Thursday, June 25, 2009

Damn This Hurts...(Part 2)

Well, in reference to my previous post, the prognosis is................

A sprain.


According to the doc, unless the radiologist finds something that he missed, I'm only on the shelf with a sprain instead of any type of tear.

Once again.....


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Damn This Hurts...

Well, tonight's class was rather interesting for me. Anyone that knows me can tell you that my knees aren't exactly in tune with the rest of my body. Luckily, it's only a condition called chondromalacia (which hurts like hell behind the kneecaps, especially when going down a flight of stairs) that can be remedied by doing a few strengthening exercises consistently, which I've been doing up to this point and have been steadily feeling less and less pain.


While doing a jumping side kick (FYI, I'm not a fan of any technique that requires you to leave the ground. In this case, it was just part of the kata I was doing) I landed on my left foot and felt a slight twinge. Since it wasn't excruciating and it felt like the same pain that I'm accustomed to feeling, I dismissed it, especially since I was able to continue with no problems whatsoever. But of course, it doesn't end there (that would just be too easy, wouldn't it?)...

While sparring with the head instructor of our class, everything was fine until it happened: I'm throwing a round kick combo and suddenly when my left foot hit the ground, my entire body except for my knee kept moving forward.....hopefully, mine isn't (I'll find out soon enough), but anyone that's torn an ACL knows this feeling: I heard a pop in my knee and immediately fell to the ground while clutching my knee.

The only real training fear that I've ever had outside of being paralyzed has come to fruition. Like I said, hopefully I haven't become a member of the torn/reconstructed ACL Club like a lot of my martial arts blog brethren like Michelle and Black Belt Mama, but I'm getting checked out tomorrow and praying to God.

I'll keep you guys posted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amazing Courage, Finishing Strong

I just read the very first entry of a book that my wife got me for Father's Day (my twins are only 1 year old, so that still feels kind of strange to actually get a Father's Day gift...LOL) called Amazing Athletes Amazing Moments written by Steve Riach. I thought I'd share that with the folks reading my blog.

The year was 1968. The place was Mexico City, site of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games. It happened late one night in the main track and field stadium.

Out of the cold darkness, John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania entered the stadium. He hobbled slowly and unsteadily. Pain filled his every step., Blood ran down his bandaged leg. His dreams of Olympic glory had long since faded into the shadows of the night.

More than an hour earlier, the winner of the Olympic marathon had already been declared. The other finishers began streaming across the line shortly thereafter. By the time Akhwari approached the stadium, only a few spectators remained in their seats. There was no cheering, no flag waving. Yet the lone runner pressed on.

As he neared the Olympic stadium, word circulated that there was one runner still struggling to complete the 26.2-mile course. Other Olympians and spectators quickly came back to the stadium to watch the scene unfold. The stadium lights flickered back on. Akhwari entered the stadium and began to wearily pound out his final lap around the track. As he neared the finish line, the small crowd that had gathered began to roar with appreciation. They stood and cheered the lone runner all the way to the finish line. After crossing the white stripe, an exhausted Akhwari nearly collapsed. Yet in his anguish, he managed to stay on his fee and acknowledge the faithful few who had witnessed his final steps.

After it was all over, a reporter asked Akhwari why he had not retired from the race, as he had fallen so far back and had no chance of winning.

Akhwari seemed confused by the question but finally answered. "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to Mexico City to start the race," he said. "They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Source

Studying my particular style (PaSaRyu, FYI) in the Memphis, TN area, I'm privileged to have a distinct advantage that many martial artists don't get to experience. At least once a week, I get to work with the creator of the PaSaRyu system, Master Kang Rhee. Typically, Master Rhee begins class by recognizing the white belts, the Little Dragon's class and the black belts (each individually by name), and then he offers to demonstrate a kata, even though lately it's been 3 different katas (which, in his words, at his age might make him drop dead...LOL).

As I said earlier, not many people can say that they've had the opportunity to work directly with the man that created a martial arts system. Getting information and ideas from the source is invaluable.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Think...

Here's a problem that I'm sure every martial artist has had at some point...we think, more specifically, we tend to over-think. If you don't believe me, tell me if this sounds familiar: you're in class working with a partner doing something like point sparring, bunkai, self-defense applications, etc., and numerous types of techniques/applications are running through your head (example: "I can hit him with a round kick to the chest" or "If she does throws that backfist again, I'm cutting her off with my side kick."). By the time you've thought about it and decided what you're going to do, your partner's already hit you once or twice (or more....).

