Martial Arts for Athletes/Football

Our Martial Arts for Football Program is also referred to as MAA-Martial Arts for Athletes.

Guro Dan Inosanto working with the Dallas Cowboys

Martial Arts for Football?

While at first glance, it may be difficult to grasp the concept of using martial arts to improve your skills in football, NFL teams have been employing the practice since 1978. The focus on a players skills is usually on speed, power and quickness, but there’s a lot of work being done with the hands. Football, particularly on the offensive and defensive line, requires hand-to-hand combat, which is a martial arts specialty. Your defense needs to be just as good as your offense. Martial arts teaches you how to evade blocks, block strikes, how to strike, use your body to leverage your opponent to take away his force and power as well as boost and enhance yours. It teaches how to grapple and wrestle as well. During the 70’s and 80’s the Dallas Cowboys became known as “Americas Team” and attributed their Super Bowl victory in 1978, to their strength and conditioning coach, Bob Ward and Guro Dan Inosanto. Coach Ward added martial arts drills to their existing strength and conditioning training. Coach Ward was a student of Guro Dan, who was a student of Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do, and a very skillful exponent of the Filipino martial arts. Coach Ward realized that the drills that he was working on in class, could benefit his players on the field. Guro Dan, a former college football player, agreed with Coach Ward and helped him develop the program for his players. As a result, Coach Ward and Guro Dan produced faster more agile and explosive players and won the Super Bowl that year. Guro Dan went on to work with the Raiders, Seahawks, the Saints, and others teams well into the early 80s. Our program is based on the same concepts, using the same martial arts “systems”, but is uniquely our own.

How our MAA Program Can Make Football Players Better
The arts that we teach at our school employ different types of energy and sensitivity drills to build the attributes needed for hand to hand combat and weapons based combat. We use drills from Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do and the Filipino Martial Arts. These drills are taught at a particular range, most often close quarters, and are designed to train reactions to different energy your partner “feeds” you.  The idea is that you become more sensitive to your partner’s energy or force, and learn to respond to it with techniques from the respective art. If you still cant grasp the concepts, here’s an example of the correlation. Grandmaster Yip Man of the Wing Chun system was quoted as saying “Do not fight with the strength. Absorb it, and its flows, and use it“. Wing Chun focuses a lot on energy drills because one of it’s primary concepts is to use an opponents energy against them. Imagine 2 people trying to push each other at the same time, the bigger and stronger person will always win. So rather than fight force with force, Wing Chun practitioner will either redirect the energy, dissolve it or absorb it and use it against the attacker. This could translate to a defensive lineman knowing how to immediately respond and redirect the incoming 2 handed shoulder grab of the other teams offensive lineman.

Below, we will go over just some of the attributes our arts can help develop.

Attribute List

Precision-Accuracy and exactness in the projection of force.

Awareness-To see the opponent’s intentions.

Sensitivity-To feel the opponent’s intentions or energy.

Flow-A combination of awareness and sensitivity; the ability to adapt uninterrupted.

Spatial Relationships-Having control over distances or different ranges.

Rhythm-Deals with faking, cadence breaks, changing tempos, etc.

Timing-Ability to launch an attack or counter attack at the proper moment.

Speed-Perception of initiation and performance of an action.

Coordination-Performing a movement with efficiency, with ease and balance.

Balance-Correct body alignment during motion.

Agility-Being light on one’s feet with limberness and quickness.

Footwork-Putting oneself where one needs to be at all times by training to move in all directions and angles and being evasive.

Explosiveness– Relaying destructiveness in a sudden manner, explosive hands and footwork.

Body Mechanics-Knowing how and where to position the body at all times, using no wasted motion.

Strength-ability to overwhelm an opponent through manipulation.

Proper Mental Attitude-A combination of calm, Killer Instinct, and confidence.

Conditioning-Allowing the body and mind to endure anything.

These are just a few, but all of these are essential when playing football and martial arts can help a player both develop and improve these skills. This kind of training may sound unique, but again, it has been proven and used in the NFL dating back to the 70s and it’s still being used today. Players at all levels can utilize the benefits of martial arts training to improve their performance on the field while also learning self-defense as a bonus. These days, players from sports like Rugby, Hockey, and Wrestling are martial arts moves to enhance their performance. This kind of training, and joining a martial arts school can help individuals make improvements from a physical, mental and athletic perspective.

If you have an interest in setting up an MAA program for your team or want individual training, our clinics are on Saturday mornings in sessions of 6 weeks. Tuition is $350 per person. We come to your school, field or location of choice.

Middle School

High School

Adult Athletes

See our schedule and tuition page for more information or contact Sifu Dan at: