Here’s one from Anthony Diluglio at the Art of Strength.  A “Ropes Gone Wild  Workout” that combines two of my favorite tools - KBs and ropes, and one of my favorite places - outside.  This one can cover it all – UB, LB, Core, posterior chain. 

All sorts of variations could be done using this as an “anchor”exercise.  Add in some BW sets.  Or have a 2nd KB at one end of the park, drag a KB away (forward or backward) as shown, then sprint back to the other KB and bang out some swings, C&P, snatch etc.  
You can do it for multiple timed sets to mimic your competition rounds (ex. BJJ, wrestling, boxing, MMA), for distance, or one long timed set (ex. as many sets/reps as you can get in 15 minutes). 
I’d suggest doing this one at a park, a beach, sand volleyball court or somewhere you don’t mind scuffing up the turf (neighbor’s yard after dark?).  Have fun.

There are lots of ways to “get in shape” and some of them work better than others for a chosen sport. But how do you know if what you’re doing is “working”?  A recent article in the Journal of Strength& Conditioning Research discusses the “Reliability and Construct Validity of the Karate-Specific Aerobic Test” (JS&CR, 26(12):3454-3460, 2012).    

This test (KSAT for short) is a sport-specific field test designed to evaluate aerobic performance of karate practitioners.  It consists of the following combination: Jab, Rear Roundhouse kick, Cross, Front Roundhouse kick – done 2X in 7 seconds.  The strikes are done with maximum power on a heavy bag.  After a rest interval the combination is repeated.  When the participant failed to complete the combination within 7 seconds twice, or when there were clear decreases in power, the “time to exhaustion”was recorded and represented the final result. The authors do not list the recovery time given between efforts, only that the recovery time progressively decreased to make the test more demanding.  If I was applying this test I’d use a 1:2 work/rest ratio and just keep the rest period fixed for simplicity.  As long as you’re consistent from test to test, it would be fine.  
I can see this being used as a test to get a baseline level for karate-specific fitness, and then being used later to evaluate progress.   Did my “time to exhaustion” increase or decrease?   If it got longer (better), then my conditioning program is having a positive effect.  If it didn’t, maybe I’m focusing on the wrong programming structure.   Sensei used to say “the best way to get in shape for karate is to do karate.”  We had a brown belt once that was trying to get in shape for a black belt test and thought he had to do more cardio, so he started running up to 12 miles at a time.  Unfortunately he was still gassed when hitting the bag, because they are two completely different energy and movement patterns. 

In this case the authors found that the KSAT showed differences in performance levels between National level and Regional level karateka.  National level athletes lasted 3 minutes longer in their time to exhaustion. The performance levels that they found
may not be indicative of what your students could/should do, but it would be straightforward to set some guidelines and expectations for different belt ranks, and even set minimum requirements for promotion to Black Belt. 

Free article over at the NSCA site outlines some different boxing protocols based on which energy system is being stressed (ex. Beginning of the fight, early stages, or longer
than a minute).  
Beginning of the fight (phosphagen system)
Work:Rest  of 1:12 –1:20
Ex. Hit for 10 seconds, Rest for 2minutes
90-100% of maximal power
Simple combinations, ex: jab, jab/cross, hook
Into the Tussle, longer than 15 seconds (glycolytic system)
Work:Rest of 1:3 – 1:5
Ex. Hit for 15 seconds, Rest for 45 seconds
75-90% of maximal power
Confrontation > 1 minute (glycolytic + oxidative systems)
Work:Rest of 1:3 – 1:4
Ex. Hit for 1- 3 minutes, Rest for 3-9 minutes
30-75% of maximal power

I find it a helpful reminder that there are different stages of a confrontations and that you also need to train the different energy systems in specific ways.   I seem to spend most of my time in the 2nd style of training.  During longer rest intervals (>3 minutes) I’ll keep moving, doing some dynamic stretching, practicing a form, specific technique, or weapons combination so that I’m being efficient and still getting something done that needs worked on, just not stressing the energy system.  But I’m not just sitting there checking my Smartphone.  

I put together this quick workout using sandbags and KBs to use as a finisher after doing some technical/skill drills.  It’s fundamentally a basic pyramid structure, as I increase the weight used, I decrease the reps (or in this case, the length of the round).  The weights don’t have to be exact, just in the ballpark.  If you have access to a full rack of DBs or lots of free weights, those would work too.  The only rule is that during the round, either you and/or the weight have to be moving.  

Round 1 - 5 minutes x 25% BW             
     3 minutes rest

Round 2 - 3 minutes x 50% BW    
    1 minute rest

Round 3 - 1 minute x 75% BW             
    5 minutes rest (if you’re going to repeat)

So here’s how it looked for my rounds.  Round 1 I used a 50lb. sandbag. Set the countdown timer for 5:00.   I started out with some Clean & Press, then some Rows, Squats, Shouldering, and finished with carrying in assorted positions for the remainder of the time.   Rest 3 minutes.

Round 2 I used a 90lb. sandbag.  To be completely accurate I should have used 95 lbs., but I can only go in 10lb. increments with my current sandbag setup.  Timer set for 3:00.  More
cleans, rows, squats & shouldering, finishing with assorted carries. The key is not to put the bag down and to have the entire time under tension.  This is great for developing work
capacity.  Rest for 1 minute.

Round 3 I used two 70 lb. Kettlebells.  Timer set for 1:00.  In this case I just cleaned both KBs and started walking with them in the rack position. After a while I dropped them down to finish with a Farmer’s Carry.

There it is. 13 minutes of very functional fitness, lifting, carrying and moving weights in different planes, stressing the body in a wide variety of motions.  Easy to modify this
according to your ability or equipment that’s available.  Add time to the rounds, increase or decrease the weight, increase or decrease the rest intervals.  


A recent article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (“Strength and Conditioning for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu”, Jones & Ledford, Vol. 34, Number 2, April 2012, pp. 60-69.) outlines a suggested workout program that takes into account the “non-official” season for BJJ players and a suggested periodization protocol.  If the next competition is several months away, they recommend focusing on building maximal strength, maintaining endurance, and keeping body fat low.  As the tournament approaches and mat work intensifies, the emphasis shifts to anaerobic and strength endurance.  

Here are a couple of their “Conditioning” Days for use twice per week during the “off-season” phase.  They could be used as is, for conditioning, or scaled accordingly as a
warm-up or finisher.  Enjoy!

Day One (ex. Tuesday)
Jump Rope Rounds (5 x 3 min)                 
    30 sec light jumping
    30 sec high knee sprints
    60 sec Kimura sit-ups

Calisthenic Rounds (3 x 5 min)
    20 jumping jacks
    10 pushups
    15 BW squats                 
    20 seal jumps
    20 mountain climbers
    5 burpees
    10 V-ups
Day Two (ex. Thursday)
Rowing Machine Round (10 min)                 
     30 sec sprinting                
     30 sec active recovery (light rowing)

KB/DB circuit (5 x 3 min)
    15 two-hand swing
    10 ea. one-arm push press
    10 ea. One-arm snatch
    5 ea. One-arm overhead squat