Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Closing the doors.


As with most things, this blog is evolving. Technically speaking, this blog is going bu-bye.

I've recently relaunched the dojo website, wykkonorcross.com. With this relaunch, I've decided to move the blog along with it. Maintaining the two was a bit cumbersome, to be honest. Those of you who are subscribed via Google, or email, I invite you to subscribe to the blog there. All of the content from this blog has been moved over.

...and I've even started trying to make a better effort at logging workouts ;-)

Thanks, and I hope to catch you on the flip side...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Starting Points


Welcome to Yoshukai Strong. I'm very excited about this post, as it's the first vlog in a series I hope will be a regular occurrence. I hope that you all enjoy the videos and can integrate them into your routines, practice, training sessions or what have you. One rule, though -don't feed the trolls.

This post is going to cover a few drills that fighters can use as a "go to" for training. Each drill can both scale and adapt for various reasons such as number of people available and so on.


The first drill, I call "3-5-7". The purpose of "3-5-7" is to get the fighter accustomed to throwing combinations in bunches. A lot of times we see fighters on the mat throwing punch here, kick there (I'm guilty too...). We want to work towards being effective with technique and ensuring each technique gets us somewhere.

Basic description as follows:
Set a 1 minute timer
Throw fighting combinations of three moves first, then five moves, then seven moves
Complete as many sets as possible.
For each time the fighter cannot accomplish the specified number of moves in the combination, accumulate 10 burpees.

The drill can be scaled (up) for both time and number of combinations. The drill can be done on a heavy bag or kick shield with a partner; this too can be scaled to a partner exercise without the kick shield.

10 Good Ones

We usually do this drill with the mawashi geri, but most any technique will work just fine, and the name says it all; 10 good techniques.

Use a kick shield (with a partner) or heavy bag, and as hard as you can muster WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE, execute a mawashi geri. Try to kick harder and harder each time. If you execute with bad form, it doesn't count. Didn't land the technique, it didn't count. You want the 10 best techniques possible. Switch sides and repeat. There is no time component, and the goal is to get accustomed to adapting to power output.

Move the Holder

With this drill, your goal is to physically move another human, around the same size weight using a technique. With hiza geri, for example:

Partner or pad holder holds pad, kick the pad with good form aiming to move the pad and its holder.
Pad Holder: you will want to stand in a good fighting stance, and move with the force; don't resist (channeling Yoda I am not).

This drill works great with hiza geri, mae geri, ushiro mawashi geri and ushiro yoko geri.

All of these drills are fairly basic and easy to do. Students at any level of ability can perform these drills.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fitness, Function, Fight.

All sports, no matter the discipline, have somethings in common. Swimmers have to learn how to stroke and kick, baseball players have to learn how to swing and catch, karate-ka have to learn how to kick and punch; every sport has basics.

The basics, no matter the sport, are the foundation of every sport. Solid basics usually means solid everything; and if everything is not solid, get some grease on that squeaky wheel, please!

There is some credence, a lot of credence, to understanding the basics of multiple sports; running well, having good jumping technique (pick a sport...), good general physical preparedness (push ups, sit ups, etc), dribbling a ball, lifting a weight, whatever the action may be (yes, even curling) lends itself to you becoming a better athlete.

Better athletes perform better athletically --makes sense, doesn't it?

I say all of that to simply say this: don't discount any aspect of physical activity that does not directly relate to your sport. If you take a long, hard look at what you do and what someone else is doing, you'll be shocked to find out that there is a lot to be learned outside of your own walls.

I'm just saying...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Zoned Out

I can't recall sweating more than I did on July 28, 2012. In case you're wondering, that was the last time I fought.

It wasn't fighting that made me the most nervous (but it did contribute), rather, stepping on the scale terrified me. Months leading up to the SuperFights, I struggled with my weight. Generally, I walk around at 185LBS; in training, I drop 3-4 lbs. When the weight limit is 185, 182LBS scares me...leading up to fight time, I was around 190LBS (give or take).

So day of, I step on the scale and I'm 3LBS over. "Shit...", was the first thing that came to mind. My head raised and I saw the slightly nervous look on a few faces, then the shocked look on Hu-Kaicho's face. Luckily for me, I was within 5LBS of my opponent...and he didn't have a problem with that. Fact is, I got lucky...reeeeeeeally lucky.

Something had to change. I'd officially reached the point where everything I did in the kitchen or at the table overrode what I was doing in the gym. I was faced with the fact that I now I had to get serious about diet or going to the gym was a waste of time.

