I love this exercise, in particular, because it is great at activating the posterior chain, or the muscles in your back. You’ll feel this one in the legs and glutes, primarily. You’ll also feel it in your core, as well as your lower and upper back. Last but not least, you’ll feel it in the back of your shoulders. However, with any exercise, the goal is to activate the entire body with balance, integrating the movement of everything in your entire body together as a single, collective unit.
As with all of my magical exercises, this one is designed to make you more powerful and longer lasting at the same time. This is made possible by the use of core rotation, in addition to fluid, rhythmic, and non-stop movement. Any type of movement or exercise that doesn’t contain these qualities is going to decrease mobility, which can make you either reduce your ability to move dynamically and sustainably.
For this reason, all movements that you perform should be focused on the efficient movement and rotation, of the core.
In this exercise, notice how my core rotates as my arms and legs move in concert. Coordinating the movement of your core, arms, and legs is very important in the practice of martial arts, as well as sports and life. Coordinated, synchronized motion increases the power you’re able to produce, but it also reduces stress on the joints, making this the most awesome exercise ever! (not really (but seriously though))
This exercise can be performed with a sandbell, a kettlebell, or anything else that can be easily passed from one hand to the other. A gallon of milk, a 10 pound weight, or a plastic bag full of rocks are all good substitutes for the sandbell in this exercise. If you want to get a sandbell of your own, use this link, and I’ll get a 10% sales commission.
To perform this exercise, start by holding the sandbell in your left hand, then rotate your core to the left while touching (not slamming) your right hand and knee to the ground. Swing the sandbell as far as you can to the left, lifting it as high as you can.
Keep the sandbell in motion at all times, immediately moving the sandbell back towards the right side. Lift the right knee and hand off the ground as the sandbell returns to the middle of your body
As the sandbell crosses the midline of your body, pass it to your right hand without stopping. With the sandbell now in your right hand, touch your left hand and knee to the ground, swinging the sandbell as far as you can to the right, lifting it as high as you can.
Remember that we shouldn’t pause at any point in this movement. So, as you switch hands with the sandbell, keep everything moving. People have the tendency to pause after each rep when they perform an exercise. This causes you to be less fluid and efficient, but it also makes you slower and less dynamic.
You never want to pause during a fight, nor should you pause during exercise. You’ll develop bad habits and you will make yourself less fluid and more robotic. If you can’t do this exercise without pausing, then do it with a lighter weight, or without weight at all.
You should also make sure you don’t slam your knee or your hand down. The idea is to have control and to move fluidly, and smashing your body into the ground isn’t fluid or controlled. If you’re working out to be healthier, you should know that getting out of control and damaging your joints is going to make you less healthy. If you’re working out to increase stamina, power, and coordination, slamming your hand or knee to the ground will have the opposite effect, as will pausing during the workout.
Slamming also makes it difficult to change directions, meaning it makes you slow, sticky, and inefficient. Putting too much energy into anything, especially putting too much energy into the ground, is just a poor use of your energy. It’s plain wasteful.
Take caution, especially when you’re learning the movement. Start slow, and explore your range of motion gradually. After you feel more comfortable with the movement, try to perform as many as you can in 90 seconds, with control and efficiency.
Remember, you should feel this exercise throughout the entire body. If you start to feel the burn in your quads, try to put more of your weight in your heels, to activate your hamstrings and glutes. Try to relax as much as you can, while also moving the sandbell as much as possible. The idea is to strike a balance between activation and relaxation to produce powerful, sustainable movement.
An Introduction to Weekly Practices
My high school wrestling coach, 3X Team State Champion, Coach Tonte, was one hell of a coach and a master motivator. He always knew what to say to get you moving, and his wrestling room was filled with posters that were covered with motivational sayings and quotes.
They usually said something tough and intimidating like, “Pain is fear leaving the body!”…“Train like a madman!”…or “Hard work, no excuses!” If you didn’t feel like moving after you read all of those quotes, there was something wrong with you.
One of my favorite quotes was “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”
I liked this quote because it wasn’t trying to fire, turn, or amp me up. It didn’t make me want to move, but it made me want to think. It was basically saying, be smart about how you approach your goals and create a plan before you do anything.
In fact, this quote was always on the goal sheet that Coach Tonte forced us to fill out at the beginning of each school year. The goal sheet asked us to proclaim our goals for the year. It also made us create a plan for reaching our goals. We had to declare what we were going to change, and what we were going to do differently.
Those goal sheets were very challenging because they forced you to think about what you were willing to sacrifice for your goals. This requires a good amount self-awareness and introspective insight because you have to know who you are and how you can improve yourself and your behaviors before you create a plan of action.
In high school, figuring out a plan wasn’t the challenging part, because everything is laid out for you ahead of time. Your weekly training and competition schedule was determined by coach, so missing a workout wasn’t an option. You also had a whole team of people to keep you accountable. All we had to do was show up to practice and do what coach tells you to do.
As an adult, you don’t have an opponent or anyone to compete against either. When you stop competing in sports, your coaches, teammates, and your opponents are gone. There is no competition or practice schedule for you to follow. There is no one to hold you accountable for your goals. So it’s up to you to create a weekly practices plan to help you accomplish your goals.
(If you don’t have a core purpose or core goals, click on the links, and go through those exercises first, before you set a weekly schedule.)
Why make a weekly schedule?
If you think you’re OK without creating a weekly schedule, you’re right. You should know one thing, though. OK is bullshit. Doing OK is more like doing nothing. Doing OK is a waste of time and energy, and those things are too precious to waste with poor planning. No one’s life purpose is to just be OK. OK?
In a fight, the martial artist that makes the most out of his time and energy wins. This is why the martial artist strives for balance and efficiency in all that he does. This is also why wasted time and energy is the enemy of a martial artist.
Life without a weekly practices plan is wasteful because of one of two reasons.
- Your schedule is too full and you try to do too much. You overextend yourself, having too little time and energy to complete your goals.
- Your schedule is too empty, and you waste time and energy doing nothing.
Giving yourself too little or too much time will eventually get you off balance, and will create problems in your life. The weekly practices plan is intended to maximize your time and energy. By eliminating wasted time and energy, you will ultimately cultivate balance and prosperity in your life. You will be more efficient and effective with your energy, able to make a bigger impact, just like an MMA fighter.
How to create your weekly practices schedule
Creating a weekly practice plan is somewhat tricky. You have to know how much time you can spend pursuing your goals, and you have to know how you should spend that time.
First, find all the free time you have in your schedule. It could be 30 minutes when you wake up, an hour at lunch, or a few hours in the evening after work. Find all of the open spots in your calendar, and determine how much time you will dedicate to your goal.
If you don’t have enough time to reach your goal, reevaluate and reset your goals to match your availability or rearrange your calendar to accommodate for your goals.
Second, figure out how you should spend the time and energy you have set aside for your goal.
This means you need to determine the best type of classes, practices, and workout sessions that will, first, help you strengthen your weaknesses. Then, determine the practices that will help you to maintain your strengths.
Write down all of the different types of workouts, classes, and practice sessions that will help you. For example, running for 20 minutes, or taking a kickboxing, jiu jitsu, wrestling, or yoga class, or, going on a trail hike, are all practices that can help you reach your fitness goal.
Make sure that your weekly schedule includes the right type of training that will bring balance to your mind, body, and spirit.
For example, if your biggest weakness is cardio and flexibility, and your strengths are speed and strength, you should schedule more time for stretching and cardio, and reduce the amount of sprinting and weightlifting you plan to do.
Implementing the Weekly Practices Schedule
Once you know what your week is going to look like, it’s time to make sure that you stick to your plan.
You could hire a personal trainer to keep you accountable, but that gets expensive after a while. There are two things that I like to do to make sure that I remember the plan.
- Put it in your calendar, so that you don’t book anything during those times.
- Repeat the event in your calendar, making sure that that time is blocked off each week.
- Set a reminder in your calendar for each training session, so that your phone will alert you and keep reminding you to train and workout.
A standard smartphone calendar app can help replace the persistence and accountability that comes with a personal trainer, at zero cost.
Writing down your plan and your goals is a powerful thing, in and of itself. However, actually putting your workout session in a weekly schedule, and entering them into your calendar is way more powerful, multiplying the likelihood of reaching your goals by several factors.
Unfortunately, you don’t have me, Coach Tonte, or a team full of wrestlers to keep you on track. However, you can utilize this is a very powerful and effective exercise to help you evolve and be the person you want to be. You don’t need anyone but your own self. Planning a successful week is on you, because failing to plan, is the same as planning to fail.
Plan to succeed, by being a successful planner.
“What’s a good goal?”
Every blog, magazine article, self-help guru, and personal trainer will tell you the same exact thing when it comes to setting goals. They’ll all tell you the same three things.
- Goals must be achievable and realistic.
- Goals must be time-based, with a solid deadline.
- Goals must measurable and quantitative.
While this is great advice, it also puts a limit to the scope and depth of your goals. Setting your health and fitness goals with the above rules typically creates two types of problems:
- Goals that don’t improve your ability to function and perform in real life.
- Goals that have anything to do with your inner purpose and your bigger life goals.
Goals that are time-based, achievable, and quantitative, are simple to measure, but they’re often superficial and disconnected from your core purpose. These types of goals are easy to create, track, and quantify, but they have nothing to do with the things that matter most to you.
For example, if you set a goal to lose weight, will that help you to accomplish your bigger life goals? Well, that depends on what you do to lose the weight. If you swallow a bunch of tapeworms and diet pills to lose that weight, then you’re not really doing your purpose any justice. If you want to get bigger muscles, and you take steroids while doing dangerous, dysfunctional exercises, you’ll be going backward, in terms of your purpose pursuit.
Why We Need Deeper Goals
So ask yourself… “Once I reach my goal, am I going to be more able to achieve my core purpose? Will I be more capable? Am I going to be happier?”
In other words, once you weigh less, are you going to have an increased ability to make an impact in the lives of your loved ones? Are you going to to be more capable of fulfilling your life purpose after you reach your target weight?
Or, are you going to be the same old you on the inside, just noticeably more toned and/or ripped on the outside. Are you going to be able to perform any better? Will you be able to think and move any faster?
Are you going to be better, or just appear to be better?
Don’t get me wrong, weight loss goals are great. Being at your optimal weight improves your health and therefore increases your chances of fulfilling your core purpose.
