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PictureIntra Abdominal Pressurization

In a sport with high amounts of external force and unorthodox movements there must be a course of action to mitigate unnecessary risk. there also needs to be a point of reference to initiate greater biomechanics response. Force output and torque through the transverse plain and from ground contact must be optimized to improve overall performance for the fighter. Most people let alone athletes really don’t know how to breath and brace the spine properly. This can be a major issue when you are involved in any type of high impact sport or moving your body under load. This is why one must learn the proper techniques to maximize their ability to brace and stabilize joints. 
Proximal stability with distal mobility is what the primary goal here is. We must stabilize joints that need to be stabilized and mobilize joints that need to be mobilized. Controlling your diaphragm and stabilizing the core will inhibit traction control enabling you to move freely with greater force. Through proper IAP you can inhibit the body’s defense mechanism to tighten up. Think of it like this, if you ever stepped on an unstable surface like ice for example your body automatically tightens up and your movement becomes very rigid and stiff. This is because the body was not properly braced and rooted into the ground through proper forms of stabilization.

How does this affect a combat sport athlete?!?
In a fight most of the time you are trained to absorb force while being able to redirect it positively with a greater outcome. When a fighter is faced with external forces they must be able to have the ability to redirect force more efficiently through adequate means of core stabilization and global joint centration. Having this quality of bracing 360 degrees throughout the entire midsection this will allow you to have greater force output. With this trait you will be more powerful from the ground up leading into dominating results and a bad night for the opponent.

Learning to breathe diaphragmatically is a fairly simple process although for decades people have been breathing wrong. Most people breath up into their chest and into the upper traps, this is called stress breathing. Understanding how to properly breath throughout the diaphragm around the entire lumbar spine is key to proper IAP. Learning from methods of Dynamic Neuromuscular Systems, spine specialist Stuart McGill, and the Kabuki Movement Systems i’ve found it very simple and effective to teach to my athletes. First you must understand how to breath 360 degrees while maintaining a neutral spine. Breathing into the rectus abdominis or “belly breathing” won’t do it, you must create pressure throughout your entire rib cage into the low back. Once this is accomplished and you are creating global pressure throughout the lumbar and TL junction you can begin to learn the bracong process.

Here are a few cues you can use to help initiate this process:

1: Diaphragm Breathing
2: Breath into your hips
3: Breath into the back of your throat
4: Clavicle touch

Once this is mastered then we can move on to the most important part of Intra Abdominal Pressure and that’s BRACING. When bracong think of it like Chris Duffin would say act like your going to get punched in the stomach and brace as hard as you can. Breathing is the set so you don’t pass out bracing is the icing on the cake. When you brace you create a sheet of armor around the midsection allowing you to produce force and withstand external load. If you are a fighter this is extremely important for performance and for overall health. In MMA , Wrestling, Judo, BJJ, and Sambo you must have to ability to create torque through the transverse plane for throws, sweeps, takedowns, etc. You must also have the ability to resist rotation for stopping shots, getting swept to your back, getting pinned, or getting hip tossed. This is why having solid IAP becomes crucial for these individuals. With Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Karate this is a major component as well. Having the ability to transfer force from the core to the end of a punch, kick, elbow, or knee is vital if you are looking to end the fight early and get a pretty solid payday. Another reason why fighters can benefit from integrating proper IAP is the ability to take blows to the midsection. Lets face it everyone like to head hunt but the true reality is that most fighters get dropped to the body or weaken in fights due to hard body shots. If you are able to efficiently brace the core upon impact this will be a non issue, and in fact a strength of yours to be able to take body shots (now all you would have to do is learn how to move your head).

Here are a few cues to help initiate the bracing process:

1:Pin the Sternum down
2: drive Sternum to your Belly Button
3: Act like your going to get punched
4: Project / pull Spine upward

How to put this into your program:
Start each session in a supine 90/90 position lay on your back with one hand on sternum and the other on the lower stomach. Begin the process with a few deep diaphragm breaths, holding the breath at the top for a second or two. Then completely exhale all of the air out like you are blowing through a straw. After a few deep breaths begin to integrate the bracing technique by using the cues I’ve laid out. Perform 2-3 sets for about 8-10 reps, rest for about 30 seconds between sets all while still breathing diaphragmatically. This can be done before every training session to prime your central nervous system and prep you for the work ahead. If you do it correctly you will already begin to sweat and get the HR elevated slightly.

As a physical preparations coach for some of the toughest individuals in the world I can tell you first hand that this is something completely overlooked in this field. Learning how to do this technique will set you up for all other movement parameters in the fight game. Proper Intra Abdominal Pressurization is the key component for optimizing proprioception, sport specific kinematics, and overall sport performance.

For more info on this topic check out Kabuki Movement Systems or email me at


Kabuki Movement Systems