Monday, December 13, 2010

A Cool Bruce Lee Story

This is quoted from a blog called with an article about Peter Ting and Bruce Lee....
Peter had a wealth of stories of street fights, military service with General Patton in WWII, and of course Aikido. One of his most requested stories was of sparring with Bruce Lee. Here’s how I remember the story…

Peter had a friend who owned a dojo in San Francisco where Bruce had been training. This friend told Peter about Bruce but warned him not to spar with him as Bruce enjoyed beating up his sparring partners. Not one to shy from danger, Peter went to the gym early the next morning to find Bruce working the bags. Peter doesn’t say a word but puts on his gloves and starts his workout. A few minutes goes by when Bruce comes over and asks Peter if he wants to spar. Anyone that met Peter knows the glean in his eye that always accompanied his smile.

Bruce asks Peter if he wants to spar with or without gloves. Peter chooses to go without. When telling the story this is where Peter starts to imitate the trademark stance that Bruce used – one hand up, one hand down, and bouncing up and down . “Bruce was going like this. Dancing all around the room.”

“And then I spit in his face.”

Bruce’s face turned red and he leaped forward with a punch. Peter then dropped him with a kotegaeshi. Peter took a couple blows in return before they stopped. Peter was happy that he proved his point. Bruce was pissed. Peter never explained himself to Bruce but later that day the gym owner called Peter. “Peter, what the hell, you spit in Bruce’s face?” “Yep” Peter replied. “After all of the years that Bruce spent in the martial arts I made him forget everything he knew just by making him angry.” I wonder if Bruce ever learned the lesson that Peter was trying to show?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kyoshi's Monday Night Jitsu Class

I've been attending Kyoshi's Monday night defensive jitsu class for the last eight weeks. Here's some notes about what we learned. It's mostly street self defense (not sport) jitsu.

  1. Guy charges you for a takedown and you learn to put up your fence into his neck, absorb the onslaught and when the attacker runs out of momentum, to respond with a knee into him.
  2. Guys charges you and gets into a good position for a two leg take down. The defense is a sprawl pushing down hard on his head until he collapses. From there (north-south) rotate around one way, the other way, and then roll him over and choke him out.
  3. Guy gets the take-down so as you go, you pull him into close guard with control over his head. From there, if he goes for the neck, you pull him back and then push his arm just to the side so you can get control around his head. Or if he pulls back to punch, you get your knees up and then your heels onto him.
  4. Guy is in your closed guard and as he tries to punch, you oompah at 11:30 and sweep mounting him.
  5. Once mounted, you learn to ride with your weight, capture the head, move his arm across his throat, keep the choke on, dismount low, then arch up for the choke-out.
  6. From the bottom, you do a triangle with your legs. I lacked the flexibility to do this at all in one direction, just barely in the other.
  7. When mounted, you pin and submit with an arm lock,  both hands pinning one arm, then one hand weaving other, twist the wrist slightly, move it down towards him, then into a submission.
  8. When you have some in closed guard, they move up to punch. You let him go getting distance by putting your knees up. Then you shoulder walk back, and get your heels into him.
  9. He is up, you on your back and he tries to get in. You rotate and hold him off with your legs. When he tries to grab them, you rotate so he can't get a grip. He gets a grip and throws them sideways, gets into a sidemount on you. You hold him off with a fence, face him, crab out, throw the outside leg over his back to keep him down, the near leg gets a knee across in front of him. And you hold his head down. You then work free the leg across so you have him in closed guard.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Showtime - More Spectacular Greatness

This is fun. Here's a video of all the kids from NTC doing their stuff. They look great:

And just a few years ago, he was just a little boy. Here's him then. Sure goes quick!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A New Black Belt

Today David was awarded his black belt in a spectacular 90 minute show at the Parker Playhouse. I'll put up a series of picture and videos as I get them off different cameras. Here's part of his performance:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Black Belts!

This is my favorite Power Weekend so far.

 I got to observe my son's long candidacy for black belt as he easily cleared the final hurdle of performing well through the Power Weekend. He passed. His kata were strong, his sparing was skilled and confident, his endurance level very high, and his attitude was great.

What a great kid he is.  He is one proud addition to the black belt community. I'm over the moon.

Here's the whole group in their team-building exercise at the end of the test.

And to get to that point, he went through a whole of bugo kumite! Watch out!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Power Weekend - My son on deck

There are always complications and difficulties. This weekend should have been a glory cakewalk for my son. He is performing wonderfully. His sparing is solid, his kicks are great, he knows his kata cold, he is brimming with confidence, and his run times increasingly take him to the very front of the pack.

But Friday, he wakes up feeling awful and feverish. His mom (we're divorced) takes him to the Doctor. Much anxiety and decision-making. Finally, he makes it.

Here he is, breaking his board on Friday night!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Power Weekend this weekend for my son!

I'm thrilled, this weekend is Power Weekend.... the culmination of a testing cycle at the dojo  tha  has been going on  for my son since January.

There are long sessions on Friday night and Saturday. They'll run through all the katas, self defense, break boards, spar, do a lot of push ups, and some running.

I've watched him turn on a whole level of intensity and competence and confidence this year. I'm so proud and pleased.

How did I get so lucky?

