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Martial Arts Warm Up / Endurance Drills

So what’s the difference between a “warm up” drill and an “endurance drill”?

Pretty easy really – a warm up is designed to warm up the body. Usually done at the beginning of class.

An endurance drill is designed to fatigue the body and push the limits – best done at the END of class when the body is at operating temperature.

Important point – you shouldn’t ever do an ENDURANCE drill when the body is cold…

No. No. No. Bad Sensei!

So that’s the difference, but did you know that warm up and endurance drills have more in common than what you may think?

They are brothers from the same mother. In fact they could almost be twins, except for one key difference.


Often warm up and endurance drills can be exactly the same – the only difference is how LONG you do it for…

A simple rule I like to use is the endurance version should be 3-5 times as long as the warm up version.

Here’s an example from my all new version of 125 Dynamite Drills. My karate friend and customer Nigel Kersh sent me this one a few years ago and I thought it would be a good inclusion for the new release.



Drill Name: Crouch and Kick

Type: Warm Up / Endurance

Equipment Required: None

Skill Level: Int / Adv

Age Group: 8 yrs and up


A good warm-up drill for the legs. Students pair up and stand shoulder to shoulder. On your count, one person will crouch down while the other makes side kick over their head.

Immediately as they complete the kick, the kicker must now crouch and the other person stands up and makes side kick over the other person’s head. Students take turns crouching and kicking.

Do 20 kicks then change legs as warm up exercise, or 60 kicks and change for an endurance drill.


It’s a simple but extremely tiring drill when you do the endurance version. Your quads will be more tired than a pot-head at a slumber party. 

“Dude, I’m hungry…. zzzzzzzzzzzz…”

One final point – make sure you stretch after any endurance training to help your muscles recover. This is also the best time for stretching for static flexibility…


14 thoughts on “Martial Arts Warm Up / Endurance Drills

  1. I like this one and am going to put it to the test in my class tonight
    Thank you Jason


    1. You’re welcome Michael.

      How did it go?

    2. Stanley, that’s a good one, and will surely try it out in my next training when I get back to Nigeria after my two weeks vacation in London/Liverpool. Thanks.

  2. like the look of this have a lot of kids from 4yrs to 12 as well as adults
    regards richard

    1. Hi Richard,

      It works best with 8 years and up I think. While some kids younger than that will be able to do it, you’ll get the ones who have little control, and also kids who think it’s funny to kick their partner…

      Maybe have them wear helmets. Lol…

  3. Great idea, Sensei Jason! We usually do squat kicks on the kicking shields, and now I want to try this with my classes!

    1. You’re welcome Restita, though I can’t take credit for this one. Thank you to Nigel Kersh… =)

  4. Love this idea! Using this in the migeri, kikomi geri, side snap, and mawashi geri, having somebody so close to you, will force the students to also focus on their snap backs.

    1. Yep, good idea Leonora. I can’t wait until my kids front kick each other in the ear doing this drill.Maybe I’ll remind them to cover their heads…

  5. thank you for the exercise, this will work out well. Also, gotta say, “more tired than a pot-head at a slumber part” – great laugh 1st thing this morning, thanks!


    1. You’re welcome Chris… glad I made you laugh, but why are you so paranoid??

  6. I’ll make sure there is plenty of ice on-hand for the slow-crouchers who don’t get out of the way in time.

    1. The first time I did this exercise my tatami looked like an American Civil War battlefield…

  7. Thank you for this! We used to do this when I was coming up the ranks in Texas many (many, many) years ago under Tim Kirby and Billye Jackson, but I had forgotten it! I intend to try in both my children’s class and adult class next week! It’s perfect timing too because a 12 year old orange belt competed in his first tournament last Saturday and kept leaning back rather than ducking when he needed. I’ve been playing “duck and jump” with a blocker this week but this exercise is much better since there’s an actual person kicking at you for it!

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