The pen is mighty indeed. Speaking for myself, writing notes by hand when I am studying for various certifications is much more helpful than typing on a keyboard. The convenience of the computer is hard to beat, but when it comes to recall, I definitely have had better experiences with hand written notes than electronic. I don’t think evidence of this is necessary, you probably already agree with me, but in case you’re the kind of person who likes additional proof, here you go:
Okay, now that we’re on the same page, aside from retention, why do I (a strength coach and martial arts instructor) implore you to take notes by hand? Retention, as mentioned above, is a big part of it. But even bigger is: accountability. Accountability is a large and frequently missing link in training. Students often (mistakenly) think they just need to show up to class and the instructor will work his magic and voila! Instant mastery! NOT… The learning process requires the student to be as engaged in learning as the instructor is in teaching and writing notes by hand will facilitate that process. I realize describing martial arts movements can be complex so do your best with that, but jotting down key points on how to dead lift a bar or swing a kettlebell is pretty straight forward. Even if you’re not a natural writer.
But more important than what you write down from your handful of hours of instruction in the gym per week is WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM??? Even if you train 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, that’s a mere 10 hours a week. Adjusting for 8 hours of sleep per night, this still leaves you 112 hours or so to mess up all the good work you did in the gym. How? By eating and drinking poorly. Diet is without a doubt the easiest thing for us to control and the hardest thing for me to get students to commit to doing properly and consistently. Diet is a comfort zone for people, and falling off the wagon is easy to do and hard to recover from. One way to help combat this is to keep a hand written food log. Write down everything you eat AND drink during the course of the day. Everything. Did I say everything? Yes, everything. And at the end of every day look at your log to see if you’re actually following your coach’s guidance or if you’re falling off the wagon.
Keeping and reviewing a hand written food log will go a long way to helping you stay on track with the most powerful part of your training: diet. A good diet will facilitate everything you are trying to accomplish in the gym or on the mats.
Sifu Francis has been a pivotal part of my martial arts life for almost 20 years. His approach to Wing Chun is “traditional but not old fashioned.” It is not what you expect. Yes, he has fast hands. But he understands boxing, kicking, locking and weaponry. The breadth of his knowledge is seemingly endless and it means he can adapt to any environment. He is not in a box. Or if he is, it’s really big!
I was thrilled to host him for a seminar on March 10. Here’s a little taste of what he gave us that day. More clips to come!
The date is Saturday, Jan 27 from 10AM – 4PM…or later! We will have a hydrostatic body fat test truck on hand! Book your appointment through bodyfattest.com. In addition to free hourly seminars on kettlebells, martial arts and powerlifting, we will have a Rock Tape clinic with Dr. Ira Schneider, awesome music from DJ Johnny Hawkes and delicious Paleo food catered by chef Lynne Tolentino of Partido.
And naturally we will have grand opening specials going on all day so come see us!
New Year’s resolutions seem to have gone the way of the Do Do, but I strongly feel they are a terrific way to focus yourself on goals and make reaching them more of a reality.
So what do you want to accomplish this year? Is it something in your career? Marriage? Training? I’ll leave your career and marriage goals to you and your spouse to be, but I’ll make a simple recommendation on training: improved body composition.
Everyone likes looking good and the simplest way to make this happen is to control what kind of food goes in your mouth. Arguments for portion control can and should be made, but more important, I believe is what makes up the bulk of your diet. The single most damaging “food” that we eat way too much of is sugar. Period. End of story. If you can cut back on your sugar intake you will make a dramatic, positive impact on your body composition. (While eliminating all sugar from your diet would be optimal, I live in the real world and will be thrilled if you just cut back!)
What to cut back on?
Soft drinks likely constitute a great percentage of sugar intake, cutting back on them is a necessity. And don’t fall for the “sugar free” and “diet” soft drinks. Just steer clear. Drink sparkling water if you like the fizz, or still water if you don’t care either way.
Sweets like candy, cookies, brownies, etc are in abundance throughout the year, and in overdrive during the holidays. Simply cut back on the volume of sweets you take in during the day, especially in the evening before bed time.
Bread is one of the tastiest creations of humankind. Unfortunately how good it tastes equals how bad it is for you. I don’t care if it’s whole wheat, Wonder bread or a 12-grain artisan loaf. It’s going to spike your blood sugar and make you fat. Cut back
These are some simple steps to give you an improved body composition with absolutely ZERO extra time in the gym. Give them a go!
