Monday, 29 September 2008

Bodybuilding and Martial Arts

Over the weekend, Mr Olympia 2008 took place in Las Vegas, which may have turned a few heads. Two time winner Jay Cutler who dethroned 8 times Mr Olympia Ronnie Coleman a couple of years ago placed second losing to the winner, Dexter Jackson.

Bodybuilding is a great and often misunderstood sport which can offer many benefits to martial artists. Unfortunately there are still those who think that training with weights to strengthen muscles can be detrimental to martial artists and can lead to sloppy, slow technique. I completely disagree with this line of thought and give below, a couple of reasons why.

Firstly there is the obvious fact that bodybuilders can transform there bodies the way they want them. If they need to get bigger or to lose body fat for a competition they know the proper training methods in the gym and the correct food types to eat, And while they may gain weight, most of the time it shall be in the form of muscle, something that every martial artist could do with to make there techniques more effective. Obviously the bodybuilder type of physique would be very restrictive for a martial artist, but with a proper diet aimed for martial arts, there should be no worries about getting to big, which tends to be a lot of beginners concerns.

Also the dedication that a bodybuilder has regarding developing his/her body is admirable. Weather it be gaining extra muscle through heavy weights and high calorie eating, or “shredding up” for a competition through weeks of dieting and extra cardio sessions, the thought of reaching there goals fuels them with the motivation to succeed.

It has always been my opinion that bodybuilding and combat sports are amongst the toughest out there. Not because of the physical toughness of them but because of the mental ability needed to achieve a certain standard. Bodybuilding can help provide martial artists with the dedication needed to excel, as well as physically making them stronger and faster. It should be something taken advantage off by all for the benefits it can bring.


Marks

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Friday, 26 September 2008

Mike Zambidis

Being a Greek myself I just had to throw in the following video of Greek fighter Mike Zambidis. The style which “Iron Mike” uses is obviously an aggressive and ferocious one which is similar to another Iron Mike I’m sure you’re all aware off. (If not click here).

Mike Zambidis is not the largest of fighters, having some of his opponents completely dwarfing him. Not ever letting that bother him although, we see some of Mike’s greatest knockouts, training methods and ring entrances. Enjoy!


Marks

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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Leg Locks in Judo

20 years ago, the martial artists very familiar with locks and holds being applied to the joints of the arm (fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder). Judo and Ju Jutsu where demonstrating these locks, as where Aikido and some Karate and Kung Fu schools.

However, fast forward to today and with the rise of lesser known martial arts back then and MMA, leg/ankle locks have been brought before people eyes. Sport Judo although still does allow leg locks in competition as they are seen as too dangerous. Should they be allowed?

The following shows Judo Legend Kyuzo Mifune demonstrating various leg locks and using them when ground fighting. Keep in mind that this video was shot many years ago. There are some who say that leg locks where never and never will be a part of Judo. Obviously these people have not seen this video and do not know the full content of the martial art.

Leg locks are not allowed in competition because they are seen to be dangerous, in the fact that if you get a joint on your leg broke, you are not able to walk and it takes a long time for a leg joint to heal. Joints on the arm are quicker to heal and daily life is not as affected as much as if a leg joint was damaged.

The argument could be however that in competition the aim is NOT to take the joint being hyper extended past the point where it would be damaged, but to bring it just before this point so as a tap out is made, and no one is injured. Many submission grappling tournaments and MMA have shown us that leg locks can be used safely as long as a high level of control is maintained, just as when locks to other joints and chokes are used and for this reason maybe they should be allowed in Judo competition and any other which restricts them.

Also they would pose a greater threat to Judo ka and make them work harder and think better making them more complete fighters. If they practised leg locks and had to worry about them in competition they would be more cautious to them and there leg positioning during ground work would be more technical and efficient.

Hopefully the Judo world allows leg locks in competition. They are great techniques which have there place in history along with other joint locks which are allowed and by including them would make Judo more exciting and more appealing to watch.


Marks

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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Best Defence to Judo Throws

Everyone has there own individual way of fighting. They have there own techniques which work for them and those which don’t. Someone who I know, who trains in Mauy Thai told me that he has never been able to land a solid uppercut towards someone’s body in order for it to do any damage, but many times I have seen this technique been used with much effect.

Whilst checking out some Q and A on Yahoo Answers, I came across the question “What is the best defence to Judo type throws”.

