KICKSBOXES IS BACK WITH A NEW LOOK, NEW ARTICLES, & NEW IDEAS... CHECK BACK SOON!

Saturday

While I'm Out Injured, Check out this Video

Okay, I've got a rather long post that I plan on putting up soon, but unfortunately I burnt my hand in a bizarre lawn mowing accident today (Don't ask!). So I'm having a hard time typing. Hopefully, I'll feel better soon and leave a long post about Training with Intensity.

Until then, check out this video of Tony Jaa. In my opinion, he's the best martial arts actor since the late Bruce Lee.

The thing I like most about him is that he doesn't use wires or computer generated effects in his movies, he's the real deal. Much like Jackie Chan, he does most of his own stunts and ALL of his own fights!

In this age of special effects, it's great to see a martial arts actor who relies on his own ability and not a crew of effects people to make the action happen.

I also really like the fact that Jaa uses authentic Muay Thai techniques in his movies. (Although he also throws in a lot of fancy gymnastics too; but even that's forgivable because he makes it look so damn good.)

This is a video of a demonstration at the Wat gym in New York. It's refreshing to see a martial arts actor willing to do demos. There are no wires or second takes is you mess up... you have to actually be able to do your own stunts!

Anyway, check out. This video was submitted to YouTube.com
by Inside Martial Arts
.

Even better, if you haven't done so already, check out Tony Jaa's movies Ong Bok and The Protector

Thursday

The Sad Fact of Steroids and Homones in MMA

Over the weekend, Chris Benoit, a professional wrestler killed his wife and child before taking his own life.

During the investigation of this tragic incident, police found steroids, testosterone hormones, and pain killers in the home. Many news media and Internet forums are now wondering if the drugs Chis Benoit was taking had anything to do with his horrific behavior.

Earlier this month, one of the greatest legends of combat sport competition, Royce Gracie, was found by the California State Athletic Commission to have the anabolic steroid, Nandrolone in his system.

To outsiders, combat sports and professional wrestling look very similar. Both have strong, well muscled athletes who compete violently in a ring or cage. Both follow the same structure, having an announcer, a referee, a procession into the ring, and the raising of the victor's hand at the end of the match.

The only real difference between the two is that combat sports are an actual competition where one fighter attempts to submit or knock out the other while professional wrestling is an entertainment show that follows a storyline with a predetermined winner.

Professional wrestlers are under a great deal of pressure to 'bulk up' to extraordinary size in order to 'look' the part of a fighter. The promoters of these events know that larger wrestlers attract larger crowds and highly encourage their actors to maintain their enormous muscle stature. In order to achieve an unnaturally large size, many wrestlers turn to anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormones, (HGH) to increase the gains of their weight lifting training.

The physical demands of the shows also take a toll on the professional wrestlers. They are often required to perform while injured or sore. this causes many of them to begin taking, and often become addicted to painkiller medications.

Combat sport fighters face the same pressures to take steroids, Human Growth Hormones (HGH), and painkillers as professional wrestlers, only the nature of their competition makes these substances even more appealing.

Combat sport fighters don't build their physique to look good in front of a TV cameras, but rather because extraordinary strength and endurance is required to win matches and prevent being pummeled by an opponent. Sport fighters are constantly looking for a new method of training or conditioning that will give them an edge over their competition. these days, that means considering products such as steroids or HGH.

While wrestlers are often forced to take painkillers because of injuries accidentally sustained during their shows, sport fighters must contend with intentional injuries and pain. The basis of combat sport competition is to create enough injury or pain to an opponent that the other person is unable or unwilling to continue the match.

Even training for combat sport competition can take a harsh toll on the human body. Bruises, sore muscles, and torn joints are all common occurrences in most gyms. In order to lessen the debilitative effects of these injuries and be ready for competition, many sport fighters resort to prescription painkillers. This medications often leave their users particularly vulnerable to abuse and addiction, especially when they are taken with alcohol.

For a first hand look at how painkillers can negatively effect a fighter's life, try watching "Mark Kerr: The Smashing Machine", an intimate documentary about the life of a professional fighter. The documentary honestly shows the way Kerr abuses painkillers in his training and how they begin to affect his life. (This video/DVD is available at Blockbuster. It follows Kerr throughout his training and fights, showing us not only his problems with painkillers, but also the many other challenges a fighter faces both inside and outside the ring. It also features a training session with the legendary Bas Rutten that always makes me feel like working out. It's definitely worth checking out.)