Another thought about Power Weekend is how the dojo organizes it so that people are both really pumped and a little nervous.  It's amazing how differently people react to different types of pressure. One candidate, Eric, was telling me that he's really nervous about the kata. "I can talk in front of crowd of a thousand for half an hour, with no script, without batting an eye. I talk on the radio daily on my show with an audience of 60,000 people.  But, ask me to perform a kata in front of four people, and despite knowing the material cold,  I freeze and falter and shake. Go figure!"

I don't know about figuring but it's always fun to show up to support them and watch the show.  Ouse!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Kenpo Kate Long Two Form - Some variations

We are learning a new kata, Long Two.  After many years, Long Two  is now back in the curriculum. Below is  Long Two as performed by Mr. Mike Galindo at the NTC of Lavallees Karate School in Ft Lauderdale.

Steve Lavallees East Coast Karate School Version, circa 2010
(performed informally by an instructor, Mr. Galindo)

I was poking around on Youtube looking at the variations of different Kenpo Long Two Forms.  Our school's version is the simplest and least ornate. I think it's really interesting to see the differences.  

Long Two
Sacramento Kenpo Kate The performer, Amy Long, is a published author on spirituality and etiquette (different books) plus a book on the Kenpo Karate Community Worldwide, Maybe I can get a guest-post from her.


The performance with detailed explanation is by Professor Juan Serrano, 7th Dan

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Martial Art Films

I'm finally going to post my list and comments on the martial arts films that I've seen.  This should be a multipart series as I remember more.  Here's the ones that I can remember seeing. In order of how much I liked them....What have you liked? Obviously, I haven't seen that much.

Films / TV Programs

Kung Fu. The TV Program starring David Carradine. The martial arts craze of the 70s was fueled in large part by the 'Kung Fu' program on TV (I recently purchased the first season on DVD). The TV series ran from 1972–1975 (I graduated from high school in 1976). It was a huge hit putting a pacifist idealistic kung fu master in the rough old racist US west. It hit the trends well riding both the enthusiasm for Westerns and the interest in Eastern philosophy and the martial arts. I learned about kung fu and Eastern philosophy from it.

Red Belt. By David Mamet.
The Human Weapon. A series on the History Channel in 2007-08. 

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story  
The Karate Kid. Original.
The Karate Kid. Remake 2010.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Legend of Drunken Master. Jackie Chen.
Kung Fu Panda.  
Foot Fist Way.

When we were Kings
Mike Tyson
Thrilla in Manilla
And a bunch of others on Mohammed Ali.

BTW, I wrote about my martial arts reading list a few years ago.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Stretching: Warming up versus Building Flexibility

I'm thrilled by the flexibility that I've gained through the martial arts. With that said, I'm still not sure that I understand it very well so I'm going to study it over the next few weeks to see what I can learn.  Got anything to contribute? Anybody ever read an informative article or book about it?

A starting point is that I've never fully understood the difference between stretching to warm up for a work out and stretching to increase my overall flexibility.  What stretches are appropriate for each? How long should a stretch be held for each? When should they be done?

Warming up - A workout typically starts with some light cardio such as jog-around, shadow boxing, few dozen jumping jacks, situps and pushups designed to warm the muscles. After the body is warmed, there's a set of stretches. I know that these should be light. How long should positions be held?  How much of them should you do?  Any other guidelines?

Increasing flexibility - Near the end of a workout, there is a different type of stretching. This is more intense and is intended both to help recovery time from the workout (to avoid getting stiff) and to increase flexibility. The positions should be held I believe for 20-30 seconds and should be done in two to three repetitions for each area. I'm not sure where I learned this or if it is gospel truth. Questions that I have are whether you should stretch the same muscle group every day or is this like weight lifting in that you should rotate muscle groups. 

PS - I wanted to grab an image to put on this post so I googled stretching. Wow, there's a lot of online writing on the topic.  I should have know that.
I often "cheat" on my warm-ups by getting into a jacuzzi. In less then five minutes, I get warmed up and I have a series of stretches that I've figured out that I can do in there without falling or drowning. Is this a good or bad idea?  Also, I sometimes go into it after workouts since I believe that it helps get rid of lactic acid. Any truth or opinions on this?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Studying Martial Arts at my age

I just found two new blogs and a book along the same themes as this blog.  I'll follow them and I just ordered the book. I'll tell you if I like it.

Michele's blog is Just a ThoughtI am a student and instructor of Okinawa Kenpo and a student of Tai Chi. In April 2007, I injured my knee during a two-person bo form. I had a complete ACL tear. On May 15, 2007, I had my ACL reconstructed using a hamstring graft. This blog shares my thoughts on Karate, Tai Chi, ACL Reconstruction and the Challenges of Parenting.

BobSpar -  I'm 54 and a student at a mixed-martial-arts school in the New York area. Years ago, my school taught Shotokan karate, but the school has changed; although it still contains many of the attributes of karate, including belts and respect, the school no longer teaches kata, and instead focuses on kickboxing and grappling. As I began this blog, I was recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery.

The book is called: Martial Arts After 40.  Martial Arts After Forty is the first book ever to explore the needs and advantages of the over-forty martial artist. It takes an in-depth look at the realities of training in mid-life including:

• What type of exercises are beneficial and which ones are dangerous? 
• What are the effects of aging and what impact do they have on training? 
• How can baby boomers keep up in a class of Gen-Xers? 
• What types of injuries are common after forty and how can you prevent them? 

