“The purpose of today’s training is to defeat yesterday’s understanding.”
Miyamoto Musashi

Bushi (the Japanese term for Samurai) are legendary Japanese warriors that are famous for following a strict code of honour called ‘Bushido’. The seven values of Bushido are as follows:

Courage (勇 yū)
Benevolence or Mercy (仁 jin)
Respect (禮 rei)
Honesty (誠 makoto)
Honour (名誉 meiyo)
Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)

Modern society often mistakenly reduces combat skills to violence. In the traditional teachings, hurting others is not the goal. Self-knowledge, self-control and self-improvement are the real goals and learning to ‘fight’ is more of an internal art where the mind and body work as one. NUK SOO’s™ numerous combative elements are inspired by the traditional lifestyle of martial arts. The Bushi Circuit consists of nine moves that will challenge your body together with your mind. There can be no self-discovery or self-improvement without tackling personal challenges head-on. My advice to you is to stay mindful of every rep where-ever you are within NUK SOO™ and challenge yourself to do each rep perfectly.

Professional Expert Master
A-Frame Walk1 minute2 minutes3 minutes
Muay Thai Lunges3 sets of 20 reps2 sets of 40 reps1 set of 100 reps
Press to Plank3 sets of 12 reps3 sets of 20 reps1 set of 80 reps
Jumping Hand Slams3 sets of 20 reps2 sets of 40 reps1 set of 100 reps
Capoeira Conditioning4 sets of 6 reps3 sets of 12 reps2 set of 24 reps
Krav Maga Elbow Strikes2 sets of 20 reps2 sets of 40 reps1 set of 100 reps
Rolling Pistols10 reps on each leg15 reps on each leg25 reps on each leg
Alternating Front Elbows1 minute2 minutes3 minutes
Relentless Knee Strikes2 sets of 25 on each leg (100 reps total)2 sets of 50 on each leg
(200 reps total)
2 sets of 100 on each leg
(400 reps total)


Warm Up

As a dancer Jen moves differently than me (i.e. better!). What this gives you is a more fluid warm-up vibe while still covering the same physiological warm up necessities, such as testing and increasing joint mobility as well as heating up the body. As always, you are to press pause if anything feels tight and to hold a stretch in a tight position until it loosens up. A good warm up should be respected so it can prevent injury.


A-Frame Work

Warrior Benefits: A-Frame walks (so-called as you look like a big letter A), are commonly used as a drill in gymnastics to improve flexibility. Tendons in your calves and hamstrings along with your lower back will all get a fantastic workout. The more flexibility you have in your lower body, lessens the chance of injury. Flexible hamstrings also mean you’ll be able to kick with height and power – an important part of your warrior training.

Starting Position: Stand up straight and bend over from the hips and touch the floor with your fingers. Walk your hands out until they are flat on the floor. Your feet should be flat as well. Your hips should be up in the air with your arms and legs completely straight.

Technique: Once in position and maintaining straight limbs, take a small step forward with the left hand and right foot. Now keep moving forward two steps and then walk back two steps. Keep going forward and back throughout the timed set.

Pro Tip: Be mindful to keep your heels down as they will want to come up off the floor. Doing an exercise mindfully – means being 100% aware. Therefore, do it slowly and focus all your attention on what you are doing in the here and now. Stretching can hurt, but don’t shy away from this – acknowledge how it feels and stay in the present. Clarity and control come from being fully aware – true warriors don’t shy away from internal pain.

Professional: 1 minute
Expert: 2 minutes
Master: 3 minutes

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Don’t walk, just hold the stretch position.
Harder: Put your feet closer to your hands as you walk.


Muay Thai Lunges

Warrior Benefits: You will build strength and endurance in your legs without bulking. Your core and supportive muscles such as your lower back and abs will also get a workout as having your arms in the air will lessen your balance. Another benefit of holding your arms in the air in this traditional Muay Thai fighting stance, is that your ankle and knee stabilisers will work harder and you will develop lactic acid tolerance (muscular endurance) in your shoulders.

Beauty Benefits: This drill will tone and define the front and back of your legs, firm your glutes and help you burn fat.

