Fit Friday!

Everyday people go to the gym to workout or go around their neighborhood for a run. Maybe you just want to get buff  to look good or mainly just to stay in shape. Of course, if you’re an athlete, you want to stay fit for your upcoming games! For a martial artist, we practice not only to stay fit or for a competition but also to get closer spiritually with art. Yes, you can practice kicking, punching, or blocking all day but without other workouts like running or a little weight lifting, your martial arts isn’t complete! Of course, you can do push ups, sit ups, or jumping jacks in addition to your workout but I have a few exercises that I like to do aside the norm. Here are some examples of some exercises that you can do aside of the norm:

1.)Planking is a great way to increase core strength. Additionally, you can challenge yourself by using one arm.

IMG_1205 IMG_1208

 

2.) Lunges! These are great exercise for increase leg strength, even though most people hate them.

gzxj6

3.) In addition to lunges, frog jumps are also great strengthening your leg, and they help with jumping as well!

gzxsq

4.) An awesome full body workout is doing burpees. They work your upper and lower body because you are jumping and doing pushups all in one exercise!

gzxva

Kicks going up on a Tuesday!!

The Roundhouse Kick

While Drake is turning up, partying, and making the club go up on a Tuesday, I’ll be practicing, working hard, and making my kicks go up on a Tuesday! Kicks take a lot of practice. Think about a kicker on a football team. Sure it may seem as though he has the easiest job and all he’s doing is swinging his leg, but there are a lot of technical procedures that a kicker must follow to generate the most powerful and accurate kick to score for his team. To a martial artist, technique is everything! Without good technique, both strength and accuracy are lost. Today, I’ll be showing the Roundhouse Kick, the most commonly used kick in martial arts!

1.)  Get into a nice, balanced stance with your feet about shoulder width apart with the leg that you are kicking no more than a foot behind you.

DSCN1130 DSCN1131

2.) Next, lift your leg sideways like “you’re peeing like a dog.”

DSCN1132 DSCN1133

3.) Here’s the tricky part. When you execute the kick, make sure you pivot your bottom foot! If not, you’re kick will just go sideways instead of the front.

DSCN1137

4.) Pull back your kick. Draw the lower half of your leg back to the position you were in on the second step then set it back!

DSCN1139DSCN1131

In full motion!

Notice my foot pivoting!

Notice my foot pivoting!

gvayo

 

Another thing to think about while performing this kick is your foot positioning. It is your choice to either kick with the ball of your foot or the top. The effectiveness of the kick is the amount of penetration. Think about the kick in terms of a piece of wood and a nail. Kicking with the top of foot is like smacking someone with a flat piece of wood, but kicking with the ball of your foot is like smacking someone with a nail through the piece of wood.

Style Shifting

Recently in my anthropology class, we discussed the idea of identity. More specifically, style shifting. Style shifting is basically when people change their way of identity depending on the environment. For example, you wouldn’t say the same things you do at a party or sports event in front of your teachers or your parents. Well, today I will be using this anthropology lesson as an analogy to martial arts! Like style shifting in human speech depending on the environment, a martial artist shifts styles depending on the surroundings. For example, if the fighter was getting ganged up on by 2 or more people, his style would quick and more attentive than compared to the fighter being in one on one situations.

There are 3 different hand-to-hand combat situations: close range, long range, and being ganged up on. Here are some other examples of style shifting for different situations:

1.) Close Range Combat.

I define close range combat as when you and your opponent are locking arms or legs and wrestling each other. In close range combat it is hard to throw kicks like in Tae-Kwon-Do or punches like in boxing. So, the more ideal style of combat would be throwing and body locks like in Judo or Jujitsu. For example, locks and take downs.

practing

2.) Long Range Combat.

Long range combat is when you are a good distance away from your attacker so it is nearly impossible for him/her to try and  grab you. Using styles like Tae-Kwon-Do or Boxing would be effective. 

karate club

3.) Being Ganged Up On

Nobody likes this situation. When two or more people are ganging up on you, you become more attentive. The initial instinct is to run and you’re always trying to avoid getting cornered. Well most people unless you’re Bruce Lee as shown below… 

Bruce-Lee-Chen-Zhen Bruce-Lee-defends-Chinese-honour-against-Japanese-in-Fist-of-Fury2

 

The final message of this post wasn’t to say that in these situations you have to use this style or this style is only effective in this situation. It is to show you examples of different situations and what you may have to do compared to how you normally fight! In addition, this post isn’t to say that the Tae-Kwon-Do doesn’t have defensive techniques or Judo doesn’t have any techniques for longer range combat. I’m looking at the style as a whole and what the style is notorious for.

