I’m back in the saddle after returning from a week long service project with the family and church youth group to Grundy County, TN (http://www.mountain-top.org/).  
As the poorest county in the US, there’s a tremendous need and I think everyone came away with an appreciation for what they have in their lives.  Great trip, other than the 14 ½ hour drive each way, which had as much appeal as a skunk in a blender.  In fact, with a carload of teenage boys, it was like having a skunk in
the blender for much of the trip.

Quick and dirty, here are some things that I’ve seen or read this week that I found entertaining and/or informative:

The Badpiper Thunderstruck:  I gotta get me a kilt and some pipes.  If only to have something that shoots flames.   

Training For Warriors Power Training: Martin Rooney rocks.  Key concept – is your training just making you tired, or are you making progress towards a specific goal?    

Embrace the Suck - good read by John Romaniello. Made me think about breaking negative associations and giving some things that I “don’t like” a chance.  Like yoga.  Or running. Need to push thru the proficiency threshold.  

The Agile 8 -  I liked this quick look at some mobility drills, especially as it relates to opening up the hips.  Short video found on the right side bar of this article.  

No equipment, No Problem – Here’s a long list of sample workouts that you can do without equipment.  No more excuses, just pick one (or two or three...) and do it.  

Bodyweight Basics with Steve Maxwell -  I’ve followed Steve Maxwell’s materials for a dozen years or more.  If you’re not familiar with BW exercises, this would be a good resource.  

How to Make your BJJ training more fun -  I liked the look of the sprawl drill with the Stability Ball in the second video.

That's all for now.  Get out there and make it a great day.  Do something physical and/or combative this weekend!






Two of the things I like about training with ropes are a) how
easy it is to apply “bursts” of intensity and apply this to interval training, and b) the ability to combine footwork with hand patterns.  Both of these characteristics are critical when trying to find and apply sports-specific conditioning for the combative arts.  
A recent article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (Vol 35, No. 1, Feb 2013, pp. 1-9) discusses “Strength and Conditioning for Fencing”.  Modern fencing is obviously done for sporting purposes (it’s one of the few sports featured at every modern Olympic games), but has combative roots.  Current competitions feature preliminary bouts that last up to 5 minutes, with elimination bouts of 3 three-minute rounds with one-minute rest in between rounds.  As the authors state “fencing involves a series of explosive attacks, spaced by low intensity movements and recovery periods……there is a great need to repeatedly defend and attack and too often engage in a seamless transition between the two.”  That sounds a lot like most martial arts activities, so training protocols for fencing might be interesting for other stylists as well.

The authors felt that metabolic conditioning from high-intensity interval training was the best approach and that sparring provides the most specificity and optimally adapts the energy systems for purposes of competition.  But unfortunately, you can’t always spar, and it’s also difficult to quantify the effort involved for programming and progressive overload purposes.  They recommended using work:rest ratios and average work duration specific to their sword.  For example, in men’s foil the work to rest is 1:3 with average work duration of 5 seconds.  They program a 2m-4m-2m shuttle to encourage multiple changes in direction across varying and fundamental lengths.   Using fencing footwork and facing forward at all times, they lunge/shuffle forward 2m, back 2m, forward 4m, back 4m, forward 2m, back 2m, rest. The number of sets and rest intervals can be varied accordingly.  It’s important to work on sets with both the Right and Left foot as the lead, even if competition is only done with a primary lead, to reduce muscular imbalance.  
I use similar footwork and intervals with the Martial Ropes.  A 2m burst laterally or on a diagonal and then returning is easily achieved.   4m gets a little problematic due to how the rope moves and the need to continue with a pattern, but 2 meters is enough to simulate most martial applications of covering the gap between you and your opponent.  
Intervals are also easy to manage.  5-15 second bursts using all the major angles of attack, interspersed with “rest” (either active rest in the form of low intensity, steady-state  swinging or complete rest) can easily be chained together to gradually build capacity and or specificity to your arts competitive structure (ex. 2 minute rounds, 3 minutes, 5 minutes).  By combining the rope patterns with the footwork, you are able to build fluidity
and coordination, two things sorely lacking in many peoples’ motor patterns, especially once you put a weapon in their hand(s).  
Give the ropes a try and see how your conditioning and your footwork starts to improve.

Good article titled “From Beginner to Black Belt” by Alwyn Cosgrove found here.  Not only are there applications to the martial arts or fitness, but to your professional and
personal life as well (if they don’t happen to be one in the same).  
One of the early motivational series I listened to (can’t remember if it was Dennis Waitley or Brian Tracy) discussed spending 3% of your income every year on your own personal development. 
At some point this would lead to such acceleration in your learning/earning potential, that you wouldn’t be able to spend that entire 3% on training & development.  I’ve tried to practice elements of this for the past 30 years in both the martial arts and professional arena.  
I remember back in the mid 80’s, my roommate and I each kicked in $25 to buy a tape on this new thing we heard about called Gracie Jiu Jitsu.  Because it was new, it was interesting, and we wanted to know more.  (That probably was equal to 3% of my income at that point!)  But each year I would try to order a tape (now DVD), buy a book, or attend a seminar in a style different than what I normally studied.   I did this to expand my knowledge base, get exposed to new things, and learn how to learn outside my comfort zone.  And it worked and continues to work.

Cosgrove is right.  Black Belt is just the beginning - as long as you keep learning.