When I was actively competing in armature kickboxing competition, 10 years ago, steroid use was quite common. No body really talked about it, but every large gym had at least one or two guys that could hook you up with something that would give you an edge.

Today, there are even more chemical enhancements available to tempt the young athletes out there. The steroids of a decade ago have become stronger while testosterone and growth hormone has become even more common.

The problem is, "If the martial arts are a life sustaining art, something we do to protect ourselves and those we love, how can we let something as dangerous as painkillers, steroids, and hormones become a part of our conditioning process? These substances ultimately destroy our body and often affect our minds making us depressed, paranoid, and disposed to fits of rage. As in Chris Benoit's case, they can actually cause us to harm the ones we would choose to protect.

If the martial arts are meant to help us live long, healthy lives, don't these chemicals contradict that ideal?

Master instructor, George Dillman, often advises to "Train the way, today, that you will when your 80; that way you'll always be able to do your workout."

I think, what he means by that, is to ignore the shortcuts to our training and think long term. Being huge and able to kick butt when your in your 20s will mean little if your practically disabled with health problems by the time your 40.

Being a martial artist should mean being healthy and able to take care of yourself throughout your entire life. Don't trade couple of years of glory for decades of health and happiness in the future.

Anyway, that's my opinion on the subject.

Train healthy, train smart.

Respectfully,

Rick

Tuesday

AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR...

Teaching kickboxing is one of the ways I am able to justify my passion for the martial arts to my wife, who is sometimes less than understanding about my ongoing interest, which sometimes borders on obsession. (Hey, some guys are into football, cars, or golf. I just happen to be into learning and discussing how to dislocate joints, break ribs, and knock people out... What's wrong with that?!)

But by teaching, I'm able to bring home a little extra income which helps pay for the seminars and matches that I go to. The extra cash also helps around Christmas time, when we realize (again) that we haven't budgeted enough money to finish buying gifts for everyone. By earning money from teaching kickboxing, I'm able to get her to see martial arts as my "part-time" job rather than just my hobby. (Though she really knows better!)

The same goes for this website. I really enjoy writing articles and sharing information over the Internet. But unfortunately, it takes a lot of my time.

One way that I can justify the time and effort that I put into this site to my wife (and to myself) is to begin earning some money while doing it. While the content on this site is free and will continue to remain so, I am going to begin accepting sponsors for some of the posts that I write.

I have signed up with Pay-Per-Post and will soon begin adding posts that I have been paid to write. They're kind of like the Internet blog version of a advertisement that you would see on TV, hear on the radio, or see in a magazine.

Honesty and integrity are part of the foundation of this site and I will continue to give you my honest opinion about any paid product or service that I write about, just as I have truthfully and candidly written about martial arts subjects. Through Pay-Per-Post, I have complete control over which topics I choose to write as sponsored posts and will not cover any services or products with which I do not have complete confidence.

Most of the content on this site will remain unsponsored, however, I will always begin a paid post by writing "The Following is a Sponsored Post:" if I have received any compensation for it.

I hope that you will find the sponsored posts just as interesting and informative as the regular material. Also, please support the sponsors, they help keep the information of this site fresh and entertaining, as well as help keep my wife off my back while I'm trying to write ; )

Anyway, take care and keep training.

Respectfully,

Rick

Sunday

WEBSITE RECOMENDATION: UFC RESULTS

I try hard to keep up with the latest UFC fights and information. I like to watch the Ultimate Fighter television show and many of the fights on Spike TV. I also check out many of the pay per view events at a local sports bar. (It's cheaper and more fun than watching them at home!)

However, to stay truely informed, I'd have to spend a whole lot of time watching television and going to bars. (Something my Wife would REALLY object too.) So instead, I have to get much of my information over the internet. This allows me to stay informed, while also having a life.

Finding good websites and blogs that discuss the UFC saves me a lot of time and allows me to spend time with my family, do things around the house, train in martial arts, or even write this blog. One of my favorite sites is an information blog called UFC Results.

All of the posts are written by a blogger who calls himself Johnny MMA. They are well written and to the point. As the blog title suggests, the site gives you the latest UFC results from fights and official weigh-ins, usually posted right after the event. He also posts fight cards and predictions before the event. (His fight predictions are usually pretty good, but he sometimes picks a winner without explaining why. IMO if your going to make a prediction, you have to give your reason why. This is one of my few minor criticisms about the site.)

