Tag Archives: breath

Cooking the perfect dish

If the title already got you thinking what’s cooking got to do with a martial arts blog, read on.

Cooking a great meal doesn’t happen right away. Unless ramen is your idea of one.

Even before you actually start you already have a somewhat concrete idea of the ingredients to be used and how they fit in.

Then you got to manage the right timing of adding spices, salt, sugar along with boiling or frying.

You have to be alert about maintaining a consistent level of heat. You just don’t turn the burner on full blast right from the beginning.

You might be continuously engaged in stirring or you let it be for a while and keep it simmering. Obsessiveness with the process ruins everything.

In 30-45 minutes, you cooked yourself or your loved one a great meal and swear to God, it tastes amazing. Much better than the 120 seconds instant noodles.

Why does your approach to martial arts, personal safety, fitness and health have to be any different? You can’t drive-thru at your local gym with a fat annual membership plan and feel entitled to become fighting fit.

If you are new to this, relax and leave yourself to a scientific training process that takes care of routine, intensity levels, recovery and anything else that might crop up. If you are not a doctor, you don’t self medicate. If you don’t know cooking, you ask for help. Don’t be stubborn with self-training when it comes to martial arts and fitness as well. We all start somewhere and contrary to the image in your head, the better training standards a martial arts center has, the more are your chances of getting help from the instructor and training partners.

Take a look at the blog posts. Go to the youtube channel  and see for yourself the all rounded experience you will have in our training sessions.

Make the walk to our centers in Pune and cook up the perfect lifestyle of health, safety and fitness for yourself.

Flexibility

So I got a call last week from a concerned parent. Her concern? She was worried her 17 year old was not flexible enough to do the high kicks like they show in movies and hence she was putting off her training. Leaving aside the bunkum that popular media portrays about martial arts and kickboxing, it got me thinking about writing a few things about flexibility.

How training flexibility in the right way can help?

  • It frees you up physically and mentally where you don’t feel bogged down by aches and stiffness.
  • Improvement in posture
  • Better circulation and health of internal organs
  • Improvement of endocrine and nervous system function

Your fears are a part of the nervous system

Every muscle contracts on an impulse from the brain through the central nervous system(CNS). Chronically contracted and short muscles develop a stretch reflex that makes it reflexive for the muscle to resist any kind of lengthening. In our classes, we train flexibility by first developing the interaction between the CNS and peripheral nervous system(PNS). So you learn to relax and override the stretch reflex with breathing and sensitivity.

DO NOT force a stretch. DO NOT try to touch ‘head to knees’ or ‘head to toes’. BE PATIENT.

Factoring in the fascia

Fascia is a dense matter comprised of mainly collagen that wraps muscles, tendons, ligaments and internal organs throughout the body. Think of it as one muscle running from head to the toes that effectively transmits force through the body’s structure. Repetitive movements and short muscles cause the fascia to adapt accordingly and become dense and excessively tense. Pull a taut bedsheet in any position you see the effect on the whole sheet.

Without removing the dense buildup around shoulders, abdominals, hips etc trying to force a stretch is futile. Try deep tissue massage, rollers, rolling around on the floor.

Correct alignment, partner assisted loaded stretching

We start with a focus on the absolutely correct alignment. Firstly this trains the CNS to release its tight control over the muscles. Secondly the density of the fascia adapts to the changing muscles. PATIENCE. You can get a partner to assist with an increased load once you’ve settled down into a stretch and can’t progress further.

If you want to split like Van Damme just remember the extreme stretches and high kicks forced him to have a hip replacement surgery!

-Anomit

First 3 days into MMA training

It is said that “for a healthy and content life, you need a healthy mind, body and spirit”.
If your body becomes sick, you can recover by pumping in some medicines and resting for a few days.
When your mind becomes sick, you can take a break or a holiday and try to refresh yourself.
But what happens when your spirit becomes sick?

For me spirit is something that drives me throughout the day. It is something that gives me a feeling of excitement when I start my day, and to keep it healthy I need to feed it with something. 
That something could be an activity I like to do, a cup of coffee at my favorite cafe or as simple as reading a book I have been longing to read.
 