In addition to providing a wealth of fitness and training information, author Sang H. Kim addresses the fact that many older martial artists are looking for something more meaningful than just a good workout. 

His positive and knowledgeable approach to taking up or continuing martial arts training after 40 is inspiring, reassuring and informative. This book should be read by every adult martial artist regardless of age.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Health Issues - More and Less

I reluctantly wrote a painful email to Shihan a few weeks ago.  I had been through a few months where almost every class seemed to aggravate my back problems.  The root problem seems to be that my right hip has lost almost all of its flexibility so that any round house kick painfully wrenches my back, sometimes leading to full spasms etc.  So, until it gets a little better or I figure out how to mitigate it, I decided to take some time off from the training. Very sad for me.

It's been incredibly fun for me at the dojo over the last 8 years.  I got and stayed in shape, learned about the world of martial arts, and made friends.  Because all the kids got involved, it helped build family life.  Basically, it's been tremendously powerful.  Since I've stopped (only a few weeks), I haven't felt that great and have some trouble sleeping at night.  Really sucks.

The next step is for me to figure out what the possibilities are for my hip.  Initial doctor, not a hip specialist, says that they've replaced a lot of hips which were in better shape than mine. So I need to find myself a good specialist and start exploring.  I haven't gotten to this for a few reasons. One is that chasing around the medical world is high on my list of least favorite things to do.  The other is that I've had more urgent medical issues to deal with, albeit not mine.  Dear old Mom fell and broke a vertabra so I've been

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Long Two Kata

We are learning a new kata, Long Two is now back in the curriculum. Flash update, look below the video and I'm trying to describe it.  Long Two as performed by Mr. Mike Galindo at the NTC of Lavallees Karate School in Ft Lauderdale.

Start - Bow in, right step forward, right inward block, chop, left open hand punch, right side fist.
Left step forward, left inward block, chop, right open hand punch, left side fist.

In a continuous motion, turn head to left, step with left to left, put hands into cat stance pose, then to the left, outward block with the left hand, punch with the right. Left corkscrew punch (the punch is forward and twisting, not a big hook shot), right punch, pull back from the hard bow with the left leg to where the legs are in a cat stance and then front kick with the left leg while left side fist punch.

Reverse: As the punch & kick finish, transfer head around 180 degrees while taking a small adjustment step with the right foot. The hands come together briefly in the cat stance pose then to the right, outward block with the right hand, punch with the left. Right corkscrew punch, left punch pull back the front right leg, front right kick and right side punch. (time 0:17 seconds for those watching the clock on the video).

Spin to the left moving left foot enough to the left so you are facing back-left on the 45 in a horse stance.  Left downward block, right inward block.Hard bow left punching right, left hand above head. Horse stance, starting left open hand rolling back fist, right rolling back fist, pause, left roll back fist, right roll back fist.

Spin to the right moving right foot to right so you are facing front left on the 45 in horse stance. Right downward block, left inward block.  Hard bow right punch left. Horse stance. left open rolling back fist, right back fist, pause, left right. (time 0:25)

Step back with right foot so you turn 180 to face back right on 45, horse stance. Left downward block  into hard bow.  Left corkscrew punch. Right punch.  Kick forward right stepping forward while forward punch with left, finishing with right side fist into horsestance. (time 0:28)

Step right turning 90 so you're facing forward right on 45, horsestance with right downward block, right horsescrew punch, left punch.  Right punch while kicking left, then left side fist finishing in horsestance. (0:31)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Backyard Bugo Highlighted a Glorious Day

Glorious day today.

Early morning 2.5 miles with David. Then, showered and  took David to Sunday school. I spent ninety minutes working and drinking very strong coffee coffee.

Then lunch at our favorite, California Pizza Kitchen. I had the waldorf salad. In the afternoon, David and I biked around Pompano Airpark with stops at the stables and Starbucks.  Then, needing something to do, we had mid afternoon backyard bugo, lots of  pool time, and then some light soccer in the driveway in the evening.

Post-candidate normalcy is sweet.

My son's sparing is fearsome. Fast, good kicks, and sweet combinations.  As a coach, I was pushing three points:

  1. Keep the left hand up at head height.  Left hand up!
  2. Jab straight, break the backfist habbit.
  3. Don't  stand flat, stay sideways.
  4. When you hook, don't start by dropping your hand. This is really a repeat of number one.
A note on our equipment. We wore shins, gloves, mouth guards, and cups.  That really seems enough to avoid accidental injury.  It's not clear to me why we need the feet, whether the chest protector really does much, and whether the head gear encourages sloppy defense.  I do see the benefit of the head guard for protection against hooks and head kicks though. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Second Degree Black Belt

Yesterday was the Black Belt Spectacular when I was awarded the second degree by Kyoshi Steve Lavallee and Master KC Lavallee.

What a blast.

Thanks to everyone for your support. 

Have you seen my cake?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black Belt Spectacular this weekend

This weekend, Parker Playhouse, Saturday afternoon at 2pm, it's ON! 

The latest and greatest Black Belt Spectacular.

A vast number of new South Florida black belts will show their stuff along with the staff and other talent. 

I love my new gi and of course, it's all about the T-shirt. 