However, the intention behind your weight loss matters. You have to ask yourself if your goals are superficial, to be sexier and better looking? Or, do your weight loss intentions come from deep inside your core, to help you perform and serve your loved ones better?
Superficial goal setting gets you superficial results and superficial fulfillment. To prevent this from happening, your goals should be formed upon and rooted in the foundation of your inner purpose.
When you start from the center and do everything from the inside out, everything you do, your every action and behavior will align with your inner purpose. You’ll stop wasting time and energy on other things that don’t align with your goals and your purpose. You’ll stop swallowing parasites and drugs to reach meaningless goals. Everything you do will align with your inner purpose, and your life will be much more fulfilling and meaningful.
When you set a core goal, you should be able to say, “I want to be blank, so that I can accomplish blank.” The first blank should be your goal, and the second blank should be your life purpose.
So, how do we set health and fitness goals that really matter? First, we need to talk about the three different types of health and fitness goals: biometric, movement, and skill.
Biometric goals measure physical qualities, like how much you weigh and how big you are. They measure things like weight, girth, body fat, heart rate, blood pressure, or other testable statistics. Biometric goals can even include the alignment tests like posture, joint stability, and range of motion.
An example of a biometric goal would be: “I want to weigh 175 pounds so that I can be the best motivator, cultivator, and warrior that I can be.” Assuming that weighing 175 pounds would help me accomplish my purpose, I would consider it to be a worthy goal.
The thing with biometric goals is that all of they deal with physical qualities, not abilities or functions. Being the optimal weight is a great indicator of better health and wellness. Being healthy obviously helps you to perform better, but it doesn’t require better performance.
When you have a purpose, you need to be able to function and perform, in addition to being the correct weight. An MMA fighter, for example, needs to be a certain weight, but he also needs to be powerful, fast, and long lasting. He also has to be able to perform with skill and control. He needs to function and perform better.
That brings me to the second type of goal. I call them movement goals, which are more complicated and harder to measure, but more indicative of higher function and capability.
Movement goals measure how far, how fast, how much you can move. Basically, they measure your capacity to create kinetic energy or force. In other words, movement goals are based on physical abilities, like strength, speed, power, endurance. They require performance tests, like how fast you can run a mile, how far you can throw a shot put, or how many pull ups you can do?
An example of a simple movement goal is…“I want to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes so that I can accomplish my purpose of being a motivator, warrior, and cultivator.”
Not that running a mile in seven minutes qualifies you as a warrior or motivator, but improving your ability to run faster will also make you a better warrior and motivator, because it gives you more energy, more stamina, and focus. Of course, more energy and better health makes any type of life goals easier to accomplish.
However, the best indication of better function and health is a performance goal.
Skill and performance based goals are the best types of goals because they require you to improve your focus, balance, and control. They require you to do better, to do more with your energy. When you improve your ability to perform a skill, you gain more control and self-mastery. You gain greater awareness of your body, your mind, and your environment.
With greater awareness, mastery, and control, you’ll be able to perform better in everything you do.
An example of a performance goal is…
“I want to improve my punching technique so that I can accomplish my purpose of being a motivator, warrior, and cultivator.”
The problem with skill and performance goals is that they are often difficult to measure and quantify. For example, if set a goal to improve my punching technique, I’m going to need some way of measuring that. So, the question becomes, how do you measure improvements in skill and technique, when all of those things are subjective?
You need a second set of eyes, hopefully from someone that is experienced and knowledgeable, to give you feedback, so you know how much progress you’re making. A coach, teacher, or trainer can watch your performance and let you know if you’re improving. Or, you can film yourself, and get some before and after videos. This way you can watch and evaluate your own progress. Either way, greater awareness will always help you to stay on track by showing you visual comparison of your past self, to give you progress feedback.
If you really want to test your skills, compete. The ultimate test is competition against another person. Set a goal to win, and you’ll train harder than you ever trained before, and you’ll improve function better than ever.
“Which Type of Goal Should I Set?”
So, what’s the best type of goal you set? Biometric? Movement? Or skill and performance? How about all three? Won’t being at your optimal weight help you run faster? Won’t being able to run faster help you to throw better punches?
A fighter, the most functional human being on the planet, would set biometric, movement, and skill goals at the same time. He would create a mixture of all three goals, to be lean and solid, to move powerfully and last longer. And, of course, he would set performance goals that relate to accuracy, skill, and control.
Imagine that you’re setting goals like you’re a professional MMA fighter and you’re getting ready for a fight. As a fighter, you would need to set goals that will help you move powerfully, with control and efficiency. Being able to do more with your energy
Now imagine that you’re fighting to accomplish your inner purpose. You still want to behave with power, control, and efficiency, so that you can make a bigger impact in the lives of your loved ones. You want to be able to make an impact, and doing more with your energy enables you to do that. Setting goals that help you to become more powerful, energetic, and skilled, also helps you reach your goals and make an impact. This is the key to experiencing happiness and fulfillment.
Making a Bigger Impact with Better Goals
As time passes, the more time and energy that you spend pursuing your goals and purpose, the happier you are. So, exercising with the intent to fulfill your inner purpose is a great way to experience happiness. Thinking of your inner purpose while exercising is also very motivating.
Thinking of your inner purpose while exercising is also very motivating. Training with purpose actually makes working out easier and more enjoyable, because it makes you more energetic.
The main point of setting goals like this is to create a connection and find a balance between your fitness goals and your overall life goals. If you think about your core purpose while you work to achieve your long-term fitness goals, you’ll do two things.
- You’ll enjoy the work and the pursuit of your fitness goals.
- You’ll be more likely to achieve both your long term goals and your inner purpose.
The work won’t be work, but it will be energy well spent and the pursuit will be more enjoyable.
Make sure you read my other articles as well so that you can learn more about the goal planning process. I even show you how to find your purpose and create daily habits to help you and reach your goals.
The exercise of the Day:
WRESTLE: Leg Step Over and Around
In this exercise, you’ll notice the constant core rotation. Rotation and movement of the core is the root of all martial arts techniques, including wrestling, grappling, and jiu jitsu. By practicing this movement and improving your core mobility, you are increasing your ability to perform any grappling technique possible. You’re also increasing your ability to rotate your core from the ground, as well as strengthening your entire body and core at the same time. As your body rotates, your shoulders, hips, and core, are all activated, 360 degrees around. All sides, the front, back, left, and right, are activated. Everything.
Notice how my body weight is being transferred. The core supports (arms and legs) are alternating and transitioning at all times. As we face one way, my right arm and my left leg will support me fully.
As I step forward, I change the core supports, by taking my left foot off the ground and placing the right foot on the ground.
Then, I swing my left foot around my right leg as I rotate and face the opposite direction.
As my body rotates, I place both of my hands on the ground for an instant. Then I transfer my weight to my left hand, as I raise my right hand off the ground. At this point, my entire body has made a 180, and I’m supported by the opposing limbs, my left arm and my right leg.
With contrasting core supports, opposite sides of the core are activated, and the entire core is activated at different times during the exercise. This also activates the medial, lateral, posterior, and anterior side of your core, as well as the medial, lateral, posterior, and anterior side of your legs and shoulders. This is the result of bipedal movement patterns that are featured in this exercise (google that if you don’t know what bipedal means!)
Also, notice the non-stop movement. Smooth, constant movement enhances mobility better than stop-and-go movements. It’s also better for your joints because non-stop movement makes you more fluid and powerful at the same time. When you’re able to keep moving without pause, you’re more efficient, so you’re able to transfer more energy to your opponent. You’re also able to burn more calories and move more energy throughout your body with constant motion.
Also, notice that you’re moving your entire body at once. When your whole body moves as one, and everything is in sync, there’s less stress on the joints and tendons. due to the fact that you’re moving your entire body motion and participation, your joints experience better health. Not one part of my body stays put during this exercise, so the entire body gets activated, but it is also relaxed as well.
The rhythmic activation of the motor neurons and muscle fibers is also healthy for the brain and the body. Rhythmic movements are more powerful, efficient, and physically beneficial than erratic, and non-rhythmic movements. Rhythm and timing is a huge part of MMA, so you definitely want to practice this as much as possible.
Lastly, your brain is activated completely, with perfect balance when you move like this. When you perform movements that are less fluid, less complex, and less dynamic, your brain is activated in unnatural ways.
Our most natural movements (rhythmic, total body, rotation, core mobility) are the most beneficial and functional. By performing this exercise, you’ll increase your ability to defend yourself, but you’ll also experience a healthier mind, body, and spirit as well. There is a reason that fighters are the most mental and physically functional athletes on the planet, and with exercises like this, it’s easy to see why.
Perform this exercise with caution, as always. Start slow, paying attention to your body, making sure that you don’t hyperextend or hyperflex any of your joints. Speed it up gradually. When you feel more comfortable, do this exercise as many times as you can for 90 seconds. To get stronger, to gain endurance, and increase core mobility even more, push yourself to perform as many reps as you can in 90 seconds. Pushing yourself to maximize your mobility, will provide the perfect intensity for better function, better health, and better martial arts performance.
“How do I know my core purpose?”
Finding your core purpose is a difficult task, one that can take a lifetime to complete.
If you don’t know your purpose, that’s OK. You’re not alone. In fact, a lot of people don’t ever take the time to consider it, so even fewer people are able to actually know their core purpose. The reason for that is because defining your purpose is very challenging and confusing.
It seems to me, that all living beings have an innate need to honor and protect that which provides them with energy, or their food source. In other words, the ultimate source of our energy and life, whatever that is for you, should be what we live our lives to serve and cultivate.
Our core purpose as living beings is essential to serve, honor, and nurture our source of life and energy. So, whatever your purpose is, it should be something that improves the wellbeing of your environment, community, and tribe, because you need them to breathe, eat, drink, and live. The more that you can improve the wellbeing of your environment, community, and tribe, the better that you will breathe, eat, drink, and live.
So, when I begin training with a new student I always ask
One of my new personal training clients, Nancy, had no idea what to say when I asked her to declare her purpose.
“Ummmmm, my purpose is to enjoy life?” she responded, half asking half answering. “I don’t know. I’m going to school to be a nurse, but it’s not my purpose. It’s my profession. How do I know what my purpose is?”
“Good question!” I answer. I always put it as, 4 questions.
- What do you want?
- What do you want to be?
- What do you want to be able to do?
- What do you want to be able to do for your energy source?
