True Enjoyment

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Diet, Fitness, Quotes, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
0

“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body;
the two are united.”
Alexander Von Humboldt

Given the recent posts on diet and exercise I thought I should find an appropriate quote to exercise your mind as well.  As a Martial Arts student you should have figured out by now that your mind and your body are connected.  Check, that was easy.  But which is stronger?  I mean can your mind get you off the couch and make you exercise?  Can your mind stop you from eating those fatty brownies your co-worker brought to work?  If not then your mind and body are not on the same page.  Think about that.  Your mind isn’t in control.  Isn’t that one of the first lessons you learn when you become a Martial Arts student?  That your mind is not in control of your body.  In this case your body is the spoiled child who just wants what he/she wants!  Give me those brownies…or else!!  Because your mind is not in control, your body wins, eat the brownie.  Oh, your mind thinks it’s in control!  You are an adult, you can eat what you want, you are hungry, you are stressed, you will exercise this off later, and the seductive list of excuses goes on and on…  They are excuses that make your mind feel better for letting your body run the show.  Your mind is deluding itself so it doesn’t have to face reality, it isn’t in control!

Luckily we Martial Artists learn to control our bodies, to master them, to help the mind to take control.  So prove it, find true enjoyment by uniting the two with the mind in control and the body in motion…exercising!

As always have fun, stay safe and be well.

British Karate

ktadmin Posted in Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Video,Tags: , ,
0

You have to love British humor…or not, but you will enjoy this…
[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/TommyCooperKarateSketchVideo.flv[/zdvideo]
Remember what you look like when you fail to break your next board or mess up your next counter attack!

Burn That Stomach Fat!

ktadmin Posted in Diet, Fitness, Questions, Recipes and Health Facts, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
4

No Surgery, No Pills Necessary!

The one thing that most people don’t know is that even if you can’t see them, most people have a six-pack under that cover.  The fat cells lay on top of your stomach muscles.  That isn’t to say that, that fat layer doesn’t weaken you or your abdominals.  But it means if you get that fat layer out of the way, everyone will be able to see your tight abs!  Hmmm, so what is the super secret recipe for getting that fat free belly?  Simple: first, cut down on fatty foods you consume, way down, and secondly, exercise to force your body to burn some of the that energy reserve you are carrying around.  Funny how an energy reserve can become an energy drain!  I guess to much of anything is bad.  Notice in that last sentence I said “Simple”.  That is because the solution is easy, it is the implementation that gives people the most trouble!

It starts with a thought, an image really, in your mind of what you want to accomplish.  Visualizing is very important to helping you stay focused and committed, we humans tend to have short attention spans, visualizing helps.  Of course you would not be reading this if you weren’t ready to commit, so let’s get started.  While visualization will help you stay committed one thing helps more then all the others, having fun.  No one likes a chore but everyone loves to have fun!  So let’s have some fun!!

We are going to cut down our intake of fatty foods and increase our exercise.  The type of exercise we engage in is very important.  We can easily get on the treadmill or eliptical for hours on end and never loose that belly fat (or any other fat for that matter).  The reason for that is those are cardio exercises and while they do burn calories, they are not great for building muscles.  If you want to burn fat, you need to build muscles.  The way our bodies work, muscles burn fat.  Given this fact, the more muscles you work and build the more fat you will burn and the faster you will see results.

Back to having fun… Since it is important to build muscles it is important to find fun activities to accomplish that.  Some exercises you will just have to learn to enjoy.  Experience has taught me that learning to do an exercise correctly makes doing it more enjoyable and definitely more rewarding.  Most of the time we dread exercise because we are not or don’t feel we are in good enough shape.  Unfortunately that mindset will keep you from achieving your goals.  To combat that, start out slowly and if possible with some professional assistance so you learn to proper technique for the various exercises you will need to do.  You don’t need to hire a professional consultant there are plenty of resources on-line, including here on this blog.

Variety is the spice of life…and Life requires balance.  As a Martial Artist balance has special meaning from both practical and philosophical perspectives.  When we are striving to get into shape we also need balance, in our diet and in our activities.  The Martial Arts provides a nice mixture of strength and cardio exercises but I always encourage my students to incorporate additional strength and cardio exercises outside of class.  While many a Martial Artist gets obsessed with their training it is good to add other fun activities like swimming or racquetball.  You will find that doing this keeps you more active, helps your body build different muscles and as a result burn more fat!  Even before you begin to notice your weight loss and diminishing layers of fat, your body will be getting stronger and more agile.  By the time you do notice the benefits of your work you will begin to find new motivation!

