Monday, October 06, 2014

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Learning how to teach

Prologue: This is the frist post of a short serie about my creazy idea, in an year or two, to develop some training skills. Not a coach or a master.. just a decent pad holder or.. a old school Sempai

I'm contempling the possibility to teach martial arts to my kids. Well... I WILL give them the opportunity to learn
at least some form of martial arts. I'm just thinking if they are grew enough to start. I think martial arts are a wonderful way to develop
both physical and mental skills. Kids between 6 and 9  have a huge physical need for moving around.  They  feel the " desire to run" like all the puppies and move around as much as possible in all different ways. On one side kids have also the need to develop coordination skills , and martial arts are great at this, on the other side they still have a very minor amount of muscle growth, and their capabilities to tense their muscles and perform anaerobic work are quite limited.
This happened just yesterday evening.  I was warming up before lesson, rotating arms in opposite direction. Two kids tried to emulate and one of them did not get how to perform such movement. It seemed that it was behold his body capabilities so I had to make him do the first couple of swings before just to get started. Then everything looked extremely natural. And he started to run around to show his fiends how wired he could move his arms.
I fear he could take off like an helicopter. This made me think also at the mental / social aspects of kids training martial arts:
their capacity of relate with other kids and adult is in the making, which means they have a hard time seeing themselves as a part of a group of different
people with different needs. This is part of their process of developing a code of conduct, a sense of honor, in high terms, the difference between
f right and wrong. Along with that there is also the importance following rules and instructions. The way to go, IMHO, is to lay down the ground rules and establish what’s right and wrong, in terms of how to behave in the gym/ dojo, when martial art (what ever it is) can/can’t be used. Other moral stuff should be left to parents who have full right to give proper education to their own sons and daughters.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Weight cutting

Yesterday I was reading this article from the notorius Muay Thai American champion Kevin Ross about Weight cutting.

For one what do you consider someone's actual weight, or there 'walk around weight'? What does that even mean and how would you determine it? I mean I train every single day, whether I have a fight or not, so is that my walk around weight, or is my walk around weight what I would be if I didn't work out? On any given training day my weight could easily fluctuate 5-10 pounds depending on how much I'm actually doing. Then you would have to take into consideration people's diets.

I'm no expert in weight cutting process ( from a technical point of view) but from a combat sport spectator and martial arts practitioner I think I can share some opinionated thought.

My main point against weight cutting process as it is now is that it emphasizes a physical quality ( losing and gaining weight fast) that has nothing to do with fighting. If you can lose 5 pounds of body weight through dehydration in few hours what does it tell about you as a fighter? Nothing IMHO.I'm not going to say how dangerous this process is ( this is a good horror stories gallery). The brain is the last part of the body to rehydrate, the doctor says, so fighting can increase the likelihood of concussion.
 Your body type your weight is determined by what you eat end how you train. That should be your fight weight: the size you have at certain point of your training camp. This should be stable and you should be comfortable to fight with it. I think it would also
expand the activity period of fighters. Same day weight-ins has sever problems on both practical and organizational level. But they woks in
Thailand ( well... the fighting disparity in thai matches is ... legendary) and in amateur tournaments. I think there is a lot of room space for improvement from the current situation with fighter who actually died from weight cutting.
Tricks to lose weight quickly and regaining are becoming science... but they are sill tricks. 


An interesting article has been publishd by Fightland/Vice

I totally agree with this statement:

"Dehydration can cause liver and heart damage. That's why there are former wrestlers dying of heart attacks in their 40's. And why should a 190-pound kid at Ohio State and a 190-pound kid at Michigan both try to lose weight and then wrestle at 170? It doesn't make sense.''

Friday, April 25, 2014

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Book review: On the Warrior's Path

This book has been suggest to me directly by Amazon. What and an amazing algorithmic magic orb gotcha ... considering I had already bought "A warrior heart"( you can find my review of that other book here)
To be honest what catch my eye at firs was the name of the author: Daniele Bolelli. He is an italian writer, martial artist and professor who lives and teaches in Los Angeles.
The book is more than a collection of quotes. However, Bolelli use his knowledge of both philosophy and martial arts to connect this two worlds  and form a precise path to what the
 title says it will: philosophy, fighting, and martial arts. Topics such as the body as a temple, new and old samurai and Chinese military traditions are carefully analyzed along archetypes  in a deep and spiritual way: from pre medieval warrior class to modern MMA fighters.