“To know that, you have to know yourself very well, and you also have to have a lot of awareness for your surrounding environment. Meaning, you have to know what you’re able to do, while also knowing what the world needs. You have to know what you want, deep down inside, and some people never go there.”
“I know who and where I am. I’m Nancy, it’s Tuesday, and we’re in San Jose, CA.” She says sarcastically.
“OK. That’s a start, but to really know yourself is to know what you like to do with your time and energy. What do you like to do? What did you do this week?” I asked her.
“I went to school, went to work, hung out with my friends, and worked out.”
“Nice. Now, what do you love the most? What are you most passionate about? Who or what would you get in a fist fight to protect?”
She says, “I love my family and my friends, and I would beat the crap out of anyone that messed with them. I would fight to protect a helpless person too, like a little kid or a super old woman.”
“Very nice! You have a lot of passion, fire, and love for your friends, family, and your community.” It makes things so much easier to train people when they give a shit about things.
“Your purpose is to use your time and energy serving those people you just mentioned. Don’t forget that part of your purpose is to serve and protect your loved ones. Your inner warrior should definitely be one of the voices you listen to when you think about your inner purpose.”
Nancy looks at me funny. “My inner warrior?” she asks. “As in I’m going to be fighting in a war?”
“Life is a fight, a constant challenge. We’re constantly fighting to survive and thrive, and part of your life purpose is to help your loved one’s do the same. They need you to be able to compete and “fight” for them in this challenging environment.”
“Gotcha. You’re using fighting as a metaphor for doing well in life? The better that I can “fight”, the better that I can provide for my family and community?”
“YUP! Now, we know who you love, but what do you love doing?” I ask.
“I love nature, animals, and traveling. I love to paint and draw. I love baking and playing music, often at the same time. I love all animals” Nancy says with a big smile on her face.
“Excellent! But you’re leaving someone out” I explain. “Who else do you love? You love yourself, don’t you?”
“Obvi!!! Who doesn’t?!”
“Well, some people live their entire lives serving other people or other causes. Because they never spend any time and energy on themselves, their health suffers” I tell her.
“You’re also “fighting” for your own well-being, as well as for those around you. If you aren’t happy and healthy, you’re not helping anyone or anything.”
“I have to be healthy and love myself before I can effectively pursue my purpose?” Nancy asked.
“Exactly. You must be powerful and energetic yourself before you can go out there and make an impact” I say. “Now that you’ve told me what you love, it’s time to tell me what are you good at. Do you have any special skills, talents, or abilities?”
“I make the best cookies and brownies, I can sing and play the piano, I’m a straight A student, and I’m really good with kids. Back in the day, I was the captain of my volleyball, swimming, and softball team.” Nancy responds modestly, trying not to brag.
“Wow! You are very talented and intelligent, which means you’ll be able to help a lot of people and make a bigger difference.” I tell her as I try to make sure that she recognizes the potential of her own power.
“Now, what are your ambitions? What do you want to do while you’re on this planet?” I ask.
“I’m not sure what I want to do, but I know I want to help people. I want to see the world, and I want to be a mother and have a family of my own,” Nancy says with confidence.
“Excellent. It’s a lot easier to find your purpose when you know what you love and what you want out of life. It also helps to know what your unique skills and talents are.
“One more question. If you could join any cause or any type of social movement, which one would you choose?” I ask her.
“I want to end homelessness. I would really like to help homeless people.”
“Awesome. From that information, you should be able to determine a righteous purpose. Now that we know what you love, what you can do, and what you’d like to do, we can determine who you are going to be. All you need to do is combine your love, passions, and ambitions, with your skills, abilities, and opportunities.”
“That sounds too easy. What if I’m wrong, and we pick the wrong thing?”
“Honestly, you’re probably going to be wrong about your purpose, especially since you’re young and you have less awareness, and that’s OK. The truth is that things change, and we have no idea what life has in store for us. You never really know for sure until it’s over.”
“Wait, what?! This whole discussion is a waste of time?” she asks
“Not at all. The important thing is that you spend your time and energy pursuing something. Anything. Spending a lifetime of time and energy spent on nothing is a waste, but time and energy spent pursuing any type of passion is time and energy well spent.”
“You don’t have to find your purpose right now, but it’s also good to know that your time and energy is meant for something. Like I said, a lot of people don’t even think about it, and even fewer people spend very much time and energy figuring it out. Just attempting to figure it out is better than complete ignorance and stagnation.”
“What if I can’t make a decision? There are so many options that it’s confusing!” Nancy says as she overwhelms herself with all of the possibilities for her life path.
“If you don’t know why you’re alive, then you’re a student figuring it out. Right now you’re learning how you can best serve those that you love, searching for the righteous path. You might find a new path along the way, or you may reach your initial destination. Who knows?
“Regardless, it’s time to start walking with intention and purpose. It doesn’t matter what path it is, just get walking and start pursuing something.
“Those with a purpose have an easier time staying shape, because they have something to live for, and they have goals. They have a reason to be alive. Give yourself a reason to live, set some goals, and watch how easily the energy flows.”
I finished our discussion with my four questions.
Now that you have thought a little bit about what you like, what you like doing, and what you’d like to do better, I’ll ask you four questions.”
“What do you want?” I said.
“I want a beautiful family, a house, and a great career.”
“Perfect. What do you want to be?”
“I want to be an educator in the nursing field.”
“Excellent. What do you want to be able to do?”
“I want to be able to teach nursing at a nice university, and I want to be able to raise my family in a beautiful and enriched homestead.”
“One more. What do you want to be able to do for your energy source?”
“What energy source?”
“Who gives you your energy?
“The food I eat and the air I breathe comes from the planet or the environment.”
“Who pays for that food? What creates the oxygen you breath?”
“My parents are putting me through school right now, and the oxygen comes from the ecosystem. .”
“Interesting. You say, the planet, the environment, your parents.”
“What can you do for your ancestors and your planet?”
“I can honor my ancestors and planet Earth by being an honorable person, taking care of myself, my family, and my environment, I suppose.” Nancy says brilliantly.
“Now, if you don’t know what your purpose is by now, then you haven’t been paying attention. Now that you know your purpose, it’s time to set some goals, so that you know you’re always on the way to accomplishing that purpose.”
Check out the previous entries in my goal planning series, to learn how to create goals, and a plan that match up with your core purpose. Once your purpose, goals, plans, and actions align, you’ll experience much more fulfillment.
“What’s your core purpose?”
That’s always the first question that I ask, whenever I’m training a new student.
Most people don’t have an answer for that question. Startled and confused, my poor clients usually look at me crazy, like I’m their dad or their high school counselor.
So, I’ll ask in another way. “Why do you exist? What do you want to do with your time and energy in this life? What do you want it to say on your tombstone?”
Still, they look at me like I’m on drugs.
One client, named James, said, “You know, you’re not Dr. Phil or Tony Robbins. You’re my trainer. I just want you to show me how to train, eat, and stay healthy. We don’t need to get into a deep discussion about spirituality and religious beliefs. I’m supposed to be learning self-defense and getting in shape.”
“Your life goals have nothing to do with your fitness goals? Your deepest desires and inner purpose don’t affect your choices and behavior? How do you expect to get in shape and learn MMA, if all of this is unrelated and irrelevant to your core purpose? How can you expect to achieve your fitness and training goals if they don’t align with your life goals?”
He answers back, “Well, my life goals and fitness goals are two totally different things. If I say that my purpose is to help my kids to grow up to be strong, healthy, and happy, how is that supposed to affect my workout? Like you’re going to have me to different exercises if my purpose is to teach literacy to the uneducated or to find a cure cancer?”
“Listen. I know this unorthodox. Most people don’t ever talk about their purpose, especially to their personal trainer. However, I use this method to help people reach their goals all the time. Just tell me why you want to get in shape and learn martial arts.”
Why get in shape?
James finally gives me an answer. “Well, I want to get in shape, and I want a better-looking body. I want to look sexier for my wife, and I want to be a good example for my kids. I figure that if I look better, and feel better, they’ll have a better life.”
“So you’re a father and a husband. Those are two very important purposes that require a healthy mind and body. What else do you do with your time and energy?”
“I’m director at a non-profit. I work long hours and help a lot of people.”
“Good!” I say excitedly. I love it when my clients have ambitions and drive. “You’re a man with a lot of purpose, and therefore, you have good reason to stay in shape. The more meaning behind your life goals, the more likely you are to achieve your fitness goals. Why? Because being in good shape helps you to achieve your life goals. Being full of energy, having focus and balance, and feeling good, helps no matter what your life goal.”
“You’re saying you want to know my life purpose because getting in shape and learning martial arts will help me achieve my life goals?” James says as the light bulb goes on over his head.
“Exactree! It’s super important that your life goals align, and that they are connected to your health and fitness goals. The stronger the alignment and connection between your life goals and your health and fitness goals, the more likely you are to achieve both.”
“We’re having this discussion because my life goals and my fitness goals are connected…because they both affect one another?”
“YUP! Your inner purpose is the central consideration whenever you do anything. It’s the compass, the foundation, and the basis for every decision you make in your life. Your purpose is the cause to the effect of your behavior decisions. So, whenever you’re setting goals, it’s always important to start with your purpose, because it’s central to everything you do.”
Your purpose should determine your health and fitness goals because health and fitness is a prerequisite to fulfilling that purpose. This is why people with a lot of purpose have a lot of reason to stay in shape and to be healthy, well-functioning human beings. People with a lot of purpose also have to be sharp, energetic, and long lasting.
If we all understood the importance of health and wellness as it relates to our ability to perform and function at home, at work, and everywhere else, we’d all be in excellent shape.”
“Do you think about your inner purpose when you workout?” he skeptically asks me.
“You bet your bottom dollar I do. When I’m training, sparring, or drilling, I imagine the energy flowing through my mind and body, and the intention for that energy flow is always purposeful. I move and release my energy to improve my energy levels, increase control, focus, and stamina so that I can better serve my inner purpose. I imagine that more that I move, and the more energy flowing through my body, the closer I am to achieving my purpose.”
“Alright, Mr. What’s your purpose?” he asks curiously.
“I am a warrior, motivator, and cultivator. My purpose is to help balance the energy flow throughout the world, by helping people to connect to their inner warrior, through martial arts training. I believe the warrior spirit is missing in today’s society, but if we’re able to able to awaken and revitalize that spirit through the pursuit of our inner purpose, things in the world would improve significantly. Not to mention all the people that would live healthier lifestyles.”