Some of the answers included,

Drop onto one knee to avoid being lifted
Step back quickly as your opponent comes in for the throw
Spin around your opponent's waist as he performs the technique

Most of these answers may very well work but I was surprised to see that no one answered with “perform a counter throw whilst your opponents attempts his/her’s”

In striking, one of the best times to strike is simultaneously as your opponent strikes. Its is then, that he shall not be thinking much about his defence and when a counter would be effective.

Using the same concept with Judo type throws it is very easy to throw your opponent. In the Kodokan Book by Jigoro Kano, there is a whole section devoted to counter throws and the great thing about them is that not only are you defending your opponents attack, you are gaining the advantage at the same time. If your counter throw is not successful, at least it should leave you in the best position to follow up.

Timing is more crucial with counter throws then power. You must time your counter at the peak of your opponents throw. If this is carried out correctly, the beauty is that very little effort will be required to carry out the counter throw because your opponent will be taking himself relatively off balance when performing the initial attack.

Check out the following beautiful counters,






Marks

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Sloppy Martial Artists

As a martial artist progresses in his/her training, when basic techniques and combinations have been learnt, it is then that speed and strength (sometimes) are pushed for. *(see end)

When this happens it is all too easy to let bad habits develop and to become sloppy fighters. Sloppy techniques, movement and body usage when carrying out techniques can develop. Grapplers will notice this more however than strikers. Once a grappler notices that more strength is being used over technique, this should be taken as a sign that he/she is becoming sloppy and should then figure out why and make necessary adjustments to fix the problem.

For strikers however it is a little more difficult to spot sloppiness. The only time you may notice, is either if your (good) coach spots it out to you, or when you find yourself being dominated in sparring or in a fight, which may be too late.

The easiest and most successful way to stop sloppiness developing is to often check your form and revert back to basic training. Work slowly and check to make sure that your rotating your hips and body adequately on techniques, keeping in mind not to let your elbow drift outwards on straight punches, and that your not telegraphing strikes, use a mirror to check to make sure your constantly guarded whilst defending and attacking, make sure your moving on the balls of your feet rather than your heels, etc.

By constantly checking your form and noticing bad habits or sloppiness, you will easily be able to fix any problems that may develop and shall keep your basics sharp which will always be your foundations as an advanced fighter.

* (The reason I say sometimes for strength building is because grappling martial arts should be trying to actually decrease the amount of strength used to throw or ground fight and try and rely on good technique more. This does not mean they can slack off in building body strength however.)


Marks

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Friday, 19 September 2008

Awareness for the Street

One of the main reasons people start martial arts is so they are able to defend themselves on the street. Maybe they have been badly beaten up, bullied at school or have felt sometimes fearful of certain people, they train martial arts with the hope of one day being able to defend themselves if every caught up in a scuffle.

In order to do this they train the bodies to become more powerful, faster and maybe to be able to take blows better. They also train specific techniques from there chosen martial art, learning the basic principles of them and then trying to apply them through sparring.

One thing that many people seem to forget however, is that they are able to defend themselves in the most effective way possible by not getting into one of these bad situations in the first place.

One of the most vital weapons a martial artist can have, is not his hands, knees or superior grappling, but his/her awareness. Being aware of things can make all the difference and should be your number one weapon regarding self defence.

It is something that is practised by nearly all martial artists and they don’t even know it. The kata Naifanchi begins with a look towards the left then right. This is an awareness drill. When you spar in your class, you keep in mind who is around you so as to not bump into them whilst still concentrating on your opponent. This is an awareness drill. Again when sparring, you try to become aware which techniques your opponent prefers to use and counter accordingly. This is an awareness drill. When sparring against two or more opponents. When focusing on the new student in a class. When your teacher is walking towards you to see if you’re practising a technique correctly. Awareness training is practised always.

Awareness is something that can also be practised in your daily activities. When walking down the street and a suspicious looking person is walking in your direction, keep your distance, keep him/her in the corner of your eye and be prepared for anything. When driving always be aware of what is around you, (a car pulling out of a corner road, a young child playing next to the road) and be prepared to slam on you brakes if necessary.

It may seem more than obvious but is something that I know I forget a lot of times and I bet others forget also. By constantly trying to being aware of things around you eventually it will become a habit and part of your daily life. Hopefully it may help you when needed.