Johnny MMA also covers major UFC headlines from other sites such as UFCJunkie, MMAWeekly and UFC.com. He clearly presents the facts but also gives his opinions of important subjects, such as the recent controversy concerning Royce Gracie's positive test anabolic steroids. He handles this unfortunate topic with class while also respecting the contributions that Gracie has made to the sport.

The site also gives a lot of fighter bios and interviews. It's well worth checking out if you need a good place for quick and reliable UFC information and I highly recomend it.

You can check out to this site by going to http://mma.gocurious.com/


Until next time, keep training!

Respectfully,

Rick

Saturday

SAFETY & RESPECT WHILE CROSS TRAINING

SAFETY

The most important aspect of setting up a cross training session is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Remember that you will be working with people who do not know one another very well and who are practicing unfamiliar techniques. Cross training that causes injury to the participants is counterproductive to good self defense. Training partners that become hurt during a training session may have difficulty protecting themselves should an actual self defense situation later arise.

Be sure that safety rules are firmly expressed to everyone before practice begins. All participants must understand and agree to appropriate levels of physical contact, control, and safe conduct.

Be certain that everyone knows how to “tap-out” of a joint lock and understands how to break their fall before allowing take-downs. Also be sure that the appropriate safety gear is available for any contact training. This would include mouth guards, groin cups, as well as any other type of equipment needed for increased contact. (Head gear, boxing gloves, shin protectors, and any other type of protection will be needed to provide extra protection if connecting punches and kicks are permitted. Wrestling/judo style mats will also be necessary if you plan to practice body throws or ground grappling techniques.)

When people learn an unfamiliar technique or method, they are often tempted to force the technique rather than rely on good body mechanics. This can lead to serious injuries. Each participant in the cross training group needs to be aware of this and look out for the welfare of other group members. Members must understand that their participation in the group includes a responsibility to point out and prevent any unsafe practices.

Always have the participants practice slowly in order to learn proper technique and maintain safety. As everyone begins to progress with the new techniques you can increase the attacker’s resistance and intensity, but always be sure to emphasize safety over effort.


RESPECT

The virtues of respect, honor, and integrity have always been a part of the combat arts; however, with respect to cross training, they take on a more practical meaning. Since exposing one another to unfamiliar styles and strategies can cause unintended injuries, it is important that each participant respects the ideas and concerns of the rest of the group members. This respect allows us to control ourselves both physically and emotionally while also providing the basis for safe training.

While cross training, all participants should expect their ideas and training methods to be challenged. Training with others who do not necessarily share their views concerning combat is one of the main objectives of cross training, but it also inevitably leads to disagreements. These are to be expected and even welcomed.

When questions and technical disputes come up, use reason, common sense, and safe training practices to debate the point. The purpose of cross training is to explore many of the fighting principles that we may have taken for granted within our particular style. Logical argument and debate is an essential part of this training, but it must be handled safely and respectfully.

If the training sessions degenerate into ego driven feuds, the group will quickly loose training partners and all the knowledge they might have been able to share. Criticisms often arises when one partner does not understand or misinterprets what is being demonstrated. By listening carefully and working together, most controversies can be overcome, usually with greater insight for everyone involved.

Remember, if you have controversy then your cross training session is working. The practices would become rather boring and uninspired if everyone simply agreed with one another. If there were no disagreements, there wouldn’t be so many different styles and methods out there. We’d all be practicing the same thing.

When members of the group are unable to resolve a specific topic or question, it’s usually best to “agree to disagree” on that subject and move on for the time being. The benefits of training among other styles and exploring other theories of combat far outweigh the importance of being “right” on any particular subject.

If there seem to be a lot of disagreements and arguments within the training group, try taking a different approach and begin looking only for similarities between the different styles. We are often surprised to find that our styles share many more principles and methods than we originally thought. Sometimes these similarities are difficult to recognize at first, but once discovered they lead to a better understanding of the arts we practice.



THE NEXT LEVEL

In a word, the purpose of cross training is appreciation; learning not only to appreciate the methods, techniques, and strategies of other martial arts, but also your own as well. You successfully challenge yourself by stepping outside the confines of your own style and exploring the true nature of your knowledge on the open field of experience. Being able to recognize the value and quality of various types of martial arts training is an important stepping stone toward mastering your own personal fighting style.

In the end, the value of cross training is not measured in how much, or what you learn about the other styles of martial arts, but rather it relies on how much you learn about yourself in the process.



