Archive for the ‘Martial Art’ Category

Haven’t logged much in a little while. Been doing small, sporadic little workout sessions, mostly picking up the kettlebell for a few drills, some qi gong and yoga exercises, and a good longsword session.

Today, I went hardcore. A little strength, a litte METCON. A good bit of sweat. I think I needed it. I’d been feeling out of sorts for a couple of days–achy and a little bummed. Maybe an energy let-down after a high-e week where we let our excellent product at work loose.

In any case, today I started off with several minutes of double heavy bag striking. I like working with my two bags. Adds interesting tactics to my multiple striking options. Fun! 🙂

I then did a variety of kettlebell movements, working a lot of different angles and areas. That led to an energetic six-minute kbell swing session. Using the 24 kg bell, I did both two-hand and single-hand swings, taking breaks to catch my breath.

Followed that up with 10 reps each side of the twisted press (24 kg kbell), then 5 or 10 each side of the two hands windmill, with the 24 kg bell on the high side of the windmill and the 32 kb bell on the low side.

Then I did one of my absolute favorite exercises, the long cycle clean and jerk (LCCJ). 10 each side, 24 kg kettlebell. For some more ab work, I used the 24 kg bell for 10 each side of the half Turkish Get Up.

And to cap it all off, I went back to the venerable two-handed swing, for five minutes with the 32 kg bell. Forearms were still there, but barely. Mostly smoked.

Breathing, stretching and light meditation to recover. Booyah.

Music: Pandora Loreena McKennitt station.
Diet: Fasted since breakast (eaten at lunch time).


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Two more little PTs from this weekend to document. Both were late in the evening (1930 or later).


Similar to last Sunday’s, this was a simple kettlebell protocol using the 24 kg bell. After warming up with several minutes of loose striking on the heavy bag and floor movements, I did two sets of five minutes of relaxed kettlebell goodness.

First was a diagonal clean and twisted press combo, alternating sides every few reps for five minutes. Then on to swings, alternating hands for the single hand swings, and finishing off with two handed swings. Last minute or so was cool-down with salsa dance moves.

After that was an active meditation aikido style. This is helping stretch out my ankles nicely, as I sit in seiza as long as possible, then bowing (rei) to relieve the pressure for a tic before coming back to sit up.

Music: Pandora mix of Brazilian and samba, finishing with the Calm Meditation station.
Diet: Fasted since breakfast.


Started with qi gong breathing and movements. Then went into the TACFIT Kettlebell “No Effort” day yoga and stretching/recovery. Finished with more of the meditation similar to yesterday’s.

Music: Pandora Calm Meditation station.
Diet: Fasted since breakfast.

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I took a week or two off from heavy physical training, and today, I’ve broken that fast. I was getting worn down by a lot of time at work, odd times at home, tension of various sorts, etc. And was just feeling like I needed to take a PT break, so I did.

Today, I’m back to it. I was really thinking about a super heart-thumping, gorge-rising in your throat, can’t breath-so-I’m-laying-on-the floor workout, but something told me to hold off a bit on that. So instead, in the vein of continuing to de-stress and remember to let go of excess tension, the whole workout was dedicated to projecting as much power, while remaining as relaxed as possible.

I’ve been re-cultivating my Daoist ways and making sure to remember to hold myself as loose as possible, to maintain good form and posture, breathe, all that sort of stuff. I have felt that I’m a bit separated from that, and it’s time to come home, as it were.

Having said that, it should be noted that I’ve been very good about holding true to that in my work life and political life (such as *that* is). As the site lead for my company at the facility where I work, I’ve been blessed with a really good team, and my role as often as not, is *not* to manage them, but rather to stay out of the way as much as possible and let their strengths shine through (as much as the team sometimes would like me to just lay down the law… but they are really good, smart people, so I’m not going to let them have it so easy 😉 ).

As for PT today, I started off with gentle movement, vaguely martial, progressing to weaponless striking of the heavy bags, with as much force as I can whilst remaining as relaxed as possible. Over the years I’ve become fairly decent at striking that way, and it just feels good. A friend was over the other day, and she mentioned something about hitting “like a bear,” or something like that. I don’t remember exactly the expression, but I know what she meant, because I was showing her elliptical, relaxed open hand strikes, which often don’t resemble boxing jabs and such at all.

I did some good relaxed floor work, changing levels and rolling and such. Then a short bout of kettlebells: five minutes of LCCJ, and then five minutes of single hand swings. Both exercises with the 24 kg bell.