Marks

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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Fedor Emelianenko, MMA's No 1

When MMA first started people seemed to be good at one or maybe two phase’s of combat. Punching, grappling, throwing, kicking or a couple of these where what fighters knew. As time went by MMA fighters realised that they needed to be good or at least have basic knowledge of all of these phases.

Rarely do you see fighters with advanced abilities in all areas of combat, but as time goes by there are those emerging that surprise us. Fighters such as Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre and a few others are great crowd pleasers for the simple fact that they are skilful in all areas of combat from the long high kicks to the ground grappling with finesse.

Among these fighters, who is probably the overall number one is Fedor Emelianenko. Hailing from a Sambo background Fedor is known for his superior throws takedowns and ground grappling. However, Fedor has become a very skilled striker displaying some of the most powerful punches ever seen in MMA and some awesome kicks to go with them. A truly overall skilled martial artist, Fedor is shown below sparring with his teacher Vladimir Voronov in an exhibition fight, displaying some skills which makes him probably the best fighter ever witnessed in MMA.





Marks

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Home Workout Part 3

Continuing on with our series of Home Workouts, I have been testing the following for a couple of weeks and have found it to be very practical for martial artists from a striking background.

This workout is designed for those who wish to develop the exact muscles used for certain martial arts techniques. When carried out properly it shall help increase strength, stamina, speed and flexibility in the muscles worked.

The idea is that you perform a certain exercise, which works a certain muscle group and then perform a specific martial art movement straight after which further works the same muscle. Your muscles will burn like fire to begin with but as you get used to the workout, there stamina will eventually increase allowing you to train for longer.

ALWAYS REMEMBER TO THOROUGHLY WARM UP BEFORE ATTEMPTING THIS OR ANY WORKOUT ROUTINE TO HELP REDUCE THE POSSIBILITY OF INJURY.

30 seconds of Press Ups – 30 seconds of straight punches on the heavy bag.

30 seconds of Burpees – 10 head height (or as close as possible) roundhouse kicks which each leg.

30 seconds of Crunches –30 seconds of continuous bob, weaving and slipping from a fighting stance.

30 seconds of Tuck Jumps – 15 knee strikes with each leg.

Once the circuit has been completed, a 1 minute rest is taken before completing it again. Try and finish 5 circuits and increase this number as time goes by.

As with most home workouts on this site, the level of intensity is determined by how much effort is given. To push and increase your strength and stamina you must constantly try and achieve more reps (without being sloppy) within the time given for each exercise.


Marks

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Friday, 12 September 2008

Judo Ne Waza

After reading on article over at mokurendojo.com about how Judoka should get penalized for not fighting when hitting the ground and how they mainly try to “turtle up” and wait for the ref to call Mate, it got me thinking how right this is and why nothing is being done about it.

When I first started training in Judo, luckily where I trained, we focused 50% groundwork as well as 50% standing. Not just 5 minutes at the start of each lesson with light Ne Waza but full on, hard style ground grappling which constituted AT LEAST 50% of our training time and sometimes more. I did not know that other schools did not train as much Ne Waza so when I started to take part in promotional gradings (where you have to win a certain amount of fights in a competition style) I noticed a couple of things,

Firstly, most Judokas when on the floor, rolled straight onto there front and stayed there very defensively waiting for the ref to stand them back up.

Secondly, when anyone DID try to fight me on the floor I would easily dominate.

To the ones that fought back on the floor, this is exactly what you should be doing and well done to them. For the ones that didn’t and continue to not do so, you should seriously go back to the drawing board, ask yourself what real Judo is and start applying what you will find out. Judo involves just as much ground grappling as it does stand up grappling.

Pat (from MokurenDojo) had a valid point when he questioned why Judoka do not get penalized for not doing anything on the ground and yet they would do when running off the matt when standing.

Many Judoka used to think that ground fighting was boring and this was the reason why refs did not allow much of it during competition. Due to the MMA boom however, ground grappling has become very popular and the Judo world should see this and encourage it more. Not only would this transform the art to its original state but would attract a larger audience.

Judo has always had the reputation of being a “hard” art where the combatants fight with guts and spirit. By stalling ground fighting it is not living up to this reputation and is making the art look bad. Hopefully Judoka will start realising this and start training Ne Waza with the respect it deserves.


Marks Submit this article to Digg by clicking -->

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Thursday, 11 September 2008

Cro Cops Training Methods

With so many martial arts training videos on the Internet, it is hard to look for the best material to influence your OWN training. Although there are lots of good videos unfortunately, there are lots of bad ones too, and copying some of them could provide you with bad habits which you should avoid.

