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Some fitness claims are hard to believe, but here’s one with valid research protocol to back it up.  Researchers in the UK (J Strength Cond Res 26(8):2228-2233, 2012) wanted to find out if Kettlebell swing training could influence both maximum and explosive strength.  Short answer: Absolutely.

What did they do?  Twice a week using a 16kg KB (for those weighing > 70kg) they performed 12 rounds  of 30 seconds
on, 30 seconds off, performing as many swings as possible using correct technique.  They did not perform any other resistance exercise during this 6-week period.  
 
How did it work?  After 6 weeks of bi-weekly KB training, the trainee’s maximum strength
increased 12% and their explosive strength increased 15%. That’s pretty darn good for a 12 minute work out twice a week.  
 
It’s definitely consistent with what I’ve found using KBs for the past 10-12 years.  They’re very time efficient and impact your cardio, strength, and endurance.  The ballistic nature of the training also makes them ideal for anyone involved in the martial arts (or any other sport for that matter!).  So if you haven’t already, go out and pick up a KB in the 12-16kg range and learn how to do a KB Swing.  You’ll be in better shape in 6 weeks.


 
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Finally got around to crossing this project off my list.  Don’t know why I waited so long.  TRX and other suspension trainers have been all the rage for the past several years, despite having been part of our physical culture since prior to the 1860s. But they figured out a way to go mainstream, charge $200 for some straps, cables, & loops, and make money. Good for them.  

But I’d rather save my hard-earned shekels for something sharp & shiny or loud & concealable.  So I trolled around and checked out several sites on home-made versions.   I liked the one at Ross Enamait’s site, Rosstraining.com.  Ross’s site is a great place for advice, inspiration, and plenty of other DIY advice and projects.   I used some other guy’s YouTube video to make a quick and easy door anchor.  
 
I found the lashing straps on Amazon, and the PVC and rope for the foot loops at Lowes.  Total spend< $27.  It took longer to order and acquire the supplies than it did to make the system.  Now I have another highly functional addition to the home-gym system
while saving more than $150.  And it can be used and scaled for the rest of the tribe as they work on their pushing/pulling/core movements.  This was/is a great investment in so many ways.  
 
I wanted to give it a try, so I cranked out a quick workout:

Double KB Squat to Push-Press; Single KB Clean & Press; Single Leg RDLs
Suspension Trainer: Alternated sets Pushups & Rows, 10 x 10
ea


Outstanding!


 
Quick link to a post by Mr. Keating about counterfeit Stingers from China.  As usual, quality counts, and it can cost more.  I sometimes buy inexpensive training tools so that I can experiment with them (especially when I know that they're going to be abused or destroyed in the process).  But I'm not afraid to spend on my carry gear, whether it's flashlights, batons, knives, holsters, or firearms.  What's your health, safety, & well-being worth?
 
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I’ve been playing with some Karambit techniques for the past year or two.  I finally picked up an inexpensive model from United Cutlery to practice with after talking to guy at one of Pete Kautz’s “Seeking the Path” events a few years ago.  Since I just wanted to dabble and I wasn’t planning on carrying it, it’s hard to beat for $12. 
 
Then I made a wooden trainer so I could practice with a partner without fear of laceration.  The wood’s not as forgiving as a high-density foam trainer, but I’ve used wooden trainers for years with great success. A little sanding and shaping, maybe a little duct tape to prevent splinters and you’re good to go.  
 
My most recent purchase was the Boker Plus “Batman”. For years I have been keeping my eyes open for a reasonably priced Spyderco Civilian, but gave up hope and dropped $30 instead on something that I could easily pocket carry, but still use for Karambit-type techniques.  The only two drawbacks I see with the Batman are that it’s fairly bulky and the clip attaches low on the handle.  This means that it’s fairly obvious and sticks out of the pocket more than I prefer.  
 
Now I use each of the devices to practice a 35-step kata that covers a range of blocks, strikes, slashes, punches, and hooks.  Both left and right hand, as well as holding the knife in a forward or reverse grip. It’s interesting to see how the application of the technique changes slightly depending on the blade orientation, but using the kata as a conceptual starting point, the movements can be used with not only these hooked-blade
devices, but with straight blades or even empty handed.  As with most katas, there are a lot of things to discover under the hood, if you only take the time and broaden your
perspective.

If you haven’t considered any of these kinds of curved implements before, pick one
up and give it a try.  Not only is it fun, it can also broaden your martial horizons.

