Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Infinity...And Beyond!

To infinity and beyond is a cute concept but when it comes to intense training, common sense and mature guidance are vital to safety. Unfortunately, there are a few martial art teachers who are irresponsible & dangerous.

I just read a great blog post which puts some perspective around the idea of staying away from crazyness.   The blog post from  Ikagi, blogging the Martial Way, starts by quoting the Guardian;

“A self-help author who led a sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona was found guilty of three counts of negligent manslaughter on Wednesday…Jurors in the case against James Arthur Ray began deliberating after a four-month trial. More than 50 people participated in the October 2009 sweat lodge that was meant to be the highlight of Ray’s five-day “spiritual warrior” seminar near Sedona. Three people died following the sauna-like ceremony meant to provide spiritual cleansing, 18 were hospitalised, while several others were given water to cool down at the scene.”

Matthew Apsokardu then continues:

That’s a thick, powerful resume. Given his natural charisma, is it any wonder that people in need of guidance fell into step with him?  The shocking thing is how such a seemingly robust career could be built upon a lethally flawed mindset, supported by questionable credentials revolving around “tough love” and “spiritual warriorship”. The bad part is that this isn’t a one-time misstep for James Arthur Ray....The post Deadly Shugyo in Persuasive Hands is worth reading.

Mind you, I have had times when I felt that I had no limits when I ran marathons, white water kayaked, and played fully competitive 90 minute soccer games at full tilt.  And when I felt that way, I probably did have that much endurance and capacity in me and the coaches understood it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kenpo History - Ed Parker Kenpo Karate TV commercials

I've been wondering around the web and YouTube following the theme of American Kenpo which is the base martial art at Lavallees Karate School. The lineage of American Kenpo goes through the Tracy Brothers and Ed Parker.  I particularly like this video showing Ed Parker karate TV advertisements from early 70s.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stretching: Before versus After

The science of stretching is increasingly important to me so I'm trying to collect what I know.  The most basic concept in stretching is to understand the difference between stretches best done at the start of a workout and those best done at the end of a workout.

 BTW, NOTE that I am no expert and I'm writing this to solicit feedback and record my somewhat basic understanding. It is NOT a how-to written by a medically-competent coach, trainer, or advisor. In short, follow this advice at your own risk. Expert advice is however welcome. Anyone want to guest post?

At the start of a workout, the goal is to warm up the muscles and get limber enough to have a good workout. The emphasis should be on warming up with stretching being of limited ambition and intensity. The goal is simply to get limber. The primary focus should be on warming up via jumping jacks, pushups, situps, and other basics.

At the end of a workout, the stretching should be more ambitious.  The goal here is to increase flexibility. Stretching should be steady and intense and in repetitions of three, each held no more than 30 seconds.

Here's my open questions:

1.   Is this basic description of stretching before and after class right? If so, how much time before a class should be devoted to stretching (as distinct from time spent warming up)?  And how much after?  I (remember, I'm in my 50s), require 15 minutes to warm up before class in addition to the first ten minutes of class which is also a warm up. Often, I'll do light calisthenics, a few kata, and stretches for 20-30 minutes before class. However, while I might spend 5 minutes at the end of class stretching or part of the cooldown, I never spend a full 15 minutes stretching at the end .

2. What about the other stretching that I do which is typically first thing in the morning or last thing at night?   Should it be minimal or intense? Does it require a full warmup to be useful? The reality is that I spend 15-25 minutes in the morning and night doing pushups, situps, and stretching.  I wish that I did this 14 times a week, the reality is that I do it about 7-10 times at the moment. Typically,  backrolls, pushups, leg lifts, low front kicks, crunches, more pushups, toe touches, hip stretches (my current problem area), spreadlegs, knee splits, downward facing dog, and so on.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Plan. Lets call it Plan A.

People often ask me if I'm going to go for my third degree.I'm technically eligible in May 2013.

On the face of it, it sounds a little ridiculous.  I'm getting increasingly creaky and having trouble getting back in shape after my Nov-March injury fest.  Yet, hope springs eternal and frankly, I'm not quite ready to retire to the rocking chair.  So in my mind, Plan A goes like this:

Next year...June 2011-June 2012: Return to running, do some short triathalons, take up yoga to improve flexibility and core strength, get fit with strong cardio again. (remember, it was just a year ago that I pumped out 14 minute two miles).

Then...June 2012-May 2013. Go through cycle, strong and fit.  Ideally, I'd like to get my flexibility, cardio, and sparing to a point where I can spend a few months in the class with the instructors. That's an extremely lofty goal given where I am now.  Still it's a goal.  And it would be cool.

Next steps: rebuild fitness and flexibility. Start running et al...Keep dreaming.