I came across the following video of Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic training for his fight against Bob Sapp. Although the video is in Croatian (I presume) the actual training which Cro Cop performs can be very useful for strikers.


Firstly you will notice that Cro Cops pad holder, seems to be holding the pads extremely high. As it’s a fight against Bob Sapp who is huge, Cro Cop is getting used to striking a high target. This is important and all martial artists should be doing this from time to time. Striking at just one level always will prepare to strike at just one level. What if you’re fighting someone taller or shorter than yourself?

Next, Cro Cop practises a very important combination. A hook, followed by a roundhouse kick. If he punches with his right he kicks with his left and vice versa. When he punches, he turns his hips and shoulders one direction to generate power, then, as he kicks he has to quickly turn his hips and shoulders in the opposite direction. This is a very important combination as it teaches correct body rotation which can and should be used with all other strikes, and something that all should practice. Its best to start slowly concentrating on correct body positioning and work speed and power later.

Lastly, his focus mitt training is done with the pad holder striking back. This forces him to not only think about his offence which is usually the case with pad work, but to also keep in mind his defence and cover up accordingly when strikes are thrown towards him. This is a great training method to use a few times before sparring for the first time as it teaches offence and defence without it degenerating into brawling which sometimes happens with new comers.

As mentioned there are many good videos on the Internet which can come in handy. This site tries to bring you some of the best ones to help you, as does other sites which we link to. We hope you enjoy them and if there are any questions about the techniques shown please feel free to ask.


Marks

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Fighting on Todays Streets

In the martial arts, there are many techniques which are taught. Most of the time, in order for them to be effective, they must be aimed towards the relevant targets. The eyes, throat and groin have always been the most effective targets to land strikes. A lot of damage can be caused when struck at these vital spots. However, would anyone stoop so low so as to strike at such places?

Back in the day, it was considered foul play to poke someone in the eye or kick them in the groin when fighting. It was labelled dirty fighting and gentleman never did such a thing.

Unfortunately, times have changed. We are not living in those times when it was just one against one and at the end of the scuffle, the two fighters shake hands and toast each others health. People rob each other for pennies, shoot you for looking at them and rape women (and men) sometimes for a bet.

A few nights ago I was talking with a couple of friends and one of them still claimed to believe that low blows to the groin are unjustified and not necessary. After reading the above and hearing about it unfortunately happening to others every day, how is it not justified to use such strikes.

If you get caught up in a fight, be logical about it. Use the amount of force necessary to stop the conflict. This could be striking vital points or maybe just walking away. Remember to always be safe, there are never any guarantees and that today’s world is different to yesterdays so except the unexpected.


Marks

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Monday, 8 September 2008

Submission Variations (Armbar/lock)

I found the following arm bar variations which are quite simple to apply and don’t need much practice at all. It is very important to practise variations to all submissions, and its great to see so many people nowadays really putting thought into there repertoire of techniques so as to be able to deal with many situations they are faced with when rolling.

The first is a shoulder lock from an omoplata attack,



This next can be from an omoplata attack again. I especially like this one. However you must be quick in moving your hips around to gain the best possible positioning for the lock.



There are many simple, yet effective variations to the arm bars/locks. These variations can involve setting up the submission differently, performing the submission as a counter or using it to gain a certain reaction from your opponent in which you quickly change tactics performing another submission. Practice slowly with a willing partner to find out by yourself what works for you and what does not. By slow practice which does not turn into sparring, you can easily develop these variations and with lots of drilling hopefully you shall be able to perform them when needed.

Marks

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Importance of your Guard

If you saw the Chuck Liddell Vs Rashad Evans Fight at UFC 88 you may have seen something that completely shocked you or something that didn’t shock you as much. What I’m talking about is the knockout that Chuck received.

First, Quinton Rampage Jackson did it, now Rashad Evans has done it. As much as I like Chuck it really annoys me and sometimes disappoints me to see him have such a low guard nearly always.

Your guard is your protection. It needs to be up when and when not striking. Without it your opponent has a clear shot at your knockouts points. It needs to be up always and its importance, never under underestimated.

When you and your opponent are stalking each other (walking around throwing the occasional punch or kick, waiting to see what happens) you need to have your guard up. You never know what may quickly be thrown at you. If the UFC has taught us one thing, it is that knockout blows coming from fists, feet or knees DO happen, so always except them during a fight.