Starting Position: Standing with your feet hip width apart and your hands up higher than your head.

Technique: Step forward with your left leg and then sink down into a lunge, maintain an upright back, engage your core with good posture with your hands in the same stance. Step back and repeat on other side.

Pro Tip: Breathe out through the mouth while you focus on the back leg, squeezing your glutes and bending as you sink down into the lunge. This will help eliminate the most common mistake of a lunge movement pattern, which is the over-use of quads. If you don’t feel anything in your hamstrings or glutes and just feel all the burn in your quads, then film yourself sideways on and assess your form…in Ice Cube’s words, “Check yo self, don’t wreck yo self.”

Professional: 3 sets of 20 reps
Expert: 2 sets of 40 reps
Master: 1 set of 100 reps

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Stretch your arms out wide like walking a tightrope.
Harder: Close your eyes.


Press to Plank

Warrior Benefits: This is an upper body and core strength exercise. The press up component develops your triceps, anterior deltoid (front part of shoulders), and pectoral muscles. The rotation into the side plank develops shoulder stabiliser strength and your entire core musculature, in particular your internal and external obliques. If you are already strong then this move will develop endurance in the upper body which is great for boxing and for maintaining a capable, effective body. If you are starting this workout and you are weak, you will develop raw strength doing this move, however, your body is simply not heavy enough to add any bulk.

Beauty Benefits: Where there is strength there is tone. This move will directly help you get and maintain a lean and athletic upper body.

Starting Position: Press up position with the head in line with the back and the wrists below shoulders. Try to maintain a braced core (tense up your abs by 30% of maximum effort and try to ‘switch’ on your latissimus dorsi).

Technique: As per the GIF, alternate sides and keep the movement fluid. Always try and make the move look easy and keep to a steady the tempo with control, as this will require your core to work harder. For the press up phase, focus on your elbows moving wide whilst you maintain your structure. When you rotate, float your hand up in the air. Be graceful and don’t rush. Really channel the beauty within this movement.

Pro Tip: Breathing out slowly through your mouth as you push away from the floor and rotate up will help to regulate your breathing making it feel easier psychologically.

Professional: 3 sets of 12 reps
Expert: 3 sets of 20 reps
Master: 1 set of 80 reps

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Do the press up and rotation on your knees.

Harder: Put your hands close together, often referred to as a diamond press up (as your hands will create a diamond shape on the floor). This modification will switch off the outer side of your pecs, so the triceps will be forced to work and develop much more. For added laughs, it also makes it harder to balance, so rotating into your side plank will be more challenging.


Jumping Hand Slams

Warrior Benefits: It will build endurance by improving your cardiovascular system which will in turn make your heart and lungs stronger. As with all controlled stress on the body, you will adapt. Your legs and lower back will be become more resilient and if you push through the drill and you don’t give up, your mind will also develop reliance.

Beauty Benefits: You will burn excess fat.

Starting Position: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Put your hands out in front of you and soften your knees.

Technique: Jump your feet out wide and bend over from the waist and slap the floor with your palms. As you come back up jump your feet to the start position and repeat. Always breathe out as you slam the floor as it helps you get into a nice steady rhythm.

Pro Tip: There is always a trade-off between legs and back with this move. If your lower back hurts then do it more like a squat. The most important element of the drill is the cardiovascular effect, so I would rather you adapted the move slightly to keep your heart pumping fast.

Professional: 3 sets of 20 reps
Expert: 2 sets of 40 reps
Master: 1 set of 100 reps

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: To lessen the squat, slam higher than the floor – use pillows or a 6 inch step or block.

Harder: Hold your breath for every 15 slams. This will help to develop your anaerobic system.


Capoeira Conditioning

Warrior Benefits: Balance is one of the most under-rated components of fitness and it will be challenged doing this wonderful little drill. The small stabiliser muscles around your ankles and tendons in your toes will strengthen up, which is great for injury-proofing your body. If you ever did ballet, then go up on point. I’m not good enough to do it, so I didn’t, but I’m all for you doing things better than me in these demos. Good luck.

