protecting the joints through physical conditioning
I was watching this clip from Firhas Zahabi where he talks about the importance of physical conditioning for BJJ, wrestling, boxing, and combat sports in general. In particular he's talking about the importance of physical conditioning for protecting the joints from injury, stating that it's necessary to have a physical conditioning program that is more strenuous but less chaotic than the actual sport. Doing this challenges and stresses the muscles beyond what they will experience in the sport, but in a controlled way where correct postural principles are maintained:
"You need a margin of safety between your sport and your conditioning... your conditioning has to be more intense, but has to be done perfectly well aligned. No stress on my joints - the stress has to go on my muscles. If the stress is on my muscles and not my joints, my muscles get stronger... Then they protect the joints. As soon as your muscles are tired, weak or fatigued, the stress goes on your joints, and you hurt your joints".
The idea being that once the muscles have adapted to the higher levels of stress of the conditioning program, then they will be able to handle anything they are faced with in the actual sport. This should then avoid the situation where the muscles get overly fatigued during the actual sport, causing stress to go onto the joint itself. If this is combined with the randomness, torsion, and explosiveness of a live environment, this is when joint injuries are most likely to occur.
It made me think of the Chen style Lao Jia form, and how we do some practice in very low postures with one of the primary reasons for this being physical conditioning of the legs (strength, muscular endurance, tendon strength etc). Training in such low postures for hours per day puts a great deal of workload through the leg muscles and all the muscles and tendons that support the knee, greatly strengthening the muscles and stabilising the knee joint. Of course in such low postures it is also essential to have correct alignment of the knee joint, and this is achieved through the painstaking practice and subtle postural correction by a good teacher.
What stikes me once again, is how sophisticated and highly developed the form training in Taijiquan is, as it includes so many essential aspects of training (skill development (both grappling and striking), recovery, stretching, breath training, physical conditioning (strength, muscular endurance, tendon strength etc), mental alertness) in one practice, killing many birds with a single stone.