Get shooting by by Karl van Lith

Improving your ability to think and act under pressure - A physical fitness perspective.

As a martial artist and  fitness instructor with little  experience in firearms, one  would wonder what I could  possibly offer a sport shooter, self  protection practitioner or hunter in  terms of firearms and shooting advice.  My expertise comes forward in  my understanding of human body  mechanics and how we behave  under stressful conditions, and more importantly, how we can  train to enhance our performance  and efficiency whilst under  extreme physical, mental and emotional pressure.  

The mind-body connection is quite  simple. A change in body structure,  breathing or bio-chemistry will have an immediate effect on the brain, and  vice versa. Under adrenal response  (Also known as the fight, flight or  freeze response), the body adopts  primal defensive postures that affect  our ability to think and act as we  normally would.  Under adrenal response, however, our  energy resources are quickly depleted,  our perceptions are skewed and motor  skills suffer greatly. Just before that  adrenal dump, however, lies a zone  (approximately 70-75% of our heart  rate max) that allows us to perform  with optimal efficiency and proficiency.  

If you can train in a way that your  threshold to reaching adrenal response  is increased, or in passing this  threshold, you can bring yourself back  to the optimal operational zone, then  your training is enhancing your ability  to deal with stress and in so doing, increasing performance potential.  Movement, when focusing on correct  bio-mechanical technique and the biofeedback  of stress and pain, will create  body awareness and body control  which improves consistently over time.  Besides strengthening connective tissues, muscle strength, endurance  and flexibility is greater increased in a  very short span of time.  Explosive power through correct  loading and unloading of the joints is  multiplied and overall, the individual  becomes more efficient and proficient  in not only movement ability, but  mental focus and clarity and balanced  emotional states.  The following information will provide  a sample training programme which  is designed to help you on this  particular path.

Please keep in mind  that it’s always best to check in with  your doc before embarking on a new physical endeavour and since these  movements may be new to you, start  slowly and build up gradually.  

Video Follow-Along Sequence:  Youtube Link  


Decide what you would like to  achieve with this sequence and adjust  timing (6-12 Minutes), intensity (Low,  Moderate or High) and progression  movements (in this case, Transitions.  Pick one or blend all three by Gearing  up and down as you go) accordingly.  For Mobility, Warm-Up, Compensatory  or Stretch, move slowly (or hold for a  few seconds) and remain in Flat-Foot  Squat transitions or add Standing in  between. Heart rate should not go  above 60% (If warming up, feel free  to add the jump after a few sequences  to get the blood flowing and heart  rate a little higher).  Set your timer for 6-12 minutes and  begin.  


BEAR SQUAT – From Flat Foot Squat,  extend arms with Fingers pointing  straight up. Lean forward to Quad  position, transferring weight to hands  and extending legs, locking out the  knees and pressing chest to knees.  

QUAD PRESS – Lean forward to  Quad with fingers facing IN forty five  degrees and knees out forty  five degrees.  

LEG THREAD – Lean forward to  Quad with fingers facing OUT forty  five degrees and knees out forty five degrees. Both Hands on the Floor,  Thread Leg & Toe Pivot on  posting Foot.  

PLANK – Fingers Pointing forward,  Shoot legs back to Plank, squeezing  Quad muscles and maintaining Hollow  Body. Sit back to heels, keeping knees  off the ground, return to Plank and  then shoot back to Flat-Foot-Squat.  

SHIN BOX – Hand Supported. Twist to  one side, allowing your knees to come  gently to the floor, creating two sides  of a box. Knee closest to hand will  touch last when going down and raise  first when going back. No need to go  through Shin Squat on this movement.  Use the hands to press into the floor  to break inertia and prepare muscle  activations for later movements.  

SQUATTING – Keeping your Spine  upright (focus on upper Chest &  Crown), Bend knees to Squat. If you  can’t get to Flat-foot, Ball-of-Foot is  fine for now. Go as low as you can  and when standing up, look straight  ahead, lifting from upper chest and crown.

STANDING – First face forward with  Spine Vertical. Lift from Upper Chest  and Crown to Stand Tall.  

JUMPING – Keep Hands in front of  Chest, Palms facing forward. Height  is not the goal here. Make it effortless  and land in Flat-Foot-Squat.  

Pointers:  Remember, safety always first. Do  what you can without going into  sharp pains, dizziness or full-on adrenal dump. Maintain awareness,  sequence count and ability to move  with correct technique.  Do this with a partner. Motivate each  other and you’ll do even better!

Breathe  Focus on exhaling through your  mouth whenever you exert any efforts  in any movements. The inhalation will  take care of itself.  Breathing integrates your ability to  move from one correctly aligned  position to the next.  When the challenge increases,  BREATHE. This is your key.  Focus on precise movement, form  and Breathing.  

It is not about speed (Yet!). Take your  time and perform each movement  with deliberate intent to reach  maximum extension or Range  of Motion.  Good form means you are limited  only by what your body can do now.  You will receive the gains and avoid possible strain or injury. Move only as  fast or as much as your form can  hold strong.  

Key Points  Move with precision and exhale through your efforts.  Focus on breathing, form and  maintaining a pace that you can hold  for the duration of the workout.  

Final Notes:  The pointers above are not specific to  this workout. The benefits of taking  this approach to (all) your training are  nothing short of amazing.  

You will increase range of motion and  overall body awareness and control.  You will see rapid gains in strength,  flexibility, balance, co-ordination and  endurance by moving slowly and  precisely. Connective tissue elasticity  and strength is also improved by releasing restrictive tension and  strengthening it where needed.  

Age and ability is irrelevant. Start where you are able to and amaze  yourself with how quickly you  progress with consistent ‘baby steps’  that will soon lead to giant strides  in your health, fitness and ability to  think and act under pressure with  focused precision.  

The Author:  Karl van Lith is a Martial Arts  & Fitness Instructor qualified in  Wing Tsun Kung-Fu, Escrima  Weapons Concepts, Circular  Strength Training & TACFIT.  Karl is also actively training in  Piper Combatives (A Cape Flats  blade system) and constantly evolving in his interpretation of  movement performance and  its relation to our perceptions,  decision making abilities, health  and longevity.  An avid woodworker, the two  professions go hand in hand  with Karl’s outdoor and physical  lifestyle. He can be reached at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  on 072 024 1032.

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 12:57
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