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.