Corrective exercises with the kettlebell allow us to address internal imbalances between right and left sides of the body as well as a general lack of mobility. After decades of martial arts training, one of the areas I needed the most work was in my T-spine. Simply put, my posture was terrible: rounded shoulders, slumped upper back, etc. Everything was just locked up from so many years of training and not returning to proper posture after training ended or doing the essential recovery work on the foam roller and other tools.
I’ve used corrective exercises with the kettlebell to address my numerous postural issues as well as balancing out stability between right and left. One of my favorites is the Half Kneeling Bent Arm Bar. It will be part of an article I recently wrote for http://breakingmuscle.com/ outlining a handful of similar exercises. The article will hopefully drop soon, but until then, check out a little video on this exercise here.
Here’s to looking, feeling and moving better than ever!
Let me start this post with the ubiquitous disclaimer. I am not a nutritionist. Do not take this post as any kind of strict recommendation. This is merely a collection of my own personal experience with diet as well as many of my students over the years. If you have a medical condition that requires a specific diet that was crafted for you by a nutritionist or doctor, please buy all means FOLLOW IT!
Ok, that’s out of the way.
Diet is the single most powerful factor you can affect in your physical, mental and emotional transformation simply because you have control over what you eat. There are a ton of approaches to diet. I’ve tried more than a handful: vegetarian, macrobiotic, vegan (yes, vegan…), intermittent fasting, paleo, primal… You get the idea. There are countless differences in these approaches to proper eating, but one aspect that runs throughout is limiting your sugar consumption. I’d say the man who has done more to bring to light the dangerous nature of processed sugar in the diet is Gary Taubes.
I was first introduced to Gary when his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” came out a few years back. It is quite a dense piece of work. Gary’s research is both incredibly thorough and incredibly technical, and to be honest, more than my brain could handle. Though I never finished it, I liked the material a lot and recommended the book frequently. I must not have been alone in my difficulty getting through Good Calories because Gary then released “Why We Get Fat“, a much more readable work for the rest of us.
His newest book, “The Case Against Sugar” is a must read for anyone interested in the subject of general health or obesity, diabetes and/or heart disease specifically. Similar to Why We Get Fat, this book is quite readable without a medical degree. I remember as a kid being told that sugar is “empty calories”. I didn’t really know what that meant, but like most kids I took it to mean that sugar didn’t have any negative effect on us. This was the intended meaning, and we have the current epidemic in diabetes and obesity to thank for it!
Gary Taubes is an author you should definitely read, start with this article from the New York Times and see if you want to go deeper. If you’re not much of a reader, Gary is also all over YouTube. Check him out and see what you think!
Here’s to looking, feeling and moving better than ever!
Training, like life, is full of challenges. Given the constant onslaught, I’m trying to reprogram myself to appreciate small victories as much as possible. Forget about hitting PRs, with a crazy schedule, just getting to train 2 or 3 times a week is a victory! This week the victory was visible!!
I’ve been around martial arts my whole life, I’ve been teaching for over 20 years and I can say without any reservation that Rener and Ryron have put together a masterful course here. They’ve chosen the techniques from jiu jitsu that relate directly to street fighting scenarios that LEOs face daily and provided simple, high percentage solutions.
Basic guard control to minimize an assailant’s ability to punch.
Long range defense against a standing assailant.
The pace of the course is fast but not frantic. The amount of material is a lot, but not overwhelming. And everything builds off of previous material that’s been covered so the learning process is streamlined. Most important, each scenario is a realistic one for the attendees so they immediately see the value and rep it out.
I know the Gracie family has always been pioneers and I was curious what kind of spin they’d put on techniques I’d already seen. They did not disappoint. Terrific little details on each technique were in great supply. In short, I was supremely impressed by the instructors, their assistant instructors, the material and the attendees. I was honored to be there.
Amy Vorphal, one of my students from 5 Star Martial Arts, contacted me the other day with a surprisingly specific martial arts question. I’m the only person she knows in martial arts and she needed to find someone who could teach the 1-inch punch to the hosts of “Mothership“, the show she works on for @nerdist. Talk about a small world. As luck would have it I started training with Guro Dan Inosanto in 1992 and taught at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts from 1995 – 2009, so I was pretty comfortable with teaching this technique.
“Birth of a Dragon” the most recent film about Bruce Lee, was about to open and Amy wanted me to teach the hosts of Mothership, Jessica Chobot and Hector Navarro, how to do this technique that Lee (and Wing Chun) was so famous for. It was a total blast working with these people, as the video below shows.