Are we ready? Yes.   Several of us were in there practicing our routine Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, and we'll back there this evening.    Osu, see you all this weekend!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Board Breaking at the Exam - The Agony and the Ectasy

To get a black belt, each Candidate must break a board. To get a second degree, the Candidates need to break two boards. In groups of nine, we go up in front of a pretty good size crowd to take our turn breaking two boards.

I'm in the red gi top in the center at the start of the video.  This video starts out fun but then it takes a surprising turn. Two Candidates have trouble breaking their boards. But there's no escape. In front of everyone, these ladies show the concentration and persistent that got them this far.   I found the tension and drama at the time very emotional. In rewatching the video, I'm so impressed by their calm and focus. There's no silliness or embarrassment, just work to be done and a focus on doing it.  Congratulations to Agnes and Sylvia.

PS - I checked with everyone in this video prior to posting it. Ose!!!! Onward to the Spectacular (May 15th).

PPS - Anybody else have an emotional reaction to this? Comments please.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Power Weekend - Awesome!

I just finished Power Weekend. It was awesome!  Friday night: kata, drills, and board breaking.  Here's a pictture of the NTC Team and a great picture of Tony smashing through the board.

I'm jumping into the shower and taking a nap, more later.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Soreness and Stiffness - What works and how?

I'm working out hard these days and, being of a certain age, I tend to be stiff and sore. Any insights into how to avoid stiffness and what soreness and stiffness are really about? I know they have something to do with lactic acid build-up.

Here's a few therapies that I use or have used. Anybody know which are snake oil and what they actually do?
  1. Heat rubs like IcyHot or Bengay Rub
  2. Soaking in the jacuzzi -
  3. Electric treatment at the chiropractor
  4. Ultrasound at the chiro
  5. Deep tissue massage

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nutrition - Whats a good training meal?

This and next week are peak performance week.  I'm wondering, what is the textbook answer to "What is the right meal to eat before a big class? What's the ideal way to warm up?"

In my case, before the big sessions, like the Saturday morning candidate class and run, I go through the same routine.  I'm up at 7am and I start drinking a lot of water. I eat lightly, usually two pieces of toast with Nutella and a banana.  I might drink a half class of juice (orange or grape) and I avoid coffee (although I'd really like a cup!)  I also spend about 10 minutes in a hot (102) jacuzzi to loosen up. I actually stretch in the jacuzzi. Then, I get dressed and get to the dojo for 30 minutes of light warm-up.The warm involves doing katas at half speed, some light calistenics, and stretching.

During class, I grab drinks which often add up to a full  liter bottle by the end of class. We have about a 20 minute break between class and the timed two-mile run. I'm usually ravenously hungry at that point. So, and htis is true,  I usually wolf down two frosted pop-tarts prior to the run.

So, what would be the ideal routine for a mature fellow like me who needs all the limberness and cardio help he can get.

This was an all-karate week.
Monday: Training class
Tuesday: A class mostly prepping for demo on Wednesday
Wednesday: Demo team performance plus, all the candidates, took the entire test with the students
Thursday: Bugo precheck. I had the honor of having Kyoshi standing there watching me for several matches.
Friday: Kata, basics, and self-defense precheck
Sat: Simple 2 mile run.

And YES, I finally beat the 14:00 time for two miles. I turned in a 13:52!!! For those of you haven't been following, I've been trying since I was a first degree candidate (three years ago), to break fourteen minutes on the two miles. Last cycle, I got a 14:08 and 14:09. I set the fourteen minute mile as a goal in 2008. This cycle, I had a 14:00 and 14:01.  Today, with no class before hand and a cool crisp morning, was pretty much my last chance to make it.  And I did.  Woo hoo!  David (son) hadn't come over this morning which is a shame since he's the one whose been following this closely with me.  But I am thrilled. Plus I'm regularly weighing in at 188 lbs (my goal was to get under 190).  So I'm a happy camper.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All systems go!

I had a great candidate class this morning. I could kick with both legs (ie my hamstring strain is behind me) and I could pushups (my shoulder is better).  The class was mostly katas and being a total karate nerd, this plays to my strong suit.  I felt healthy and fit and ran a 14:35.  Now that I can train again, I might yet work it down to under 14:00.  

John & Carmen Edelson 
Next weekend is mini-Power Weekend (a new concept). Thursday is a sparring check, Friday is a kata check (hmmm, where's the self defense going to fit it?), and Saturday morning is "running and more".   It can't be too much more since I'm just wearing running stuff. 

The following weekend is the Mega Power Weekend. And then onto prep for the spectacular. Party planning is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

American Bo Form

This is showtime, it's spotlight week for those of us who are testing for new belts in April or candidates. I had the honor of performing the American Bo form as a solo for my class Monday night.  I felt good, I was fluent, energetic, and didn't stumble.  The class liked it and so did I.

The instructors however, exchanged glances after I finished, one of them got the nod, and I was taken solo into the next room for some help. It seems that Kyoshi had worked that very morning with the staff on bo form so they were very aware of some details that I was not doing right.  Here's what I'm focusing on changing. BTW, I love this sort of detail work. Thanks Mr. Vince.   Why? Well, as I've said before, Correct Me. If you are my friend.

1. Bo position. On many side to side strikes, in the finish position, the bo is completely straight forward and exactly horizontal. Not a little up or a little down, not a little to the left or right, completely straight forward and exactly horizontal. Also, near the start when I place the bo on my knees, this is a chance to discretely be sure that it is centered, not a little too far to one side or the other.