Beauty Benefits: None

Starting Position: Squat down with your knees over your feet balancing on the balls of your feet. Lift up onto your toes as much as possible extending your arms like you’re hugging a tree.

Technique: Maintain your balance and slowly rotate from side to side slowly. Every ½ rotation is classed as one rep. If you are a Qi Gong or Tai Chi practitioner, you will recognise the arm posture so be mindful of your chi as you do this. For the rest of us, try to stay relaxed but focused with an engaged core as you smoothly and mindfully twist from side to side.

Pro Tip: It takes time for your feet to get used to this position, so don’t worry where you start, but every time you revisit this move, try to get your heels a bit higher off the floor and be as relaxed as possible. On the road to mastery, I would always recommend recording your moves to review after each set – fluidity is the goal. As you get more advanced you can also make this a meditative exercise. It will take practice to get to this level.

Professional: 4 sets of 6 reps
Expert: 3 sets of 12 reps
Master: 2 set of 24 reps

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Don’t lift up your heels so high, just about an inch off the floor.

Harder: Close one eye throughout. Or if you’re some kind of Bruce Lee clone, then close both.


Krav Maga Elbow Strikes

Warrior Benefits: Krav Maga is a highly practical collection of combat skills designed by and used by the Israeli special forces. While this doesn’t have the deep philosophical heritage some of the more traditional eastern martial arts do, it is arguably more effective in a one-to-one street fighting situation. It’s great for shoulder mobility which is of particular importance if you spend your days on front of a computer.
It has 3 elements which make it a fast, aggressive and effective striking move:
1. You step in towards your target
2. You protect your face while attacking
3. You aim for a precise target. For example, an elbow strike aim to the temple, or nose.

Beauty Benefits: Once you’ve mastered form and you are moving at speed, this drill becomes a type of cardio interval training which is good for general fat burning.

Starting Position: Stand up straight, with your feet hip width apart and your hands up high protecting your face.

Technique: Take a small step forward with your right foot and draw your right elbow back (like bowling cricket ball) and slash down diagonally. Step back and then repeat on the left side and keep alternating sides. The arm not striking should protect your face. Look at the GIF and see how she protects herself. If you can’t see it, neither can her opponent. Please see the Fight Application Video below for further exploration of this concept.

Pro Tip: If your shoulders are tight, you will find it hard to get a good range of movement so be patient and your body will adapt. To help with range of movement and to improve this move, do this and other shoulder opening moves within your warm up. My challenge for you is to try to get a bigger range of movement every time you do this drill.

Professional: 2 sets of 20 reps
Expert: 2 sets of 40 reps
Master: 1 set of 100 reps

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Eliminate the step and defence hand position putting all your focus on the attacking arm movement.

Harder: Take a larger more powerful step forward and attack at maximum speed. Slowly step back and repeat.


Rolling Pistols

Warrior Benefits: My work with athletes, dancers and stuntmen (not just fighters), has taught me the importance of moving in new ways. Adapted from the standard pistol squat, Rolling Pistols are harder than they seem and will challenge a different kind of movement. As well as developing advanced athleticism this move teaches you timing, body acceleration, control, balance and develops lower body and core strength. Only when the mind and body work together will you master this so to perfect this move you will need to control your mind (patience and concentration) and your body.

Beauty Benefits: As you perfect it, glutes, legs and abs will develop a little bit more tone.

Starting Position: Lie on your back with your arms resting outstretched by your side, palms down.

Technique: Raise your legs and swing them up above your head. The higher you go the more momentum you will get as they swing down to help propel you. As your body rolls back down, place one foot forward so it finishes into the desired low lunge stance shown in the GIF. Your arms will naturally reach forward to help you balance. Allow them to do this and grasp your hands at end. Immediately roll back and repeat.

Pro Tip. Experiment with different stride lengths. We all have different limb lengths and this has a subtle yet real effect on the optimal biomechanics for any movement, be it running, lifting or pistol rolling!

Professional: 10 reps on each leg
Expert: 15 reps on each leg
Master: 25 reps on each leg

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Use your hands to push off the floor to help propel you forward.
Harder: The advanced version is to go into a standing lunge position at the end of each rep.


