Monday, May 30, 2011

15 Signs You're Taking Training Seriously

The following list is the top 15 signs that you're training hard and taking your martial arts seriously. Well, for me at least...

15. You once told a story about fighting that you thought was funny, but accidentally traumatized everyone listening. Now they think you're weird.

14. The first thing you do when you get home is take off your shoes and socks. If it was up to you you'd be barefoot all the time.

13. Every time you meet someone new you wonder if you can take them.

12. You think everyone should get punched in the face at least once in their life.

11. You'd rather wear a gi to formal events then a suit.

10. When giving your friends advice, you try to make them understand that their problem isn't as hard as getting kicked in the head. They never seem to get it.

9. You can't walk by a mirror without taking a second to pose in a fighting stance.

8.You've given a significant other a weapon of some kind as a romantic gift at some point.

7. At least 3 of your 5 favorite movies are about fighting.

6. When being intimate with your partner, they complain that you always have a straight face. You try to explain that it's part of your training. They just think you're creepy.

5. You wake up sore almost every day of the week. The good kind of sore.

4. You consider a black belt to be as impressive as a post graduate degree.

3. In the winter, you get a brief rush of excitement every time you put your gloves on.

2. You have to do 4 or 5 loads of laundry a week.

1. You own a sword.

Well there you have it! These are some of the random observations I've made over the last fifteen years or so of training. Hope this means I'm doing something right. Hope you enjoyed them and please feel free to comment, share your own or message me for the stories behind this list. There is a story behind every point. Happy training!

Jordan Bill
Fight or die

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Heart Attack!

Intensity in Training
Regardless of training for sport fighting, reality combat or general self defense, it's always good to train at an intense level. Safely, of course. The truth is, if you're training in martial arts then you at least have enough interest in being able to protect yourself or a loved one. For others, it's to perform in a ring or survive in the field. No matter what, the stakes are high. Adrenaline, fear and excitement are all things that are going to affect your thinking and motor skills at crunch time, so it's important to address this in training. The benefits of training this way is an increase in cardio, technique, timing and mental confidence of having simulated stressful scenarios, among others. Therefore, it's good to "warm-up" to the point where you're training with an elevated heart rate. It will make the rest of your training more realistic and reliable.

Cardio Benefits
Probably the more obvious purpose of an intensified training pace is improving your physical endurance. It's not just about getting through an intense warm-up, but then being able to perform at that pace while learning new applications and techniques. This way there's never a rest and constant movement. Your heart-rate stays up and your metabolism continues to burn calories until you rest. Like most cardiovascular exercises, this will strengthen the heart in a healthy way, holding more blood at any one time, getting oxygen to the muscles that much faster and also keeping the brain oxygenated during a crisis. Also, being accustomed to this kind of increase in pulse, you will have more control over the fear and/or excitement during an altercation.

Application Benefits
Another key factor in training at a high intensity is the physical toll that fear and adrenaline take during a crisis. Physical attributes such as strength and speed will abandon you pretty fast in a crisis. Speed is gone as soon as your tired, strength is gone after the initial adrenaline dump and technique becomes sloppy. Motor skills become harder to control and if this comes as a surprise it's hard to deal with and can trigger panic (in which case trained techniques are out the window). It's important to at least explore what it's like to try to maintain proper form and technique in an exhausted state. At the very least to feel the difference. This will change your priorities in training. Speed starts to become timing, strength becomes leverage and technique becomes experience. Simulate as many scenarios when you're pressure testing and there will be nothing out there that you haven't faced.

Mental Benefits
As mentioned earlier, becoming familiar with these physical reactions to fighting is important if or when the time comes. Like a fighter warming up for their first fight, a police officer on their first shift or a soldier being deployed for the first time, there is a wave of physical and emotional sensations that can easily catch someone off guard. Some you can be prepared for and some you just can't. In a self defense scenario, these responses happen in less than a second with little to no warning. This can even trigger some self pity about how unfair it is and how you didn't have a chance to prepare. Just by keeping your training realistic and confronting ways of safely emulating stress on the body and mind and greatly increase your performance and chances of survival when confronted with violence. Staying focused, calm and goal oriented can get you through anything, but if you're not prepared the mind is the first to go. Panic often strikes us before the mentioned physical depletion of stress. By having studied various scenarios, you can keep the mind calm and compensate to the environment and also to how you react. High intensity training will take it's toll, but not like being under-prepared.

Always Step It Up
I remember reading a book by Marchinko where he mentions that if you're preparing for war then you have to at least train at the intensity of risking injury. Considering that the cost of war can be death, that seems to make sense to me. It's the hard truth. Training in martial arts should take you out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. Take the precautions to do this safely and attack it head on. Violence can attack at any second and your body and mind can abandon you when you need them if you're not able to seize control. Things never happen when they're "supposed" to, so have the confidence that you can roll with anything. Remember: heavy on the warm-ups, steady pace during the drills and some good, safe and honest pressure testing to end the session and prove to yourself that you can make it work. If you can keep good timing and form when exhausted, you'll be that much better when you're feeling 100%. Leave all doubts on the mat.


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