What Really Matters – Part 2

Following the most recent entry about the low-tech training methods of fighters around the world, I was asked for additional examples outside of boxing. Fortunately, it is not difficult to find countless examples from other combat sports such as wrestling. As evident throughout the videos below, it is quite possible to become very well conditioned with little or nothing.

First, you can see a documentary about wrestling in Punjab, India.


Similar low-tech methods are also used in other parts of the world. For example, wrestlers from Dakar in Western Africa continue to thrive despite their lack of equipment.


It is also worth noting that such methods are not limited to wrestlers. For example, if you refer back to this entry about the legendary Masahiko Kimura, you will notice a similar theme (ie. hard work with the basics).

As evident in each of the above listed examples, the success of these athletes was not based on the equipment being used. What mattered more than anything was the consistent effort put forth towards whatever was available. As for general application, you do not need to be a martial artist to benefit from these examples. Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, getting in shape is not complicated. Do what you can with what you have and you’ll do quite well.


“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” – William of Occam


  1. I discovered the Karl Gotch method several years ago through Matt Furey’s book Combat Conditioning, it really inspired me to exercise in a more simplistic way. I love the Hindu wrestling exercises.

  2. Do you expect us to believe that one can get in shape using little to no equipment? Are we supposed to just start doing body weight exercises without getting certified or being trained by a certified coach? Can people actually get in shape without paying for access to the inner sanctum or the super secret never before revealed workout from the obscure nation of Drusselstein? This is just crazy talk Ross.

  3. Ross, I think the first video is from Pakistan not India. The province of Punjab was split into two during the partition of the two countries however people from both halves share mostly the same culture including their love for wrestling.

  4. a follow up, I just realized the documentary has been made in both Pakistan and India with interviews from prominent ex-pahlwans and trainers from both sides of the border

  5. This approach to training has given my my best gains in a little over a year. I lost my gym when I got seperated. I was lucky that I had some kettlebells, so I used them made some sandbags and used my body. I am proud to say I have carved my body to the best shape I have been in since I was a teenager when I went to a regular gym. I anyone wants to see some of my training with low budget style. http://www.youtube.com/user/Cintronstrengthfiles
    These are just clips of some of my workouts its not my entire days of work.

  6. Great article – I found the Karl Gotch video particularly inspiring. When I was a teenager, growing up on a farm in the remote countryside, I practiced a lot of these types of exercises. Honestly, I probably find this type of exercise more enjoyable than using free weights – there’s something about the rawness and honesty of it.


  7. Great stuff Ross, really enjoyed the Pehlavan videos. My uncles were great wrestlers and used to train the old school way of the Pehlavans. They probably are in their 80’s now but they still would do basic body weight exercises. I recall when I was a kid how they’d use us kids as weights to do push ups and lunges. They had these huge arms and hands like that of an ape ha ha. Thanks for posting these clips.

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