Thursday, 16 February 2017


“Hands up, baby hands up!” what a fun song from Ottawan in 1981, but we are not here to dance just now, we are here to train. 
This particular training method is one I have used more than once and only came to light recently, after I began training in Taekwondo  in order to work on my kicks. What I discovered is as I was focusing on my technique with my kicking, my hands would slowly creep down. Inside this bothered me as I am or at least try to be an aware person. We are all human and learning holds no bounds as I was been reminded…so it was game on and I armed myself with a tea towel!
Now, I am epic at whipping flies in the kitchen or whipping family members too but this time it’s going around my neck. Here’s what we will do using a tea towel or any towel really for that matter. 

The first drill is to grasp the towel with both hands in a basic guard position, note that its natural to hang onto the towel and let your elbows flare out a bit and you can polish this up after. Don’t pull down too much as you don’t want strain on the back of your neck. The key is to grasp the towel lightly and mindful in your hand position as you kick. At first you can just walk around your home or garden or do this whilst cooking, but don’t pop the shops okay. Practice your stance or footwork before moving onto kicks. I would suggest working some knees at first to get used to your balancing without using your arms, remember to some advanced martial artists reading this, this is aimed at starters too away from class. I taught myself this very method although I can’t recall where I picked it up from but I’m sure some of you will recognize it. After you can execute some knees and keep your guard where you want it and then move onto some low kicks. Any kicks you like remember this is about you and no one else trying to rule you. Again I’ve chosen a low sidekick, and as before you can give attention to your foot positioning after. Practice in left and right stances because we usually have an arm that is stronger, so get them both used to being upfront and guarding.

Eventually you can train higher kicks and I love the feel of that tea towel on them high kicks, but above all be careful. Of course lose your towel eventually  and hold on to your Gi or neck of your top, before you can hold a guard while performing any kick or movement. If you’re feeling brave, Nunchakus can be used an advanced drill instead of a towel and blend really well into a weapons workout of Budo…and yes be mindful of the chain on your neck. I’ve used all sorts over the years such as wrist weights, dumbbells and weighted rings to train the punching guard including resistant bands, all can help you too and strengthen your deltoids. I wouldn’t recommend trying the spinning kicks while anything is around your neck, just in case you strangle yourself and burn your cooking. You still want plenty of space to be able to move freely and safely.
There is a dual purpose to this drill, you can actually use it to give your hands a rest after a punching workout. This is great as now you can just concentrate on your kicks knowing your hands are chilling out not in the way. I know of some people who clasp their hands behind their backs to kick. Even seen some placing their hands on their head a bit like the Keysi Fighting Method.

“We, like martial art, are like a mirror and need polishing daily so we can be seen clear.”

The good thing about this simple method is that it can simply be revisited over and over if need be, and let’s not forget to have fun in training, and to make the most out of your free time even if that means doing some random acts to improve yourself on any level. I myself for one, have found that during solo training things have a habit of coming out in the wash. By that I mean in class you are being taught and showed a way, in class you might not get it or there is something eating away at you that you just cannot put your finger pointing on? I have always and I mean always worked it out in private, it all irons out and do you know why that is? Your body is key way beyond all the expert advice and guidance, even this column you’re reading now is being absorbed while you’re relaxed? Think about it, in school you produce your creative work alone usually when you relate to the inner YOU for answers. Bit comparable to shadow kickboxing, working yourself out by moving through space and time. I’m not saying you should not receive your proper training and go around messing about with crazy ideas, no, you get your external training through others and don’t neglect yourself over class mates or teachers. Remember to learn we seem to follow, but some just keep following and yes they become great but you are now a copy of them or their way or path. Just look at the potency and ability of Bruce Lee who in fact ironed many creases out in private. You must have that third eye though to realise you will need advice and we can’t do it all without some help. Combine all minds you learn from within just like we all absorb parts of others energy no longer with us.

 You should not feel awkward wanting to be your own person, and I’m not trying to be the next coming Jesus Christ or just another finger pointer. Take it from a real life person who has created themselves and sharing it now with you. You are real, what you see and feel and do is real. Look around next time you’re at training and ask yourself…
Do they read as much as you about the art and history or research the anatomy of the human body, or are they just good at the syllabus?
Do they train at home or do anything extra that may help them or do they just train for two hours per week?
(Here’s a good one) Can you relate to them as a person outside of martial art?
Finally I’d like us to recap and now practice all your kicks in front of a mirror and on purpose check my photos…
Are your elbows still flaring out like mine are?
Could you have your hands closer to your chin and maybe pivot your supporting foot more?

 Finally you should have attained more of a fun habit and an aid to helping your own development in the martial arts, maybe sharing it with your class mates and who knows…maybe you’ll be the one who knocks?


Monday, 13 February 2017


This column I am about to write has been inspired by a few martial artists online after I stumbled across some posts regarding the combat ability of your pound for pound ratio. I’ve read some interesting ponders on a martial artists potency in their weight field. Here I will go into it and then share with you some methods that I encourage you to look at, some I have used to help me remain potent at my weight, not just for your art but life in general.