I was kidding myself every time I ate. I had the following discussion with my wife one day a few months ago:

C: "I eat healthy..."
L: "You do not. You really don't eat as healthy as you think you do"
C: "You're on crack...I eat healthy!"

Problem with the above conversation is, I was eating a big pile of bacon at the time...which had been a daily ritual. Along with cheeseburgers and fries. At least there was no "pink goo" in my burgers.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. While checking out the Crossfit mainsite, I found a video with a title just compelling enough to make me want to take a look: "Preppin' for the week" by Chris Martirano. I wasn't sure what I would find in those videos; not sure if it was about stretching/body prep, program design...I seriously didn't know. I was slightly surprised (pleasantly) that it was regarding diet. I watched both part 1 and part 2.

As I watched the video, I was intriguied by what Chris referred to as "blocks" (in my defense, I didn't see not read the article linked above before hand). I took to research (read: I googled it). What I found was the concept of "blocks" relates to the Zone Diet, popularized in the 1990's by Dr. Barry Sears.

"The Zone Diet is a way of life that helps you lose fat and increases wellness by reducing cellular inflammation."
...that's all well, fine and good, BUT, in essence, the Zone Diet is a manner to achieve 40-30-30 protein-carb-fat balance in a meal and regulating insulin. Zone Diet measures success by the ability to feel satisfied for 4-5 hours after eating.

From this point forward, I'm going to refer to it as Zone Eating. It's not really dieting, rather, it is being smart about what you eat and how much of it you consume.

What is a block:
A block is essentially a measure of food. 7 grams of protein = 1 protein block; 9 grams of carbohydrates = 1 carb block. 1.5 grams of fat = 1 fat block (HEALTHY fats...).

When designing a meal, you want to combine equal parts of protein, carb and fat blocks. How many blocks one needs is determined by weight, body fat percentage and activity level. For example, @ 190LBS, ~11% body fat and a high activity level, I should eat 21 blocks of food per day. That's a lot more food than I realized!

As of this writing, I've been Zone Eating for almost 2 weeks. Below I'll lay out the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Ugly:
The single biggest change I've noticed is that I was not eating nearly enough. For my body type and activity level, I measure out to 21 blocks a day; I wasn't sniffing 12, or worse, I would get a majority of that in one meal. In order to meet this requirement, I've started eating a snack before working out...yes, I would workout on an empty stomach...I'm not a big breakfast person. Speaking of, this snack is not breakfast.

On a workout day, eating looks something like this:
Pre workout - 3 blocks
Breakfast - 5 blocks
Lunch - 5 blocks
Dinner - 5 blocks
Bedtime snack - 3 blocks

Non workout days are a little tougher:

Breakfast - 5 blocks
Lunch - 5 blocks
Snack - 3 blocks
Dinner - 5 blocks
Bedtime snack - 3 blocks

The Bad:
This isn't really a bad, as much as it is a tedious: everything needs to be measured...at least in the beginning. In reading more recent material on Zone and Dr. Sears, I've read Dr. Sears isn't really big on exact measuring, though, I will say eventually one can develop the eyeball method very close to exact. I do measure, and I measure for a few meals out...this is time consuming.

This is another bad that is moving to a good: Finding foods that are fresh and healthy that can be eaten before going bad. Week one, I bought foods I wouldn't ordinarily eat, which ended up being a waste. Then, I started buying foods that I do eat, but after a few days didn't taste as good. So, as I enter week three, I'm preparing some foods in advance, leaving most to be cooked when I need them or day of; meats are measured and frozen and I will thaw them as I need them.

The Good:
I feel pretty damn good. Through week one, I'd dropped almost 5LBS (a long weekend at work and lack of planning for that caused a slight fall off, but I'm close to reclaiming those loses). There is a noticeable performance increase in my workouts. My stomach is flat again. And best of all, I'm eating healthy! I haven't had a burger in a few weeks, BUT, I can have one if I chose --I just need to be smart about it.

I haven't eliminated much of anything while Zone Eating, I'm just being smart (and meticulous) about what I consume.

By no means is this a comprehensive, end-all-be-all on the Zone Diet, but I hope my outline of the first two weeks is encouraging enough for you to at least take a second thought about what you eat day to day. One thing I forgot to mention ---Zone Eating (Zoning? Channel your inner Charlie Sheen - ZONING!), can be tweaked. Lower body fat percentages may need to adjust the fat intake; I am actually consuming 2x the recommendation (either olives, peanuts, almond or EVOO).

