability and balance within the structure with many far reaching applications. functional-lines-lg Because the body is truly an omi-directional structure, applied force need not be accepted linearly (as in the old model), but can, with proper training (read – “internal power”) be diffused and distributed throughout the structure to balance incoming forces and remain dynamically stable.  

Therefore, an exponent of internal power training may, through both his BS – Belief System – and proper training, not be pushed or pulled off his center even when that force is applied in what was previously thought to be the “weakest direction”.  The fact of the matter is, a properly conditioned body does NOT have a weakest direction.  Force never need be absorbed directly in a straight line in a local area.

Non-Local Force Distribution

If load (applied force) can be distributed throughout the system, then how can kuzushi be attained?  This is hugely important!!

“When absorbing a blow, it reverses the process by soaking up the initial force, distributing it, and then gradually stiffing at the cellular level where the cells, rather than all the resistance landing on a local area. The bone breaking impact, rather than focused where the blow landed, will be he resisted by all your cells in a wave that spreads from the impact cite to a wall of billions of cells throughout the body, acting as perfect hydraulic shock absorbers, take up the blow.”

The Mechanics of Martial Arts by Stephen Levin, MD  http://biotensegrity.com/martial_arts_mechanics.php

To take the entire concept even further, in this brave new world model of Biotensegrity, each individual cell behaves as an omi-directional structure.  This insures that ALL connective tissues of the body work together ALL of the time thus proving the old internal martial arts maxim of – When one thing moves, everything moves!

Ueshiba Universe quote


So the question for you now, going forward, is – will you choose to simply keep accepting your old BS – Belief System?

OR, will you begin to learn how to operate from the New Model Belief System that I’ve shown you here today and change your martial arts training for the better, forever???

It’s up to you.

My Morning Routine

For the past several weeks there has been a running theme interwoven throughout my blog posts.  That theme has been practice, Daily Personal Practice (DPP), to be precise.

I’ve gotten several questions about the details of my own DPP since I refer to it several times in my writing.  So I figured I would pull back the curtains and give you a more detailed glimpse into my Morning Routine of DPP in this post.

My AM Daily Personal Practice

I usually wake up between 5:45 and 6 am every day.  I grab a quick shower ending it with several minutes of cold water to help wake me up and boost T-levels.  Then I head downstairs and start making coffee.  While the coffee is brewing I squeeze 1/4 of a lemon into a tall glass of room temperature water and drink it down.  I keep a bag of quartered lemons in my refrigerator so I can just grab one every morning without worrying about having to cut them up.  The lemon infused water is great for re-hydrating the body after sleeping and cleansing the liver first thing in the morning.

I’ve got my coffee now.  Some days I go with my personal blend of Warrior Coffee, other days I just add half and half and start training.

5 minutes of joint mobility (more if I really need it) to get warmed up and start the blood flowing.  Then a quick, one minute breathing exercise to fire up my energy levels

Active Standing

My main morning practice is 40 minutes of Zhan Zhuang, standing meditation.  I call what I do in the mornings, Active Standing, to distinguish it from the Relaxed Standing I told you about previously.  The focus of this exercise is to really work intent (yi) in order to cultivate that curious, yet highly elusive body quality of motion in stillness.

This training is combined with several other Internal Power conditioning exercises such as winding, spiraling, and breath training.  Some of these exercises come from the Yi Jin Jing (Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic), others were taught to me by Dan Harden, or from Yiquan.  The purpose of these exercises is to condition the tendons, fascia, and other connective tissue in the body to be strong, flexible, and elastic in order to develop relaxed whole-body power and be able to spread load (force) throughout the body (more on this later!).

Shaolin Yi Jin Jing


Depending on my time constraints for the morning, I sometimes add in more dynamic work to wrap up the session or call it quits and get ready for work.  I’ll be posting another article on my weekly workouts soon as this post just covers my AM training.

AM Supplement Cocktail

After my early morning training I take my AM supplements.  Here is the list of what I currently take every morning:

I also tend to defer my breakfast, the breaking of my night-time fast, until much later in the day.  Usually I’ll have my first meal of the day around noon, sometimes 1 pm.  Refer to my free nutrition program to find out why – Ninja Nutrition Manifesto <<====


Best Way to Program Your Training

One of the most oft asked questions I get from people, from both the online and offline worlds, is about their weekly workout schedule:

“How should I program my workouts?”

“How many days per week should I train?”

“Is it wrong or bad to train 2 days in a row?”

“How much rest should I have between workouts?”

“Is there one best way to program my training?”


While there certainly is no ONE best way to program training, there definitely are some models that are more effective than others.


There are many different ways to program workouts, in fact there’s an entire branch of sports science dedicated to it called Periodization.  Periodization is basically a fancy term for organizing and scheduling training in terms of structural units. These units are divided up into, training session, microcycle, mesocycle, macrocycle, and multiyear cycle. Periodization is a highly effective way to organize training for athletics, but what about for martial arts?

One of the challenges in programming training for the martial artist is that there is no such thing as an off-season for a warrior. We don’t need to train with the intention of “peaking” for a particular event as we do not know when our skills will be called upon, if ever.  Additionally, our training requirements are a little bit different than the average athlete, even a combat athlete. We must consistently train for multifaceted development of all-around fitness and conditioning rather than training specific strength qualities individually on a cycle-by-cycle basis. As a warrior, we need to be in a constant state of preparedness, ready for whatever real life may throw at us.

So How Should We Program?

For general fitness, I usually recommend doing a full body workout 3 times a week. This way it allows for plenty of recovery time.  This is because all of your progress and gains happen when you are resting – not training.  The harder you train, the harder you must recover.  In fact, I would go as far as saying that if you do not have a solid recovery strategy in place you will never maximize your results.

On the “rest” days make sure you are staying active.  Do mobility work, yoga, walking/running/hiking/swimming, budo training, etc…

Another way to program your training is to alter the intensity from one day to the next so that there are no “off” days, but since you are cycling intensity, rest is built in. For example:

Day 1 – Moderate (strength)

Day 2 – High (met con)

Day 3 – No (mobility)

Day 4 – Low (yoga/budo/etc)

Here are a few basic sample templates for you:

Full Body

Day 1 Full Body Workout
Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Full Body Workout
Day 4 Rest
Day 5 Full Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest

Upper Lower Full Split

Day 1 Lower Body Workout
Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Upper Body Workout
Day 4 Rest
Day 5 Full Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest


The Upper Lower Split

Day 1 Upper Body Workout
Day 2 Lower Body Workout
Day 3 Rest
Day 4 Upper Body Workout
Day 5 Lower Body Workout
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest


Changing Intensity*

Day 1 Full Body Workout (Strength Focus)
Day 2 Full Body Workout (Conditioning Focus)
Day 3 Mobility
Day 4 Yoga / Martial Arts

* Repeat days 1 – 4

As I mentioned above, there are many different ways to program your weekly workouts.  The example templates are not meant to be all inclusive, by any means.  They are just some of the ways I have found work best for me and my students.

My Ninja Missions Program utilizes the Changing Intensity method of cycling in the combat conditioning workouts with sword flow drills, mobility, flexibility, and breathing exercise.

Ninja Mission Cover

Got questions?  Let me know!

Have a different method?  Post your own examples below!


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