 There is also a chapter devoted to the philosophy of Bruce Lee that add both a not of pop culture and a deeper understanding of the philosophy beneath this iconic character.
Many traditional martial artists will cringe reading his evaluation of many non-contact or very little contact so-called combat arts.
He speaks the truth when he compares the contact combat sports with the more aesthetic martial arts ( see my post on this topic) .
At times the book becomes a bit academic , reflecting the author background, like a paper written for some social/philosophical conference.
And in some pages the fascination for the nihilist philosophy branch of Bolelli emerge vigorously: this is a personal note... I never shared this passion for Nietzsche and alike.
This book is not for everyone: a bit of philosophy knowledge helps to understand the very essence and implications of what is explained. But all the friends whom I recommended "On the Warrior's Path" really enjoyed to the point to set up a "Martial artist reader club"
I highlighted dozens of quotes from this book, but one of my favourites is

Martial arts are more than combat. Fighting without philosophy is the pastime of bullies. Philosophy without action is an intellectual game

So if your interest in martial arts goes behold fighting, training and conditioning, if you are looking to connect the monk and the barbarian within you this is definitely a book worth reading.

Friday, April 18, 2014

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Fighting brotherhood: honour and respect

This week something sad happened. Two of my gym mates ( brothers) suffer a devastating loss. I know them since a couple of years, not much. We went out twice ( Christmas and summer gym dinner).
But I feel close to them as I feel with friends I know since high school. And everybody in the gym felt the same. The sadness of the moment this lead me to a particular thought: fighting sports and martial arts are different from all other activities. You don't feel so sad for the random dude that you meet in a commercial weight gym.
Martial arts are individual sports: in the ring, on the tatami or in the cage you are alone against your opponent. But it feels radically different from any other individual sport.
Tennis, golf, swimming... none of them as such a feeling of ownership. When you train with a group of people, and you find the right people of course, is
like been part of something rather just meeting twice a week to beat each others. And this lead me to another thought: sportsmanship in combat sports.
We have very bad examples ( Rousy vs Tate ) but also very good ones. On Saturday 12th Tyrone Spong , while fighting in Glory tournament, break his shin on the knee of Gökhan Saki.

This picture has been taken seconds after the accident.

You can see that Saki , instead of celebrating his WORLD TITLE, jumping and screaming, is helping his injured opponent. Even before the paramedics had jumped in the ring!
We have excellent examples of sportsmanship in other sport, but this one has struck me cause the prize was huge and in combat sport the contact is so harsh, the will of prevail so solid that honour could be the only root for such a behaviour.
Fighting and training with honour and respect: such things are not given for granted. The human bean you have before you is a pretended enemy for the duration of the fight.
When the fight is over, if honour and respect were in place, you have found a new friend. Even if these feelings and behaviours are not mutual
 (is very easy to find ego maniacs in sparring or a dirty opponent ina fight) you earned , at least, respect for yourself: the one who stepped in to the fight.

Friday, April 11, 2014

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BodyWeight Training

Just let me be clear: I'm not a weight gym person. I had trained in commercial Gym regularly for a couple of year: my favourite part was watching tv on the stationary bike and the sauna after workout. My  lack of free time and space lead a couple of years ago to start looking into Bodyweight Training.

Bodyweight exercises are strength training exercises that do not require free weights; the practitioner's own weight provides the resistance for the movement.
In general, increasing the amount of repetitions will focus on improving endurance, while strength gains are made through increasing the intensity of the exercise through decreasing leverage and working at the ends of range of motion.
From wikipedia

At the end of the day, when you practise martial arts you ar carring  arround your own weight. Squatting 170 lbs is useless of even counter productive since your muscles burn more oxygen and so you have less cardio to manage the fight.
Don't get me wrong: weight training has his own space in martial art training ( see this article by  Don Heatrick) but to me Bodyweight is just more practical, convenient, effective and fun.

For martial artist I found interesting Best Bodyweight Workout Routines, Exercises and Circuits for Muay Thai , but maybe they are a bit hardcore for the "very amateur" fighter. Nerdfiteness has a great beginner workout that helped me getting started last year and a good 3 stage workout plan in their ebook. Recently I have been directed by the forum to this amazing site: It has been created by a dude, Nick Janvier , with an awesome progression program. The bad part of Bodyweight training is that is hard to find ways to progressively increment the difficulty of the exercise.
Nick created a huge poster with all the different exercises to strengthen your bodyin right order. And detail one simple rule: when you can perform 8 rep for 3 set go to the next level. It's like a video game! I put together this spreadsheet to track my workout. I hope it helps some of you too.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

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