Heavy to Light

It can get a little confusing for students when I lay out the prescription for the day’s class. I’ll explain what’s behind that. The first thing I talk about is what phase we are in. We have four phases that we move through: Power, Strength, Endurance and Mobility. Power is about explosive speed. Strength is where we build our muscles. Endurance is where we work on keeping our strength up for a longer period of time. The Mobility phase is where we take all that strength and learn to preserve it through our whole range of motion. We also take a short recovery phase, as well as the odd single day recovery, where we just give our bodies a chance to catch up. The type of exercise we do is determined by what phase we are in. The intensity of the exercise will vary from class to class. We have…

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Warming Up for Class

I’m an old fat man, so I have to put in a lot of extra to work to get myself ready for class. I’m the teacher, so I need to set the best example I can for my students. I can’t be better than them at everything, but I need to show them the value of what they are doing by being an example of the result. Add in that I constantly experiment with new exercises to add to our mix, and the hit on the body over time can become serious. I can’t afford to give in to aches and pains, and I need to look to my long-term performance. So the warm-up is the most important part of my regime. My warm-up begins in the morning. Usually with my coffee, which gets a 5g scoop of creatine, which is the same amount you would get from eating about…

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Mothers

Mothers. They’re so … tactful. I was a few days into the visit with my parents in June when my mother asked something that had clearly been on her mind for most of them. “So… why don’t you have a flat stomach? I mean, with all the exercise stuff you’ve been doing…” For the record, this is me: I gave her the short answer (“diet”), but it was one more reminder that people who don’t do “exercise stuff” and even most of the people do have pretty much no concept of just how much goes into turning a body into what you see in magazines or on TV. Everybody (with the possible exception of my mother) has seen that Dove timelapse cover girl video, and everybody knows that everything in the media is photoshopped to death, but it’s almost impossible to internalize the idea in the same way that we’ve…

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Growing Power

Probably the number one reason people don’t come to our classes is fear of our workout. The language we use to talk about what we do at the school seems to make people uncomfortable. People that run marathons or at least jog regularly, people that hit the gym for weight training, people that study other martial arts…all of them seem to worry about how they would do in our class. I understand where they are coming from. You mention handstands or cartwheels…that can be a pretty intimidating thought. Fencing seems a bit intellectual, which is at least not too scary. Wrestling? Boxing? From the land of the couch, those seem pretty distant and scary. Adding to the discomfort, this blog and the school website have lots of pictures of workouts and people looking fit. And the truth is we are pretty fit. But we didn’t start out that way. We…

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Why Be Fit?

Seems like a stupid question, doesn’t it? Why be fit? Why wouldn’t you want to be fit? Sometimes the answer that if given to that question is “because I want to be a better martial artist!” which implies that fitness is somehow a wasted expense, time shot sweating when you could instead be drilling on the minutiae of perfections that swordplay offers. I’m proud of my strength. I can stand next to a bodybuilder and know that her muscles were built lifting iron in rigid patterns, and my muscles were built solely by moving myself through space. My muscles show their usefulness in their shape. No roundness or bulges, but each muscle building into the thickness of the next. So I can perhaps see what people are thinking when they think they are better for spending all their free time drilling technical plays instead of working out. To me, they…

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Movement and Flexibility

Not good. Good. Really bad. In my opinion, anyway. Martial artists always talk about one another. It’s somewhat essential…we train in combat arts, we’d be stupid to not be paying attention to what everyone else is doing and how they are doing it. Hanging out with older and more deeply experienced eastern martial artists, there are some common critiques of western martial artists and instructors. Most critique can be brushed off simply because they aren’t seeing what they expect to see, but some is more telling. Walking through a local mall recently, there was this very old south asian guy walking by. He didn’t stand out at all, but to my eye he immediately lit up as a very scary dude. The vibe was that of a serious martial artist, one with teaching and practical experience. To my eye, it was clear. I have no idea if I was right…

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