Over the years, we all have questioned or listened to what ifs and the him VS him like these…
Who would win out of Bruce Lee and Tyson?
Jet Li VS Jackie Chan?
Punching VS kicking
The list could go on but I don’t believe in politics and debates as I have erased that type of competition from my mind. Let’s get away from shadow chasing of the curious brain, because here is what the truth is or as Bruce Lee said, “My truth is not your truth.” My granddad would say to my Dad that, “A good big one will always beat a good small one.” Surprisingly enough my Dad says to me that, “A good small one will always beat a good big one.” Adding to this I was told “A good Boxer will beat a good scrapper.” And a good Scrapper will beat a good Boxer.” Where does the truth lie? Well there are a few factors to consider, the first being that my Granddad was a bigger man that my Dad so both had highs and lows in life’s survival and each from their own experience. For the world out there are environments, personal skills and ability and mind set and at times it’s just the way the wind blows. Now I do get it if comparing fighters pound for pound at the top of their game to an extent in different weight classes but again pointless, for will it ever become?

Chuck Norris once stated that, “He thought Bruce Lee, pound for pound was one of the strongest men on the planet.” Now Bruce Lee himself was a true example of pound for pound ability, if not beyond. At his weight it is clear that he could take on people bigger than him and do better than an untrained person. His strength and abilities surpassed his actual body weight and although he never competed at his peak, there are facts and feats that he did do. So what about the rest of us? The key is to be the best we can be, safely and within our limits but stretching it gradually. Martial Arts are all about movements, so pound for pound can you move to the best of your ability? Do you have a decent strength, power and skill level for your weight? If you’re a lightweight martial artist, then can you hit hard? If you’re a heavyweight can you move quick? If you look at the two warriors Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee, each was exceptional. Tyson was very quick for his size and Bruce could pack a wallop. Small fighters should hold speed and big fighters should hold power, but can they always do both to an exceptional degree?

Here’s story… A while ago a few of my work friends decided to do some arm wrestling and at that period, I was into my Isometrics. First I arm wrestled some of the bigger lads, and of course I lost, even though I put up a fight. Their limbs were bigger or longer than mine. So off I went at the end of the day disheartened inside thinking I was weaker than I thought. Then one day more people had a go and I began to win? The penny dropped after I beat 3 people, because they were the same size as me. So pound for pound I was in that moment of being stronger had I beat the bigger guys I would have surpassed myself also. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all because maybe I just copped a lucky example. Again it’s about attaining and maintaining who and what you are, think about Kickboxing champion Oliver Sykes and the power of his spinning back. Here are some methods that will keep you fit and strong without having to add muscle, most of them we are familiar with.

HONEST GRAFT – Okay, activities such as manual work and gardening. The body naturally adapts well to stabilising and lifting things. Survival and purpose based methods that feel like you’re not training when you actually are. Long walks across hills with your dog are great for the relaxation and the mind.
ISOMETRICS – Paul Vunak described a person who was strong and didn’t look it as a sleeper. This is all about training the tendons holding or pushing against things or yourself in a variety of ways. Remember to breathe and it’s better to do a little bit most days instead of over straining in a marathon session. Always do some stretching.
 MARTIAL ARTS – Goes without saying that if you train yourself into a fighter or hone good self-defence skills then you have the upper hand against another at your weight that is not trained.
CALISTHENCS – Beauty & Strength. Body weight training can be a natural way to build strength endurance and a great compliment for the military and martial arts. Again there is a variety of methods but I’d suggest keeping it simple, basic and progressive. Just think, if you can do more press ups than your mate who weighs the same them pound for pound you have surpassed him. Be sure to make it healthy competition and support your partners if that where your heads at.
DYNAMIC TENSION – This moving strength method won’t get you real strong but allow you to control your existing strength and muscle control, many perform kata this way.
PLYOMETRICS – You can use power lifting to activate neuromuscular function within your body gaining explosive strength, but I’d still go with body weight moves or lighter weights. It’s your call really so stick to what works for you, and never, ever neglect the heavy bag. Plyometrics are used by many martial arts to improve speed and strength and is great for improving your output in your own weight. Please take your medicine ball if feeling under the weather, it is a great training aid.
Last but not least – STRETCHING! I don’t mean splits or anything extreme even though that is great, I mean a real world activity like cardio. Believe it or not, stretching helps you become stronger as you are lengthening the muscle. It warms you up and down and can ease aches and pains. You will experience a kind of runners high so to speak. As we age we shrink to a degree, and if you stop training for a while the two things you notice is tighter muscles and heavy breathing. Swimming can be beneficial too for martial arts, especially shadow kickboxing in water.

Often in competition, you will have your fight weight so it’s a good idea to test each other on your abilities in sparring or hitting the pads. Get a partner at your weight and compare punching and kicking power, come up with ways to improve each other. It may be a sit up contest, I rep bench press or a power side kick test. Even if you don’t compete and as you age your weight increases or decreases (as it can) then you will need to maintain some kind of level. Not just for output but for longevity and for your family. Always better to have a body that can serve you if the mess hits the fan, or you may have a job on at work. Above all, being a pound for pound fighter is really about martial skill in the stand-up game combined with conditioning. Your wins and losses will reflect this. If you just train by yourself or don’t compete, then unless you are working out with weights a lot you will stay a constant weight. At least you will have that ‘peace’ of mind that you are doing something for yourself, training is training. You cannot tell if a person is a good drawer until you see them draw a picture. Stay humble and respect the code of Budo, it’s only in the game when a martial artist’s skill should come into play.

To me though, the highest meaning of pound for pound lies not in your potency as a fighter, but as a true martial artist and his or hers positive approach to their training and others. Pound for pound… is your worth in gold coins who is a good person. Conducting yourself in the right way as much as you possibly can matter what you’re made of. Life can be challenging for us all some days, and when it does I picture Jackie Chan in Armour of God getting battered by them strange ‘ladies.’ He’s doing his best to cover and goes down onto one knee. In a fit of frustration and a quest to get through it, he fights back…

“Keep punching Apollo.”