I hope that you have enjoyed this series on cross training. Please leave a comment by clicking on the “comment” link at the bottom of this post and let me know if this series was helpful. I’m going to take a break from writing series articles so that I can share some useful web-stuff in the next several posts, but if there’s enough interest, I’ll write more series articles later.

Thanks again for reading and good luck with your training.

Respectfully,

Rick

Friday

ORGANIZING A CROSS TRAINING SESSION

During the last two posts of this series, we’ve discussed the importance of cross training in different martial arts and presented ideas for gathering a group of people with which to practice. In this post we’ll examine some ways to organize your cross training session.

The best way to show fellow martial artists that you truly respect and value their art is to arrange a well planned training session. Find a suitable location that will provide enough room for everyone to safely demonstrate and practice their techniques. Sometimes, cross training sessions might have to take place in someone’s backyard or a basement, while other groups will be able to practice in a dojo or gym after normal business hours. If space is a problem, check with local community centers or churches. You might have to search for someone willing to offer you a place to train at a reasonable price.

Wherever you choose to train, be sure that there is suitable accident insurance to cover any injuries. If you are training at someone’s home, have them check with their homeowner’s insurance agent to be certain that they will be covered if someone is accidentally injured while on their property. You can also help protect yourself from a lawsuit by having everyone sign a “hold harmless” agreement stating that they understand the risks involved in martial arts practice and agree to hold all parties “harmless” of any injuries incurred during the workout.

In the next post, we will cover the importance of creating a safe environment for your cross training session. Remember, however, that martial arts practice can be dangerous and therefore, you must try to legally protect yourself.

In addition to finding a proper location, also try to choose a consistent time to train. Individual circumstances may make this difficult at first, but maintaining regular times and dates of training will give everyone a dependable schedule so that they can make plans to attend. (For example, you could all agree to meet at a local YMCA on the first Friday of every month, at 5:00 pm)

The next thing to consider is how formal you would like your training sessions to be. Some martial artists are used to a great deal of formality, with lots of bowing, addressing black belts as “ma’am” or “sir,” and other displays of strict conduct. Others practice with a minimal amount of etiquette or protocol. Decide ahead of time what type of atmosphere you would like your training session to have and be sure everyone understands your expectations.

Since the participants will be from different styles, with different traditions and customs, it can be difficult to create a very formal atmosphere. Issues concerning formal etiquette and customary displays of respect may distract from the true purpose of cross training.

However, it is also important that everyone understand the need for safety and respect while training. Don’t let your group become so informal that it looses it’s structure and turns into a gossip session or a discussion group of martial arts movies. Keep everyone learning and motivated by maintaining a well organized group.

Having a specific agenda for your training session will help keep everyone on track. There are a number of instruction methods that you can use to be sure every member has an opportunity to both demonstrate their art and also learn from the other members of the group.


ROUNDTABLE INSTRUCTION

You can plan your training sessions in a variety of ways. One popular method is to have each person take turns teaching the group. Everyone gets about ten minutes to demonstrate and teach a technique. The group then practices the move for another five minutes, or so, before asking questions and providing insight. Once the technique has been explored, instruction is turned over to the next member. This method works well with small groups of 3 to 5 participants because everyone gets a chance to both teach and learn. (It takes approximately an hour for 3 people to teach one technique. So a small group should be able to allow everyone to instruct in about two hours)



CO-TEACHING INSTRUCTION

For larger groups, you might have to pick one or two different people each week to be guest instructors and let them direct the others with strategies and techniques from their styles. This method allows everyone to study the different styles with a little more depth and intensity.

By rotating trainers every week, everyone in the group is exposed to new information and ideas. Choose your instructors ahead of time so that they can prepare a lesson plan suitable for the dynamics of your group.



SYMPOSIUM INSTRUCTION

Another method, called a symposium, is structured so that all of the participants are given a topic or problem to solve and then take turns giving their particular viewpoint. The topics might include subjects like “What’s the best way to get out of a bear-hug?” Then each member of the group would offer suggestions or insight from their particular style and personal experience to answer the question.

Other topics like “How does your style throw a punch?” or “What is a good way to increase flexibility in your legs?” will also expose everyone to different ideas and training methods. Be sure to give everyone a list of topics ahead of time so that they can consider their answers and present well thought out solutions. The training session ends with everyone adding topic suggestions for the next group meeting.


Now that you know how to attract people with which to train and how to organize fun and focused training sessions, you’re just about ready to begin. In the next post, we’ll cover our last topic in this series: “Safety and Respect.”