Unfortunately, my spirit was kind of going downhill, until I recently enrolled for a course in Mixed Martial Arts. Lucky for me, I found it very close to where I stay and an awesome instructor who is so meticulous in his ways of teaching.
 
So far I have just attended 3 sessions and I already feel Alive.
If I were asked to summarize my experience so far, I think the training has been rigorous yet satisfying.
 
To give a glimpse, the routine started with a few exercises to tune my breathing, which was highly essential in keeping my body stable and relaxed, and align my body for more natural movements with ease.
And what I loved about the exercises was that they were NOT your regular push-ups, pull-ups or crunches that we do in a gym.

The exercises were more like natural movements that we do on a daily basis, but not with so much focus and consciousness than what happens in the session.
The simplicity of exercises amazed me more because of the vital effect they had on my mind and body.
I became more aware of myself and realized how tensed I was almost all the time.

Once the exercises were done, which lasted almost an hour, we moved on to learning punches and kicks.
Again, I learnt how important breathing is while delivering punches. It is so easy to get carried away when you have got a punching pad in front of you. But the instructor kept monitoring my movements and kept correcting my technique whenever I went wrong.
I guess I am a slow learner, but I really appreciate the guy’s patience.
But anyhow, I really liked the way he explained the moves and their mechanics, and the level of detailed attention he gave to each person.

I feel really glad about joining the class.
My training session is something I look forward to everyday now. It keeps me excited, motivated and more agile throughout the day. But when I have to miss out due to work commitments, I can’t describe the turmoil that I feel inside.
I hope to be more regular from now on and keep feeding my spirit with the positive energy that I receive in the session.

Kudos Anomit Ghosh! You are a great instructor! Looking forward to learning a lot from you.
______________________________/\____AES____/\______________________________

Ditch the “cardio” shindig

If you regularly attend a gym, you’re very familiar with this buzzword. You’re getting your lifts up in there and a well meaning mate advises you not to skip the cardio.

From my experience going to gyms and interacting with those who hang around there, cardio is a much abused term that can mean anything — running, spinning, cycling and what not. But most of the time it means a workout that’ll leave you gasping for breath, make your face go through a range of colors blue, yellow, red and you’re a mess by the time you’re done with it. You go home happy thinking ooh I burned some fat today. That last tire of fat around the waist always remains. So what’s going on?

You are working your heart anyway when you do any physical activity. How you approach it determines whether it recovers and becomes stronger. This is why we keep emphasizing on correct, relaxed breathing because it is the only thing that can

  • alleviate the stress on the heart
  • stop it from hitting the HRmax (maximum heart rate)
  • inhibit stress responses that dump harmful chemicals in the body
  • inhibit the hijacking of breath by the ANS (autonomic nervous system)

Don’t let your heart rate exceed 80% HRmax

This is something that is practiced intuitively. You don’t always need a heart rate monitor strapped to know when you cross the threshold and your physical skills start deteriorating. My teacher says you should be able to talk, sing and perceive everything else around you normally even as you are doing the toughest of exercises. Don’t zone out into a wonderland of rage next time you’re doing those deadlifts. There is a nice article by Scott Sonnon that talks about the performance zone of heart rate and this is where you should aim to recover to in case there is a spike.

optimum performance and training zone

Practice heart rate recovery as a skill

Learn to respond in real time to a heart that’s going out of control by using recovery breathing and tension release mechanisms. The more you train this skill, the less disoriented you will be and also have more control over your movements. I have covered some of these techniques over here. Time your workout sets and recovery periods in between. Progress incrementally.

Every training session at our MMA classes includes this as a fundamental skill that teaches you to battle stress and heart problems in real life, outside a gym. If you are in Pune call me on 8308252872 and start learning these valuable life skills right away. You can also sign up online for the classes and drop in at the center.