“You’re saying a lot of people don’t have a strong inner purpose, and this is why they live an unhealthy lifestyle?” asks James.
“Kind of. More like everyone has a very strong and meaningful inner purpose, but most people don’t realize what that purpose is, nor do they set goals to fulfill it. We all have a good reason to live a healthy lifestyle, but not all of us see the connection to the things that matter most to us. No matter what you’re passionate about, whatever matters to you the most, you can do more to serve the things that deserve our energy.”
Why get in shape?
“So I’m getting in shape and learning martial arts for my family, my career, and my community, only to serve them better.
“We aren’t training with the sole purpose of making your loved ones happier. This is about making you happier too, because your experience also matters. It’s not all altruism and sacrifice. Part of your inner purpose is to experience health, happiness, and pleasure. This is harder to do when your body and mind suffers from poor health and dysfunction. You have to take care of yourself to experience fulfillment.” I explain, as our purpose discussion comes to a full circle.
“Now, write down three things that would describe your purpose. Usually, your purpose is a type of person or a profession, like. Other purposes that other people have used were: father, mother, educator, student, gardener, healer, builder, entrepreneur, influencer, diplomat, ambassador, soldier, fighter, champion, or peacekeeper.”
James digs deep and finally reveals some of the goals that he’s been keeping to himself. “I want the non-profit that I direct to help everyone that needs help in our community, I want to be a philanthropist, and I want to be the best father and the best husband that I can be.”
“Boom! You just said three things. Philanthropist, husband, and father. You might have also said leader, guardian, founder, patron, or guide. Now, write down three of these on a piece of paper. Draw a circle around them. That’s your purpose. It’s the core of your identity, the center of your world.”
“Now that we know who you are going to be, it’s time to set a long-term goal.”
Check out my next article in my five-part goal planning series,
I was recently insulted by a woman I was talking with at a party when she assumed that I was unintelligent. We were talking for a bit when all of a sudden she said “I’m kind of surprised by you. At first, when you said you’re a trainer and you used to be a professional fighter, I wasn’t expecting you to be able to speak with any kind of intelligence or thoughtfulness.”
It’s was a nice backhanded compliment, but I took no offense. Most people assume that fighters are thoughtless, unintelligent, and out of control.
“Why is that?” I asked the woman.
“Aren’t cage fighters kind of crazy and violent? How smart do you have to be to get your lights punched out?”
I responded, “That’s a great point. Getting in a cage fight is probably not the most intelligent thing to do, but martial artists are usually well balanced, calm, and very aware. This is because practicing martial arts is actually one of the most intelligent workouts you can do. It activates your entire brain and body better than any other workout. In fact, martial arts training is great for helping you to be more balanced and aware. I believe that it helps to expand your consciousness better than any other workout.”
“You’re saying martial arts is as enlightening and enriching as my yoga workout? You are crazy!” she said, this just one minute after implying that I was intelligent and thoughtful.
“For serious,” I told her. “The full-body, dynamic movements that you perform in martial arts stimulate the brain with natural, innate motor patterns, helping the nervous system to develop with balance and strength.”
I explained to her that humans were made to move. We achieve optimal brain health through dynamic, full body movement, and we experience nerve degeneration and dysfunction with immobility.
“OK. I’ll buy that, she admitted reluctantly. It makes sense that moving activates the nervous system better than not moving. Now, how is martial arts supposed to expand your consciousness and increase your awareness? How does it make you more balanced and aware?”
I said, “The more you move around and activate your muscles, the more you become aware of yourself and your body. When you perform complex, full-body, and dynamic movements, you become even more aware your body and what it can do. The more complex and dynamic the movement, the more self knowledge, skill, and control that it requires. MMA is the most complex and dynamic sport in the world, so it requires a lot of self knowledge, skill, and control.”
“OK,” she says, still skeptical. “I’ll also buy the whole thing about complicated motor patterns requiring more balance and self-awareness, but how in the world does martial arts training help you speak with more intelligence and thoughtfulness?”
“Well,” I said, “a conversation between two people is much like a fight. Having a good conversation and winning a fight both require improvisation, quick reaction time, and awareness of the other person. A good fighter and conversationalist have to think ahead, so they can both react to the thoughts, expressions, and actions of the person across from them. You must be must be able to feel the opponent and pay attention to their position in a fight, just like you have to ”
MMA training forces you to pay attention to the person in front of you. The more time you spend training with a partner, the more time you spend training yourself to be more mindful of the person across from you. Basically, you ”
She says, “You make it sound like practicing martial arts will make you better at everything, just because it’s a challenge that requires large amounts of skill, awareness, and balance.”
“Exactly. The way that you train your mind to operate during your workout affects how
“Since MMA is a sport that requires you to learn several complicated movements, and it requires that you move dynamically, with balance and control. It’s a sport that requires many skills and abilities. A living being with more skills, abilities, and awareness possesses more consciousness than a living being with fewer skills, abilities, and awareness.”
Basically, the type of challenge you’re faced with in martial arts training helps you to face challenge better in everyday life. It’s the same with music, art, cooking, and anything else that requires skill, awareness, and control. It’s called mastery. The more difficult the skill or the challenge, the more self mastery and environmental awareness that it requires. They call it martial ARTS because only an artist of kinetic energy can perform the movements with mastery and balance.”
“What do you do for workouts?” I asked her.
“I do cardio, weights, and pilates. But I only do that to stay in shape. I’m not getting ready for a fight or a competition.”
“You’re not competing for anything in your life? Is your life so simple and easy that you don’t need to compete with anyone to get all of your needs and wants fulfilled? How much skill and awareness does it require to live your life?”
“No. My life’s not easy,” she said. “I have two kids, a high-pressure job in Silicon Valley, and I’m on the PTA at my kids’ school. I need to be “on” all day. If I mess up, there are serious consequences.”
“Lady! You can’t tell me that you’re not getting ready for a fight or a competition. Every hour of your day demands mindfulness, balance, and efficiency. You need to do martial arts training more than a professional fighter does!”
By this time, I was getting a little impatient, as she was fighting the facts. Obviously, she had a strong warrior spirit since she “fights” so hard all day, every day. Why wouldn’t she benefit from being more efficient and powerful, like an MMA fighter or martial artist?
“You see, when you workout, you’re shaping more than just your body. When you exercise, you shape your brain as well. What you think and feel matters when you exercise, and your workouts, exercises, and movements can really improve the way that you think and perform outside of the gym.”
“So, you’re telling me that I’m dumb, out of control, and unaware because I do the elliptical and
“All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t assume fighters to be unintelligent or thoughtless when you exercise several times a week with simple, mindless workouts. I’m not saying that you’re simple and mindless at all, BUT you could have more awareness, mindfulness, and control, if you did martial arts training instead. You might even be able to conversate better if you train long enough.”
“So you’re saying with enough training, that, one day, I’ll be able to talk trash better than you?”
“No, don’t be silly. I’m almost a 9th-degree blackbelt in trash talking. It would take decades of training to talk trashier than me.”
What’s the Best Workout?
People always want to know the best way to get in shape, and as a personal trainer and MMA instructor, I’m often asked, “What’s the best workout? What can I do to get the ‘best shape ever’? What’s the fastest, easiest, cheapest, most fun and effective way to reach my fitness goals?”
That’s a really good question, because good shape, healthy, and fit are pretty vague words to describe such a specific desire, there are all kinds of ways to define those things.
Depending on your definition, “good shape” might mean looking lean and muscular, or it might mean feeling good, being energetic, and having a sound mind. “Good shape” could mean that you’re strong, long lasting, and agile.
Regardless of your definition, there is
They want to know the very best, most effective workout that there is.
Move Just move! It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just move your body weight from here to there, and keep it moving. The more you can move, the better your health, shape, and overall function.
That seems obvious, right?
But then people will ask “What about Muscle? I can’t build muscle unless I lift heavy! Bodily movement doesn’t activate enough muscles.”
Building muscle with body weight movement isn’t that hard, especially if you accelerate your body as fast as you can. Moving as fast as you can requires quite a bit of muscular activation Move more and move faster! Moving faster and further burns more calories, and moving faster activates more muscles.
“I just want to have more energy and feel better. I’m not trying to win a race or win a bikini contest!
What if you just want to feel better and have more energy? Move faster and further because it increases blood flow and energy levels.
What about Longevity? What if you just want to be healthier and live longer? Move more and move faster! Duh!
What about Neuroplasticity What if you just want to have more focus and intelligence. Freakin move!
Move More, Get in Shape Regardless of your goals, the trick to getting in shape is to move more.
What is More Movement? Moving your body more means moving your body with more speed or moving for longer distances, or both. Training to move faster for longer periods of time will address all of your training needs at once.
Immobilization vs. Movement Rather than sitting still, and keeping your core in the same spot, like you do when you hit a yoga pose or when you stabilize your body to lift weights, the idea should be to move your belly from one place to another.
Not Yoga or Weights With yoga, you mainly keep the core still while you stretch, lengthen, and relax your muscles. With weight lifting, the main objective is to stabilize the core, while maximizing muscular contraction and muscle tension.
Balanced Between Both When you move your body from one place to another, you’re somewhere in between yoga and weightlifting,
Stiff or Flaccid Imagine if all of your muscles contracted at once. You would be stiff as a board. Now imagine that none of your muscles can contact. You’d be a puddle of water. Either way, too much contraction or too much relaxation, and you’re not moving.
Alternated Activation However, moving your body requires a mixture of both relaxation and contraction. However, bodily movement requires an alternation between on and off. With continuous movement, you go back and forth between contraction and relaxation, tension and laxity, unlike yoga and weightlifting, where you primarily do one or another.
Energy Flow This balance between activity and inactivity enables movement, but it also increases the amount of blood and energy that move throughout your body. With waves of activation and deactivation and waves of flexion and relaxation, energy is put in motion.
Energy Congestion Too much flexion decreases the ability of blood to move through the capillaries, leading to congested energy channels. Flexed muscles and congested blood vessels lead to an accumulation of lactic acid. On the other hand, if you don’t flex your muscles at all, energy flow won’t increase at all, due to a lack of energy demand.
Continuous Flow Continuous, dynamic movement requires repeated, rhythmic flexion and relaxation. This alternation between the opposites causes the body to pump more blood and energy throughout the body. Alternating between activation and deactivation is the best way to increase energy flow, because energy demand is increased by muscle flexion, and blood can move through the arteries, veins, and capillaries when there’s relaxation.