Until then, keep training.

Respectfully,

Rick

Wednesday

HOW TO GET STARTED CROSS TRAINING


In the last post, we learned that cross training, in the martial arts, is learning and practicing the skills and methods of other systems or styles in order to improve the understanding of our own art. We also discussed some of the many advantages of cross training.


Today we will get to the “how to” part of this article. We’ll show you how find the right kind of people to train with and give you some tips for convincing them to join you in a cross training workout.


In no time at all you’re going to find yourself kicking, punching, throwing, grappling, locking and moving in new ways, different from anything that you’d ever dreamed possible.



GETTING STARTED


Once we understand the need to begin cross training, the next step is to find a group of people with which to practice. Choosing the right people to train with is the most important factor in determining whether or not you will have a positive cross training experience. Finding people that are open minded, skilled, respectful, and willing to share their knowledge is crucial to developing a good cross training program.


Unfortunately, because most martial artists only practice with others within their own school or style, it can be difficult to meet others who practice something different. Karate practitioners usually train with other traditional martial artists, tai chi people tend to practice with other internal arts people, kick boxers practice in gyms with other kick boxers, and grapplers (judo, ju jitsu, MMA fighters) also tend to stick together, as do Self-Defense or “reality based” schools. Forming these sorts of cliques isolates us from the knowledge and experience available from studying other forms of the combat arts.


In order to break this cycle of isolation, you’ll have to reach out to other types of martial artists. Tournaments and seminars are probably the best places to start meeting and becoming acquainted with people from a variety of disciplines.


Again, since most martial artists only attend the tournaments and seminars that showcase the styles with which they’re familiar, you’re probably going to have to break out of your comfort zone and find a gathering that attracts a more diverse crowd of practitioners.




TAKING THE FIRST STEP


The first step to learning a new art requires you to find the places where that art is performed and meet with some of the people that regularly practice it. If you usually attend Olympic style, tae kwon do matches, try finding an open tournament or one that has grappling matches. If you normally attend seminars that focus on a particular style of self defense techniques, try looking for something a little different. Pressure point seminars are usually a good choice because they tend to attract an assorted gathering of martial artists.


When you see people practicing an art that your interested in, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and compliment them on their ability. Most successful martial artists spend a lot of time training and are happy to speak with someone who appreciates their hard work.


Be sure to ask them questions and mention specific things that you’ve noticed about their style. By being specific, you demonstrate an honest interest in their art and show them that your serious about learning more. Be sure to evaluate them not only on their ability, but also whether or not they are open minded, and willing to share their knowledge with others. Remember, since you hope to be training with them, you want to be certain that they will be respectful, supportive, and safe during your training.


During the discussion, they’ll probably ask you a little about your art. This will be your chance to talk about your experiences and give you an opportunity to mention that you’d like to learn more about their style.


Hopefully, you’ll be able to exchange information such as a phone number or e-mail and discuss the possibility of getting together. (It helps if you can make some calling cards with your name and e-mail address already printed out.)


Of course many martial arts are professional instructors and will expect payment for lessons, but there are many others willing to workout with a new training partner, especially if they will also have a chance to learn an additional skill as well. This will be where you’ll have to sell them on the advantages of cross training. Be sure to mention some of the benefits that we covered in the first post.


Also remember, many people train for social reasons as much as they do for self-defense or self-improvement. If you’re friendly and approachable you’ll stand a much better chance of finding others willing to workout with you.



ANOTHER OPTION


If tournaments or seminars do not appeal to you, another option for meeting other martial artists is the internet. Through message boards and blogs (like this one!) you will be able to find others who are willing to share their knowledge and skill. Look for people that seem to have the same values and objectives as yourself, but happen to practice a different art.


Unfortunately, unless you live near a large city, it can be difficult to find someone who lives close enough to train regularly with you. But, even if the internet is not ideal for actual training opportunities, it is still an excellent environment for expressing ideas and exchanging strategies with others.


One more thing, meeting someone new, particularly over the internet, can be dangerous. It’s always best to meet the first couple of times in a fairly public place, where there will be other people around. It’s never a good idea to be alone with someone you hardly know. Once you’ve trained together for a while, you can decide for yourself if you trust the person enough to meet them privately.


I hope this post has given you some ideas for meeting other martial artists and approaching them for a cross training workout. In our next post, we’ll go over some ideas for getting organized and structuring your workout. Until then, keep training.