 
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No, this doesn’t refer to the latest sex-o-drama on HBO that combines the intrigue of the DaVinci Code with Hill Street Blues (if you’re under 40 you may have to Google it). I’m referring to the Dequerdes training “Cross”and Elbow “Shields”.  I constructed my first Dequerdes back in 2008.  It started out with the basic “T” pattern, which gives 2 high lines.  But eventually I smacked it too hard with a stick and broke off one of the arms.  So when I reconstructed it, I made an additional arm that’s seen in the picture.  This one gives the option to play against a mid-level attack.  It is interchangeable with another straight arm that can be mounted high.  With this setup the 2 vertical pieces and one arm are cemented in
place.  The only downside is that the removable arm tends to work loose after several minutes of activity and has to be repositioned. Nothing insurmountable, but I’ll probably just construct a 2nd one that has 2 fixed arms in the high positions and then make this one with 1 permanent mid-level arm and 1 high arm.  
 
The Dequerdes is an excellent training device for solo practice.  You can use sticks,
knives, empty hand, flexible weapons, practice lock flow, target specificity, and let your imagination run free.  Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing various Elbow Shields and Destructions on the moving & spinning target.  It’s great for building reaction speed and precision with your elbow strikes.  You can find additional  information on both the training cross and elbow shields at either James Keating or Pete Kautz’s site.  Look for the “Dequerdes: Filipino Training Cross”and “Hellbows” materials.


 
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Have you used your jump rope lately?   I first started using a jump rope as a conditioning tool back in the early 80s. My first rope was the famous Lifeline beaded rope from Bobby Hinds (http://www.lifelineusa.com/).  It came with a book full of conditioning routines and “steps”.  I still have both of them.  I quickly learned some of the basic patterns and have incorporated them ever since into warm-ups, workouts, and cool-downs.  The jump rope is a great tool for aerobic conditioning, footwork, and timing, three things that are useful in just about any martial art or sport (other than maybe chess or golf).  
 
Unfortunately, it’s also a dying skill set.  I volunteered for 10 years every spring
for the “Field Day” events at my kids’ Elementary School.  And watching the majority of the kids struggle with basic human movement patterns and physical activity, let alone coordinated effort with a jump rope, was very disheartening.  We need to bring Physical Education and activity back into our school systems or we’re destining our kids for physical failure.   Enough said.

Try this workout that alternates rounds of jump rope with BW exercises.  Your goal is 5 rounds of 3 minutes jumping, with 1 minute rest in between.  If you can’t jump for 3 minutes, start where you can, 20 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute. Build from there.

Round 1: Jump; 15 pushups, wide grip (rest for the remainder of the minute)
Round 2: Jump; 15 BW squats (rest for the remainder)
Round 3: Jump; 15 sec Plank hold, any position (rest remainder)
Round 4: Jump; 7 forward lunges, each leg (rest remainder)
Round 5: Jump; 15 pushups, narrow grip


 
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I’ve wanted to pick up a medicine ball to use in some interactive drills with 2-hand and 1-hand stick basics (a.la.  Joseph Simonet).  I just kept forgetting, and my daughter wouldn’t let me use her Jane Fonda fitness ball to whack with a  stick.  I had seen some articles on-line about making your own Medicine Ball using a basketball, reamers, tire plugs, shoe goo, and a host of other accessories.  But they all seemed overly complicated and time consuming.

So yesterday afternoon I found a dead soccer ball (Size 3) from one of my boys.  I
had a bag of playground sand sitting on the portable basketball hoop.  So I cut a 3” gash in the ball, rolled up some cardboard from the recycling bin to use as a funnel, and just started stuffing some sand into the ball.  After 15 minutes of jostling and tamping, I had about 10 lbs. of sand inside.  I filled the remaining space with about 8 plastic grocery bags.  I brushed the sand from the outside and taped an “X” over the opening.  After reinforcing the patch with two intersecting circles of duct tape, I was outside to train.  Having someone loft these towards your chest (or head, depending on how they feel about you at the time) is a great way to develop timing, accuracy, and movement.

Total time invested ~ ½ hour and I had all the materials already lying around.  Well worth it to add a new implement to the home training toolbox.  Now if only I can get a few whacks at the Jane Fonda ball, it would really brighten my day, if only out of respect for those Vietnam vets that had to deal with her treasonous blather while they were serving in harm’s way.  But that’s another topic for another day. 

Give it a try.  I think you’ll have fun.