Who cares about Energy Flow? Energy flow is the number one determinant of health and wellness, so if you want to get in shape to live a longer, healthier life, you should focus on moving your body first. The more you move, the longer you’ll live. The strength of one’s energy flow also determines their athleticism, sex appeal, and mental capacity. I know it sounds like I’m saying that you’ll live longer, feel better, perform better, and even get laid, if you can move more. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Mind Control All this balance between activation and deactivation requires a lot of coordination from your brain. Moving more requires more control and attention than any other type of immobilizing workout. This means moving faster and further is a better workout for your brain as well. Nothing lights up your brain like full body movement, and so nothing creates more energy flow throughout the brain, than moving your body.
Physical Balance Not only does your mind grow stronger with bodily movement, but so does your body. When you move, you have to balance the activation within your body. This means that one side of the body has to flex, as the other side of the body relaxes. It’s called reciprocal inhibition, and when you move from one place to another, you alternate between activation and inhibition, alternating from left to right. Balanced activation means balanced movement, so balanced movement means balanced muscle growth.
Natural, safe and healthy All in all, moving dynamically is better for your muscles, joints, and tendons, since we are made to move. Our bodies and minds were designed to move fluidly and freely, and therefore, it’s better for our joints, tendons, and muscles. Our most natural movements, running, jumping, swimming, etc., all require dynamic motion and mobility, all are great for your mind and body.
Performance Since moving your body creates more energy flow and gives your brain a good workout, it also increases your ability to perform on a day to day basis. Regardless of your profession and your purpose, energy flow and mind control will help you perform your job better, so the more you move
Athleticism Moving dynamically is also better for your athleticism and coordination than yoga or weights. Our most athletic movements are made possible with bodily motion, not stiffness or hyper flexibility. Running, jumping, throwing, kicking, and almost any other athletic activity is made possible with movement. The more you’re able to move, the more athletic you are, plain and simple. Yes, being strong and being flexible help you to move more powerfully, but practicing more dynamic movement helps you to be more powerful than practicing strength training and flexibility training separately.
Bigger Picture So, the answer to all of your problems is to just freaking move. It will make you look, feel, and perform better than anything else. Moving is so good for you, that it makes the world a better place. At the end of the day, when you’re a more focused, energetic, and better feeling person, you’re a better person overall. If we all moved a little bit more, the world would be a better place for sure.
Most people workout and train for the sole reason of burning calories. Other people go to the gym to get better at something. Some go to improve their health and extend their lifespan.
Whatever your reason for working out, trying to improve your ability to move should be your number one priority. This means that your focus while training, should be to move more.
Regardless of whether you want more muscles or less fat, moving better will help you to do both. Regardless of whether you’re trying to increase health, mental function, or extend your life, moving better will help you do it all.
What does it mean to move better? Moving better means moving with more energy, power, and skill. Moving better means improving the efficiency of your movements, moving more with less energy. Essentially, moving better means higher quality motion, void of waste and errors. Moving better means having more control and awareness.
Being more efficient with your movement and using you less energy to move the same distance means you’ll have better endurance. Moving better means relaxing and conserving your energy and avoiding wasted energy. Over activation of the muscles decreases your ability to move, while activating just the right amount will get you there the fastest, without wasting energy.
Activating just the right amount of muscles requires quite a bit of finesse and control. Activate too many motor-neurons or too few motor-neurons, and you’ll move slowly either way. When you move better, with more speed and energy. Better movements are also more accurate and precise, which also requires control and finesse as well.
What’s so good about having more energy and being able to control your thoughts and actions better? Well, you’re just more awesome, and you do everything better. Seriously.
Regardless of whether you’re a parent, computer engineer, teacher, or MMA fighter. Being able to move more efficiently and effectively, with more power, control, and endurance will help you perform and do your job better. With better control, more power, and endurance, you’re able to be more effective at everything you do.
When you move more efficiently, and you push yourself to move faster or further, using less time and energy, you create more energy flow throughout your body. It makes you more energetic, and enables you to tap into more energy.
Having more energy means you have more energy to put towards work, play, whatever you want. You’re more awake, you’re quicker, and more mindful when you have more energy.
When you learn how to put energy in motion with better control, more power, and endurance, you learn how to do more work, and you’re more productive.
So when you workout and you practice moving better, you’re learning to create more motion with less energy, or burning less energy to accomplish the same feat. Your movements are more effective, they waste less energy, and they create more motion.
Moving more, moving faster, moving better requires more energy and more muscular activation. This means that when you workout, if you focus on moving more, you’ll activate more motor-neurons, more muscles, and more nerves. Essentially, moving with more power means you’ll have a more powerful body.
Moving faster and further, while using less energy, is also a good way to build a strong mind as well. It’s the way that your mind works, when you practice mobility improvement. Your neurons and thoughts are very active when you move, but when you concentrate on moving better, your motor neurons light up even more.
All this mental control and balance paired with greater energy flow, means you’re more effective, and you’re able to make a bigger impact. So, regardless of whether you’re a school teacher or a fire-fighter, you should be trying to move your body more.
Life is defined by movement. This is why all of Combat Circuit’s training philosophies are centered upon improving mobility.
Movement, kinetic energy, bodily motion, mobility, flow, the acceleration and displacement of your body mass. Whatever you want to call it, movement is what enables life to exist. Movement is what creates energy flow throughout our bodies and minds. Movement is life.
You can always tell if something is alive when it moves. Typically, when something stops moving. Life is all about movement…continuous, never ending movement.
The more an living organism moves, the more energy that is flowing through it. The more energy running through an organism, the more alive it is.
The more an organism is able to move, the more food and energy it can secure, the better it can defend itself against predators. The more an organism can move, the more it can breed and reproduce. Basically, in life, survival and reproduction are based on how well you move.
During most of human history, if you wanted to eat, you had to be able to move. Back in the day, when people had to hunt, gather, or farmed to get food and energy, before there were food delivery drive-ins, and grocery stores, people had to move. Not only did you have to move to get food, you had to move efficiently and effectively. If you wasted energy when you went about finding or producing food, you would die.
Let’s look at it from the hunter gatherer perspective. A lively, energetic hunter-gatherer with superior mobility was able hunt better. Since he was able to find more food, he was able to connect to more energy, helping to grow stronger and more energetic.
The farmer is also able to feed himself better when he’s able to move better. He’s to farm more land and harvest more crops when he’s able to move better. To a farmer, better mobility means better yeilds. The farmer that can move better is the farmer that is less likely to die of starvation.
Even the warrior, soldier, or the fighter is also able to fight better when he’s able to move better. Before we became dependent upon the police save us, human beings defended themselves from attackers and wild animals with mobility. Fight or flight, mobility meant survival. Because standing your ground to fight, or running to escape danger, both require superior mobility. This is why success in martial arts, combat, and self-defense is largely dependent upon one’s ability to move one’s self. This is why Combat Circuit is based upon movement.
Farming and foraging, flight or flight, and of course, finding love, all made possible with bodily movement. I call it the 3 F’s that defined the evolution of human movement. Bodily movement and mobility literally shaped our minds and bodies.
Mobility not only helped our ancestors to defend and feed themselves, but it also increased their chances of successfully breeding with a mate. That’s right, being able to move well was really helpful to a single young hunter-gatherer that was trying to get lucky.
This is why we’re wired to find mobility to be sexy and desireable. There are a definite set of physical traits that are known to enhance one’s mobility, and it’s no coincidence that those same traits are also found to be attractive to the opposite sex. Round butts, long legs, slender waist, and a toned upper body were all signs of a person’s ability to move well. Is it any wonder that people that possess those traits are often found to be physically desirable as well?
Imagine a spry, lively, young hunter-gatherer that is able to move well and find lots of food. Let’s imagine that he’s also able to defend himself from enemies and predators. A hunter-gatherer that can move is likely to be desired by several female hunter-gatherers because he’s more likely to be able to provide for and protect his offspring. Essentially, having the ability to move meant you were likely to be a better parent. If you were able to move well, your little baby hunter-gatherers were more likely to survive, because you were able to defend them from danger and provide them with lots of food.
This means that young, healthy hunter-gatherers with better mobility had better chances of mating with the opposite sex, and their offspring had a greater chance of survival. Again, life or successful reproduction is based on movement.
They often say “Only the strong survive”, but it should be more like “Only the mobile survive.” From my perspective, survival training is all about improving your ability to move.
Even in success in sports is determined by one’s ability to move. Speed, agility, endurance, and powerful movements like throwing a baseball or swinging a bat. Our most athletically demanding actions are all matters of mobility. From running to jumping, throwing, and swinging, it’s all mobility.
Bodily movement also keeps us alive. When people stop moving, they start dying. Mobility is the most beneficial and healthy way to exercise, meaning, the most healthy forms of exercise are also great at enhancing mobility. In terms of survival, moving is such a rewarding activity, it’s easy to see why practicing mobility is intregal in developing a fit and healthy mind and body.
This is why people who are able to move well are healthier and live longer. Mobility will increase your lifespan, improve your cognitive abilities, relieve stress, and improve your athleticism better than any other activity. Practicing mobility will improve your ability to perform in many ways, it can get you a girlfriend, and it can even bring world peace. Seriously, better mobility practically makes you better at everything.
What do I mean when I say practicing better mobility?
Moving better means moving faster, moving for longer periods of time, and moving with better control. It means you can physically move a great distance, without running out of energy or suffering from injury. Appropriately practiced mobility is fluid, efficient, and powerful. Basically it means moving like human beings, instead of moving like robots. It means moving efficiently and gracefully, while also moving with power, balance, and control. Practicing mobility means moving better and moving more.
That’s what this blog is all about. The purpose of this my life and Combat Circuit is to increase the flow of energy throughout the world, by increasing the amount of bodily movement. My mission is literally to move people, or rather, to get people to move themselves.
Future blog posts will include methods for improving mobility through the practice of martial arts, and will be geared toward helping you understand how your body works and how it are meant to be used. Hopefully it helps you to understand body mechanics, physiology, martial arts, performance, and strength conditioning. Hopefully I can help you to achieve better mobility, and help you to increase energy flow.
Read my blog and watch my youtube videos, and you will be healthier, you will be more powerful, and you will even learn how to defend yourself better.
I’m a martial arts coach and a personal trainer, so I like to use martial arts techniques to give my students a great workout.