2.  On the cat stance positions, the bo points down 45 and straight forward. Again, not even a little to the left or right.

3. There are many different positions for the overhead strike, all exactly the same in terms of the bo and the arms. On the overhead strike, it is at the end, pointed up at 45 degree, left hand down at the hip, right hand turned over like a fist. The step where you cross your legs is an overhead strike and it should end exactly liek this. While the body is is a novel position, the strike is exactly like the others.  Ditto on the overhead strike when you spin around. Ditto on the first overhead strike from your knees.

4.  Directions, mostly very square with one brief section on the 45.  At times, the form is north, south, east, and west.  Starting at one high dragon, it is on the 45 but only until downward strike which is again north (ie, the position that I started the form in).

5. High and low dragon.  The bo moves down through the left hand like a pool cue for the low dragon, the shot is just past your back leg, and your stance (hard bow forward) remains that way for the up and down dragon. You only switch your stance and adjust your step on the next move.

6. The backwards steps starts with the rear left leg.  When we count the three steps backwards, it's based on the left leg stepping further back (one), followed by the right leg coming back to it. Then the left leg goes back again (two), and so on. Going forward, it's the opposite, the right leg steps first (one) with the left closing in afterwards.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Third Black Belt PreCheck

Pictured on the right is National Training Center's Adult Team of Black Belt Candidates for May. Veronica, thanks for the pic (Coach is missing )

Friday  night was the third black belt check. I love these tests. Kyoshi talks through the same routine every time but he has enough conviction and charisma to make it meaningful.  The pressure they apply...makes diamonds.  There are no physical problems, just challenges and there is always an adjustment or a way to continue.  

This time, while I didn't catch the names, he had a posse of very high powered martial artists visiting including another kyoshi (a woman), a SIFU, and a tenth degree black belt from Syracuse. That might be one of very few that I ever meet: I wish I'd caught his name.
I think there are two general types of black belt testing:

  • The single big test which is a make-it-or-break-it-extremely-high-pressure event
  • The marathon test with many hurtles with an emphasis on continued intensity and quality. 
I think our school falls into the marathon category in which you need to be high quality, you need to perform well over an extended period of time, and there's room to fix things if you mess up at some point. Earning the black belt means being a Black Belt Candidate for around eight months. During this period, there are special requirements for participation (four classes per week), for training runs and timed runs, for attending candidate classes, for assistant teaching (SWAT in our vernacular) and in the last four months, there are black belt prechecks. After the three prechecks (if you pass each one), you are up for the big Power Weekend which itself is a mini-marathon of classes, tests, sparring, and board breaking.

Friday night was the third black belt precheck. Five schools, five sets of candidates, five senseis, and Kyoshi.  I figure there were thirty six candidates total, eleven from our school. One for fourth degree (Mr. Edward Mercer), two for third degree (Jake and Michelle, Alex too but he's for November), three from our school for second degree (myself, Coach Boland, Sylvia, Agnes) and  three for first degree (Anthony, Linda & Karen),  What a blast. It was about kata, some drills, and lots of endurance. I performed appreciation form, short two, bookset, chuck form two, and American bo form.  For me, it went fairly smoothly: a few lapses in concentration and despite having become somewhat slick in my bo handling, I somehow tensed up again in the performance.

Onwards and upwards....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Self Defense

The Friday candidate class was one of my favorites for two reasons. It started with a run and a run time of 13:51!  Yes, below fourteen! Of course, that was my son's time, not mine. Mine was a nebbish backsliding 14:21 perhaps due to not training enough, arriving late, not stretching, or running in the evening (instead of the morning). The fact is I'm over the moon with his time.  He has a real work capacity which I personally think is the most important factor for success and satisfaction in life!

Secondly, we spent a lot of time on self defense and holds and grabs. So this is my chance to create a guide to all the releases from holds and grabs that I've learned over the past five years. I'd like to have a directory of them similar to my kata one.  I already have two areas done (Rear Bear Hug & Rear Choke) .  So I'm creating a list with the intention of getting them video'd with a pair of other kohai this week.  I'm going to publish this with the intention that this remain a work in progress. Anybody remember anything not mentioned here? Any volunteers to be on camera or to hold the camera?

A List of the Release and Defenses Learned by a Black Belt at Fifty
This list is meant as a list of what I've learned and to serve as a script for filming. It can be hard to follow.

Rear Bear Hug - Several versions are shown including traditional kempo and reference point defenses.

Rear Choke - This post demonstrates our releases from chokes and headlocks from behind.

Head lock from side (ouki on left):
Locked up: Step forward with right leg so the right foot is in front, double strike to groin and kidneys, reach up with left and grab top of gi or hair, pull back with left right strike open hand to chin, right hand to groin.
Not yet locked up: Protect face with right hand, reach behind ouki and as ouki pulls arm back to punch, grab far arm at bottom of bicep with left hand. Posture up stretching back, reach right hand onto their right hand on my neck, pull down and back so I'm behind, put ouki behind ouki's back, slight left foot kick to their left knee to bend them down, shift right hand to choke, lock up and choke out

Front Bear Hug
Hands Pinned: Put legs back pushing back on the ouki's hips to get some space. Knee to groin. Slide hands up between bodies until you get your right forearm into the ouki's throat until hold is broken. Switch to reference point grip, step back pulling him forward. and throw three knees.
Hands Free: Slide hands in until you get your right forearm into the ouki's throat until hold is broken. Switch to reference point grip, step back pulling him forward. and throw three knees.

