Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting back into top shape....Too fun to not prioritize

My vacation started today and for the first time in months, I made it to class with enough time to properly loosen up and stretch before class. In my case, this takes a full 30 minutes.

WOW, what a difference. I had almost forgotten the difference it makes to come to class stretched and ready to go. Now, I'm no slouch: I always make it about ten minutes early but ten minutes just isn't enough for me to get warmed up. Tonight, with a fully thirty minute warm up made a world difference. I could actually kick and move full speed without that nagging sense that I was on the verge of injury.

It reminded me also that it was just six months ago when I was coming to each class stretched and in great shape so that instead of having a tough time keeping up, I could be fully intense.

Also tonight, I watched the next promotion of black belts warm up and get started on their big sparing check. They were so vigorous and intense. I'm totally inspired. Time for me, after my two week vacation, to work my way back into full training shape. It's just so fun to be in top form and with a month or so of systematic workouts (daily stretching 2x, 4 runs/ week, 3 sets of 100 pushups and situps, and kicking), I could be in top shape again. Too fun to resist.

Of course, there's the matter of the other two week trip this summer. And the move. And my job. OK, it might have to wait until the September, but I will get back in top form this year.

Oh, did I mention that I'm not the only one at my school who blogs...Check out RunBlondieRun. She does a great job especially on tracking her training, her photos, and including her family. And speaking of being in top shape....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

XMA Chuck Form One

Katas are back. And weapons! This week we dusted off our chucks and learned the first of a new series of katas. The first one is XMA chuck form one.

XMA stands for eXtreme Martial Arts. XMA is a new blend of a wide range of martial arts with gymnastics and extreme performance-attitude mixed in.

There are (I hear) three XMA chuck forms, each building on the basic moves of the first. There are virtually no chuck spins in this kata which is frustrating to those of us who have been practicing and perfecting our chuck handling . (revised 8/09)

XMA Chuck Form One - I've presented this in a few sections.

Taisho: Kata
Taisho: XMA Chuck Form One.
Bow, punch down with the right while stepping out the right. Punch down left (so your hands are slighly crossed in front of your waist). Circle set while stepping back on the 45 on the right. Remember to give off some XMA attitude.

Section - Double strikes
Chucks up over your right shoulder, step out with the left foot into a reverse hard bow facing forward. From now though the end of the form, you always face forward.
Bring bow chucks down to your left side while switching to a regular hard bow.
Bring both chucks up over your left right shoulder and then, down to the right while switching into a regular hard bow.
Both chucks go around to your your left side.
Bring both chucks up to your shoulders, down between your legs, back up to your shoulders and then, while catching them, bring your left foot into a forward-facing cat-like stance.
Then double punch forward into a hard bow with left leg forward. Keaa.

Section - Kicks and Spins
From this hardbow do an axe kick with the right leg bringing it down right next to the left. Spin 360 to the left finishing with a left chop and right punch in a hard bow with left leg forward.
Right left front kick, 360 spin again, finishing in the hard bow but a double punch. Ahheasa.

Section - Chuck Work & Finish
Step forward into a horse stance and do a quick six count with the chucks. Up over the shoulder, down to the arm pits, shoulder, waist, shoulder, chamber. It's quick.

Shift to left hard bow, strike left with the right chuck. It does one rotation, no spinning. Then chamber.
Shift to right hard bow, strike right with left and chamber.
Face forward stepping forward with left. With both chucks, one outside rotation. and catch each chuck while X stance up with right foot in a boot check against the left.
Both hands down while stepping to shoulder length apart. Aheasa.
Soft bow left with right elbow onto left first. XMA.
Punch up in the air with the right. asaaa.
T set stepping right. Bow.

As always, this is the best effort, time permitting. If you see mistakes, correct me. Just like you would in class. Comments with refinements of details are good. I'll add them into the body, time permitting.

BTW - If you're reading this, how about encouraging me with a little comment or so.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Warriors Collide 5

Left Hook Productions has another big evening this Memorial Day Weekend. It's amateur MMA right here in Ft Lauderdale at the War Memorial. Coop, who is about one third of Left Hand Productions, was back in class at the dojo this week. She's really making a go of these productions.
I love these evenings. Highly recommended. Buy your tickets through ticketmaster 305-358-5885.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Measuring Fitness - Me

You might want to skip this post since it was written really for me. A friend of mine looked at this blog and commented; You've always been narcassistic. Since I've known this guy (DJ) for 30 years and he knows me well, it caused me to think. Why (again) do I blog?
- Do I write for self aggrandizement (ie self-promotion)?
- Do I write to amuse the audience?
- Do I write just as a way of processing (ie thinking through) my ideas?

I believe that I blog to clarify my own thoughts, partially to share thoughts with others, partially as a way to hone my skills for my day job (online education), and not at all, for promotion.

So, this post in particular, is written for me. It's for me to figure out and track how I measure my fitness. It's maybe useful to others as an example of how to think about such things. Maybe not. Maybe this one is just for me.