Hassle free sign up online
Hassle free sign up online

Warrior heritage of Yoga

In this context, I mean yoga as the modern physical practice of asana. There is a belief in the growing community of yoga practitioners that the knowledge of this physical practice passed down to them is millenia old and unchanged. This comes from the disconnect between the source of such knowledge and the learners. Currently the context of practicing asana is completely lost or hazy at the best. Some do it to get flat abs, some to cultivate gratitude, to stretch like a rubber band, to feel the energy of the universe and so on. Also there are furious attempts to map every aspect of the physical practice to what’s laid down in Yoga Sutra. Regardless, these attitudes lack a clear roadmap, context and origin of modern yoga and confuse someone who doesn’t participate in the ecosystem of yoga studios and balancing a warrior pose III on a 6ftx2ft mat. It had me confused for a long time too. Till I started going deeper into my martial arts training, especially Indian styles of wrestling.

one of the pages of illustrations from Sritattvnidhi
one of the pages of illustrations from Sritattvnidhi

Turns out, most of the asanas were practiced by wrestlers in Mysore in their vyayamshala (gymnasium) for strength, flexibility and endurance. This practice was sustained by the patronage of the royal palace in Mysore. Such training included equipment like clubbell, ropes, bars and not just bodyweight exercises. I read the book The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace by Norman Sjoman. He unearthed a 19th Century text Sritattvanidhi compiled by the then king of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III that had an exhaustive list of postures, exercises and sequences with hand drawn diagrams. These diagrams are included in Norman’s book and it is fascinating to see a definite starting point of a complete system of exercise and health. If you want to explore further down on this path, read this thoroughly researched article on Yoga Journal and learn how this got popularized by the famous icons of Yoga from Mysore: Krsnamacharya, Iyengar, Pattabi Jois.

Coming back to the wrestlers, the tradition of wrestling is a descendant of battlefield training in breaking limbs and skulls converted to a sports format. This had two benefits – the civilian population was able to benefit from the health benefits of physical training and the warriors would be able to continue training while being in society and remain battle ready. The core of this training is a unique series of 20 interconnected sequences that work the body from head to toe and develops muscles, senses, breath et al. It is called Malla Vinyasa or Wrestler’s Sequence. These movements codify tons of wrestling techniques for throwing, joint locks and submissions. I have experienced just the tip of this rich system of martial art and health. These sequences are an integral part of our training. Call 8308252872 immediately and start training. It will be infinitely more rewarding than anything you’d have ever learned.

Hassle free sign up online
Hassle free sign up online

Internal feeling and awareness

This is the essence of practicing martial arts. After passing through the obvious phases of physical strengthening and release of tension the practitioner starts to develop subtler feelings about her internal state. In fact those who have ever been keen on this path indeed have the latent intention of getting more in touch with the self and become secure and stable.

In the Chinese tradition of martial arts and qi gong, developing this skill is known as Nei Shi GongFu. This is a skill that develops when the practitioner submits to the process of fine tuning her body, breath and mind. Fluctuations in the internal state due to release of different chemicals, hormones etc can be observed and dealt with. Thoughts and actions that arise from the intent of restoring the balance of the internal state further energize a person. Such a person rarely falls ill from diseases, stress, food or drinks.

The internal nature of this skill demands you train hard in class and reap the benefits of increased awareness. Show up for training at least 3 times in a week. Breath work, healing and relaxation is an integral part of our training. Sign up online for our yellow/orange/green belt courses at http://forgemma.explara.com .SMS ‘MMA’ to 8308252872.

Power packed 30 minute MMA workout for beginners

Here is something that I put together today morning for those who have recently started training martial arts or want a taste of it at home.

  • Warm up the major joints by moving, rolling, spiralling, rotating (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, spine, hips, knees, ankles) – 5 minutes. Look up Scott Sonnon’s free Intu-Flow videos for beginners to learn more about warming up your joints and making them healthier.
  • 5 rounds of Suryanamaskar10 minutes. I prefer to do it in a relaxed way that loosens up the entire body. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hSdq-50PG0
  • Shadow box for 1 minute without breaks. This is where you let loose and have fun with jabs, cross, hook, front kicks, roundhouse kicks, elbows. Apply the breathing lessons from this post.
  • Do 10 counts of push ups, squats, sit ups, leg raises for the next 2 minutes. Go to our Basic MMA Skills page to have a look at how to do these exercises in a relaxed way without getting tired.
  • Repeat Shadow Boxing + 10 counts of above exercises for a total of 5 sets.

Once you are done, take the next couple of minutes to bring your breathing back to normal, shake off tension from stiff regions and relax.

This is a glimpse of how the training sessions at Forge MMA progress. Call 8308252872 to sign up for our yellow belt, orange belt or green belt courses in mixed martial arts.