You think CrossFit is tough?  You think Ranger School is tough?  You think Navy SEAL training is tough?  You should try the new DPRK-90X, aka North Korean Special forces training.  This is from a translated interview with defector and captain of North Korean Special Forces:

The training begins on 5 a.m. The fundamental of the training is to turn the entire body into steely firmness, and the basic part is training the fist.

It's true, the fist is one of the most neglected skeletal-muscular groups in the body.

Mr. Im said, "You would wrap a tree trunk with ropes, and keep punching it. You throw 5000 punches day and night — do that for a month, the inside of your fist swells up until you can barely curl your fingers." He added, "Then you open a tin can and set it up on a stand. You keep punching the sharp part. When your hand turns into mush with blood and pus, you start punching a pile of salt. Repeat it, and your hands become like a stone." Mr. Im explained, "You punch the salt so that the salt would prevent the hand from rotting away with the blood." According to Mr. Im, with the hand trained like this "you can easily break 20 sheets of cement blocks, and you can kill a person with three punches." His hands would naturally make a fist throughout the interview. This reporter had to respectfully ask that he unclench his fist during the interview.

That's just insane.  Utterly insane.  Never do more than 2,500 tree punches in a day.  5,000 tree punches a day, for an entire month, is just way too much volume.  I'd scale it back to 1,400 tree punches – but really make them intense – then take a rest day, and then increase 5% and do 1,470 intense tree punches.  (Alternatively, on the rest day, just hit the tree with a different body part, like a foot or an elbow.)  Also, when you punch the salt, be sure to use a high-quality sea salt (organic, if possible) in order to minimize your pesticide exposure. 

Want to work on your traps and delts?  Try "the Bridge":

The way to train shoulder and arm muscles was also unique. Mr. Im said, "You would take off your top, line up, put your hands on the shoulder of the person in front of you and put your head down. And then a car would drive on top of the outstretched arms." He explained, "The car goes fast enough not to break your arms, but if you don't concentrate your shoulder would be destroyed."

Don't make me tell you about "the Tunnel".

Add a little MMA, just for kicks:

In a martial art called "Gyeok-sul," the special forces train by sparring each other. Mr. Im said, "Kim Il-Sung used to say he wanted a warrior who can defeat a hundred, but honestly that's not possible. But we get trained enough to fight ten men without guns."

They do "polar bear swims" too:

In the winter, according to Mr. Im, the special forces are thrown into the sea around 4 km [TK: 2.5 miles] away. Mr. Im said, "The ocean temperature is about negative 30-40 degrees in North Korea in the middle of winter," and said "The salt water feels like blades; the capillaries all over your body burst out, and some people just die there."

As for their diet, it consists of whole grains porridge.  They're so poor, I bet they almost eat a vegetarian diet.  Of course, an alternative hypothesis is that they've discovered the secret to optimal nutrition.

My independent assessment?  The North Koreans are over-training.  Less is more, fellas!

Full article here.

Kim Jong Il, founder of DPRK-90X

9 Responses to “DPRK-90X: The North Korean Workout Plan”

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  2. Hans says:

    Ocean temperatures of negative 30-40 degrees?   This is indeed newsworthy, if true.  It’s a fun read, but should be presented as entertainment.  The comments are at least as interesting than the article.

  3. Anonymous says:

     this is a little short on compassion, john. these people are dying. a smidge of respect for their suffering, which sounds unimaginable, would be nice amidst the snarky commentary about their exercise regimen.

  4. Mutagon says:

    Their training may make them lethal, but is sounds as though it is also designed to treat them as easily discarded tools.  The lasting health and longevity of the  troops does not appear to be a serious factor.


    I don’t know anything about the defector, but what are the chances he was programmed to tell tales simply to try to striked fear into the enemy?

  5. jj says:

    You know that fat bastard isn’t using any of those techniques.

  6. Chris says:

    This is pathetic and indicative of the stubbornness of the entire regime there.  As ira notes, this Korean is describing makiwara training, as engaged in by Okinawan karate practitioners.  I can tell you exactly how it got to North Korea, too.  During WWII, the Japanese army fell prey to their own myths about Asian warriors and trained their military in traditional martial arts.  Japanese martial arts were exported to Korea by the military in an attempt to Japanize the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.  After the war, Koreans who had been engaged in Japanese martial arts simply changed the names, gave their practices false origins, and kept doing the same thing they had been during the war.  Hence, kendo became "kumdo" and shotokan karate became tai kwan do.  Yes, tai kwan do is not a Korean martial art, it is bastardized shotokan karate.  Obviously, the North Korean military has such entrenched practices and lack of innovation that it is still doing things the Koreans thought were good training back in the 1930s.

  7. ira says:

    Reminds me of their neighbors, the Okinawans, who in turn brought karate to the Japanese. The Chinese would never be so barbaric. These guys have to watch not to overtrain, or not to keep training so intensively until too late an age in their lives, or they risk all sorts of arthritis, which they already risk in their hands. The Chinese tend to use the palm more; their "iron palm" training is much less damaging, it seems to me, and the older guys traditionally transition to "softer" forms and styles of fighting that are less wearing on the joints. The "yang" element here just seems so totally out of balance with the "yin." But this cultures do know a thing or two about discipline and training, although they have a culture of martial arts that starts with the very young which we don’t have and would be hard-ressed to match. Most American kids don’t dream of becoming warriors and martial artists and start training from age five, whereas Korean boys do. You can’t expect to recruit a flabby American eighteen-year-old or over and turn his body into the kind of weapon a Koreans kid who’s been trained in this since early can become…

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree..I would think the North Koreans would have more Chinese infuence in creating a martial arts training program for their special ops but probably the end result which is the quickest way to get lethal is part of their decision on the training easier way for fists of steel would be brass knuckles or equivalent..

  8. Anonymous says:

    So how do they shoot their weapon ? I am not putting down their training which sounds indeed hard core  ..I am sure one of them can defeat 10 unarmed attackers but on the battlefield most combatants will have a weapon…a very interesting article. Viewing the SK equivalent martial art was not that immpressive since they had to create one to combat the NK martial arts and a lot of the demos looked like any othe Korean MA demo…too much acrobatics…

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