Respectfully,


Rick

Tuesday

CROSS TRAINING TO IMPROVE YOUR ART

Quite often I’m asked how I can possibly practice so many different martial arts. While I have to admit that it takes a lot of practice to become reasonably proficient in a different art, learning the basics is actually fairly easy, it’s mostly a matter of proper exposure. The trick is to find someone qualified and willing to stick around with you long enough to make sure you learn the ropes.

A lot of people scoff at the idea of trying different styles, insisting instead that we hold fast to one particular style or system and maintaining that their system already has everything a person would ever need for effective combat. And while there is obviously nothing wrong with choosing to focus our attention and energy on perfecting the techniques of just one style, there is value in exposing ourselves to other ideas and strategies. Using other methods of training not only teaches us new skills, it also helps to enhance our understanding of our own art.

When we look at the other arts, we can’t help but be impressed with the bone-shattering power of a Thai kick boxer’s roundhouse kick, the gentle fluidity of a tai chi form, the raw power of a ju jitsu armbar, or the precise efficiency of an aikido throw. The list of remarkable and inspiring abilities found in other arts goes on and on.

For anyone interested in learning about the styles, skills, and methods of training found in other martial arts, it’s time for us to consider cross training.

Today’s post will continue to explore some of the advantages of cross training, while other posts will continue by showing you how to find other martial artist to work with, giving you ideas on how to structure your cross training workout, and most of all, how to maintain a safe and respectful session with unfamiliar people.



THE ADVANTAGES

Cross training, in the martial arts, is learning and practicing the skills and methods of other systems or styles in order to improve the understanding of our own art. In the past, cross training was frowned upon by many martial art instructors because they felt the new information could be confusing and would interfere with a student’s training. Even today, many instructors still forbid their students from learning or practicing other styles of martial arts.

Certainly, trying to learn too much, too soon, can cause problems. And some students tend to bounce from one style to another without ever truly acquiring the basic skills of combat. These types of students are often thought of as a “jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none.” This sort of pick-and-choose method of training is not what’s being recommended here.

However, if you have the discipline and persistence to stick with one primary style, there’s no reason that you can’t enhance your ability and skills by occasionally training in other styles or by using additional training methods.



NEW SKILLS

Training with other martial artists who are proficient in different styles has many advantages. Most obvious is the chance to learn a new skill that may be lacking in your current system. For example, if you train in in an art that uses a lot of striking, such as muay thai kickboxing or tae kwon do, then you might benefit from learning joint locks or grappling from ju jitsu or hapkido arts. If your school trains mainly for martial art competition, then working out with others who practice a more self defense orientated art can help you take your techniques out of the ring and learn to use them in a more realistic street fight type of situation.

Cross training can also help you take techniques that you already know and improve them. By seeing how other martial arts emphasize the different components of a given technique, you can discover new ways to apply and use the movements you already know. For example, you might be very good at applying wrist locks onto your opponents, but by learning about pressure points from another martial artist and applying it to your technique, you can actually improve the speed and efficiency of your movement.



NEW PERSPECTIVES

Another advantage of cross training is the ability to gain a new perspective or insight into your own art or style. Too often, martial artists of one particular style or discipline only train and compete with others of the same (or similar) style. This can lead to a false sense of security because the same techniques may be trained over and over again without proper variation.

Many grapplers practice techniques such as jamming a roundhouse kick and taking their opponent to the ground. However, if they only practice with other grapplers who throw mediocre kicks, they’re bound to be shocked the first time they confront a speedy Tai kick boxer whose legs are much faster and stronger than what they’ve become used to training against.

Stand up fighters who spar exclusively against other standing fighters are stunned when thrown and forced to fight from the ground. Full contact fighters are often astounded by the power developed through the seemingly slow and relaxed movements of internal arts practitioners. By training with people from other styles, we learn how they will actually respond in a fight rather than rehearsing how we’d like them to react.



NEW WAYS OF TRAINING

Cross training also permits us to learn a variety of new training methods and ideas. Strength, speed, and endurance drills from other styles can certainly give us an advantage while practicing our own art.

Many grapplers ridicule the head high kicks of other style, claiming that such kicks leave the person open to an easy take down. That may even be true enough, but imagine the amount of strength and flexibility that such kicks can develop. Certainly practicing such kicks could help physically develop the legs for escaping a leg bar or applying a triangle choke.