Alternating Front Elbows

Warrior Benefits: This is an advanced Muay Thai striking move that traditionally serves to open up your opponents guard. Martial art moves need to be practised 1000’s of times to become second nature and useful in a fight scenario. I never want you to hit anyone though! We can learn so much from all martial arts and one of the aims of NUK SOO™ is to take you on warrior journey to be capable and learn to challenge and control your body and emotions. We can get fit and have fun building a new set off skills that I hope you will never need to use on someone. For general MMA, street fighting and self-defence applications, please see the video.

Beauty benefits: A mild fat burning effect. This increases when doing the harder modification.

Starting Position: Stand in a relaxed split stance with the left foot forward and the right foot back, hip width apart with your hands up protecting your jaw. If you are left handed which is called ‘southpaw’ then you may flip this stance.

Technique: Strike with your leading side by swinging the elbow up bringing your hand by your ear. As you do this, extend your hips and shoulder forward to the imaginary target. Your left heal will twist out as you strike. Come back to your start position, maintain stance and then do the other side and keep on alternating. This exercise is timed, so don’t worry about counting and focus on your technique. Your aim as take no rests until the time runs out.

Pro Tip: Power comes from good foot work. For example, if you are striking on the left, lift up your left heal and screw the ball of the foot into the floor as you strike. This will allow for more ankle and hip movement and will make the strike faster, more powerful and professional.

Professional: 1 minute
Expert: 2 minutes
Master: 3 minutes

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Do it at half the speed of the GIF.

Harder: Make it more of a cardio conditioning workout and add in one quick and deep squat between each and every rep.


Relentless Knee Strikes

Warrior Benefits: Another famous Muay Thai move, knee strikes are used in most martial arts as they disable opponents very quickly and are tough to defend. In addition to fighting applications (which you can see in the video below), they are an amazing conditioning move so they will strengthen your heart and lungs and build speed, power and balance in your lower body. When done as well as Dee (in the GIF and video), they can also improve your lower back health together with ankle and hip flexor flexibility.

Beauty Benefits: Excellent for fat burning. This move also tones the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings) and tones abs.

Starting Position: Left foot forward, right foot back with your hands up protecting your jaw.

Technique: From the start position, drive your hip forward and extend the knee 45º in front of you. As within a real combat situation, try and keep the heal of your striking knee tucked in as much as you can. The ‘pointier’ the knee, the more the opponent would feel the strike. In addition, take your weight off the standing heal into the toes and lean back bracing the abs. Leaning back would enable you to keep out of the range of counter punches and to generate more power. As with all of the NUK SOO™ exercises, I want you to learn the authentic techniques. If you want to master anything in life, you must obsess on the details! After the first set then switch to the other leg – they are called relentless for a reason.

Pro Tip: The leaning back within this move is always the biggest issue I see when teaching it to my private clients. Practice slowly sideways into a mirror or record a video so you can see your form. Technique should be developed before accuracy, and accuracy should be developed before speed.

Professional: 2 sets of 25 on each leg (100 reps total)
Expert: 2 sets of 50 on each leg (200 reps total)
Master: 2 sets of 100 on each leg (400 reps total)

Inter-set rest: 30 seconds

Easier: Do it 50% slower than the GIF and don’t worry about leaning back and keep your foot flat on the floor.

Harder: Do it 25% faster than the GIF.


Cool Down

Follow the video as Jen flows through the cool down stretches. Enjoy this time at the end of the workout, regulate your breathing and be mindful with each breathe. Doing a foam roller session, having a massage or an epsom salt bath will also help your recovery process.

Thought of the Day

“A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise; nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophes, he keeps level his mind. Earthquakes do not shake him, he laughs at storms. We admire him as truly great, who, in the menacing presence of danger or death, retains his self-possession; who, for instance, can compose a poem under impending peril or hum a strain in the face of death. Such indulgence betraying no tremor in the writing or in the voice, is taken as an infallible index of a large nature—of what we call a capacious mind (Yoyū), which, far from being pressed or crowded, has always room for something more.”

Inazo Nitobe, Bushido, The Soul Of Japan

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