Monday, June 28, 2010

Martial Arts vs Exercise

I was thinking today...during an 8 hour flight I had plenty of time to do so...

My train of thought went something like this: a bench press guy crawls under an enormous amount of weight, sucks in some air and blasts the ever living shit out of the bar with his arms. He grunts, groans and farts while sweats pours over his distorted face. Finally, the weight is now at arms length. He rests for a second possibly reconsidering this feat and quickly realizing his scrawny spotter was probably not the best choice. He lowers the weight to his chest, barely touches and slams the weight back into the air a second time, a third time, and so on until a set of 8 or 10 is completed. He's pumped; veins punching through his skin as if  mutant, sub-dermal worms were trying to burrow their way back to fresh air. He looks around to see if any hot chicks noticed. If not, he waits until a cute one walks by and he restarts his activity.

Then I thought, how would a skinny little BJJ guy do a bench press? He would shrimp under the same bar, smirking as if he had today's lotto numbers and didn't want to brag. Shrimping some more, and nearly off the end of the bench table, the BJJ guy aligns the bar across his hip. A quick surge upwards, lifts the bar off the rack and his locked arms simply guide it to his hips as he lowers his bridge. A couple of bridge pumps just to show it works and back on the rack the enormous weight goes. Shrimp back out and the scrawny BJJ guy asks the over-roided freak next to him if he wants to arm wrestle. As the gorilla sets up his arm the little BJJ guy arm drags him and chokes him out.

That last part was just for my amusement.
The moral to this story is simply I believe martial arts and exercise are complete opposites. Exercise sticks one's body into a mechanically disadvantaged position, forcing the person to muscle out of everything. Which by definition, what exercise is supposed to do. Martial arts on the other hand seem to be the opposite. For example, in BJJ we use levers, weights, pulleys (gi's) and circles to manipulate opposing forces (our opponent). Nothing in BJJ or any Martial Art I've studied has ever required a practitioner to increase their strength specifically to oppose a force.

So lets break this down a bit. Martial artists cheat like card shark, by lying, stealing and general misdirection when dealing with opposition. Exercise guys jump right under that bar, bite that bastard and lift it with their teeth, if they could.

Speaking of teeth, here's quick true story on this very subject. When my dad taught Shotokan he used to have everyone lay on their backs and lift their head and feet off the floor a few inches and hold for what seemed like a century. Shaking and fatiguing, fighting off flies in the Arizona heat, some of us opted to use our favorite Martial Art technique: cheat like Tiger Woods at a model convention! Our method was simple, bite our gi collar. Gnashing away at ones gi gave us a lever to hold our fat little heads off the hard concrete floor. (yes we trained on concrete, outside!) Of course my dad quickly caught on and he would run around like a rabid badger, pissed off; ripping our lapels out of the mouths of the room full of gi piranhas. Yet we survived, and that was what the Martial Arts seemed to be about. Get the task done, anyway possible, with minimal effort and most importantly survive.

One note, I'm not bashing exercise! Merely stating the two are polar opposites in means of getting the job done. They certainly complement each other. Exercise gives one speed, coordination, agility and fast twist response -- all necessary for a successful Martial Artist intent on catching his little bastard students cheating :)


Saturday, June 26, 2010

4 minutes

That's all we did. Actually it was 4 x 40 seconds with 20 seconds of rest inbetween. 160 seconds is all it takes to crush a spirit. Well, that and 105F degree heat in a two car Easy Bake oven...

The Tabata interval is a 100% committed attack on the nervous system. Lighting fast, high intensity, mobile and functional. This is the strategy of countless military minds; strike hard, strike fast and take the women!

Today's workout
15 mins of babbling about tonight's Strikeforce while striking the heavy bag.
1 x 40 seconds: squat thrust, sprint (15 ft), bear crawl backwards...repeat.
1 x 40 seconds: side to side lunges, sprint, army crawl back...repeat.
1 x 40 seconds: punch/drop/kick/stands, sprint, tilt a whirl the grappling bag...repeat
1 x 40 seconds: 10 lb minibasketball bridge to standing, hold ball straight up walk fast (15ft), lunge back...repeat.
With the leftover over energy we had, we toyed with some halfguard. I swear BJJ AFTER your tough workout is soooo much better technique wise. One just doesn't have the ability to cheat.

Don't let the short time fool you. After 4 minutes we almost needed an IV and O2. If you push yourself hard enough, a 1 second workout at 1000% commitment will smoke you.

The punch/drop/kick/stand is an old favorite of mine. Jab the bag, drop into side breakfall (simulating you getting knocked down in the middle of a strike), kick the bag in it's theoretical balls and BJJ stand back up. It's surprisingly tiring.