Into Paleo? Paleo can be done within the Zone Diet - Paleo foods in Zone portions. It can be done. All in all,  the amount of work involved is TOTALLY worth it. And honestly, if you look at the recommended portions for most food, it falls within the Zone recommendations.

Hope this helps. Remember --bodies are not built in the gym, they're built in the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

...and how do YOU know?

Over the months of June and July, the dojo did a lot to prepare for the Superfights tournament in Oxford, AL. Lots of fitness and padwork, footwork and combinations...we even did a few sessions on how to warm up. It was a big picture and finer details stretch of time, to say the least. But there was one aspect of preparation that befuddled me, which brings me to the topic of this post.

I was describing for the class, warm up techniques and preparation leading into the tournament, when I stumbled upon one aspect of preparation that goes largely unattended to, and even when attention is given, it may not be the best attention or advice available. Let's start big picture.

You've got a tournament coming up. You've been training hard inside and outside the dojo. It's nearly time to put all of that hard work to good use. "Go Time" is two weeks away.

Question for you: What's your approach? Do you:
A). Bust your butt for the next two weeks, and show up tournament day ready to rock?
B). Finish out this week, and shut it down to get ready for the big event?
C). Split the difference; 7 or 8 days of solid work and reduce the workload for the next 3-4?

The answer - "I dunno".

Yup, that's right. I don't know. Chances are, neither do you. But here's the beauty of the situation: You can find out. Yes, yes you can. First, let's explore the scenarios above.

Bust your butt for the next two weeks, and show up tournament day ready to rock
The worst plan of the three, but that's not to say it couldn't work. How do you feel after several days of hard, strenuous workouts? Personally, I feel like a 6 foot pile of poo, that's not to say that you, Mr. Reader, are not the epitome of fitness. If you're not, you don't want to go with plan A. Keep reading.

Finish out this week, and shut it down to get ready for the big event
I used to be in this category, largely at the behest of my instructor. I have moved away from this approach over the years, which I'll discuss in more detail below. Sensei's reasoning for completely shutting me down was to avoid injury. When I say shut down, I mean SHUT DOWN. I had very strict instructions not to lift, no running, take it easy. Very much "come-to-the-dojo-but-when-you-get-here-don't-do-anything-to-exert-yourself"; it drove me crazy. The advantage, again, is avoiding injury. If you're the type that can take some time off and still perform near peak, this might be where you want to hang your hat...if not, keep reading.

Split the difference; 7 or 8 days of solid work and reduce the workload for the next 3-4
This is the Hangtime way to go; I finish out the week, then gradually reduce the workload ending two (sometimes three) days before an event. The advantage to this method is your event is treated like any other workout. Two days rest between your last decent workout and your event. For me, this is optimum.

So, how do you find out what works? The same way you make anything else work --you train it!

"Wait...you train rest times?" -- You betcha! Here's my approach:

The World Yoshukai Calendar has 2 camps, 4 tournaments and 1 black belt test. Of the four tournaments, two of them include fighting, which is a large motivator in my training --I guess you could say I train my physical fitness for these events. For the sake of discussion, we will also include my shodan, nidan and sandan testings as well (I train the same for tournaments and testings).

So, since 2007, I have had 38 opportunities to experiment with what tapering method works the best for me. Of the 38, 12 were "live" runs, the other 26 were tests. That's a lot of practice...good, solid reps. For each camp & tournament, I marked an 8 week run to the event. So, starting 8 weeks out was prep time. A few times, I've even gone down to six weeks a few times and two weeks once due to injury. Each lead in was different -- weight was different, cardio varied year to year, etc. Each time, I set a few goals and worked toward them in the allotted time.

So for each camp, the goal would be to make weight as if I were fighting. Moreover, the goal was to be in fighting shape. Winter Camp makes for a long day (brutally long, in my opinion), but I didn't want to miss a minute of it. Sand, sun, wind, water, tug o' war, running on the beach, sumo, you name it, I wanted to do it. If I missed my mark on where I wanted to be, I went back to the drawing board for the next event. If that worked, then I took that method and improved on it for the next event. So on and so forth. If you don't have a good memory about these things, you might want to grab your notebook.

So, what does this mean to you? Well, I hope that by this point in the article, you've taken stock of your approach and how you prepare for your event. Unless you're one of those people who can role out of bed and run a half-marathon or fight without any prior training, proper tapering is an important aspect of training...just as important as the work itself. Experiment and find out what methods work best for you.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ups...and Downs.

