Tag Archives: functional fitness

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

Fitness benefits of training in kicks

Functional core strength

Martial arts strikes focus on producing power through arms and legs in the most efficient way. The core is not just the ‘six pack’ when it comes to martial arts. It includes the trunk, belly and the legs. Anatomically the following major muscle groups are involved

  • rectus abdominis, the six pack
  • transversus abdominis, crisscrossing set of muscles that connect with the diaphragm
  • obliques
  • psoas, the longest muscle from the ribcage to the thigh bone
  • vastus medialis, the inner thigh muscles (a part of quadriceps)

Practicing kicks target all these areas which translate into further benefits.

Improved posture and relaxed spine

Take the example of a roundhouse kick. There is a twisting power generated that involves the obliques, psoas and inner thighs. When practiced correctly, it opens up tight hips, releases tension from the lower back and builds obliques that holds the spine in place. Once the muscles are developed functionally, extra load is removed from the spine which returns it to its natural relaxed S-curves shape.

Reduces tightness in the thighs and calves

Kicks work on engaging the major leg muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves etc. In a front kick, both the hamstrings and quadriceps are engaged and relaxed alternately. As awareness of these muscles increase with repeating the kicks, the muscles become supple and toned.

Strong glutes

The gluteus maximus, the ‘butt muscle’ is the largest muscles in the body that powers lower body movements. A sedentary life at a desk weakens this muscle along with tightening the psoas (see above) that can cause lower back pain.

With the right kind of training in kicks, these muscles can be re-activated that allows for relaxed walking, running and general comfort. Consistent movement that re-educates these muscles are the safest way to correct imbalances that arise from weak glutes. So show up in training and keep at those kicks.

flyer1

ANNOUNCEMENT: Yellow Belt Training is on!

To Register, Call 8308252872

What is it?

The yellow belt training is a 12 week certificate course in mixed martial arts, functional fitness and exercise knowledge.

What are the benefits of training?

  • Builds lean muscles, burns out the stubborn fat
  • Improved digestion and increased metabolism
  • Get in touch with your natural instincts
  • A state of physical and mental peace
  • Regulates hormones
  • Closer bonding and more fun as you workout in a group

…and many more than you will ever get from training alone in isolation!

How is the course structured?

Click here to import this calendar  to your device

Each of the 12 weeks in the course has a special focus topic that is repeated in all classes through the week. So make use of the opportunity and drill in the knowledge through practice.

You can join us on any week as this course continues in a cycle. For eg. if you sign up while week #4 is ongoing, you'll go through training week #4 - week #12 and then week#1 - week #3 as the cycle restarts.

Every class includes

  • functional fitness workouts from martial arts, yoga, calisthenics, parkour i.e.the best of disciplines
  • shadow boxing and partner drills
  • breathing and relaxation training
  • healing and massage techniques

Weekly breakdown

  • Week 1: Kickboxing stance and footwork. Hand strikes: Punches
  • Week 2: Footwork, short range hand strikes, leg strikes: kicks
  • Week 3: Short range leg strikes, strike combos
  • Week 4: Strike combos contd…
  • Week 5: Wrestling stand up basics
  • Week 6: Wrestler’s yoga, throws
  • Week 7: Throws, takedowns, hand strike and leg strike combinations
  • Week 8: Ground wrestling basics
  • Week 9: Ground wrestling escape/evasion with strikes
  • Week 10: Wrestling joint locks and submissions
  • Week 11: Wrestling joint locks and submissions contd…
  • Week 12: Qi Gong for health and healing

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

Mixed Martial Arts for women — Busting myths and misconceptions

Women are supposed to look pretty, not get their faces punched in OR Women don’t belong in a gym OR Get back in the kitchen

Utter objectification. If we are talking about equality in the 21st century, what better way than women taking up their own responsibility of fitness and safety? Why be a commodity that needs a man around to protect her? Besides exercising the right way can only make you look younger and prettier.

I know people are squeamish about girls getting hit in the face. It’s understandable but it’s not very rational ~ Ronda Rousey in an interview

Women can never be as strong as men

Go to these facebook pages, hope they are enough to drown the cacophony of this nonsensical social narrative. Spot Me, Girl , Ripped Goddess,

Women should only dance

Martial Arts is a dance. The flow state you get in when training or sparring with a partner is primal, raw and actually brings out the warrior spirit in women.

Women look manly with all the muscles after training

There is only so much level of the muscle building hormone, testosterone in women. Unless externally dosed with, a woman won’t grow bulky like a man. She can be as strong nonetheless. In fact with advancing age, women should take up such training at a gentle pace to stimulate the generation of testosterone and avoid muscle waste and atrophy.

My personal favorite, MMA champ Ronda Rousey
My personal favorite, MMA champ Ronda Rousey

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