The tilt a whirl didn't last long due to mini-Brock WWE slamming it! The poor defenseless bag exploded, sending stuffing out it's ass. The old crap they stuff in there looked like used underwear and gauze from an insane asylum. Another device got died... I think it's repairable, it's just the zipper. I have to get the gloves and gasmask out to pack in it's gooey innards.
BatDojo Lesson #2321 - Do not slam grappling bags.

Two shots of mini-Brock.
Don't quit.

Subject yourself to more pain than your opponent can offer.

And two shots of numbnuts (me).
Give 101%..or more.

If you die trying, but didn't take your opponent with you...try harder when you get better.


More Bat Dojo Details...

So here's the pile o' carnage. Failed attempts at crushing the human spirit. Although we cried, not for the pain inflicted by the experiments, but rather for the shattered PVC pipe filled with 40lbs of sand, lying lonely and broken on the floor.
Bat Dojo Lesson #4432: concrete floors and PVC pipes filled with heavy stuff do not mix.

Here's the wall of old paths taken and room for new adventures:

Hanging pain:

A bit of wall art:


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Bat Dojo... simply a two car garage with $1000 worth of Dollamur mats. Three 5 ft wide, by 15ft long black sheets of fall protection are held in place by a wall on one end, storage units on the adjacent side and my dog opposite the wall. The garage door, installed by yours truly creaks loudly like a medievel drawbridge when operated. A black, decade old WaveMaster water filled punching bag hangs silently over one end of the middle mat. Amazing it has survived this long as the target of a variety of weapons and aggressive-jumping guard hangs. A cold, steel pipe setup as a homemade chin up bar hangs over one end of the first mat. The bar has tie straps for height/angle adjustment, along with a set of gymnastics rings for added torture. A very old, dirty blue gi I hauled from Berlin, Germany hangs over the bar for gi grip pullups.

A large variety of experimental tortures sit wrecked in the corner. Several basketballs filled with 25 lbs of sand lay useless. Cracked and leaking the heavy ballast, doing nothing more than holding down my foundation. A PVC kettle bat with a broken handle sits upright to stop the 20 lbs of sand from getting everywhere. Two consumer purchased 25lbs medicine balls suffered a fate a 6th Century war hammer hitting a skull would be proud of. Both expensive balls failed during our training and exploded during some form of high energy smashing exercise. I think I'll fill the carcass (now a mold) with cement and make 70lbs atlas balls out of them. Concrete kettle bats weigh in at 30 lbs; the most medieval and dangerous of the devices lays crushed on the floor. A product of a misguided swing hitting a kneecap or perhaps trying to smack someone who failed to push 101%.

Some items do make it through a workout or two. Home made PVC pushup bars, the only device to survive the last 4 years, mostly because we never threw them at the floor or each other. A mini basketball full of 10 lbs of sand is surviving, but we're not sure how much more punishment it can take. A pair of mini basketballs, filled with concrete and a badass wire handle suffices as the requisite kettlebells. 15lbs each and they are rock solid, and could handily crush a mountain goat.

A variety of consumer dumbells, soft/heavy exercise mini balls, plates also adorn the floor. Then there is the jumpbox. The infamous, overly engineered 2ft square jumpbox. For one of our brethren blue belts is also a mechanical engineer and designed the box to withstand the crushing forces of a pissed off, 40,000 lb midget covered in chainsaws and barbed wire. If it breaks, NASA should study the guts for the next space station, it's truly remarkable. There are more devices for self expression of pain, but some(actually all) were taken by the Air Force, strapped to a laser guidance system and dropped from a bomber onto the Taliban.

The main wall is a canvas for a 4 ft black painting of the Shotokan Tiger. Painted by hand, by me it emblazons The Bat Dojo with a bit of pride. Tiny U.S. and Brazilian flags flank the Tiger.

Training at The Bat Dojo was once very frequent, meeting in secret before our actual BJJ class to cover new techniques and strategies. Showing up to class already sweating, others wondered WTF we were up to. Over the last year training there has waned due to work, and the expansion of our primary school.

The Bat Dojo serves as the breeding ground for new ideas, a chance to practice the old ideas, push our cardio to the limit and experiment with various tortures. It's called the Bat Dojo, because it is hidden like the Bat Cave. Only the few are invited.

I tried to Google some badass quote about bats. Something akin to Vlad the Impaler emphatically chanting about how wicked the wolf was and if one could harness the power of the wolf one would rule for eternity blah blah blah... Well I found one, while searching for the world "bat" and "quote" together I found this gem, "Nobody bats 500. We all make mistakes. - Desi Arnaz". I think I'll keep it until I find something better.

This blog is to detail a bit of our training here. Today was day 1 of the Summer training cycle at the Bat Dojo, and to provide a bit of a guilt trip to train more often and update this blog. For those who train at home this is a place to hangout and trade ideas. I'll post what I've done and happily accept intelligent ideas from others.