I want to stress again the two simple rules, improve your dietary intake and build muscles.  That is it.  I have know a lot of people who workout extensively yet never seem to reduce their weight or attain their goals.  90 percent of the time this is due to the simple fact that they do not understand those two rules.  They feel simply increasing activity (treadmill, etc) will get the “in shape”, they don’t realize or don’t take it to the next step and work on building muscle which will burn the fat.  Don’t make that mistake.  It is difficult but like anything if you stick with it for long enough it will become a part of your life and easy to continue.  Above all have fun (so you don’t get bored), take your time (it is a long race) and stay safe by doing things right (proper technique).

As you begin to cut down on the fats in your diet and exercise you should see some immediate results, these will slow or become less noticeable as you continue your training, don’t get discouraged.  Our bodies heal from the inside, out and part of this process is repairing the damage done by an unhealthy lifestyle.  Keep that in mind when you feel that you are not making any progress.  Good Luck and please let us know how you are doing in the comments!

I’ll post some exercises that will help build muscle and burn that fat soon so stay tuned and read often.

Tons of Snow!

ktadmin Posted in Fun Stuff,Tags: , ,
0

We had another snow storm here in New England, they forecast 4-8 inches we woke up to 15-18 inches!  After a few hours of shoveling, cleaning the cars, snow-blowing and plowing this gave me a much needed smile (Thanks Chuck), hope it does the same for you…

Tegatana (handsword)

ktadmin Posted in Technique, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
2

Tegatana (handsword) better known as a knife-hand.

The knife hand is perhaps the best know/recognized and least understood of all martial arts basic moves. Often referred to as a ‘karate chop’ the knife-hand attack is powerful enough to render an opponent unconscious (knock out) when executed properly. In the movies we rarely see this move performed correctly or even that accurately, but it looks good! While it is always nice to look good when defending yourself it is truly more important to use the proper technique and end things quickly.

There are five basic steps to performing the knife-hand correctly:

  1. Ensure that your fingers are held together firmly and the thumb is held firmly against the side of the hand. Loose fingers will slap together on impact. Loose fingers also means a loose hand which will collapse on impact causing you injury instead of your opponent!
  2. Tense and slightly cup the palm during the strike to ensure that you deliver a solid strike to the target as well as protecting the hand. (cupping your hand slightly for all open hand strikes helps protect the fingers from bending backwards on a miss timed hit or finger strike.) Angle your fingers away from your hand edge slightly to pronounce the side of the palm and protect your fingers. This also helps you connect with the correct striking surface.
  3. Know appropriate targets. Initially you should only strike soft areas such as the eyes, throat, sides of the neck, below the ears, the bridge of the nose and underneath the nose. With practice and makiwara work you can hit medium targets like the collarbone, inner arm and ribs.
  4. Always be accurate! The knife hand relies on accuracy of technique and target to be effective.
  5. Stay flexible. Never fully extend your arm, this will leave you vulnerable and potentially hyper-extend your elbow. Keeping your arm bent aids in being prepared to alter your attack as the situation changes. With a knife-hand attack it is “easy” to transition to a block, grab or closed-fist strike.

The knife-hand attack has many variations and incorporated into various combinations. It is also easy to practice your knife-hand technique outside of the Dojo. Start slowly with soft items, the back of a padded chair or couch, a rolled towel and work to harder items like a broom handle, with each increase in hardness begin with slow motion and perfect your technique before increasing speed and power.

With enough practice you will soon be able to perform amazing feats with your knife-hand attack…

A New Hero

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, OffTopic, Politics, Video,Tags: , , , , , , ,
0

The following video is off topic but worth sharing for the clear and truthful picture given of our current relations with China and our economic picture.  I have a new hero because of how truthful, honest and unabashed the presentation is.

In this following video clip, Wolf Blitzer is called out for pandering, he isn’t none to happy, no more so then the Wizard was when the curtain was pulled back!  What is surprised me was who did it…The Donald!  No, not Donald Duck, Donald Trump!  I am posting this video because every word that Trump says in this video is pure GOLD.  The man didn’t pull any punches and he does it in a way we should all strive to do, truthfully and honestly without the mean spiritedness or sarcasm that is to often born out of ill motives and/or fear.