Buckling up

black_belt

Every day, I hear about people getting black belts and either quitting or thinking that they are the best person in the world. Additionally, I always hear about people getting their black belts at a very young age or I would always hear people flaunt about having some number of degrees on their belts. Cool, you got a black belt! Where did you get it from? E-bay? Amazon? Or did your instructor make you pay to test for it and gives it to you? Honestly, having a black belt means absolutely nothing to me. I’m just a white belt who never quit doing something that I’m passionate about. From personal experience, I used to brag about getting my black belt at 9 years old, having the privileges to teach class, and getting the title of junior instructor at age 12. I used to feel like I was the best with having a plethora of 1st places and a state championship title, but what I have come to realize is that I have a lot more to learn. My parents paid for me to test and because my instructor did not want to deal with angry parents, he passed me. Because of this, I always thought I was the best but I soon came to the realization that I wasn’t. This is my story:

This is me. All relaxed before competing but extremely cocky.

This is me. All relaxed before competing but extremely cocky.

After my win at a tournament in 2008, I traveled to China to go to a boarding school for Wu Shu for the first time. My first thought was this would be a waste of my time but I guess it would be fun. I walked in to the school all cocky and arrogant but on the first day, I was immediately shut down. In Wu Shu, apparently being able to flip around and other acrobatic air tricks were a part of the basics! I was amazed at their skill level but I was more intimidated than in awe. My arrogance began to wither and I started to realize that this isn’t my place to show off. 

A few days later, the instructors around the boarding school decided to host a friendly competition between classes. I loved competition but because of the skill levels of some of the other students, I was very nervous. I wanted to compete in forms or weapon forms but since I was incapable of perform acrobatics, I bailed out. However, I did compete in sparring! Throughout the tournament, I was winning match after match. I was 3-0, and was ready for more! My arrogance began to grow throughout the competition, and I became the cocky brat again until the finals. 

When the finals came around, I was 5-0. I thought, “hey, these guys may look cool but I guess they still need work on fighting!” Yes, I went into that round being more conceited than ever. Needless to say, I lost that day. Additionally, I received a hairline fracture that kept me out of the action for a bit. Not only did I lose the trophy, I lost dignity and I also lost my love for sparring.”

In the end, I realized that I still have a lot to learn. I was ready to quit and just drop everything but my coach said, “You have to find it in your heart to go on.” From this experience, I have become not only a better martial artist but a better person with a great passion and appreciation for the arts. Albeit, to this day I am still a chicken when it comes to sparring but slowly I am building back the confidence to do something I used to love. Moral of the story is that arrogance can hurt you. Just because you got a black belt now doesn’t mean you are best. There is always someone who is better than you. So in the end, buckle up and keep training. In the end, a belt doesn’t define you. You define the belt with your knowledge and maturity.

passion

Falling in Reverse

Oh, you thought I was going to talk about the band? Sorry to disappoint, but I do have an awesome life saving tip for you! At some point in your life, you’ve landed flat on your back before. Did it knock the breath out if you? Did you hit your head? Probably, but one of the best ways to prevent this is to break your fall.

There are 3 types of break falls: back, side, and front. Today, I’ll be explain the back break fall. This break fall is the easiest to learn but the hardest to master. There has been a number of incidences where a person performing this break fall hurt himself more than he intended. Here is how to do a proper back break fall:

1.) You start in a natural standing position. The feet are shoulder width apart and your arms are just hanging down loosely.

IMG_1143 IMG_1146

 

2.) Next, you want to squat down with your hands in front of you.

IMG_1149 IMG_1152

3.) Next, you want to roll back. When rolling back, make sure you tuck your chin in. This prevents you from hitting your head on the ground. Then, simultaneously you want to slap your hands on the ground to absorb the impact. Make sure when you hit the ground, your arms are not far from your body. They should be no more than a foot away from the body. Most people make the mistake of spreading their arms out too far and injuring their shoulders or hyper extending their elbows. Also, your feet should naturally come up.