Shoulder or neck grab from side (assume left):
Shoulder Hold: Spin left with left hand in chinese elbow breaking grip. Continue spin with right hand cross to face and right round house 180 to body.
Shoulder Hold Release: Put left arm up behind ouki's hold with your right hand on your own left wrist. Simultaneously step towards your left (a little behind the ouki) while pulling your left forehand into the back of his elbow hyperextending it until he releases.
Neck Hold:  Throw your left arm around his arm gripping either his bicep or gi. Spin to your left bringing your right elbow into the ouki's face. Grab behind his neck for reference point grip. Step back with right pulling him forward and down. Three knees.

Haymaker punch (assume with the right)

Slip it: Left hand in guard, throwing right hand around waist, place your head in the middle of the ouki's  back and grip one of your wrists with the other. You can push away from here. Or, slide the left hand to a shoulder hold, right hand up around the throat, lock it up
Step inside with right elbow to face.  Switch to reference hold, step back with right foot, three knees.

Full nelson: Posture up leaning head back with hands resting on your forehead stretching & weakening grip.  Lean forward hitting down with elbows onto his forearms and momentarily trapping them between your biceps and core. Grap his right hand, spin out controlling him posture down with the joint lock. Right front kick up to face or groin.

Bouncer hold (ouki behind locking your right hand behind back, left hand held at your side): Step back with left foot while shooting left hand forward. Then elbow back. Spin right breaking your right hand free, regrabbing with joint lock that pulls him forward and down. Kick up with right leg to face or body.

Wrist Grabs
Single wrist grap, same side (kenpo):  With your free hand, cross over and grab the wrist of the arm holding your wrist. Break the captured wrist free by rotating your wrist out of their grip while holding this hand still. With free hand, hit upwards with forearm or wrist to hyperextend the ouki's arm. Quick back fist groin shot, back fist face shot, disengage.
Single wrist grap, same side: turn sideways with gripped hand towards the ouki,  punch down breaking free, elbow up into chin, step back
Crossover (assume they're holding my right hand): Step forward with left leg with left forehand pushing below their elbow twisting my hand free and regrabbing the ouki's wrist, forcing ouki to bend over.  Elbow strike to side of head, elbow down on middle of back.
Both wrists: pull up to break, step forward with right side, right elbow to face, right chop to neck. Reference point grab, step back, pull the ouki forward and down. Three knees.
Both wrists: pull up to break, clear their hands, ear clap, plumb. Three knees. (warning, don't practice an actual ear clap, just clap in front of the head).

Lapel holds,  Front Pushes, Front Chokes

Front Choke:  Put your two hands in almost a prayer posture but with hands clapsed together making a double fist. Punch upwards between the ouki's hands breaking hold. Hands still together, chop down on ouki's nose. Pull hands towards yourself, rotate them sideways and jab, both hands still together, into ouki's neck. Disengage.
Front Choke: Put your two hands in almost a prayer posture. Punchup between the ouki's hands breaking hold. Double chop on ouki's neck from each side. Plumb. Three knees . 
Double lapel hold: Pin ouki's hands to chest with left hand and forearm, step forward with with right foot punching first under arms to solar plex, then above putting your elbow to nose. Grab behind neck with right, slide left hand to control their hand, step back with right right pulling them forward and off balance, three knees, optional choke out.
Double front choke: Strike their hands down towards lapel, use double lapel (above).
Double front choke: Grab each of their hands with my fingers towards inside, peel them off, keep hold on left hand pinning it to my chest. Step forward with right leg and strike with right elbow, grab behind neck with right,  step back with right foot pulling them forward and off balance, three knees, optional choke out.
Single Lapel Grab (assume ouki's left hand): Pin it to the chest with your right hand, hit it inward with your left hyperextending it. Hit it down. Step back.
One hand on throat (assume ouki's left hand): Hit his hand down and pin it to your body with your left hand while stepping foward with right leg and open hand hit to face followed by elbow strike. Reference point grip behind his neck with right while still controlling his left. Step back with right right pulling them forward and off balance, three knees, optional choke out.
Front Push: As they make contact, brush hands to side and push back.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fourteen Minutes! - Better by One Second! Nutrition & Diet

Last week in the two mile timed run, I did a personal best for myself (well, my best for the last three years) with a 14:01.  Although I knew I'd been training hard, I had some fear that the low score had been a mistake or fluke.

Yesterday morning, after candidate class, on a crisp cool morning, I matched and improved my time: By one second! It might not sound like a big deal but it was a huge effort. It helped that I ran head to head with my ten year old for most of the run and that I knew that this is one my last chances at holding my own with him (history is sooo much on his side. It's do interesting to compare my thoughts on chasing after him this spring to introducing him to running last spring.

My training strategy over the last few months has been two training runs of 2.5 miles weekly which include some sprints and then some much longer (45 minutes) cardio workouts on the eliptical at the gym.  The eliptical is gentle on the bod and the longer times allow me to start working off the body fat.  And on my vacations, I include  a once or sometimes twice daily workout.