To quote the beautiful Ms. Katy Perry:

"Cause you're hot then you're cold You're yes then you're no You're in then you're out You're up then you're down. You're wrong when it's right It's black and it's white"

You guys haven't heard from me in awhile (12 weeks, exactly). I know. A lot's been going on. I'll outline that, plus the plan going forward and whatever else comes to mind.

One reason for my internet silence is due to a change in work situation. I no longer have said job (but I do have another, don't worry ;) ), but I needed to focus on that. Feeding my kid comes first. OK, that's kind of a cop out, but I really needed to get my roots in my new gig.

Another reason I haven't posted in awhile, and this sounds a little superficial (and a touch cocky), is because I felt like posting my workouts was giving away the keys to the castle. I really wanted to focus in on a good showing in the WYKKO SuperFights tournament and I much preferred anyone I step on the tatami with assume I was coming off of a Ho-Ho and Twinkie binge...so I went silent. I did win; whether or not my lack of posting was the cause, well...who knows.

Along that note, I started to feel like I was working out for the sake of posting a blog, as opposed to, simply posting my results. The intent of my workout was getting lost. It seemed, more and more, like I was working out to sound impressive on my slice of the internet, instead of striving to improve --which wasn't the goal.

And even if I wanted to post results, there has been a severe lack of workouts to post over the last 10 weeks or so. I've had to battle two infections this summer, both of which took me out of the gym for a significant amount of time.

"OK, so now workout logs...how about an article?"

In theory, sure, I could have, but I also realized a lot of the things that I've had to say were pretty bitchy and complainy...and honestly, I don't see a need for any of that.

So here we are, 9/4...and Yoshukai Strong will be "revived" going forward. I will try to post workout results more often, useful articles and even some of my insight (as useful as I can possibly make it).

I love this blog and I love having a place to tell it like I see it (when I do...). I'm not going away (I hope).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mama's Baby was a Mudder!

...and soon to be a two time, TWO TIME Mudder!

That's right, I'm going in again. I will finish that race running, I promise it.

A group of WYKKO people are getting together to tackle the 2013 GA Tough Mudder. Very glad and proud to be a part of the team. I was thinking about this daunting task and I wondered: "So, how on Earth does one train for something like this?"

I mean, sure, I've done it before --I should have some clue, right? But I learned a few things the first time around that I certainly want to keep in the forefront for this time. Let's review those lessons, shall we?

1). Training for the TM is not unlike training for fighting...but at the same time, it's totally different.
Huh? How's that? Well, both rely heavily on endurance, both aerobic and anaerobic (I don't care what anyone says, that's a truth!). During the first TM, there were areas that required some sprinting (more on that later) followed by miles of running. Oh, and the course is not symmetrical; you might run 2 miles between one obstacle and then 1/2 mile to the next.

2). Don't forget: endurance means more than just running.
Yes, there is a lot of running and you will need endurance for that, but, you will also need to maneuver weight throughout the course. I don't recall many easy obstacles... 

3). Hills are your friend.
Learn to love them. The 2011 GA Tough Mudder was the hardest course ever put together and it featured miles of hills. Steep hills, short hills, long hills, rocky hills, "I'm out to break your ankles" hills. You name it, it was on this course...everything except paved hills, if I'm not mistaken. Besides, they're good for your cardio and leg strength.

4). Ying and Yang your body(weight); by "ying", I mean "push" and by "yang", I mean pull...add fung shui.

Have trouble doing pushups and pull ups? I'd get started on that, Sunshine. There's a lot of pulling and pushing up really high obstacles. Beyond that, you can't slack on the Mudder pledge --you really do need to help other folks out, which means pushing and pulling someone else's body weight. Have yours well in hand? Awesome --add weight.

5). Tired yet? Run some more.
For real; that's what running this thing is like.

6). Be prepared to do somethings twice.
That was a nice little surprise on the 2011 course. Not that I'm complaining, but I wasn't expecting that. Just be prepared.

and lastly,

7). Be a wuss and carry a Camelback

I thought the number of water stops was a little...light...but I also openly acknowledge that I was probably being a bit of a wuss due to the bum leg(s) and all. Nope. I talked to a few folks at my gym that did the TM as well, and they agreed. That said, the TM crew did lose a water station the night before (supposedly...just sayin'), which may have been the culprit. Be prepared...I was (and will be again!).

OK, I lied there was one other thing (and if by some odd occurrence the person I'm referring to sees this, I love ya and I'm really just giving you a hard time) --no road trips directly after the Mudder; your legs will hate you for it.

All in all, train hard. This thing is far more mental than physical. Get your body in shape and keep your head in the game and you'll be fine (see, I told you it was like fight training :) ).