Good workout

Just finished up a reasonably quick after-work session, and I have top say, it feels really good to get back into some good physical training. I’m finding that I’m gradually increasing the scope of my training sessions between classes – I’ll now do 50 leg lifts, 100 crunches (with a mix of light- and medium-intensity focus on them), 10 divebomber pushups (yes, only 10 :P), and in an attempt to improve the quality of my kicks, I’ve also added a stack of leg stretches into the mix. The awesome bit is that I’m now back to being able to do side-splits all the way down to the floor again – it’s been a while, but it’s good to get back there. In response, I’m finding my leg is more limber than it normally is, and the muscles around my knee (and remember my knee’s prone to being a bit shonky every now and again) are more relaxed and strengthened… if that makes sense 😛

Anywho, now that I’ve cleared enough space, I also went through my grade kata a few times before hitting the weights. Following on from the principles I read up a while ago on Jesse’s blog, The Martial Explorer, I went for max intensity and minimum reps – got 51kg on the bench (no improvement from last time, but its been a fortnight since I last hit the weights, so I figured this wasn’t too shabby), hit higher weights on my other exercises, including 45kg on the… erm, I’m not sure the name of it – pull-downs or something? It’s the one where you pull down the long horizontal behind you and stuff, working your shoulders and back. I’ve found it’s helping balance out my muscle around my shoulders as well, which I think were becoming too front-heavy and not properly balanced on both sides – this has happened before when I used to do only light weight training and focused too much on my arms instead of dedicating enough time on my shoulders and back to support the extra muscle mass.

… not that I know a lot about weight training mind, just what I’ve read up on and learned from those more experienced than I, like my father-in-law, and other martial artists out there.

So yeah, good workout tonight – looking forward to having another one tomorrow night in prep for getting back to training this week!

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Shin kicks

I was over at Win Demeere’s blog a few minutes ago reading through a couple of his recent posts, and he has a great two-part series on shin kicks (links – part one, and part two). I’ve been curious to see if I could use this technique for a while now, so will have to give it a crack over the next week and see what I can come up with. The posts in question give plenty of detail in how to perform the kick, and he’s linked in a few YouTube videos to demonstrate their use too.

I’m particularly keen because I feel my prosthesis would make for an awesome shin kick given I’d be delivering the strike with a raw titanium pole. Might just be the perfect technique if I can turn it into a fast, effective move. The extra bonus will be if I can get pull it off using my real leg, so we’ll see how that turns out.

In the meantime, check out the posts on his blog if you’re interested – plenty of good info there. Thanks Wim!

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Hikite (withdrawing the hand) discussion on Ikigai

Last one for tonight before I go to bed!

Matt’s done a great post on hikite (withdrawing the hand) and its use/applications on his blog, Ikigai. I love Matt’s posts because he often goes into plenty of detail and explains the practical application behind a number of techniques you learn in traditional Japanese martial arts systems. I harp on a lot about my exploration of application in karate, and his post on hikite is another great example of the importance of delving beneath the obvious to determine the utility of a technique. Hence why I’m plugging it from my site 🙂

This kind of discussion will no doubt continue to be fuel the fires of discussion between the different camps of martial arts theory, in that to some there is little point in applying “artificial” introspec in understanding a technique instead of, well, telling it to you straight away and knocking out the extended learning curve. I would recommend checking out Jon Law’s excellent Epic Martial Arts blog to get the viewpoint of someone who falls into this category – his website has some excellent posts on the topic and I’ve had the pleasure of discussing this with him in the past on my blog and on his, and I think he offers some excellent insight into the opposite end of the argument over traditional vs typical Western approaches to learning martial arts, even if I am usually a little biased as I personally prefer the traditional method, as it suits me and I enjoy the journey (and I also have excellent instructors who don’t just bark orders – they always take the time to demonstrate practical applications and are themselves constantly learning new approaches to martial arts to enrich their own understanding, which is very important).

I think all sides have merit, but as my interest is in learning a traditional Japanese martial art (as discussed plenty of times throughout this blog!), Matt’s post on hikite is essential reading for your truly!

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Crazy throw thingie

I saw this over on Patrick’s Mokuren Dojo blog (visit it, it’s a great blog):

According to the post in question, this is an aikido technique called a gedanate. Not having studied aikido before (though I’ve read Twigger’s rather ace Angry White Pajamas, which is an ace little book), I don’t know much about this kind of stuff, but I know that the complete lack of visible effort used to send the guy flying off to the side is awesome. Check out Patrick’s original post for more links and discussion on the topic.

Personally, I think it just looks cool 🙂

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Transferring martial arts from two legs to one leg (literally)

Okay, bit of background on this theory – when I seriously mangled my stump back in… early 2006, and had almost a year off from my training to recover from the damage, I found myself trying to transfer those skills to my existing condition and start to work on theorising how I could transfer the techniques and knowledge I had gained from learning karate as an amputee into something I could do on one leg — literally, as this was when I couldn’t even wear my prosthesis.

This seems a bit odd – karate (and by extension, martial arts in general) draw from the body’s natural synergy insofar as the body’s symmetry is concerned – that is, you have a left-hand side and a right-hand side of your body, and it’s by using both sides and all four limbs together that you can extract maximum performance, strength, efficiency and so forth. Training in a martial art with one leg whilst wearing a prosthesis presents challenges to the body’s natural equilibrium, but what happens when you remove the limb altogether?

That’s what I started to investigate. My early experiments were seeing if it was possible to control techniques whilst on crutches. As time has gone on (three years if I’m not mistaken given its 2009 now), I’ve tried to move beyond this, and try and transfer at least some techniques to performing them on one leg. I think I’ve started making a little progress at this stage, and as amateur as it may seem, I might have to get my wife to take some photos so I can post them up on the blog. The main difference is that it is significantly more difficult to transfer powerful techniques on one leg, and the amount of energy required to keep up is absolutely incredible. When doing standing reverse-punches, you have to shift your center of balance slightly, but with practice you can start to pull off techniques with a high degree of hip rotation to start achieving effective technique.

Blocks and grappling are a bit restricted, but if you use measured effort to hold your balance, there is a degree of light technique that I’ve been able to achieve at this stage. Whilst my holds/grappling skills are pretty weak, I think there is a huge potential here to investigate different options, as the lack of a limb theoretically gives you greater access to monkey-style grappling where you can easily grapple with relative agility around/over your opponent. I think it would take an experienced jujutsu/BJJ or grappling fighter to really harness this, but I think the possibilities are there. If ever I learn groundfighting styles further down the road, it would certainly be an interesting exercise to work out how to transfer those principles to this style of technique.

Kicks obviously are pretty much non-existent unless I’m on my crutches, but at that I’m only really limited to thrusting kicks which only have a certain degree of utility. To be honest, it would probably be far more effective to separate the bottom shaft of the crutches and wield them like kali sticks than rely on the crutches for support in doing a thrusting forward kick.

So yeah, just a few thoughts there. Like I said, in a couple of weeks I might get Wifey to take some snapshots whilst I investigate techniques and demonstrate a few techniques I’ve worked out for when I’m without my prosthesis. This train of thought was inspired in part because I’ve had issues with my stump this week and it got me back to thinking about what’s possible in such a condition. Definitely something to think about.

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