Many times I’ll have a student that feels I’m being too technical when I try to get them to perform the techniques better. They’ll say, “I’m not going to get in a fight, I just want to get a good workout.” Which translates into ‘I don’t care about doing it right, I just want to look better.‘
Regardless of whether you’re working out to look better, to perform better, or to learn self-defense, moving your core will benefit you. Your fitness goals and your reason for training doesn’t really matter, the best way to accomplish your fitness goals is by practicing core mobility.
If you want to get stronger, faster, more flexible, longer lasting, more agile, and more coordinated, you should practice core mobility. If you want to look leaner, more ripped, and more athletic, then you should practice core mobility. If you want to perform better, live longer, and feel better, you should practice core mobility. If you want to achieve balance, discipline, and focus, you should practice core mobility. If you want to increase energy flow, endurance, and power throughout your body and mind, you should practice core mobility.
I’m not going to make exaggerated claims or anything, but if more people practiced core mobility, we could actually bring an end to war, hunger, and homelessness. But seriously.
Whatever your reason for training, whatever it is that you’re after, practicing core mobility will help you reach your goals better than any other form of training.
It’s basically an unwritten rule in martial arts, that you have to move your core. Meaning, if a martial arts technique is to actually work, if any move is to be effective, you have to put your core into it. The heaviest parts of your body have to move in order for you to perform martial arts techniques correctly. Martial arts techniques that don’t mobilize the core just don’t work in real life. Techniques that lack bodily movement lack the necessary energy to make an impact. Movements that are made dynamically, lacking kinetic energy, are ineffectual and unproductive.
A lot of people think that martial arts is about having a lot of strength and endurance, when all it really boils down to how efficient your movements are. Throwing a knockout punch, getting a takedown or a submission, is all about how well you can move your weight around. Being able to move your weight around is all about efficiency.
Martial arts is about moving your body efficiently and finding an easier way around your opponent’s resistance. The power is derived in the motion carried by your moving body weight, not the amount of muscles that you’re flexing.
We often train ourselves to use excessive force, with weightlifting and other forms of heavy resistance training. Resistance training that teaches us to resist and strain, instead of teaching us to move fluidly, efficiently, and powerfully. Simply put, excessive force isn’t efficient. It wastes energy and makes you vulnerable to exhaustion.
So, martial arts mainly pertains to being able to move and reposition your own body effectively and efficiently, more so than it pertains to repositioning and moving your opponent’s body. Of course, you want to have the ability to reposition your opponent’s body, but you don’t want to use more force than you need.
You want to use leverage, with timing and precision to outposition and overcome your opponent. To acheive the right leverage, with timing and precision, you have to have control of your body and you have to move efficiently and effectively. It’s not about outsizing the opposition with force and aggression.
Let’s say you’re like the person that doesn’t care about learning martial arts technique, but you just want to get in really good shape. You want to look good, feel good, perform well, and live longer. What type of exercise are you going to do?
Martial arts! Obvi!
The more you move each time you perform a technique, the more calories you burn, the more parts of your body that are involved, and the more your body moves. The more you practice these techniques, the more your core and body is moved, and the more energy that is moved and burned, the more powerful you will become.
Moving your core is a challenge for your whole body and mind. Moving your core increases energy flow like no other exercise. It takes a lot of mental control and coordination to move your core, so core mobility and martial arts is also a great workout for the mind and the soul. It’s a balanced workout enabling you to perform better in everyday situations.
I can go on for days about how martial arts and core movement is really good for you. But what I’m really getting at, is that core movement is an intregral part of martial arts, as well as personal fitness, longevity, and sex appeal.
So, just know that the best workout is moving your core.
When I said that core movement can end war, hunger, and homelessness, it sounded like a joke, but now all you have to do is imagine a population of people that practices martial arts daily. As the world becomes more healthy and energetically balanced, negative things like war, hunger, and homelessness will begin to disappear.
Also, having more energy flow, discipline, and control, through the practice of martial arts, will make you a more powerful being, capable making a greater impact, capable of getting what you want. So, yes, core movement is going to make your dreams come true.
Whatever your purpose in life, whatever your life goal, whatever you want to do with your energy, you’ll be able to do it better, if you practice core movement and martial arts. You’ll reach your goals and you’ll achieve your life’s purpose, if you practice core movement and martial arts.
So, if you just focus on doing one thing, if you only think about moving the center of your body when you workout, you’ll become a more effective martial artist, and you’ll get in awesome shape at the same time.
It really simplifies things, when you think about your center, a single point in the center of your belly. They call it your center of gravity. It’s the average location of the weight in your body, a single point to summarize the center of balance for all the weight in your body. It’s a point that ties all the other parts of your body into one central location. All you have to do is focus on that, and all of your wildest dreams will come true.
KaBOOOM! Say somethin!
This article is an answer that I wrote on Quora.com. It was republished on Huffington Post.
How does one get stronger without gaining mass?
The answer is motor unit recruitment and refined motor patterns.
Your muscles are controlled by the nerves in your brain. Each nerve is connected to several individual muscle fibers, so just one neuron is needed to get several muscle fibers contract at once. However not all of the motor units contract at once. So you could flex your bicep, but maybe only half of the muscle fibers would be activated. The stronger the contraction, the more motor units that are recruited to produce a stronger force. This is called motor recruitment.
Imagine that you’re trying to push your car down the street, but you’re having a bit of trouble. You have 7 friends that are just standing there with nothing to do, so you ask them to help you push the car down the street. You and each of your friends could be considered a separate motor unit.
So imagine you ask your friends to help push the car, but only 5 of them decide to help. This happens not because your friends (motor units) are lazy, but because haven’t been trained to work together yet.
Your brains has to be conditioned to activate all of your motor units to work together to produce a stronger contraction. This is known as motor unit recruitment. Motor unit recruitment is responsible for most of the strength gains made by your muscles in the early stages of strength training.
In other words, you can have a lot of friends (motor units) with big muscles, but if they don’t know how to work together at once as a coordinated unit, you’ll never be as strong as a guy that has less friends that work well together.
Even when you try flex your muscle as hard as you can, not all of the motor units will be activated; you need to practice strength training. Strength training is all about refining your motor patterns. You can think of it as teaching all of your friends how to push the car down the street as a coordinated unit. The more you lift, the better your brain gets at activating more and more motor units. So when you get stronger from weight lifting, it isn’t just because you’re getting bigger muscles, it’s because you’re activating a higher percentage of your muscle fibers.
So if you want to push the car down the street without getting more friends (bigger muscles), your friends have to practice pushing the car at the same time to work together all at once. This means that when you train, you have to activate as many muscle fibers as possible. Your brain needs to practice activating the motor units together, otherwise, it will never do it when you need it.
Your training should consist of activities that activate as many muscle fibers as possible. This means strength training with heavy weight in an explosive manner. Moving heavy weight as fast as you can will get all of your motor units to chip in at once. Power lifting and plyometric exercises are great at getting a maximal contractions. Lifting lighter weights with higher reps and less speed will get you more muscle, but it won’t necessarily teach your brain to activate all of your motor units.
As long as your muscles are contracting at full speed or full force, you’ll be activating as many motor units as possible. Do that repeatedly, and you’ll get better at it.
Check out my answer here on Slate.com
or here on Quora.com
How Does a MMA Fighter’s Body Feel the Day After a Big Fight?
As you can imagine, it hurts like hell. Headaches, bumps and bruises on the face and body, and sometimes broken hands can make the day after the fight a real pain in the ass, in addition to the rest of the body. Any injuries can make simple tasks hard to accomplish. You never realize how much you use your ribs or hands until they are unusable.
Any part of your body may be hurt or injured, but there are a couple of spots that get more damage.
The leg or thigh can take considerable damage from just a few well placed leg kicks. In some fights, you can see swelling and considerable bruising before the fight is even over. Just in practice, I’ve taken some leg kicks that made it hard to walk for weeks.
The ribs and torso can also take a beating and can make life difficult for a long while. Ribs are terrible injuries as they can make breathing, laughing, and even sleeping miserable. Rib injuries also take forever to heal since the damaged areas are usually made of slow healing cartilage.
And last but not least, the head is the area that receives the most attention from the opponent. Cuts and swelling around the eye, broken noses and jaws, and concussions are the most common injuries to the dome. Your face is inevitably going to take some abuse, so scrapes and bruising is common.
All of the above owwies are usually made better with ice, drugs, and rest. A fighter should go home after a fight and ice his injuries (ice baths are great), drink plenty of water, take some anti-inflammatory meds (a fine line between pain killers and anti-inflammatories), and rest.
If a fighter wins, he’s probably going to go out and celebrate by drinking alcohol and staying up late with his friends. Not exactly the best recovery regimen imaginable.
If he loses, he still might drink his sorrows away, but if he took considerable damage or if he has any significant injuries, he’s usually going to stay up late in the hospital (athletic commissions can sometimes require this action for insurance purposes).
Most of the time, a fighter will be traveling home the day after a fight. If it’s a big promotion like the UFC, you’ll fly home. Traveling through an airport and sitting in coach for hours isn’t exactly fun or easy, and it definitely doesn’t do much good in the way of recovery.
In all likelihood, a fighter will spend the day after a fight doing the things that he couldn’t do during the months before his fight. Examples may include, eating a lot of food, substance abuse (I don’t condone), and other recreational activities like sex.
Between the food, drugs, and sex, I’m sure a lot of fighters don’t feel as terrible as you think they would, especially since the training camp can often be the hardest part of fighting. The actual fight itself is considered the fun part of being a fighter. The bumps and bruises you accumulate during the months of hard training makes the day after a fight easier to handle.
As a trainer, I’m always trying to improve the way people do things. In other words, I like to help people do things better. Giving a better high-five is no exception. At the end of a good round or a good workout, I want to congratulate my students and fire them up with a good high five. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a high-five, fist, bump, or a hug from a client that is feeling pride and gratitude.
So, you can see how I get disappointed when a student gives me a limp, poorly timed high-five. It’s not just the lack of enthusiasm that gets to me, but it’s also the poor technique. A lazy, unenthusiastic, half assed high-five is unacceptable, but poor technique and proper mechanics.
You may ask…”Who cares about being able to give a good high-five? Why would anyone write a blog about proper high-five technique? What does giving a good high five have to do with throwing a good punch or a fast fastball?”