[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Video-BreakingNewsTrump-tromps-Wolf.flv[/zdvideo]

Point and match…

That’s a Lot of Snow!

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Competition, For Kids, Fun Stuff,Tags:
0

A few days late but still had to share.

Not to mention a little to much time on your hands!  That’s jealousy talking!!  The snowman is approximately 15 feet across at the base…Wow!

One of my Connecticut friends, friends posted this and it was to good not to share…

Loser

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , ,
0

I realized today that I am a loser.  It struck me just like that, no doubts just a sudden clear understanding that I was a loser.  Oh I could make a million excuses for being a loser, they would make logical sense, but it wouldn’t change the fact, I am a loser.  Now that I know this I can see it in the way I walk, the way I carry myself, the way I compensate in so many ways.  But I wasn’t always a loser.  So why now?  Well if I wasn’t a loser I could probably tell you, or better yet write a book and become a rich non-loser!  Hmmm…  Seriously though, I think my loser state has to do with not taking any chances.  Somehow I have become frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights.  When faced with a decision I choose…indecision.  I think it is for fear of being wrong.  Like I said I can think of a lot of reasons for this but they all sound like excuses, which of course is what losers do…  I guess I need to stop making excuses and start believing in myself and taking some chances.  I know writing this that, that is a long way from happening… They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one…Maybe that is enough for today…

— Anonymous

The above got me to thinking about my own life, about how caught up we get in daily stress and minutia.  So much so that we kind of stagnate, I think I like that term better than loser.  Stagnate: To cease motion, activity, or progress; to cease to advance or change; to become idle or cease to flow.  I think that is what life does to us if we let it and sometimes even if we try not to let it.  It is important to remember also that success can be defined in so many ways, not knowing the reference point of the above writer makes it difficult to gauge the depth of their ‘loser-ness’.  I think many of us place goals that are to difficult to achieve, we set ourselves up for failure.  I am not advocating “settling” or having an ‘this is as good as it gets’ mentality!  But similar to setting a New Years resolution you have to set realistic goals you can achieve.  I think that is where success comes from, setting achievable goals that move you towards some much bigger goal.  It is easy to get lost along the way, to stall in your efforts, to stagnate.  It is easy to rely on excuses to keep yourself in a state of stagnation.  The easy way out, is to feel like a loser, that is the path of a quiter, not a loser.  I think becoming a loser comes from quiting once to often.

So what about you?  Have you given up on your goals because they are to hard or there are to many available excuses?  Where you to busy or tired to workout this week?  I know, you’ll start next week or someday.  Someday. That’s a dangerous word. It’s really just a code for ‘never‘.” [source: Knight and Day].  It is never to late to change but that change has to start some where…some time.  Don’t stagnate, take a chance, move forward, small goal by small goal…

Am I off base or full of it?  Let me know in the comments section!

Cholesterol – The Unseen Enemy

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Diet, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts,Tags: , , ,
0

High Cholesterol runs in my family so I am always (read: try to) watching what I eat.  I also get tested every year or so, to see how I am doing.  The last test I had showed a 8 point increase over 2 years, still in the healthy range, however, near the top of where my levels should be for my age/gender.  Basically I take it seriously but not so seriously that I don’t enjoy what I eat.  I’ve been cut open enough times to understand that if it can be avoided it should!  If you don’t believe me, please take my word for it.  With that in mind you can imagine my surprise when my brother-in-law (visiting from out of state) announced that his Cholesterol level was around …700!  What can I say, it surprised me he had a pulse!!

That is when I decided to write this article, not as an expert (I am not), but from my practical experience.  I do not take medication and will resist taking any for as long as possible.  I am not adverse to medication but do believe less is better.  So I focus on natural ways to lower cholesterol, my doctor may not agree with me and wish he could get the commission from the prescription, but I have at the least maintained my levels through personal effort.  I also realize every one’s body chemistry if different and you should listen to your doctor and yourself, not me.  You need to understand the differences between the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, I leave that up to you.  But if you find a few useful tips here, my effort is not wasted.

It is important to note that cholesterol is actually necessary for several very critical functions in the body.  However, excess cholesterol in the blood stream can be deposited in arteries and can cause plaque formation as well as harden arteries. Heart disease, heart attack and stroke may then result.

