Critique a 1960s/70s Karate champion's regimen

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by Cross_Trainer, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Cross_Trainer

    Cross_Trainer Yellow Belt

    Jul 30, 2006
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    Ron Marchini, the guy who recorded this program in 1974, was one of the top 10 (point) karate competitors in the 1960s and 70s, when people were still nailing each other pretty hard barefisted in tournaments. Although he competed as a point karateka, Marchini had apparently trained in a full contact style called Renbukai that used kendo masks, and had a brown belt in judo.

    He was also one of the main advocates of weight training in 60's karate, and this is considered a fairly "cutting edge" program by that period's standards. One of the first martial arts regimens that was widely available to the general public. I was curious how far martial arts training had come since that time.

    From an initial inspection, it looks like an overtraining nightmare with lots of bodybuilding influence, but I wanted the forum to weigh in. Here it is:


    * Note that Marchini didn't combine the three weight training workouts below into a single training phase. You only did one weight routine at a time / training phase.

    WEIGHT TRAINING WORKOUTS (Performed in morning): Pick One.

    Weight Routine A: To Develop Endurance (You could presumably call it an endurance phase by modern standards)

    3-4 times a week. More likely four days a week, except that he says to lift "every other day".

    Bench Press - 5 sets, 15 repetitions
    Standing Press - 4 sets, 15 repetitions
    Half Squats - 4 sets, 20 repetitions
    Heel Raises - 4 sets, 25 repetitions
    Deadlifts - 4 sets, 10 repetitions
    Dumbbell Seated Curls - 5 sets, 30 repetitions
    "Bomb 21 Tricep Curls" - 5 sets, 21 repetitions

    Lift at a fast, steady pace, so that it causes "an increase in breathing". Rest between sets only as long as it took to complete the previous set. Take three deep breaths between sets.

    Marchini used this one to increase "definition" and endurance, and to lose weight. As mentioned above, he didn't combine this with the two weight routines below into a single training phase. You either did this weight routine or one of the other two.

    Weight Routine B: To Develop "Bulk and Strength" (I suppose you could call it an attempt at a combined strength and hypertrophy phase by modern standards)

    3 days a week, with a rest day in between (and presumably two on the last day).

    Bench Press - Work up to a 1 rep max in pyramid fashion, 10-6-4-2-1
    Standing press - as above
    Squats - as above
    Deadlifts - as above
    Barbell curls - as above
    Tricep extensions - as above

    Rest 3-4 minutes between "sets" (I think he means "exercises", since he recommends a 30 second rest between "sets" later). Use maximum poundage for each set (10 rep max, 6 rep max, etc.) Take 3 deep breaths between sets. Slight cheating movements are allowed to achieve maximum poundage.

    Weight Routine C: "Advanced Split Routine"

    For trainees "advanced in weight training". I guess this means that the preceding weight program isn't giving you appreciable gains anymore.

    Upper Body: M, W, F

    Bench Press - 5x8
    Chest Crossovers - 5x10
    Standing Press - 5x8
    Lateral Raises - 5x6
    Lat Pulldowns - 5x10
    Barbell Curls - 5x6
    Dumbbell Seated Curls - 5x10
    Barbell French Curls - 5x8
    Tricep Pushdowns - 5x10

    Lower Body: T, Th, S

    Deadlifts - 5x8
    Squats - 5x8
    Hack Squats - 5x8
    Heel Raises - 5x15
    Leg Extensions - 5x10
    Leg Curls - 5x10
    Leg Curls - 5x10
    Situps - 5x25
    Front Squats - 5x6
    Leg Raises - 5x25

    For both split workouts, warm up with a light set first. Also remember to stretch.


    KARATE TRAINING - Done in the evenings

    I'm not sure how often Marchini did technical work in the evenings, but I know that he put his karate training there. Presumably 4-7 times per week, 1-3 hours per session like his contemporaries. I know that's a broad range, but I just couldn't dig the information up.


    STRETCHING - Daily

    Seated splits (and reaching from side to side)
    One legged side splits
    Front splits
    Hand bridge
    Standing front bends (essentially toe touches without the hands extended)
    Side kick leg raises, with partner (place your foot on his shoulder while he slowly stands up)



    5-6 days a week. I'm not sure where in the day Marchini intended this to be placed (Finishers after the 3-4 sessions of weight training, and then a couple extra elsewhere? At the end of karate training? In the middle of the day halfway between Karate and weight training?)

    - Timed run - 1/2 mile to a mile
    - "All types of pushups", 3x10 to 3x30 reps each variation. Pushup types included regular pushups, finger pushups, and knuckle pushups. There were about 10 different varieties.
    - "All types of situps", 4x15 to 4x40 each variation. Three or four variations.
    - Leg raises - 4x15 to 4x40
    - Single leg squats - 4x10 to 4x15
    - Bunny hops - 4x10 to 4x15, performed explosively "with as much thrust as you can"
    - Lower trunk extensions - 4x10 to 4x15
    - "Tumbling and gymnastics exercises" (No idea which ones).

    Stretch before and after running. No bouncing on the situps. The gymnastics were supposed to be to improve coordination, agility, and balance. Marchini considered the single-leg squats important for developing balance and kicking, and he insisted that you not touch the floor with the hand or other foot.
  2. TheeFaulted

    TheeFaulted Inzer Belt

    Dec 12, 2006
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  3. rlazer5000

    rlazer5000 White Belt

    Jan 1, 2011
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  4. Liquid Smoke

    Liquid Smoke Great artists steal™

    Jul 11, 2013
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    Looks like bro science back when bros were called sensei.
  5. KidAlchemy

    KidAlchemy Purple Belt

    Mar 6, 2013
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    The Small White North
    7/10 would bang. I've been told that I have to start lowering my standards...
  6. Cross_Trainer

    Cross_Trainer Yellow Belt

    Jul 30, 2006
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    I dunno. It's pretty sexy as abstract fitness concepts go, but not exactly in bellydancing or stripper aerobics's league.

    ...On a more serious note, this thread's responses made my day. I was expecting measured criticism of the bodybuilding-oriented, overachieving workload in this program. Maybe even a few remarks on how far we've come, the historical context of martial arts training advances, etc. etc. What I got was more entertaining.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  7. King Creatine

    King Creatine Purple Belt

    Oct 21, 2006
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    I don't think it's so bad.

    Of course, I see the glaring weakness. Those have have been summarized above by Bill Murray. For the time period this was written, I like that the meat and potatoes lifts are in there.
  8. gspieler

    gspieler Silver Belt

    Jul 1, 2010
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    In der mittel
    I hope Crossfit is paying this man royalties.

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