Which brings me to a subject that I'd like to know more  about: nutrition and diet for someone who has love handles and a bulge that I'd like to get rid of.  As background, I've been through this cycle once before on a much larger scale.  Starting in 2002, I went on a exercise tear and an increasingly strict diet culminating in 2005 when I reached 180 pounds (down almost 30 from my starting point) and somewhat ripped.  In the last year of that tear, I gave up carbs and fruits and desserts and was running with a group of guys doing five mile runs four times per week. It was fine until I got sick of getting up at 5:30 and they all switched to biking anyway (which I don't like).

For the last year or so, I've been hovering in the mid 190s.  I'm taking this spring and my preparation for a 2nd degree as the chance to get back under 190. Here's the plan, what do you think?  I'm particularly looking for insights into diet and nutrition.

  1. Drink water, alot of it (and hope that I don't have to go to any long meetings).
  2. Snack only on protein snacks, two to three per  day.
  3. Eggs for breakfast with some cheese melted on it. If I'm outside the house, I add bacon or sausage.
  4. Chicken cesear-type salads or wraps for lunch with some restraint on dressing
  5. Dinner is usually some some meet with a salad and maybe potatoes (whatever Carmen makes).
  6. Saturday morning, before candidate class, I have a "training breakfast" of toast with Nutella on in for some energy.  I also drink a Gatorade during the class. I don't eat anything special before the other classes and I've switched from routinely drinking Gatorade during class to only drinking water except for the candidate classes (BTW, I drink two full water bottles easily during class). 
  7. Four classes a week.  
  8. Two runs in the two mile range.
  9. Two 45 minute cardio workouts on the eliptical.
  10. Four classes a week. I'm trying to hit these with all the intensity that a budding 2nd degree can muster.
  11. The sit-up and leg extras four times a week (I'm not doing pushups these days due to shoulder tendonities)
  12. Alcohol - I'm almost a teetotaller at this point.  A beer a month, a glass of wine each week.
  13. Standard vitamins (sometimes the kids dinosaur stuff or the new wriggle worm ones), no supplements or protein drinks or energy drinks. Two cups a coffee daily.

This seems to be working, any thoughts on this?


Monday, March 01, 2010

March 1st: This Black Belt is now 52!

Lets do the numbers. I'm 52 years of age and I'd like to be in shape to be very active in all my sparing matches, pump out pushups with confidence, and be 5 pounds lighter by the end of the month.  (The end-of-the-month weight goal coincides with a dojo start-of-the-year 90 day fitness challenge.)  I've been doing a lot of what I should do to lose weight but it's not quite enough. On the good side, I've been  running regularly and doing some longer (45 minutes) cardio sessions on the eliptical.  Saturday, 2 miles. Sunday, 45 minutes on the eliptical. Monday morning, 2.5 miles. 

But I continue to lack discipline and commitment when faced with goodies. Today for instance, there was a birthday cake in the office in my honor. I indulged.  And another cake at home after dinner. Again, I ate. Yum. In fact, I might grab a piece before bed. 
About a month ago, I was on track for doing the 100 pushups in four sets of twenty five. But, having hurt my shoulder, I've now been off pushups for a month with more time-off seeming likely. Prognosis unlikely that I'll pound through the pushup part of the test the way I'd like.

There's a good liklihood that I'll make my 14 minute two miles. But less of a chance that I'll improve my cardio in the ring. That problem has much to do with my style and staying relaxed.  Progress in that area is steady but very slow.  But I'll work at it. 

Will I get back down under 190 this month? Will I break that silly 14:00 two-mile barrier?   Stay tuned. My new Ipod should make working out a little more fun and perhaps, that's all I needed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Second Trip to MAUI

I've never been to Hawaii and I'm not sure that I'd like being in such a laid-back place. But I've now been to my second black belt precheck at Martial Arts University International and I got a huge thrill out of both visits.  For those of you who don't know, the MAUI building is used for our black belt tests.

The first visit was for the first precheck for May candidates about four weeks ago, the focus was kata.  The candidates from all the South Florida dojos were there with Kyoshi Steve Lavallee and the five senseis: KC Lavallee-Ft Lauderdale, Craig Halley-Lighthouse Point,  Ian Hewitt-Boca Raton, Frank Scaccia-Coconut Creek, and Dennis Emond-Palm Beach.  (Did anybody get a photo of Kyoshi flanked by the five of them or other good pics?  If so, mail it to me and I'll post:  bbat50@gmail dot com)

Last night, the occasion for my second trip to MAUI, was a sparing precheck.  Since blogs lend themselves to a confessional format and besides, why bother reading a blog if it's just a sanitized PR job, I think I'll share a few indiscretions about my sparing.  And if you can slug through that, I've some great news to share at the bottom (Heh, all you aspiring journalists, note that I'm committing a classic journalistic error here; I'm "burying the lead" but heck, it's fun to have a hobby blog where I can indulge my writing quirks and not have to do it right).