How do you reduce your Cholesterol naturally?  Basically you have to alter your lifestyle and diet.

Is it easy? Not always.

First of all, you need to maintain a healthy body weight.  While thin people can have unhealthy levels of cholesterol being overweight usually indicates an unhealthy lifestyle (to much food not enough activity).  Being overweight raises your LDL (bad) levels and lowers your HDL (good) levels.  That is why the first step to lowering your cholesterol is to loose weight.  Often this only requires a change in the foods you ingest.  The side benefit of this is you will feel better and have more energy!

There it is, Step One: Get to and Maintain a Healthy Weight.

Weight loss in general requires one thing, burning more calories then you consume.  The fastest way to lose weight is to reduce your calories and increase your level of exercise.  What is interesting about this process is the more you exercise the less hungry you will be…sound ridiculous but unless you are starving yourself it’s true!  Junk food can be quiet addictive (and bad for your cholesterol levels) so you may not feel this is true immediately, but stick with it and you will.

We need exercise for a lot of reasons, mostly we humans were not meant to be sedentary.  Like it or not you need to move around and get some exercise!  Exercise expends energy and pushes toxins out of your body, but it also forces your body to create more HDL (good) and convert/burn some of that bad cholesterol (LDL) into energy.  Imagine that.  As a Martial Artist, exercise also lubricates your joints, improves your flexibility and  heightens your awareness…sparring anyone?

The rule of thumb is a minimum of moderate exercise of about 30 minutes three to five times per week.  This will improve not only your cholesterol levels but will improve your heart health.  So many benefits!

Here is a no-brainer, stop smoking.  Smoking is stupid so you should stop.  Smoking is bad for you, and stupid, so you should stop.  Smoking increases LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it is stupid, so you should stop.  If you are still smoking, you are stupid…and, why are your reading this?!?

You are now exercising (or thinking about it) so how should you change your diet?

Obviously our diet is important to any aspect of our health.  To coin an old programming saying: Garbage In, Garbage Out.  However that doesn’t accurately depict the human body, probably more accurate would be: Garbage In, Garbage Stays…  If we consume a lot of cholesterol then our bodies are going to retain a lot of cholesterol.  Therefore it is critical to couple diet management with exercise.

There are different dietary factors affecting your body’s cholesterol stores:

Soluble Fiber binds to cholesterol and removes it from your body, making it a great way to naturally lower your cholesterol.  Soluble fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  Basically eating natural foods is better…duh!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also lower cholesterol levels, these can be found in flax seeds and flax seed oil as well as cold fish such as tuna, sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel.  An interesting note about flax seed oil, it is one of the few oils that does not change it’s molecular make up when heated!  Many oils change when heated thereby reducing or eliminating their beneficial properties.  Olive Oil is another great oil which not only is thought to reduce cholesterol but has antioxidant properties as well.

In case you didn’t get the memo:  Saturated and trans fats are bad for you, as they can raise your total cholesterol.  You can determine if a product has trans fats by reading the label.  Most will identify trans fat in the percentage area, however, even if they say 0%, if they contain partially hydrogenated anything, they contain trans fat!  Basically most processed food contains trans fat, store bought cookies/cakes/etc.  Again natural and home made is better!  Saturated fats are found in meats and some oils, such as red meats, processed meats and poultry skin.

If you have a cholesterol problem you should also avoid dairy products, fried foods and surprising to most, some seafood, especially shell fish.

Well that pretty much seems to rule out most available foods that we tend to enjoy…!  Not true, unless you exist on Devil Dogs and Yoohoo!

Basically I go back to my earlier comment, eat (and cook with) more natural foods.  Don’t buy a box of cookies, make them from scratch.  I actually think it is cheaper to do that now given rising costs.  Cut the recipe’s sugar in half, don’t use margarine, substitute apple sauce for butter/margarine.  I am sure you can find many more tips via google.

To summarize the basics:

  • Get up and moving…exercise!
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Avoid/reduce dairy products
  • Avoid all trans fats
  • Eat more natural foods

Easy right?  It actually is, the hard part is the change in behavior and mind-set that it requires.  Like all change it takes some work and effort.  However, I have never heard of denial lowering any one’s cholesterol…

Some people will go to extremes and become vegetarians (not that there is anything wrong with that!) personally I like meat to much for that and it really isn’t necessary.  There are also some herbs (garlic, green tea, psyllium, red yeast rice) that can also help in lowering your cholesterol, but there is no magic potion or secret trick regardless of what you may read online.  Beware of snake oil salesmen/women .