It may not seem like it, but giving a good high-five is mechanically very similar to throwing a powerful punch, throwing a hail Mary, or a fastball.
The high five is cool because it’s dynamic and it makes some noise, like a celebratory firecracker on the 4th. The high five is cool because you have to sync your movements with the movement of another person creating a cognitive connection to the physical movements of yourself and another person. In today’s world, a high five and the hand shake is the only way to congratulate someone through physical contact (contact with other human beings is a necessity) while also avoiding sexual harassment lawsuits. Physical contact with another human being is actually a necessity for good health and longevity, and it’s a great way to strengthen your connection and bond with someone. Touching palms with a high-five is a great way to make a loud noise while transferring energy between people.
The high-five is also cool because it mimics the throwing motion. Slapping fives with someone, or accelerating your palm outwardly from the body and twisting your upper body, is just like throwing a ball, or a spear, or a punch. The throwing motion is so innate to our biology, that human beings may not have survived caveman times if we didn’t develop the ability to throw spears and rocks to hunt and fish.
So, if you want to be able to throw faster and harder, then you should want to know how to give a better high-five.
To give a good, noisy and dynamic high-five, you have to maximize the speed of your hand at the point of contact. A quality high-five is achieved when both hands reach maximal speed just before coming together to clap. The faster the hands are moving when they make contact, the more energy, and the louder the noise.
So, if you’re trying to maximize your hand speed, then you’re going to want to follow the same principles athletes use to increase hand speed when they’re throwing a baseball, a football, throwing a punch, or spiking a volleyball.
The first thing you can to do to increase the velocity of your hand is to move your body. The more your body moves when you throw your high-five, the more energy you’re able to put into your celebration slap. Try to involve your entire body and move your core as you throw your hand, just like when you throw a baseball or a punch. The more body weight that is moving at the time of impact, the more that your hand will be accelerated, and the louder your high-five will be.
Second, timing is everything. Poorly timed high-fives don’t make much noise, and they’re also a danger to your health, as they often lead to jammed fingers and chipped finger nails. A properly timed high-five will make lots of noise, as the hands come together just as they reach peak velocity. Getting the right timing down requires that you pay attention to the other person’s movement and bodily position. This means you have to “feel” where they are and correspond to their actions. It’s called getting in sync with someone, and it increases the connection
Third, you need to twist everything. Maximizing the speed of your hand requires you to maximize the unique, and innate leverage of the human body. As homo sapiens, we have evolved to run and twist our upper and lower body because of our upright, two-legged gait. Our strongest and most powerful movements are made when we twist our core, shoulders, and hips, which are the heaviest parts of the body. Counter twisting the hands, elbows, knees, and feet, and twisting everything. By twisting the left and the right side in the same direction, while also twisting the upper and lower body in the same direction, creates powerful movement. Using proper timing, synergistic, whole-body movements that
Finally, to maximize the speed of your hand at contact, you have to relax. Essentially, you’re trying to create a whip with your arm, just like when you throw a baseball, a football, or a punch. The motion starts from the ground at the feet, and increases in speed on it’s way to the top in the hand. Then, a wave of motion moves upward through your knees, hips, shoulders, elbow, wrist, and fingers, each one leading the next, until the wave breaks and the whip cracks. The whip-like motion of the arm creates a lot of speed in the hand, and the resulting energy creates a loud clap. This wave/whip-like motion is made possible with relaxation. If you’re too stiff, you won’t be able to move your hand very fast, and your high-five, your punches, and your fastballs will lack speed and power.
Why does any of this matter? Well, I can always tell when someone is a true martial artist when I try to teach someone how to give a better high-five. The person that looks at me funny and wonders why I would ever bother trying to fix someone’s high-five technique is not the martial artist. The martial artist is the person that is intrigued interested and enthusiastic about improving the way they way they do things. The person that wants to improve and get better is the martial artist. The person that is interested in learning how the body works and how its performance can be maximized, that is the martial artist. The martial artist knows that the point to life isn’t giving high quality high-fives, but that the point to life is to spend his time and energy improving the quality of his high-fives, and to continue the path of self-improvement and evolution. He knows that inner peace and fulfillment is found in the actual pursuit of the perfect high-five, instead of the material benefits gained from achieving the perfect high-five.
Improved health and wellness, a longer life, and looking better naked are all great reasons for working out. However, exercise can seem like such a chore, especially when the other chores in your life leave you without any energy for exercise and fun.
People are busy animals. Our days are filled with chores and tasks that keep us constantly occupied leaving us with little time and energy for fun. We’re so busy, we rarely have time to do the things we really want to do, because we only have time for the things we need to do. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Animals are made to be mobile, but they don’t burn energy for no reason. If they don’t have to move, they will tend to relax and save energy. Animals use their energy for purposeful things like hunting, defending themselves, and procreation. It’s within our animal instincts to be as efficient as possible and to conserve energy when there isn’t a good reason for moving.
Convenience, the art of eliminating needless work and wasted time, makes us unconsciously look for any unnecessary movement in every action we take. Hence the remote control, Clap-on, and drive-in fast food.
If you have to move, there had better be a damn good reason for it, otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re wasting that precious caloric energy that you have been hoarding for some reason.
It’s very hard to get motivated to move for something that’s unfulfilling.
When you were a kid, you didn’t mind moving at all. You had energy for days, even though playing and running were often discouraged. If you played any sports, moving didn’t feel like a chore, because you weren’t thinking of it as a workout. It was a game, it was your passion, and you enjoyed it. It was competitive but fun at the same time. Your mind never wandered when you played games; you were very much in the moment.
But now that you’ve grown up and you don’t play games anymore, your workout is serious business. You took the fun and passion out of moving by associating it with serious goals like weight loss and health. You no longer exercise because you enjoy it, you exercise because you feel like it’s something you have to do.
To drag themselves through a workout, most people will distract themselves with T.V., music, or a book. They purposely ignore the dreadful task at hand and focus on something more entertaining. While training, people often think to themselves “When is this going to be over?” They spend hours training their minds to wander while wishing their time on the treadmill would go faster.
In my opinion, getting through an experience more quickly through distraction and ignorance is a terrible mental/motor pattern to repeat on a daily basis. Wishing the next moment will get here sooner is no way to go through life. No wonder why more people are being diagnosed with A.D.D. everyday.
Exercise, with it’s negative stigma as being difficult and inconvenient, became movement for the sake of increasing the amount of movement in your life. In other words, you exercise just to burn more calories. Exercise with the sole intent of producing fatigue and exhaustion. Difficulty for the sake of being difficult (Crossfit). You turned yourself into Sisyphus, tirelessly pushing a boulder up a hill performing the same action for all eternity.
Your motivation for moving is now fueled by the desire to look better and feel better. Improved health and fitness used to be byproducts of your participation in sports and games. Now, they’re the sole reason for exercise.
However, while playing or practicing sports and games, the real goal behind the movement was to get better at a skill, and then to test your skill against your peers. So you practiced that skill several times over and over in order to improve. You might not have even counted your reps because you didn’t care how many you did, you only cared how much you improved. You had a passion, a good reason for moving because you were learning skills and improving your abilities. Now that’s a thought pattern worth repeating.
Being totally conscience of your actions, staying in the moment, and concentrating on performing the task as best as you can, is the best way to get the most out of your workouts, as well as life itself. This TED speaker argues that being in the moment is essential to happiness.
So give yourself a good reason to move and try to enjoy your motion. Learn a new skill like stand up paddle surfing or join a gym or local sports league. Find a passion that gets you moving.
My passion is Mixed Martial Arts. I believe there is no other sport that requires as much attention and conscience thought than martial arts. It is one of the most fulfilling skills to learn and is one of the funnest and most functional workouts you can find.
How long should cardio workouts last when training for an MMA competition? Should they be as long as possible, or should cardio workouts be short and intense? The type of cardio and the intensity of that exercise should always mimic the same situations you’ll face in the cage. The duration of your cardio training is no different.
As a good rule of thumb, I don’t believe that cardio workouts should last more than twice the length of your competition. So, if you’re going to be fighting for 20 minutes, I wouldn’t recommend going longer than 40 minutes. I would also make sure that your cardio lasts at least as long as your competition. So, a 20 minute fight means at least 20 minutes of cardio.
If you’re getting your heart rate high enough, you shouldn’t need more or less time than that. Meaning, if your intensity is too low, you won’t see much benefit to your cardio when you’re in the cage because your body won’t be used to getting your heart rate high enough.
Cardio sessions that last too long will decrease your explosive power. You’ll also become more fatigued if your heart rate gets too high during the fight because you won’t be used to extreme heart rates. If your body isn’t trained to handle extreme heart rates and intensity, it will not recover like you want it to in a fight.
Conversely, if your intensity is too high and your workouts last too long, you will likely be spending all of your energy on cardio training. You’ll also run the risk of overtraining injuries. If you feel like you don’t have enough time and energy for sparring, technique training, and conditioning, just try to get the heart rate elevated and activate muscles with short, high intensity sessions. Save energy for technique training, and keep your cardio bouts from going overtime.
Just try to make sure that you progressively push yourself just past your limits. One of the biggest reasons for injury is overuse. Either you’re going too hard too soon without giving your body enough time to adjust, or you’re going too hard for too long, and your body is getting worn out. Either way, you need to listen to your body and progress over time. Don’t go from no training right into hours of training a day. Start slow, and progressively overload your body.
The workout: 30 seconds of non-stop power punches alternated with 30 seconds of relaxed movement. 5 minute rounds, for at least 3 rounds.
Basically, we’re throwing as many power punches as we can for 30 seconds (fight), and then we’re relaxing our body and moving our feet and head for 30 seconds of recovery (flight).
This is one of my favorite ways to hit the heavy bag, since just throwing whatever comes to your mind for an entire round is a very inefficient approach to conditioning and technique work. Your mind wanders and you just end up throwing random combos without focus.
I like to set my round timer to 30 second intervals, so that I can focus on one aspect of my technique for a whole 30 seconds. Then I can move to the next area of focus in the next interval, which really helps with my ADD. For each interval, you can think about turning your hips more, staying balanced, turning your punches over, etc.
Intervals on the bag allow you to throw non-stop combos at full intensity, but forces you to relax your upper body. Since it’s a challenge to throw full power for 30 seconds at a time, this workout teaches you to relax and focus on the technique.
