Monday, February 25, 2008

Random stumbling

Just wanted to quickly share a blog I ran across this morning.

Yachigusa Ryu.

Some excellent, well-thought out articles that are thought-provoking and very thorough as well!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Reality Training

Today, on the rough streets of Columbus, I had the opportunity to employ my martial arts training. I called upon my thousands of hours sweating and training in the dojang, and I am proud to report that my body reacted exactly as it had been trained. My enemy was vanquished, and I lived to tell the tale with a minimum amount of injury.

I called upon my training in the ancient art of nakbop sul.

I will wait a minute for those of you who need to open another tab and Google that.

That's right, I called on my training in falling techniques to save the day.

That's right, my foe: the sidewalk. I italicized the word sidewalk to make it seem more nefarious. It's the text equivalent of evil music being played during a soap opera.


Anyways. It's winter in my part of the universe, which makes for treacherous roads and walkways. While I'd like to say that my training has given me an impeccable sense of balance and movement, the ice can always bring a double dose of humility the even the most seasoned martial artist. Even tai chi masters quake in fear of icy sidewalks, partially because you have to be almost 90 to be a taiji master and by then you're afraid of breaking your hip.

(In unrelated news, many people are still unable to detect humor on the Internet.)

Have you ever watched someone lose their balance on the ice? I couldn't find any videos on youtube to embed, but I'm sure you could search for "newborn calf walking" and get a rough idea. Like my early morning hyung practice, it ain't pretty. The arms flail wildly, and the legs lock up in a futile attempt to stay upright.

Learning nakbup properly, you learn quickly that resistance is futile. You learn to just bend those knees, tuck your head and go with the flow.

Oddly enough, this whole scenario came up on Tuesday during our dorm demo. We paired up with the Shuai Chiao club to entertain the students, and they were fascinated with the falling techniques. It turned into a lengthy dialogue with students on the real benefits of martial arts training.

When will your training come in handy? It probably won't be in a dark alley against a gang of bikers, it probably won't be in a cage fight, and most of us are mature enough to avoid a bar fight. Chances are, you'll need it in a very mundane situation such as slipping on the ice, falling off your bike, missing a step on the stairs.

Oddly enough, these "boring" issues have one thing in common with the biker fight scenario: they still hit without warning, and if you haven't properly trained a reaction, you're going to get hurt.

( Later addition: My first real training in breakfalls came from the Shuai Chiao club at OSU, when Sifu Grigsby spent a day training us in the finer art of taking a throw. Since that time, I have taken numerous bike spills, slipped on ice or stairs, etc. My martial arts training has prevented certain injury in many cases. Thanks again to Sifu Grigsby and the Shuai Chiao club for reminding me of this and for sharing your knowledge over the years!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Adding a Medicine Ball to your workout.

Our student recreation center has started purchasing some of the newer, rubberized medicine balls. I've added them to my pre-class workout, and I have really enjoyed the variety of exercises I can do with them. They are great for abdominal workouts and you can add them to lunges to give an extra challenge. Throwing the medicine ball with a partner works great as well. At the very least, there's a few exercises that you can add to spice up a routine when you get bored.

I wanted to link to a few exercises I found on YouTube that you may enjoy as well.

The lunges look pretty easy at first, but the fatigue starts to settle in, and the shoulders get a nice burn as well. I really enjoy the medicine ball push-ups since they force me to move my weight around while keeping my core tight.

Just don't try THIS exercise:

Though, perhaps this routine might have some overlooked martial arts benefits after all! :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

More on Wikis

This past weekend, we successfully hosted our yearly clinic for studios in our Region. While it's not a particularly expensive or stressful event, there is quite a bit of paperwork to keep track of, dates to keep in mind, deadlines, etc. When one person is doing all the work, it's incumbent upon them to organize the material however they see best (I personally prefer using labels in gmail.)

When collaborating and planning with a group, sometimes a Wiki may be the best bet for organizing your info. I know I've written about wikis before, but I have just started using our studio's wiki to plan the next clinic.

What's a wiki?

One of the key benefits I see is uploading files, tracking comments from meetings, planning along a timeline, and using the discussion page to keep track of our next directions.

A wiki is very easy to install on your website. Your provider may already offer a wiki package for easy install, or you may want a big package such as MediaWiki You may also find wikispaces is just enough for your needs, and with a lot less install work on your part.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

stringing together techniques

For the last few years, the black belt tests in our Region have added an additional segment. After drilling basic techniques, candidates are pushed to the back of the room and asked to march up to the front creating their own combinations of techniques: kicking punching rolling, jump kicks, whatever they can come up with.

The first group of candidates starts the long march down the floor, followed by the next group, etc. Get to the front, run back and do it again until the panel is satisfied.

To be perfectly honest, this is one of my favorite portions of the test. Not only is it a good physical test, but mentally you are exhausted, trying to come up with new combinations. From time to time, people will "freeze" during this drill.

That's one of the main reasons I enjoy it: when your down and frustrated, what comes out? That's a much better test of a martial artist than a form you've doubtlessly rehearsed thousands of times leading up to the performance.

Here's my favorite part of this drill: this drill is YOUR chance, as a martial artist, to show the testing panel where you are in your training. You get to showcase your strengths, your interests and your unique way of making Tang Soo Do your own.

If you like to apply Tang Soo Do principles and concepts to in-close fighting, I hope to see that in your drill, expressed with foot stomps, knee and elbow strikes, head butts, backfists and reverse punches. Likewise, the kicker in the group will have an opportunity to demonstrate how to combine circular and linear kicks at different heights and distances.

I have started doing this as a drill in class so that everyone can figure out the best way for themselves. I especially like watching new students create their own combinations beyond what they've been shown.

From time to time, the students create combinations that I really like, and then I get to steal them for next class! :)