Any gains you will make in lowering your cholesterol by changing your diet are normally made within 3-6 months.  Aside from that you need to listen to your doctor and if necessary take a prescription drug to aid in your fight to lower your cholesterol.  Regardless there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle and it is never to late to change your ways and start living a healthy life style.

Good luck.

Sticks & Stones & …Words?!

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, For Kids, Politics, Questions, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
2

I got this notice in a Barnes & Noble advertisement (along with links to anti-bullying books).

OK, I know as a Martial Arts instructor and Self-Defense advocate I should be totally on board with the new Politically Correct drive to stop bullying, but this just goes to far.  I am very against this type of campaign.  I have never been afraid of words, haven’t met one yet that could do me any real physical damage.  Today our children are taught to treat words as dangerous tools, weapons capable of causing great personal injury (minus the bruising).  Though in fairness I should note that the term bully is being used interchangeably with bullying and picking on.

We are officially living the in Bizarro word of Seinfeld, Up is officially down, hot is now cold, sticks and stones won’t hurt you, and Men are the new Women.  Hmmm….  As a society we are failing our youth by …wimpifying them!  Some prefer the Pu..ification term but this is a family blog so will stick to Wimpification.  How far can we turn away from reality before we are forced to face that which we pretend can be solved with a slogan.  What is the point of this new campaign against bullies?  Bullies exist and will continue to exist forever…period.  Maybe tomorrow they will just speak in a nicer tone.  So what is the point?

Perhaps a better campaign would be ‘Sticks and Stones Will Break Your Bones and Names Will Never Hurt You‘.  Some moron forgot the Never and no one called him or her on it.  I know I am being harsh and probably ruffling a few feathers, to bad.  What we should be teaching our children is threefold; believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, and; keep things in perspective.  I know some are saying…Huh?  Let me explain.

Believe in yourself – Have some confidence in yourself.  You do this by knowing who you are.  Unfortunately many kids are brought up in such a void of morals and beliefs that they are encouraged to discover who they are, like they are lost?!  So what is a child to do who is given no direction or sense of self?  That’s right, listen to their peers.  If their peers tell them they are great, well then they must be.  If their peers tell them they are a loser, well they must be.  The PC (politically correct) crowd like the former but not the later situation.  The problem is not everyone can be great.  Perhaps it would be better to raise our children know who they are so that others will not have that much effect on them.  (Notice I said ‘that much’ as I understand it is impossible to completely unaffected).  But if the child (or adult) knows who they are and has a sense of their worth, they can knuckle down and get through this unpleasant chapter in their life (being bullied/picked on).

Stand up for yourself – But what if the person doesn’t back down?!  Good question.  We all win and lose some fights, the important thing is how we walk out of the room (chin up or head down).  I can speak from personal experience here; at a certain point it is much better to stand up for yourself.  I advocate defending yourself anytime someone touches you in a threatening way, no hesitations, you take control of the situation.  I am not advocating fighting over an insult or comment, take the source and ignore it.  That leads us to the final point…

Keep things in perspective – I always ask my students this question “do you value this persons opinion?” they invariably say No!  If you react to words then you must really value the opinion of the Bully’s opinion.  Though if you do not believe in yourself (see the first point) you might just hold anything anyone says about you as a possible truth. But if you stand up for yourself by not being affected by mean spirited words you can walk out with your head held high, chin up.  There are to many techniques to cover now on deflecting insults and such.

Bullying and ‘Picking-on’ each other is a normal part of growing up.  It is the ugly truth.  Should we step in and engage kids when we can, yes but not at the risk of making them a bunch of wimps.  There is an old movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s, that shows the differences of how things have changed.  In the movie Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict differ on how to handle the school wimp and the school bully.  The Sister adopts Father O’Malley’s approach, she helps the wimp stand up for himself.  If we simply correct the Bully, the wimp is still just a wimp without a bully.

Perhaps that is something you will think about when (if) you listen to what your children are being taught the school of political correctness.

And let’s not forget to place the blame where it really belongs for raising abusive bully’s…their parents…bully’s don’t just happen, they are raised.  Regardless we have to learn to deal with Bully’s…