Hitting the bag in intervals is much like the situations in a real fight. You throw an intense combination for a short period, rest and move, then engage in another exchange. Your heart rate rises and falls, instead of maintaining a steady state of intensity. Interval training has been shown to increase power and endurance, which is something that is difficult to achieve.
I often see fighters preparing for fights with cardio that is not very sport specific. Meaning, that the type of challenge that they’re providing for their body is nothing like the cardio challenge of an MMA fight. To get in fighter shape, you have to mimic the challenges your body will face in the cage.
Long distance, slow pace cardio like 5 mile runs or an hour on the elliptical will give you more endurance, but what kind of endurance?
Low intensity/long duration cardio is OK if you’re not going to explode and spike your heart rate during the fight, but MMA is an explosive sport. There are times of relatively low intensity and movement, but you rarely go a long time without having to explosively react to your opponent’s movements.
Every time you engage in a grappling scramble or striking exchange, you’ll spike your heart rate. That spike can deplete your endurance severely if your body’s not prepared to handle it.
Your body uses different metabolic systems to fuel your muscles, so your muscles can’t be trained with repetitive, low intensity contractions that are fueled by aerobic metabolism. You have to activate a higher percentage of muscle fibers with more intense contractions for a shorter duration if you’re going to successfully prepare your body for a fight.
Doing so helps to teach your muscles to produce more forceful contractions, and thus preserving your muscle. Higher intensity cardio work can actually help build muscle and increase strength, instead of killing it.
Sprints, circuit training, and intervals should be used to build cardio, burn fat, and increase muscular force. I like to do heart rate intervals, where I can spike my heart rate to a particular number, and then let it recover. Usually, I’ll try to get my heart rate up to 85-90% of my max heart rate (220-my age), and then let it drop down to 60%. I do this for about 8-10 reps, and it usaully only takes me 20 minutes. Here is an example of a cardio workout I did a few weeks back on an elliptical.
It easily can.The size of the muscle mass will depend, but there’s a reason that elite boxers and MMA fighters like Anderson Silva and Cain Velazquez don’t look bulky like football players. Extra muscle mass will make having good cardio more difficult and makes for more work before the fight, but it doesn’t necessarily decreased endurance.However, too much muscle can mean slower strikes, less flexibility, a shortened reach, and it usually isn’t good for functional strength.
More bulk means more mass to move, especially in the upper body. If your arms and shoulders are bulky, it can be hard to launch and retrieve them when punching. Violent movements with more extra mass requires more muscle in the lower body than in the upper.
Lower flexibility: Just like you can be bulky and flexible (to a point), you have to realize that extra muscle just makes that more difficult. Teaching your muscles how to contract can set a neural pattern that is hard to reverse, especially in intense situations. So if you count on using your flexibility in the fight, you’ll need to do a ton of stretching and relaxation exercises before the fight.
Shortened Reach: This is just a matter of mass. Your frame can only support so much weight. If you’re 5’8″ and bulky as hell, then you might be facing a fighter with a 6’5″ athletic frame.
Functional Strength: If your muscle came from resistance training with machines and isolated movements, then you’re strength isn’t as good as someone that trained their muscles throughout the body to contract as a complete kinetic chain from fingers to toes. For example, if you work with a medicine ball, you train the body as a whole to perform complex movements explosively. Seated cable curls might not be the best use of energy/time for your resistance training.
Extra Muscle: You can really wear your opponent out with your muscle, if you can hold him in a bad position. Most collegiate wrestlers look a tad bulkier than elite MMA fighters because muscular strength is more useful in grappling situations. Weight/mass is a big advantage in scrambles and other position changes.
Motor Unit Recruitment: If you train your muscles to contract with efficiency, then you can learn to activate more muscle fibers with better coordination. This means a faster, more explosive contraction. Think of it as refined muscle memory. A lot strength gains come from refined motor patterns, not just from growing bigger muscles.
A more refined muscular force gained from practicing a movement at full speed is almost like saying technique training. As a rule of thumb, any activity that adds muscle to your body should closely mimic the same positions and actions commonly found in MMA. That training should also activate the same energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic) used in a fight. You need to train explosively and repeatedly, for power and cardio, respectively.
1. Balance- Work on keeping your center of gravity over your feet. If you’re heavy on one foot, and light on another, your ability to move in any direction is considerably diminished. Being ready to move, means being properly connected to the ground. Make sure that your head is centered above your feet. If it’s off to one side or the other, it will be harder to change directions.
2. Constant Movement- While standing in front of an opponent, your feet and head should be moving at all times. Constant movement means small, quick, and subtle movements in “random” directions. Not only does this make you a moving target, but it also makes you more responsive. Constantly shifting your weight from one direction to another, makes it easier to continue your motion, instead of starting from a stationary position.
3. Small Steps- Not too much, not too little, but just enough. Always make the slightest, smallest movements necessary. Doing so saves energy, but also gives you the ability to change directions, move your head, and attack. Small steps make you less predictable, but also give you the ability to stay connected to the ground. Imagine how hard it would be to throw or dodge punches while in mid air.
4. On Your Balls- Not that your heels should never touch the ground, but they shouldn’t touch for more than a split second. Humans are better at moving when your weight is concentrated on the front part of the foot. Think of the bottom of your foot as sticky; the more surface area that contacts the ground, the harder it will be to lift that foot up off the ground. Imagine how slow you would jump rope if your heels contacted the ground.
5. Practice- You must condition your muscles to make these frequent, yet small adjustments if you expect it to happen while someone is trying to knock you out. While practicing footwork, don’t concentrate on covering distance and maximizing movement, this is called running. Instead, work on moving your feet while throwing punches and moving your head at the same time. If you can stay in position, control your head movement, and throw long, solid punches while moving your feet, you’re probably an elite level boxer.
6. Core Conditioning- Think about all of the movements that have to made by your upper body. Your head has to move in all directions while your torso launches your arms violently. Doing so requires strength from the entire kinetic chain, starting with your feet and legs. All of the movements in your upper body origiNate from your feet, and travel through your core, so the muscle groups in your legs, hips, and core need to be able to work together. Avoid doing exercises that isolate muscle groups like crunches or leg press. Do core exercises while standing on both feet with weight in your hands or on your shoulders. While holding weight above your waist, perform twisting, turning, and circular movements, and concentrate on “using your belly” to move the weight, not your shoulders or arms.
Jumping rope, agility drills, and running are also a great exercises for improving foot work.
The bottom line, you can do ladder drills and jump rope until your feet fall off, but the best workout for improving footwork is shadowboxing. Apply all of the above principles while shadowboxing for best results. Concentrate on moving your feet and head immediately after completing a combination.
Calm is the C-word used in this list of martial arts principles by a tai chi master.
Calm- free from excitement or passion; tranquil: a calm face; a calm manner.
If you haven’t noticed, the very best fighters in the world maintain constant poise and control. Their faces always appear calm and relaxed even though they’re facing the second best fighter in their weight class. In battle, the best combatants are always calm and collected because they’ve been there before. They aren’t scared of what might happen. They know that when you concentrate on what you don’t want to happen, it’s actually more likely to happen. Instead, concentrate on what you should be doing, not what might be done to you.
If you’re tense and fighting with high intensity, you’re wasting energy: mental and physical. Emotions are a waste of energy and don’t belong in fighting. Fear of failure paired with excitement is a bad combination for winning fights.
In life, keeping calm will be what keeps you from getting into a fight in the first place. Next time you’re in an argument or altercation, keep cool and you’ll win the verbal war. Like the old saying goes, “Cooler heads prevail”.
Balance is the B-word used in this list of martial arts principles by a tai chi master.
Balance- a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
This could be one of the most important elements to success in martial arts as well as life.
To learn how to balance one’s energies, focus, and effort is one of the most difficult things in life. However, once achieved, balance can allow you to be more effective and efficient in everything you do.
First, you must realize when you are and aren’t balanced. Recognition is the first step to progression, and will allow you to make corrections to your equilibrium for overall improvement.
In martial arts, your movements and weight must both be properly balanced. With your weight off balance, it will be harder to produce desired movements. Unbalanced movement will shift your weight off balance as well.
One must learn how to use his weight to counterbalance his own movements, in equal push and pull forces. For example, you can throw your fist forward with the right side of your body, but in order to maximize speed and power, you’ll need to pull with the left side side too. Doing so not only counterbalances your weight to ensure that you don’t lose your equilibrium, but it also doubles the power produced by the movement of your body.
Knowing when your opponent is off balance is also essential for taking advantage of openings and opportunities. Sensing an imbalance in your opponents stance, movement, attack, and defense is how you can know what your opponent is going to do before he does it. Think of imbalance recognition as seeing into the future.
Taking advantage of an opponent’s unbalanced forces can also allow you to also save energy by reducing the force you’ll need to move yourself or your opponent. This recognition is what allows for a smaller martial artist to take advantage of the heavier opponent’s superior force and weight and use it against him.
Mastering the balancing act of your weight and movement, as well as your opponent’s weight and forces is one of the most essential skills in martial arts.
Attentive is the A-word used in this list of martial arts principles by a tai chi master.
Attentive: characterized by or giving attention; observant
Being attentive indicates that your attention never takes a break and you’re constantly aware of the dangers of your situation. “Alert” and “Awareness” are words that would also fit in the ABC’s. They are distant synonyms of Attentive, but understand that you want to be on alert for anything that your opponent may throw at you. Knowing what what position you’re in and what offense your opponent is capable of throwing at you, is being aware. You have to be prepared for anything, not just what you think your opponent is likely to do next.
Not only do you need to be attentive and aware of your opponent’s offense, but you need to be attentive to your own position and offensive possibilities. Missed opportunities are symptoms of a lack of attention. If you’re inattentive to your hands dropping when standing in front of your opponent, you’ll eventually lose when you fight someone who pays more attention to your dropping hands than you do.
The best martial artists are ever attentive to their opportunities and dangers in any position. That means being aware of the positives and negatives of any situation. You have to be aware of you and your opponent’s positions, offensive and defensive capabilities. Knowing this will allow you to decide when it’s time to strike, defend, and move.
Try to be more attentive to the positives and negatives in your daily life. Practicing awareness and attention will improve your life as well as your martial arts skill.
A friend of mine, Alex Coriano, came cross an ABC’s of martial arts that was given to him by an old Tai Chi master. I found it pretty interesting. My understanding of the meaning of each term has increased over the years, but I wonder how my perspective and understanding of the list will change over time. To think about what you may not know and what you are yet to learn is a curious subject to me