Using unfamiliar types of training equipment, whether they be focus pads, a wooden dummy, escrima sticks, heavy bags, makawara boards, or any other type of martial training device can also benefit your training routine. By using new equipment, you force your muscles to adapt and develop to meet the new demands. This helps to prevent burnout and can also help break you out of a workout plateau.

The trick is to find someone who knows how to use the equipment properly and safely in order to improve a particular skill or technique. (We’ll talk more about this in the next post!)



NEW FRIENDS & EXPERIENCES

Probably the most important advantage of cross training comes from surrounding yourself with others who share your love of the combat arts. Though we often differ in our preferred techniques or strategies, we all share a mutual respect for the martial arts and the warrior philosophies. When we choose to look at it from this perspective, we find that all martial artists have much more in common than we originally thought.


Now that I’ve, hopefully, convinced you on the merits of cross training, we’ll discuss ways to get you started meeting and training with others outside your “safety-zone” in the next post.

Until next time,

Respectfully,

Rick

Monday

LEARNING TO EMPTY MY BROKEN CUP

Lately, I’ve been reading a great book on tai chi called Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, by Al Chung-liang Huang. In the book Huang talks about the importance of doing our art for ourselves and not worrying so much about what others might think or say.


He writes, “Tai chi is an art: not to be taught, but to be experienced... Each Teacher has a slightly different form, a slightly different way of doing tai chi. You don’t have to believe me or any master. Your own practice will tell you what feels right to you.”


In another section of the book Huang writes on the same theme, “You each do your own tai chi.” he tells us. “Those of you who have studied with another master, don’t say, ‘Let’s compare this: this is not quite the same’ or ‘He’s doing that first, I’m doing that last.’ Tai chi is an individual discipline: it’s not the kind of unison movement you find in a set choreography


One of the best images of tai chi is nature., and the movement of nature,” he writes. “The different branches of the same tree do not move the same but they are moving in unity. When you look at nature, everything has it’s own motion: the tree and the rock and the water running - they somehow tie together without making a point to fit. When you watch the waves coming over the rocks, you see that the wave has wave-nature, the rock has rock-nature. They do not violate each other’s nature. That’s a tao concept, a zen concept that exactly fits into tai chi practice.”


Huang believes, as I do, that we are ultimately responsible for our own art. There are a variety of teachers, styles, and forms to guide us, but in the end the martial arts truly about how we choose to express ourselves.


The book reminded me of the first time I trained with my current instructor, Chris Thomas.



At the time, I had already earned black belts in isshinryu karate and tae kwon do. I had competed in full-contact kickboxing matches and practiced judo/mixed martial arts concepts. I had been training in the martial arts for fifteen years and had worked Security for the Illinois Department of Corrections.


Before that day, I arrogantly thought I pretty much knew all there was to know about fighting. I was impressed by the books that Thomas had written with George Dillman and the fact that he’d written articles for so many martial arts magazines throughout the world. Still, I figured that he’d show me a couple of pressure point tricks to add to my collection of techniques and then I’d be happily on my way.


At the time, I was looking forward to impressing the ’master,’ with all my knowledge and abilities with no idea what kind of shock I was about to receive.


In a little over two hours, Chris had dissected my art like a surgeon at an operating table. He introduced me to concepts concerning body mechanics and physics that I’d never even heard of , let alone considered. He critiqued my stances and body positions, spent nearly half of our training time, trying to teach me how to punch. (I’d been doing this stuff for fifteen years and spent countless hours in the gym, dojo, and ring, punching everything from bags, to hand targets, to boards, to actual people. I THOUGHT that I knew how to punch.)


He’d have me perform a kata, then stop me before I could even finish the first move and make a correction. Then he’d have me start again, only to make two or three more corrections before I ever got to the next technique.


Now, with my ego being what it was, I normally would have thought , “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” and walked out.


But Thomas carefully explained the reasons for every criticism and the rational every change he made. Again and again, he would ask me questions like: “Why do you chamber your hand like that?” “Why is your foot in that position?” or “Why did you change your stance like that?” When I didn’t have an answer, (which was every time) he’d show me a slightly different variation of the movement and give me sound reasons for doing it that way.


I started to see how inefficient my techniques had been, how weak my punches and strikes really were, and how important stance was for controlling an opponent.
Over the years, Id been told things like, “Practice the kata,” “Punch from the hip,” and “develop a strong stance.” Yet, no one had ever showed me how it all actually applied to fighting. Although I knew all the required movements of my forms, I realized that it all lacked true substance.


