Aliveness, also referred to as Alive training[1] describes martial arts training methods that are spontaneous, non-scripted, and dynamic. Alive training is performed with the intent to challenge or defeat rather than to demonstrate. Aliveness has also been defined in relation to martial arts techniques as an evaluation of combat effectiveness.[2]

Training benefits

Many believe that incorporating Aliveness into training regimens is important, if not a requisite for producing an effective martial artist. Because Alive training involves resisting opponents, sparring sessions produce situations of continuous, un-choreographed attack, an effect which cannot be replicated through the practice of rehearsed routines. Students also learn to deal with the physical pain and stresses involved in combat situations requiring high levels of exertion.[5] Alive training imparts a sense of fluidity and spontaneity; alive drills do not follow set patterns, and are designed to seamlessly transition from one drill to the next.[6]

“Alive” training methods

The Judo practice of Randori has been called an alive training method because of its unpredictability and the intense active resistance by both participants.[7] Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pressure-tests its techniques in an alive setting against resisting opponents.[8] Sparring and competitions in Kyokushin Karate and San Shou in Chinese martial arts are examples of alive practice.[9] “Thai Pad” work in Muay Thai conditioning is an alive drill, focusing on dynamic, spontaneous and hard-contact striking training. In the “internal” Chinese martial arts, the two-person drill Pushing Hands can often be an alive training method that incorporates spontaneous throws and takedowns.[citation needed] In the 1930s, Zhejiang police officer Liu Jinsheng noted a decline in the aliveness of Chinese martial arts practice:

…the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms— they lack practical method and spirit… When the ancients practiced any type of martial art, sparring and drilling techniques were one and the same. Once a fight started, techniques flowed in sequence, six or seven at a time, never giving the opponent a chance to win.[10]


  1. ^ Badger Jones (2007). “Siling Yabulo Arnis”. Filipino Martial Arts Digest, Steven K. Dowd. pp. 32–35.
  2. ^ Scot Combs (2006). “‘Aliveness’ in martial arts training”. Full Circle Martial Arts.
  3. ^ Rafael Rosendo. “Choosing The Right School”. Alliance Jiu-Jitsu Greenville.
  4. ^ Matt Thornton. “Aliveness 101”. Straight Blast Gym International.
  5. ^ Michael Zimmer (2004). “On Aliveness In Training – An Analytic Perspective”. Vorticity Martial Arts.
  6. ^ Adam Williss (2007). “Fluidity in Training”. The Dragon Institute Wing Chun.
  7. ^ “Aliveness: Common Sense or Controversial?”. Low Tech Combat 2.0 webzine. (2010).
  8. ^ Charles Wong (2009). “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques”. Kissaki Defensive Tactics Academy.
  9. ^ Ben Bratko (2007). “Traditional Martial Arts”. American Martial Arts Movement website.
  10. ^ Quoted by Liu Jinsheng (translated by Tim Cartmell) in Chin Na Fa: Traditional Chinese Submission Grappling Techniques. (2007).

Leave a comment