Burning Stomach Fat – Work that Core

ktadmin Posted in Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts, Technique, Training notes,Tags: , , , , ,
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There are many exercises we can employ to help us burn fat, but as we discussed in this previous post we need to build muscle if we really want to burn those fat cells off!  Many people think they need to work their abdominals to get their six-pack abs but the forget the curtain of fat that is sitting in front of their stomach muscles.  We need to strengthen our whole body, not just our abdominals and in the process of getting stronger we will be reducing that padding that is hiding our six-pack abs.  As a Martial Artist you need to make sure you are also strengthening the muscles supporting your abdominals, this will give you more power and help you to better “take a hit”.

Here are a couple exercises to get us started as we work into a stronger body.

Bicycle Crunch:

This exercise like so many is all about having the proper form.  Bicycle crunches were deemed the best ab exercise by the San Diego State University.  This exercise will work all the muscles in your abdomen including those supporting your six-pack.

  • Start by lying on your back on the floor or mat
  • Lie on your back with knees bent and calves parallel to the floor
  • Cup your ears loosely with your hands
  • Move your legs in a bicycle motion (elbows to opposite knees)
  • Keep your heels four inches off the floor
  • Every knee touch equals one repetition

Don’t try to do these really fast, keep a steady pace, remember you will only be cheating yourself.  Remember to alternate sides so you get a balanced workout.

It is important that you do not pull your head forward as this can cause injury or stress to your neck. Notice in the image that the hands are not interlocked, they are touching the side of the head to prevent you from accidentally pulling on your neck.  You’ll feel this one working right away.


This next one always makes me smile because it reminds me of a toddler throwing a tantrum!  When I was first introduced to this exercise I have to admit to mocking the value of this exercise, then I tried it…I’ve been a believe ever since!

Alternating Superman:

This exercise gets its name from the initial position because you lie on the ground like Superman flying in the air, minus the cape (hopefully).  Now you are ready to start…

  • Lying face down on a mat with your arms stretched above your head (like superman)
  • Raise your right arm and left leg about 5-6 inches off the ground (or as far as you comfortably can).
  • Hold for 3-15 seconds and relax.
  • Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Notice that you keep your head down during this exercise. Do not raise your head and look up, this will potentially injure or strain your neck.

If you find this to difficult you can modify this exercise by doing it on all fours (knees and hands).  From this position raise your opposite arm and leg out as straight as possible.  You should form a straight line from foot to hand.  Eventually you will get strong enough and can switch to the lying position.  As the exercise becomes easier, increase the amount of time you hold the position until you reach 60 seconds.

This one is great for your abs and your lower back.  While this is easier on your lower back then some exercises, if you have back problems start slow and see how your body handles it.


Keep reading as I will be posting more exercises to help you build muscles and burn fat.

Some of these exercises to reduce abdominal fat may make you wish that you had never set out to learn how to burn stomach fat in the first place, but the results will make it all worth it in the end!

Please check with your doctor before beginning any health and fitness program.

FitDeck Playing Cards for Combat Sports and more

ktadmin Posted in Fitness, Products, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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I came across these really cool fitness cue cards.  They are simple to use and give a concise description and visual representation of each exercise.  Here is an example the “Firefighter Lunge with a Twist” card:

firefighter lunge with a twistEveryone knows how fond I am of Lunges as a training tool, so you can look forward to these!!

With fitness card (FitDeck) for almost every application from Prenatal to Combat Sports and Yoga to Pilates, there is a training aid for everyone!  With most decks costing around $15.00 this is truly a valuable addition to your training routine.

For all you Martial Artists, check out the FitDeck for Combat Sports

Learn more and find the deck that is perfect for you at www.fitdeck.com

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.

Tegatana (handsword)

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

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…

Goals & Resolutions

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Diet, Events & Holidays, Fitness, Recipes and Health Facts, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
0

A few days ago most of us made some type of resolution for the new year.  You may not admit it to anyone but it is there in the back of your mind, something you’d like to change or do different this year.  Call them Goals or Resolutions they equate to the same thing, a struggle with yourself, often a battle of endurance which requires willpower!  The most common resolutions focus on our personal selves, weight loss, getting into shape, attaining our next belt, other involve our careers or station in life, we will focus on the former here but what we will look at applies to both.  The problem with the resolutions most of us make is, they require hard work and effort.  Let’s face it if they didn’t we wouldn’t need things called resolutions or goals!

I don’t normally go in for a bunch of motivational gimmicks but I found this one that actually makes sense, SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
    (Get more in-depth details about Smart Goals here)

Basically this boils down a combination of “keep it simple stupid” and “being realistic and truthful”.  You can’t change if you set unrealistic goals, like I am going to loose 50 lbs next week, that is setting yourself up for failure, which if simply an excuse not to try.  I have known so many people who take this path, actually everyone takes this path eventually if they are not truthful with themselves.  We can learn a lot from addicts in this regard since it is easier to deny the problem then to deal with the problem.