Probably the most important time to have your guard up however, is when executing your own techniques. If you throw a punch with your right hand for example, your left must be held high protecting your head area. Forget about bringing it back to your hip or dropping it down. You may get away with it once, twice but eventually your opponent/s will cotton on to the fact that you’re a dropper (someone who drops there guard) and shall take advantage of it.

Keep your guard high always in practise so when you spar/fight it will become natural to you. The best way to practise this is in front of a mirror. Shadow box in front of it and watch your defence. See for yourself if you’re guarding properly and make adjustments if necessary. It is one of the most important parts of fighting and something which needs great practise.


Marks

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gymnastics Conditioning Methods

If you’re a martial artist who viewed the Beijing Olympics Im sure you would have seen the combat sports. Weather you where impressed with the standard of fighting is another matter however. One thing I bet you was impressed with though which had nothing to do with the fighting sports, was the level of strength and conditioning the gymnasts held.

The strength that gymnasts must have in order to spring many feet of the floor whilst performing all kinds of acrobatic feats is unbelievable. The way in which gymnasts are able to control and hold there bodies in certain isometric positions whilst still keeping a great level of flexibility and control is also astonishing.

So what training methods do gymnasts use to develop such a high level of conditioning? Check out the following short clip involving just a few exercises.

As you can see, it's nearly all bodyweight exercises which work strength and flexibility at the same time. A lot of swinging, isometric holds, balance work, and full range of motion training is constantly aimed for. For martial artists, the polymetric benefits that these exercises provide are ideal for the explosiveness needed for striking and grappling.

The core training which is displayed involves working the whole body. Most of the time when working the core, the top half of the body (waist up) moves whilst the bottom half does not or vice versa. In the video we see the top and bottom moving together. Combined with more common core training, (crunches, twists etc) these can provide some great benefits.

Gymnasts hold great strength and flexibility. There training methods, although aimed towards enhancing the abilities in there own sport can certainly be applied by martial artists as the aims for both types of athletes are very similar.


Marks

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Wednesday, 3 September 2008

One More Rep

In today’s day and age, there are so many decent books in the martial art and bodybuilding fields. Not only are they excellent sources to have when brushing up on techniques and training methods, but they can also give new ideas and inspiration.

The only problem is that because there are so many available, it is rare that good new content emerges. A lot of books just hold the same information re-worded. However, One More Rep by John R. Little and Robert Wolff brought out in 2006 is an exception.

The book contains interviews with many of the top bodybuilders ever to emerge. Dorian Yates, Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, Steve Reeves, John Grimek and Arnold Schwarzenegger are just a handful of names that are including in this book.

Giving advice, tips and strategies concerning weight training basics, training principles, nutrition and other things regarding today’s competitive sport of bodybuilding the book is a mammoth containing hundreds of pages of useful information ready to be soaked up by beginners or advanced bodybuilders.

I strongly urge you to check it out, and if your planning on competing in the sport of bodybuilding, this is definitely a book you want in your personal library.



Marks

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Exercise on Holiday

Having just spent a bit of time in my home country of Cyprus, this would have been my first post in two and a half weeks so many apologies for the quietness of this blog.

Over the time I was away, the only training I carried out was some light callisthenics, and running.

Wherever you go in the world, you will always be able to put in some running in order to keep your fitness level to a certain standard and to keep your muscles moving. Its probably the easiest training method available, second to walking, and does not cost anything to do.

My wife’s family home is very close to the beach in the city of Larnaca, and I was sure to make use of this wonderful scenery when running. Not only did it provide me with a great view when running which took my mind off the exercise, enabling me to run more without thinking about it, the sound of the water crashing against the rocks was in a way calming to hear.

If anyone has ever been to the beaches of Larnaca, you will know that some are stone beaches instead of sand. Running on these stones proved to be very tiring but a great stamina builder and conditioner for the legs. I found that the stones did not provide a cushion to bounce when stepping but similar to sand, my foot would sink in them forcing me to push hard on each step. By the end of each run I did find myself more out of breathe than when running on a hard floor. Also the intense heat forced me to sweat a lot using up more energy so each run became an intense workout.

Whenever I go away and don’t have use to a gym or martial art schools I always make sure that I at least get in some good old fashioned running. Using the stone beaches as a surface this time around was a great way to enhance the exercise and if anyone is lucky enough to live near such beaches, I strongly advise you to try it for yourselves.

Marks

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