Again, the emphasis was relaxed power; for the LCCJ, I went at an extremely slow stroke rate, making sure not to muscle it up or anything, but to sort of “let the bones” do the work. The motion simply came from movement, and I made sure to stop it at the top, and work my bones and posture into a good solid position, held it, then let the ball fall, starting the next movement. As much tension as possible gone from the movement.

Same with the swings. I swung the bell for ten reps, then switched sides, back and forth, holding it as loosely as possible, letting my body movement control the bell through the whole swing.

I followed up with some stretching, and some bodyweight squat/calf raises, then finished off sitting in seiza for quite a bit, allowing my shins and feet to slowly stretch out and rest my bodyweight further into the ground.

Feel pretty good right now, energized rather than exhausted, loose rather than tight (forearms a little tight, though). Good stuff. I’ve been fasting since breakfast this morning. Might get a little something in a bit, or just not worry about it. Don’t know, yet.

Music: Pandora yoga mix (Arabian/Indian electronica/trance).
Diet: fasted since brekkies.

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The weeks before this last, I was going through Scott Sonnon’s TACFIT Kettlebell. I had done the pre-recruit level with the 16 kg bell, and had a good time of it. A couple of weeks ago, I started training on the “Recruit”-level moves, and I really like them! I also upped the bell to the 24 kg for more intensity (for some of the sets).

But this last week, I’ve kinda gone back to basics for a little while (but sneakily adding in a couple of my fave TACFIT moves).

So, back to two-handed swings, using the 32 kg bell. Add the TACFIT “yaw press,” which is the standard military press while turning from one side to the other, and the “diagonal clean,” where you pull the clean from the foot opposite the hand you are using.


3 x 25 two handed kb swings (32 kg)
1 x 2 (each side) yaw press (32 kg)
Stretching and cooldown


Stick and empty hand heavy bag
3 x 30 two handed kb swings (32 kg)
1 x 10 two handed kb swings (32 kg)
2 x 2 (each side) yaw press (32 kg)
3 x 2 (each side) diagonal cleans + yaw press (32 kg)
Stretching and cooldown

Of note: for the last three sets, you’ll notice that I added diagonal cleans; I immediately followed each with a yaw press. DO NOT do this with any kind of weight unless you have a bombproof back and torso. In fact, neither the yaw press nor the diagonal clean should be attempted with heavies until you’ve built your torso up, let alone adding them together. I mean it.

In addition to just the normal forces involved in the military press and regular clean, you are adding rotation to the mix. That can be dangerous and cause injury unless you’ve trained up. Use no, or light weights unless you’re trained using your back and torso with rotation and weight. You’ve been warned.

I thought it felt great, but I’ve constantly trained my back and torso, and added the rotational weight lifting from both martial arts and kettlebell.

I’ve gotten back to cycling my carbs, so that I’m focused on eating a lot of protein, fat, and veggies for the majority of the week, with a carb spike day on Saturdays. Taking the cue from Tim Ferriss’ “Slow Carb Diet” from his 4-Hour Body book. Very similar to the ol’ “Anabolic Diet” from Dr. Mauro DiPasquale (recommended from the Big Beyond Belief book).

Music: Filter mix.

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So today, I did an early, then a late PT. Just kinda worked out that way.

Going back to yesterday (Saturday), first… it was a pretty explosive session, which included lots of heavy bag with stick and limbs for the pre-fatiguing/warm up. Then went into the tabata protocol of 20/10 that I’ve been using a lot with kettlebells.

I stayed totally with the medium bell, Wilson (24 kg), and did mostly jerks. Other stuff, too, but I don’t quite remember. It’s all starting to run together… 🙂

Finished off with a nice thorough stretch for cooldown. Ahhhh. Then off to get some steak salad then see some friends for a couple of movies later.

Music: Afro-Celt Sound System, POD

Today, I had the noonish session, also concentrating on the tabata protocol. After some martial arts practice with the roommate, concentrating on stick, and knife, I went through two rounds of eight sets, doing sit outs, abs (kettlebell pullover), and legs for the first round. Second round ending with four sets of legs, this time.

Rounded it all out with a healthy session of stretching/yoga.

Music: The rest of the POD album from the Afro-Celt Sound System.

Next saw me going to meet some friends for a birthday party and my meal of the day at the local Capitol Ale House. Had some of the prime rib, yummy mushrooms, and a small dab of mashed potatoes. Also a Great Divide Hibernation Barley Wine. It was… okay, but for me, the maltiness was a bit much. It was great to see all the fencers (past and present) and to meet a couple of new folks! Then it was back home to get some stuff done.