Afterward, frustrated and dejected, I slumped miserably down onto a sofa in his den. Chris then said something that completely changed the way I now practice the martial arts.


It doesn’t matter whether you decide to train with me or somebody else,” he told me, “The thing you’ve got to realize is that if you get into trouble and end up having to fight, I won’t be there to help you; your other instructors won’t be there either, and Tatsuo Shimibuku (our system’s founder) isn’t going to appear in a puff of smoke… you’re probably going to be on your own.”


So since you, alone, are the one who’s going to have to defend yourself, you need to discover the method that works best for you. It doesn’t matter how I do things, or how another instructor does them, or even how the person next to you in class does them… What matters is that you’re able to take a technique and internalize it so that it works for you… No one else can do that for you, you have to do it for yourself.”


For Chris Thomas, the martial arts are only about learning to effectively defend yourself. Earning belts, collecting trophies, or trying to impress others by through gymnastic movements, breaking boards, or doing other kinds of stunts are only irrelevant distractions when compared to the importance of being able to fight in an intelligent and efficient manner.


You have to ask questions and constantly experiment to find the things that best work for you,” he told me, “then turn them into your own art.”


For years, I had simply accepted the things my instructors told me without ever really questioning their usefulness. Now here as an instructor, one of the best martial artists I’d ever met, telling me to question everything. For he first time in my martial arts career, I was actually given permission to think for myself.


Since that day, my training has focused on finding the most natural and comfortable way of making my techniques work. I no longer take anything at face-value, but examine my forms carefully to discover their true meaning. I still consider myself a traditionalist, I believe that kata have stood the test of time because they hold valuable information about self-defense. However, I’ve learned that it’s important to separate the rituals found in martial practice from the actual application.


Just as many people seem to observe the ritual of Christmas, exchange presents, putting up a tree, hanging mistletoe, etc. without recognizing its religious significance and others go to Memorial day picnics and barbeques without ever considering the sacrifices others have made for their freedom. In the same way, many martial artist propagate the traditions of martial arts without ever questioning what the movements actually mean.


Regarding philosophy, Plato once wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In the same fashion, I believe that “the unexamined martial art” is also not worth doing.


Though I practice and experiment with a variety of martial arts, I still consider myself a traditionalist. I honor and keep the training traditions handed down through the generations. However, at the same time, I have committed myself to discovering the ways that work best for me within those traditions and, through this blog, hope to encourage others to do the same.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Respectfully,


Rick









(Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this post... I hope it was helpful)

?KICKS BOXES? SO WHAT'S UP with the NAME?

Hi and welcome to Kicks Boxes, an internet blog dedicated to the martial arts and combat sports.

The title of this site comes from my daughter, who while two years old, saw me working out by kicking a heavy bag in the basement one day and quietly asked me what I was doing.

“Daddy’s doing his kickboxing,“ I’d told her.

After that day, she’d proudly tell anyone and everyone who’d listen, “My daddy kicks boxes.”

At the time, I guess she didn’t have a real good concept of what I was doing… but I’m slowly working on that!

Anyway, my interest in martial arts began in the early 80s when I took karate classes at a local community center. Over the last quarter century I’ve continued training in karate as well as a variety of other martial arts. At one time or another I’ve practiced karate, kickboxing, judo, tae kwon do, mixed martial arts, tai chi, hapkido, chi kung, kempo and kyusho jitsu.

I know that it all sounds like a lot, but martial arts is really my passion and I just can’t seem to get enough. Some people are fanatical about sports, music, cars, or even stamp collecting… but for me it’s always been martial arts. It’s all about learning and sharing the art with others.

During the early 90s I competed in full contact kickboxing and Olympic style tae kwon do.

Nowadays, I still continue to train martial arts (under Master Chris Thomas in the Kenkyukai Kyusho Jitsu organization) and also teach kickboxing at the Elgin Community College. Although I no longer compete, I’m still a major fan of kickboxing and combat sports. I love mixed martial arts and watch as much UFC, IFL, and Bodog as I can.

I hope to make this a friendly site where people can come to find articles, suggestions and ideas about various types of martial training, conditioning, and techniques, as well as resources to find other websites and related products.

More posts should be coming soon so please check back. If there’s anything you’d like to see or discuss, please leave a comment and let me know. I’d like to make this site as user friendly as possible.

Thanks and I look forward writing more again soon.

Respectfully,

Rick