1.  I'm not in the cardio shape that I think a second degree candidate should be.  This past week, there were two sparing classes where they turned up the intensity on us (ie spotlight matches) to get us ready for last night. In both cases, I ran out of juice way too early and the last matches and the end of matches were..... humiliating.  So I approached last night with some trepidation and  I devised a strategy. It was based on the fact that each match inevitably has a second half so I had better plan for it.  For the first three quarters of a match, I was a counter puncher. I tried only throw hand combinations, limiting myself to maybe half a dozen kicks until the last thirty seconds of each match.  I would have liked to be in shape to truly go for it but this week, I proved to myself that I'm not. This strategy worked pretty well for me.

2.  My sparing skills are not what I'd like them to be.  One blatant problem is that I often move stiffly and too slowly. This means that I don't connect and that I get too tired.  I've found that I'm more relaxed and quicker  when I'm in stance with my hands slightly extended (Chuck Liddell-style). But, the instructors keep pushing me towards a more classic style with hands much closer to my head with my knuckles pointed straight up.  This improves my blocking but I'm less comfortable and tense.  On the flip side, I now have a range of combinations that I'm comfortable using and I recently added the use of a combination that starts with parying their jab down with my right and with the same hand quickly crossing to their body while following with a jab to the forehead.  If I'm feeling energetic, I sometimes finish with a 180 round house. Since I was mostly trying to be a counterpuncher last night, this was my bread and butter.

Here's the great news. For three years, I've been doing timed runs at the dojo with a 14 minute two miles being the target. When I was a candidate in the summer and fall of 2007, I got close with a 14:08 and 14:06 but I never made it.  This morning, with no class to tire me out before the run and a crisp cool windless morning, I whipped through and KC said as I crossed the finish line: "14:01!" I'm pleased, very pleased.  But, being who I am, I also know that I didn't make it in under 14:00. I still haven't heard that words "thirteen something something" spoken for me as I cross the line. Stay tuned. I fully intend to make it between now and the end of April

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Improved my Defense in Class Today

I love it when I learn something new in class. And with this blog, I can hammer it home in my mind.  This morning was a candidate sparring class. Translation: it was a class only for people trying to earn their black belt or a higher rank black belt this year.

Master KC had some sparring drills where one side plays defense and the other side attacks. Pretty standard. The novelty today was that the defensive players were NOT supposed to back up.  They were supposed to either crowd in or crowd in and angle.  This was new to me and very cool. 

Usually, if someone comes at me, I back up. When I'm superquick, I can back up faster than they can advance or even angle out in ways that befuddle my attacker. More often than not, I seem to back up into an optimum spot for people to kick me.  With this moving-in-approach, when the going gets tough, the idea was to move in closer and then angle one way or the other. By staying real close, it's very hard for the other person to get get off a good kick or even, a good jab. When you stay close, you really only need to worry about crosses and hooks. (Our school doesn't allow uppercuts, knees, or elbows so this get-close defense works exceptionally well).

A great class this morning. The second half of class was pure sparring and at full speed, I found that crowding in a viable defense and a useful addition to my arsenal.

The other big focus of class today was footwork. I like it. I could do a lot more footwork drills. Today was simple step and slides forward and back with a little work on angling with footwork.  There's room to work on how, when shelled up and on your heels, to still have good footwork. It's a challenge for me that I find myself flat on my backfoot defending and unable to move since I'm flatfooted and hunkered down on my back leg. I know conceptually what to do and that starts with, don't get into that position. I'm not sure what drill would help me isolate and solve that problem.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Combat Kenpo - Series One and Two

As 2009 ended and 2010 starts, our curriculum has returned towards traditional kenpo basics.  In addition to a focus on the details for the Appreciation Form, Short One, and Long One (eg the downward Y block starts above the shoulder and the block is outside arm!), we are being introduced to a series of combat kenpo moves, reflecting Kyoshi's and our school's kenpo base.

The Combat Kenpo Form (is that the proper name?) is a three part series of  four attacks and defenses (we've learned two so far) structured around the  four blocks: inward, outward, upward, and downward.

Combat Kenpo - Series One -  One person. 

Combat Kenpo - Series Two -  One person.

Combat Kenpo - Series One - Two People

Combat Kenpo - Series Two - Two People

If anyone feels that this needs editing or refining, I'd be grateful for the guidance.  Note that these demos are very impromptu and not definitive examples of all details.  If anyone  shoots  better video, put it on Youtube and tell me about it. I'll put it up.

Is Anybody Out there? Last thing (and I added this after the post had been up for two days) I was just wondering: is anybody out there? I'm a little thirsty for a comments to know that somebody is reading this...Just in case, I checked the Youtube stats on views of these videos:  There's about 80 total views: 20 views of each video on this page (they've been up two days). This could mean one person watched each video twenty times or eighty people watched one video each. I also looked at the stats on the video that I put up just before this one. The kama set video of Mr Mike that I put up at the end of Oct has 215 views. Since it is only one of three versions of kama set that I've posted, I guess there's my answer. Someone is watching.  Who are you?  Introduce yourself in the comments section. Even anonymously.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A total change of pace - My first car....

Triumph Vitesse

I learned to drive in my Dad's car.

This picture is me at age 16 in 1974. The red head next to me is my elder brother.

What was the first or best or worst car you ever drove?

And I'm posting this picture because...well, I like it and I've had a little writers block lately.

The news from the dojo is all good. Candidate class was great today. We worked bo and chuck forms.

Also, we continued to work our basics including an extension of our basics into (for me) a new area: Combat Kenpo.  My next post, hopefully, will have a video of its basics and a description.