1. Run times. Before karate, I use to do 5K runs. My best times were at a `6:30 pace. Now, my standard measure is 2 miles. If I'm not under 16 minutes, I'm out of shape. When I am at 15, I'm in good shape. For my black belt, I got to 14:08 but never hit the 14 minute mark. In working back in shape, today I ran 2.8 miles in 23:15. It's surprisingly hard to translate those two numbers into a pace. I think my pace was 8:18 miles (8 minutes, 18 seconds per mile). Since three weeks ago, I was having trouble staying at a jog for two miles, I'm pleased.

2. Waist size (and weight). Now that I'm 50 (actually, for the last two decades), fitness can be measured by my waist size. Starting at 32, my waist size went up an inch a year until at 39, I saw it was becoming a vast problem. I held at 36-38 until the divorce started at the start of 2002. I was 47 then and weighing just over two bills (208). Then, I joined a gym and trained and trained and ran and ran and really watched what I ate. At one point, I was wearing a 32 inch waist and weighing only 180. That was great. I'm now back ~197 and wearing a 34.

3. Pushups (and situps). As I prepared for the black belt, I was regularly doing four sets of 25 pushups and situps. Sometimes, six sets of each. Now, I'm training at three sets of 20. This is maintenance mode.

4. Sparring. On sparring days, we have from four to seven matches each lasting 90 or 120 seconds. At my best, I made it through. Recently, on my first day back, I was useless on matches four and five.

My targets for this year:
- Run under 15 minutes for 2 miles for the entire 2nd half of the year
- Get back to 100 pushups, 10 pullups, 200 situps as maintenance mode
- Weight: no more than 190 (this is hard because it also means strict dieting :-<) but it's important - Stretching. Get my elbows on the ground bending down with legs wide - Sparing: Be in the game every match. Running Progress:
5/17 2.8 miles, 23:15 time, 8:18 pace
5/18 2.8 miles, 22:59 time, 8:12 pace
5/21 2.3 miles, 19:19 time, 8:24 pace (weird, I thought I went faster today)


Saturday, May 10, 2008

You can argue all day about what constitutes fitness

Kelly Mills wrote a piece that struck a chord with me (and I quote out of context):

You can argue all day about what constitutes fitness....But I absolutely agree that push-ups are a symbol of everything we (ie women) have done wrong in fitness....Here's a newsflash about why women have a hard time with push-ups: We don't do them.

She discusses how women have traditionally focused on cardio exercise such as stairmasters and treadmills and spinning and running because they burn calories; crunches in the quest for a flat stomach; and "mini-weights" to get muscle tone without bulking up. It's a great article. First I'll nitpick and then I'll tell you about the chord it struck in me.

My nitpick is that in my experience, women exercise a lot thru dance and yoga. I won't speculate too much on why but I guess, in addition to enjoying it, they feel flexibility and elegant movement are important.

Some points that I'd like to pick up on:

1. Fitness is something that we get to define for ourselves. And it's a question that we might want to consider from time to time. Does fitness have mostly to do with how we feel, long or short term health, aesthetics, or competitiveness for sports? For most of my life, fitness had to do with being able to play great soccer and staying slender was something that I could take for granted. Bakc then, I drilled on soccer skills and ran. A lot. Today, soccer players probably better understand how abs and torso strength help them but back then, I trained by playing and drilling and sprinting. Today fitness has more to do with health, aesthetics, and being competitive in the dojo.

2. Fitness has alot to do with health and self-defense. Kelly Mills mentions in her article the relation between fitness and health issues: Taking my pre-boot camp self as an example, I walked into those classes with a high level of cardiovascular endurance and pretty strong legs. My exercise regime had most likely reduced my risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and I had fairly low body fat. In real-life terms, I had prepared myself well for outrunning an attacker or climbing several flights of stairs if the elevator broke, not that I'd hope to do either of those things.

But, I don't believe the point about fitness or even martial arts training being for self-defense (I know that this is heresy to some but for me, that's not important) but apparently, neither does Kelly as I found this on her FitnessFixation blog:

Occasionally someone will ask me if I am learning kickboxing for self-defense purposes. The best answer I can think of is that it’s the same as me practicing weightlifting in case I have to help someone move a couch. In other words, it is possible I’ll someday use it for that, but it’s not what I think about as a real goal or end result. Settling Scores

3. Pushups, long ignored by me, are now central to my measure of how fit I am. As KC Lavallee says over and over again: Pushups are good for the core, good for the shoulder, good for the abs, it's a entire body workout. So lets do another 25;->


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More MMA - Answers to questions

I just received some questions about the shift to MMA.
- Are the kenpo instructors competent to teach MMA?
- Do we like it?
- Will all the Lavallee schools shift?

In terms of competence, I think they are. They certainly know alot more than we students do and since they train many days / week with Kyoshi, I think they are strong. With that said, I have noticed more than on the old katas, that some details are not quite worked out among them.

I like it. I've never minded wrestling. I got my practice through my older brother who wrestled in high school and use to practice on me.

I have no idea how much this shift is just an experiment and how much it is a trend that will radiate out to the other schools. I know that they are using us a guinea pigs to get a sense of how much we can learn and how much we like it.

And learning submission moves is just so cool. It's very technical but when you slip in to the right position and everything clicks, its great.

This post sponsored, like much of this blog, by Time4Learning with has great third grade math lessons, fourth grade math activities, and fifth grade math printable worksheets.