The three main things I tend to tell people that seasoned martial artists can learn from beginners (yes, we learn as much-if not more-from teaching as well as being taught) are open-mindedness, excitement, and plain common sense. What I mean by that last one is that, for the most part, anyone without any martial arts training would, in a self-defense situation, tend to do what comes natural and do whatever simplistic technique(s) necessary to end the conflict. Granted, there have been many instances in which a novice may freeze up when attacked, but there are just as many instances in which they have been able to defend themselves by simply doing what comes natural. Instead of thinking about which elaborate joint lock/manipulation you can do if someone grabs you, simply stomping on one's foot may be enough to suffice. Of course, common sense would dictate that not allowing yourself to be grabbed in the first place would be best!

*A quick point to point-sparrers* There's a reason that the great fighters in history teach the basic techniques such as the front, side and round kick day in and day out. While there's nothing wrong with experimenting with more elaborate kicks such as crescent and spinning kicks, the basic kicks are not only easier to pull off, but many of the more complex kicks are based on them.

Monday, June 8, 2009


One of the most important things that we tend to forget as martial artists is the importance of mixing things up every once in a while (hence, variety). For many reasons, such as tradition, simply practice, repeating what we're taught, or simply because we many not know any better, it's very typical to settle into a routine and not vary from it. Of course, there are things that need to be repeated over and over again in order to commit them to muscle memory so they become second nature. For example, it's very likely that karate people have done millions of reverse punches, right?

While some repetitions is important (and some times unavoidable), there is are a few problems with sticking to the same routine day after day after day. For one, from a physical standpoint, the genius of the human body is its ability to adapt to any given circumstance. Muscles and bones adapt to weight training by getting bigger and stronger; the cardiovascular system responds to aerobic training by moving oxygen more efficiently to shorten recovery times; muscles release less and less lactic acid as they get accustomed to stress (in layman's terms, your muscles are less and less sore as you get in better shape); the list goes on. Do you remember performing a particular workout (or a single exercise) to the point where it doesn't seem to give you the same benefit that it did when you first started it? That's your body adapting.

Another good reason for variety is so simple that it's easy to miss it when it's obvious: it helps eliminate boredom. How many times in your life have you stopped doing something because it simply got boring doing the same thing over and over again? Outside of the martial arts realm, we see this all the time with couples in relationships that are trying to "add some spice" to their relationship. The same thing applies here as well.

How do you change things up? That's up to you. It could be as simple as changing the order in which you do things in your workout or class. Instead of working on basics first, try doing kata work first and leaving basics for last. Try doing a class in street clothes instead of a gi. Perform the bench press with dumbbells instead of a barbell. Switch up the time of day you work out for a couple of weeks. Do a class or two outside. Have a class in the dark (with enough light for safety reasons of course!). Run a fartlek workout instead of jogging 4-5 miles at the same pace. Perform katas as fast as you safely can without worrying about technique. Do whatever in the world you can think of!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Training The "Right" Way

It's not uncommon for many of us as martial artists to workout outside of the dojo, whether it's weight training, jogging, etc. However, many of us tend to work out the "wrong" way. Granted, in my opinion, some activity is better than no activity at all, but in many cases there are more optimal ways of working out.

Most of it depends on the particular style you study. The main mistake people tend to make is doing the same type(s) of workout no matter what style they study. Different styles have different physical requirements, and thus the types of workouts done should differ as well. The main physical attributes in play are aerobic power, anaerobic power, flexibility, muscular strength and muscular power.

Aerobic power, by definition, is the ability to move oxygen through the body. An example of good aerobic conditioning is being able to perform series of katas continuously. This is probably the most common attribute many people work on.

Anaerobic power basically is the opposite of aerobic power: the ability to work without oxygen. Delivering quick punching and kicking combinations is anaerobic power at play. The importance of anaerobic conditioning is to be able to efficiently perform rapid movements and techniques (such as combinations) over a longer period of time.

Flexibility mainly refers to the range of motion of a particular muscle, muscle group and/or joint. Obviously, some techniques require a larger range of motion than others.

Muscular strength and muscular power are commonly confused with each other, and also sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. Strength is basically the amount of force that can be generated in one all-out movement; power is how quickly that force can be generated in the shortest amount of time possible. How much weight one can lift would indicate strength; how quickly they can lift said weight would indicate power.

Putting it all together, the best way to excel at a particular martial art would be to maximize the more important corresponding physical attributes needed for that style. I've compiled a list of styles with some of the important attributes needed. While this isn't by any means a 100% complete list, it does give a general idea.

Grappling arts (aikido, jiujitsu, judo, etc.)-low aerobic and anaerobic levels, moderate flexibility (necessary for many joint locks and holds), moderate muscular strength and power (since many throws are performed due to leverage or because an opponent is trying to alleviate the pain caused by a joint lock); judo requires high levels of strength and power due to their style of throws; moderate to high aerobic and anaerobic levels are also need for judo

Striking arts (taekwondo, karate, kung fu, etc.)-moderate to high aerobic and anaerobic levels (for kata performance and sport-style sparring), moderate to high flexibility (necessary for kicks), high muscular power (a.k.a. speed and quickness) and moderate strength