Conditioning for Combat Sports: A Little Known Form of 'Fitness Poker' Promises to Make Weight Loss Fun Again

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Before the "300 Workout", before the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), and before the modern "Funcational Fitness" craze, there was Karl Gotch; a modestly famous octogenarian German Professional Wrestler known for his brutal workout routines and dangerous submission grappling techniques.

Sport wrestlers are famous for their phenomenal athletic conditioning, as well as their amazing ability to dramatically "cut weight" almost overnight. Now Jake Shannon, author and lifelong grappler, shares a utterly simply method of superior fitness called "Gotch's Bible" with the rest of us, and it only requires a deck of normal playing cards and some spare time.

Jake learned this method from Karl Gotch, 82, during a visit to Karl's home in Tampa, Florida. For those not familiar with Karl's accomplishments, he represented his native Belgium in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1948 Olympics and, according to, Karl was "among the top trainers in the history of the industry, his supreme skills led him to be known as Japan's 'God of Professional Wrestling'").

"I talk to Karl on the phone a few times every week, picking his brain about this and that about grappling", says Shannon. "Luckily I had already been doing many of these exercises before he put me through Gotch's Bible. It is tougher workout than you'd think."

Here's how you do Gotch's Bible: shuffle a full deck (Jokers included) of cards. Black cards mean squats and red cards mean push-ups. Everytime you deal a black card, you do twice the amount of the face value. This means, if you get a black 8, you do 16 squats. If you get a black Ace, you do 22 squats. Spades are regular hindu squats, Clubs are jump squats. The first Joker you pull means you do 40 hindu-squats consecutively.

Now, everytime you get a red card, you do push-ups. This time you do the actual value of the face card. If you get a red 8, you do 8 push-ups. If you get a red Ace, you do 11 push-ups. Diamonds are regular hindu push-ups, Hearts are 1/2 Moon push-ups. The second Joker you pull means you do 20 push-ups consecutively (if don't know what a hindu push-up is, see Karl's Conditioning For Combat Sports DVD, here

Jake was shocked at the level of difficulty Gotch's Bible presented. "I had 8 cards left and I could do no more. My legs simply would not go. I was huffing and puffing harder that I ever have on a treadmill. Ask anyone that knows me, I work hard to stay in good shape. This kicked my rear-end and took only a fraction of the time of a normal 'Globogym' style workout."

"I used to do this twice in a row", Karl mentioned, meaning he would go through the deck once, then immediately start all over again. No wonder he was such a terror on the mat. As Karl likes to say, "Wrestling is a workman's sport, you need no expensive equipment and can practice it anywhere". Well the same goes for the Gotch Bible. All you need is few minutes, the desire to excel, and a deck of cards.

For those who eventually master this challenge will only find more brutal workouts from Karl waiting for them.

Can you climb a rope? Can you climb a rope UPSIDE down?

Karl's athletes can, and a whole lot more. Squats, push-ups, pull-ups on the Olympic rings, etc. all done at an intensity and a incredibly high number of repetitions. Karl's conditioning program aims to optimize the following attributes needed by combat athletes, namely:



Strength (explosive)


Reaction Time

It is Gotch's belief that, "Wrestling is a workman's sport, you need no expensive equipment and can practice it anywhere". Well the same can be said for Karl's conditioning methods. All you need is few minutes, the desire to excel, and a few tricks from Karl.

Beyond his conditioning methods, Karl is also responsible for the grappling training of such Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, and WWE legends as Ken Shamrock, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Masakatsu Funaki and Minuro Suzuki. These men are all legends in their own rights and all have sought out fighting advice from the little known octogenarian.

However, despite his prowess on the mat and in the ring, Karl is the first to tell you, "Conditioning is your best hold". For more information on Karl's methods, visit


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