IMG_1155 IMG_1158 IMG_1161

For practice sake: To get used to the position shown above and learning how to simultaneously tuck your chin, slapping the ground, and rolling back, you can start from a beach ball position and just practice rocking back and forth doing the slap and coming back to the beach ball over and over again. Here is an example of the beach ball position:

IMG_1164 IMG_1169

 

The final production should look like this:

gpziz

While practicing, I suggest practicing on a softer surface like grass or carpet then slowly progress to harder surfaces like wood and eventually concrete. Have fun practicing and be safe!

Kicks going up on a Tuesday!!

The Front Kick

While Drake is turning up, partying, and making the club go up on a Tuesday, I’ll be practicing, working hard, and making my kicks go up on a Tuesday! Kicks take a lot of practice. Think about a kicker on a football team. Sure it may seem as though he has the easiest job and all he’s doing is swinging his leg, but there are a lot of technical procedures that a kicker must follow to generate the most powerful and accurate kick to score for his team. To a martial artist, technique is everything! Without good technique, both strength and accuracy are lost. There are 3 basic kicks: the front kick, roundhouse kick, and side kick. Tonight, I’m covering the first basic kick.

Can you lift your leg straight up in front of you? Cool! You just took the first step in performing a front kick! The front kick is one of the first kicks a martial artist learns. It is simple and without a doubt a powerful kick when executed correctly.

1.) Get into a nice, balanced stance with your feet about shoulder width apart with the leg that you are kicking no more than a foot behind you.

IMG_1141               IMG_1130

2.) With your kicking leg, lift your knee up towards the front till your thigh is parallel to your waist line.

IMG_1133              IMG_1140

3.) When you kick, pull your toes back and aim with the ball (portion between the arch and toes) of the foot.

IMG_1139                   IMG_1135

4.) Pull back your kick. Draw the lower half of your leg back to the position you were in on the second step then set it back!

IMG_1138                           IMG_1133

IMG_1137                           IMG_1134

In a full motion, it should look like this:

gmva6

Sturdy, Steady Stances

Stances are probably the most important aspect to any style of martial art. Stances are known as the base of all techniques. Without them, techniques would look sloppy, structure of a form is lost, and a form would look weak. Aside from looks, performing techniques would be easier with a sturdy stance. For example: when you see someone doing squats in the gym, they have a base that is not too wide or not too narrow. The better the stance, the less likely the weightlifter will get injured. Here are some examples of basic stances in martial arts:

1.) Probably the first stance you learn, the ready stance! You stand with your shoulder facing forward, feet shoulder width apart, and your hands fall in front of you like your doing a double punch down. Based off of looks, you wouldn’t think this is a stance but technically speaking, a stance has a purpose whether to generate power or motion or to simply show respect. In most martial art styles, this is the how you start off before a form, bowing into class, or just starting off in any event in a tournament.

Excuse my face..but this was before a tournament event.

Excuse my face..but this was before a tournament event.

2.) The front stance, or forward stance! This stance varies in length depending on the style. For example, in traditional karate or Tae-Kwon-Do, the stance is more narrow and your shoulders face forward. To perform this stance, separate your feet to about shoulder width, then go forward as though you’re doing a lunge but keep the back leg straight. In the photo below, I’m performing the Wu Shu front stance. The long front stance in Wu Shu is really nice for performance but not so much in combat. This stance is really good for generating power for techniques motioning forward.

(Top Left): Long Wu Shu front stance. (Top Right): My friend lunging forward into his block. (Bottom Left): These two guys pushing against each other. A perfect example of forward stances and generating power in a forward motion. (Bottom Right): Me pushing forward with a palm strike

(Top Left): Long Wu Shu front stance. (Top Right): My friend lunging forward into his block. (Bottom Left): These two guys pushing against each other. A perfect example of forward stances and generating power in a forward motion. (Bottom Right): Me pushing forward with a palm strike

3.) Horse Stance! This is probably the most popular and tiring stance. To do a horse stance, separate your legs about twice the length of your shoulders (of course length may vary), then sink into your stance like you’re about to sit down on an invisible chair. I’m pretty sure the majority, if not all, styles have an exercise where you have to sit in horse stance while punching, blocking, or etc. This stance is not really incorporated into any combat situations, it is more of an exercise for strengthening the legs and back.

horse stance

Most styles of martial arts will start of teaching a beginning martial artist with these stances. Most of the fancier stances will come to a person later on in a person’s training process.