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We at TKRI  place a high priority on fitness, proper conditioning and diet as a crucial part of safe training. Our blog often features links to karate-related exercises, conditioning safety tips and up-to-date information from athletic training fields. Just today, I was reminded of some of the soundest advice out there, a simple and holistic 7-day approach that addresses all aspects of building a healthy, strong body. In fact, it carries the Charles Atlas seal of approval:

-Eat nutritious, high protein, and swallow raw eggs.

-Try to build up your shoulders, chest, arms and legs: do pressups, chinups, the snatch, clean n’ jerk, and some dynamic tension, although it’s hard work.

Well, maybe it’s best if I just let the expert himself explain it to you  (if you don’t like men with too many muscles, you may want to avoid it):

Take a look at Dr. Furter’s 7 -day program here

(Happy Hallowe’en)

Karate involves a lot of powerful thrusting movements that tighten the chest and lats. Over time this can lead to postural problems unless care is taken to both stretch the chest and lats and to condition the muscles that pull the shoulders down and back towards the spine. Over conditioned and tight chest muscles paired with under conditioned shoulder and back muscles can even contribute to shoulder instability and injury.

Here is an exercise that can help “realign” us and hopefully help to keep us injury free and happily punching for a long time to come; it is called the ball cobra:

Notice the slow tempo, try to perform it the same way.

Here is another good article from the Sports Fitness Advisor Blog, it is called “Plyometrics for Martial Arts”.

Here is a teaser;

Plyometrics for martial arts will help to increase your explosive power, your speed and your ability to change direction quickly. On their own, plyometric drills have limited effectiveness. They are most useful when performed in conjunction with a strength training program. In fact without a strength base, plyometric training can do more harm than good.

Click Here to read the rest.

"Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general."  Mark Rippetoe, <em>Strong Enough?</em>, p. 157

Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe, Strong Enough?, p. 157

Well, I say book “review”, it’s probably going to be more of a book gush, because the second edition of Rippetoe and Kilgore’s Starting Strength is the best fitness book I have ever read.

A lot of people discover Starting Strength either through forums like Strength Mill, or through Crossfit, but my route was a little different. I’ve spent seven of the last eight (northern hemisphere) summers in Australia, usually at the University of Melbourne, and while there I’ve been able to use the gym at Melbourne University Sports. It’s the best equipped gym, with the best trained staff, that I’ve found anywhere. It was there that I first got a good answer to the question “so what’s up with this stuff creatine?” (I stopped taking it), where I first heard the word “plyometrics”, and where I once saw the single most impressive exercise I have ever seen performed in a gym. (There aren’t any videos of body builders doing it on Youtube, but I did find a video of a child gymnast doing them here. The guy doing them in Melbourne them was 6ft+ and built more like a rock-climber than a rugby player. He did single reps with perfect control and when the trainer who was with him said: “how does it feel?” the guy responded in a thick Australian accent “still feels like my head is gonna explode.”)

Anyway, this year, when I walked into my programming session, the trainer asked me what my goals were, and I told him I wanted to put on as much muscle as possible. I wanted to be able to lift more, move faster, strike harder, and to injury proof my knees and my shoulders. I told him that I was already doing a lot of squats and lunges, and if he could teach me anything new and fun, that would be cool. I told him that I was 32, and concerned that gaining muscle was only going to get harder as time went on.

So he taught me to deadlift. The deadlift starts with a barbell on the ground, and you reach down and pull the bar off the floor, stand up straight (so that the barbell is against your thighs) and then you put it back down. It’s a simple movement that uses lots of big muscles and many people can eventually build up to deadlifting more (sometimes significantly more) than their own weight. But you only have to glance at the movement to see that this is not the place to get careless with your form. So I spent a fair few evenings surfing the web trying to find out as much as I could about correct form for my cool new exercise, and in doing so I quickly came across this video, in which Mark Rippetoe coaches the deadlift:

Olympic lifts! Athletes! (rather than those shiny guys with the big chests and teeny legs) Women! Reasons-for-doing-things-the-way-he-says! All pretty cool, thought I. Anyway, I studied the video
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"Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing less than his best ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad."
Funakoshi Gichin


July 2020

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