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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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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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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Hot in the Cold: Late Season Workouts

The Saturday class is a special one for us. We don’t do any martial arts training. It’s pure conditioning. It’s a bonus class for students who want to get an edge over everyone else, by having just a little bit more strength and speed. In the hot days of summer, the workout is primarily sprints and ring work. Martial artists, especially those who specialize in weapons work, need speed. Speed comes from the right kind of strength. The kind of strength we want is the kind that involves more fully activating a muscle than normal. You develop this kind of strength by making the muscle work as hard as possible in the shortest amount of time, and having a nice long recovery between exercises. We sprint on a short soccer field, and only use part of it. Twenty metres. Not really enough time to build up top speed for a…

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Integration and the Silly Dance

Sipping my coffee in our chilly library this morning, bleary eyed and reading facebook while I slowly came awake, I read a post by Ido Portal talking about his day’s training in Thailand. He talked about it being an integration day. What he meant by this is that it was a day to start letting the body know what it had learned. Drills and exercises are maximal effort things. We put everything we have into doing something correctly. We push ourselves to our limits. What’s the point of working out, otherwise? We push hard to establish a new upper limit for our abilities. Those new upper limits don’t immediately show up in our training. And if they do, they can sometimes be counter-productive. At Valkyrie, we work very hard on our strength training. For someone who’s an experienced fighter, a rapid boost in strength can trip you up. Strength makes…

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