So how do we get on track with our diet and fitness resolutions?  First keep reading this blog!  Secondly take the baby step method, I remember watching this in the old movie “What About Bob”.  You know what, it makes sense.  Break your bigger goal into achievable smaller goals, take small steps.  It may take longer to achieve your goal but the results will be lasting.  Nothing leads to short gains and long term losses then fad diets and an excessive ‘must have it now’ mentality.  The catch here is to make the goals achievable but useful, don’t be so easy on yourself that you aren’t moving towards your goal!  If you are trying to lose weight and you didn’t lose any last week, don’t have the attitude, “well at least I didn’t gain any!”  If you do, you will be saying “well at least I only gained a pound this week” before you know it.  Be honest with yourself but not easy!  This is training, no wimps allowed!!

I will leave you with this interesting study at the University of Hertfordshire which showed that the people most successful at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions did at least three of the following things:

  • broke their goal into smaller steps
  • rewarded themselves when they achieved one of these
  • told their friends about their goals
  • focused on the benefits of success
  • kept a diary of their progress.

There you have it, simple advice that will hopefully help you achieve your goals, regardless of when you set them…unless…

but you’re not that deluded…are you?

Training Questions #3 – You need…

ktadmin Posted in Questions, Training notes,Tags: ,
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You need to maintain “This/These Thing(s)” during all martial arts moves?

How many can you come up with?  As a hint it is less than six things…

See you in the comments…

Training Question #2 – Eyes

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

Where should you be looking when practicing Kata or set routines?

Like learning the proper physical moves it is important to learn the proper mental state.  Where your eyes look tell a lot about your mental state when training.  So where do your are you looking when you train??

Training Questions #1 – Sparring

ktadmin Posted in Questions, Training notes,Tags: ,
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This is going to be a new series to stimulate some discussion and get different perspectives.

Where should you look when facing an opponent?

This is an important question that most students don’t seem to get right away. Many instructors I have worked with also don’t seem to have ever learned this, I believe mostly from a lack of experience.

SO what is your answer? I’ll follow up in the comments with my 2 cents once the discussion gets started.

Sparring Notes

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, State of Mind, Styles, Training notes, Video,Tags: , ,
8

I have been working with my students to improve their sparring skills this month, it’s a great hot weather activity! Sparring can be a tough skill to perfect since everyone wants to jump in the ring and mix things up. Sparring is a very dynamic activity but it can be broken down to individual skills which can be perfected. A short list of these skills include: technique, stamina, focus, and self-awareness. As with any skill technique is paramount to success. Put on some boxing gloves and get in the ring doesn’t make you a boxer, the same is true for Martial Arts sparring. To often I’ve witnessed students at competitions degrade their technique to wildly slapping and kicking.

Sparring matches are won by staying in control. Control comes from confidence and technique. Confidence is something people have to find within themselves. Technique is somethings an instructor can help you perfect. I won’t delve into technique specifics as they vary from style to style, but form is critical to minimizing your vulnerabilities and maximizing your opportunities. Stamina comes with the practice and perfection of your form and technique. As we get older we need to add additional cardio-conditioning! 😉 With good technique and strong stamina you are well equip to win most matches simply by outlasting your opponent.

Focus is perhaps the more difficult thing to learn, as focus is probably the wrong word to use, since you need a lack of focus when sparring. Say what?!? If we focus on our opponent we forget about our surroundings, this may be OK in a sparring ring, but in a real fight that can be fatal. More importantly though focusing on your opponent can lead to signaling your movements. When I spar I typically spar primarily with my peripheral vision, this allows me to “focus” on movements as they occur not a specific movement. Let me give an example: if someone fakes a move with their left, then follows through with the real attack with their right… If I am focused on the person, then my focus will shift to the left fake, when the right comes in, I will have to realize it, shift my focus and then react. If I am focused on the situation, using my peripheral vision then I can more rapidly react to movements in my “sphere” of focus. Basically it reduces the thought process drag that comes from thinking to much. Relax your mind and your awareness becomes more basic, instinctual and reactionary. Hopefully that makes sense, I’ll be happy to clarify any of that.

Self-awareness is probably the most ignored part of sparring, though it is the direct result of good technique training and peripheral or sphere focus. When we spar it is important to be self-aware of your vulnerabilities. It is the only way you can truly improve your art. When you begin sparring your instructor will tell you what you are doing wrong. You should take this instruction as an opportunity to train yourself to find these corrections before you are told of them. The next step of course is correcting the problem, not always that easy. For example, two of my students where sparring and one would lean her head froward after a particular move. Her opponent realized this and he exploited it, with a downward strike to the head. A very bad way to get hit, a fight-ender. After the first hit, I pulled her aside and told her what she was doing. When she did it again I saw her realize it after it was to late. The third time her realization came a little sooner but still to late. Frustration was her enemy on the last point. She has the first part of self-awareness down and is now struggling with correcting the problem. It is a process, no different then learning your first martial arts technique.

I am including these videos for two reasons, first they are awesome! Secondly, they each demonstrate important aspects of sparring. See if you can figure out the importance of each video and post your conclusions in the comments section… Enjoy and pay attention!
[zdvideo width=”400″ height=”226″]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Gorgeous-JackieChanAwesomeFight.flv[/zdvideo]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQa7tlZZ_lM

Looking forward to the discussion…