The evening session had me going for more of a straight up grind. Instead of explosive lifts, I stuck with a simple count (not tabata) of ten or so each hand cleans with the 24 kg bell, then five each hand with the 32 kg bell. Then back to 10 with each hand with the 24.

Next, I hit up the kbell military press. 10 or so each hand 24s, then five each hand with the 32 kg bells. And back to 10 with the 24 kg bell. Some stretching, and that was it. Good stuff. Got warm, but not really sweaty, though I could definitely feel a bit of working going on. One thing to say about all this working out stuff, it getting my breathing a lot more… locked in, if you will. I’m still not a “hard style” guy so much, where you squeeze super tight and add all the tension you can, but I am trying to tweak my breathing all the time and pay attention to how I breathe and where in the movement I inhale and exhale.

Music: None. Just the rush of air in and out… 🙂

There you have it.

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Some work from today, yesterday, and Sunday.

Sunday I went with the roommate over to visit some folks that are big into the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) thing. It’s the worldwide group that “celebrates the Middle Ages as they should have been.”

Super good peeps, they took me right in as if we’d known each other for years. As is typical of the SCA folk. I was involved a bit when I was at WVU, with The House of the Drunken Badger. Dealing with these folks was like a total flashback for me. There’s a certain look to the folks, to the house; a certain flavor, a certain… je ne sais quoi that I usually see that involves cats, dogs, beer, beards, weird, unnamable objects (by the lay public, that is) left in corners, and bookshelves of fantasy and science fiction literature (as well as esoteric volumes about obscure crafts and lore).

I felt immediately at home, and wary, too. The SCA is the type of hobby that can eat your life, and these folks often have a hard time understanding why you can’t center your life around the Middle Ages as well.

Nonetheless, it was a good group and I really enjoyed talking with them. The homeowner apparently is a bowman of some renown in the organization, and apparently anytime anyone shows up, the bows and arrows come out for practice/competition.

He most graciously asked if would care to join in the fun of chucking arrows downrange, and honestly, I do rather like to shoot archery, so I accepted. So, a group of us shot and shot until the rain started to pour, and I had a good time. Shooting archery, though not particularly taxing, is still a) not sitting around on the couch, b) a decent skill/strength workout.

In my case, I was using a recurve bow of only 25 pounds and flu-flu arrows. Normally I use a 55# recurve and normal arrows, but using the 25# bow was nice and easy. Shooting flus from a 25# bow was challenging, in the sense that the flu-flus don’t want to go the forty yards downrange unless you angle up like you’re trying to shoot aircraft.

Tuesday was over at University of Mary Washington to help with the fencing club. It’s always a pleasure to go over there, and it’s one way I feel like I’m contributing to the community. It’s actually the first practice I’ve been to this semester. Travel, long workdays, and an injury or two have conspired to keep me away.

Again, not too taxing; I was over there with my neoprene knee brace on as much a signal that I wouldn’t be doing a heavy amount of lunging as for actual protection. But, no hard bouting ensued. I mostly helped in training coupé (cut-over) and dégage (disengage) techniques and tactics. Had a good one-on-one with one of the students (David, I believe).

Tonight’s affair was, however, of a completely different nature. It involved a lot of sweat.

Started off with 10-20 minutes of stick work (kali and jo) vs heavy bag to loosen up. Then I went into tabata kettlebells. I stayed with the baby bell today (16 kg). I practiced a few timed sets with what Coach Scott Sonnon calls the “Swingblade,” a sort of swing-lunge affair that I found quite taxing. I’ll be beating on that one a lot in the future, I can tell. I closed out that round with explosive two-handed swings.

Next tabata round: LCCJ (long cycle clean and jerks). Another good four minute round of love, yum-yum.

Next round was not tabata, but a long four minutes or so of capoeira-like movements around the heavy bag.

Back to the bell for the last round: snatches. Oh, yeah, felt gooooood. Mm-mm, getcha some! Okay, so I was a little hyped. 🙂 Finished off with the usual cooldown/stretch session, and I managed not to twist my knee out of its socket this time. Yay me.

Music: Billy Idol’s much maligned Cyberpunk album.

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Summary report for our “Ringen,” or wrestling seminar at the University of Mary Washington. The Phoenix Arms Historical Training Group held a UMW student-only seminar based mostly on Medieval German “Ringen,” or wrestling, on Saturday. It was a great success, and a lot of fun. Writes Chris Wheeler on our website:

Seminar Training Summary

Photos and videos to come soon!

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