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Good striking training day on Wednesday with Chris and I.

We started off with lots of fist-pushing, where you press your fist into the other person. That gives you feedback on whether your strike would have any strength and/or penetration into the other person, due to body positioning. It lets you know if you are in a power position or not, and if you are in a position where might actually hurt yourself.

If you’re aligned you will move the other person, and if not, you won’t. Simple, but effective training.

After that, we ramped up the velocity to actually strike each other. This is very important for both the hitter and… “hit-tee.” Again, as the striker, you are given feedback on how well you’re doing, but perhaps even more importantly, you’re learning to be struck, and not phased. As I explained to Chris, there are a couple of points here that bear thinking about.

1) There is actual physiological toughening occurring when you’re being struck repeatedly. But that’s not nearly as important as preparing the nervous system to take physical shocks. As a wrestler, and more importantly, a football player (American-style), you learn to take impact to the body as just part of the game. Impact occurs in every play, and it doesn’t stop you. Watch a football game sometime and you’ll see this.

2) You have to de-personalize the hits, as in a football game. Once you stop taking impacts personally, you will fare much better, though I would almost say that it’s harder than with say, football. Your ego wants to take this personally, because it is a personal, one-on-one hit from someone. But the moment you see it as just a physical act of nature (“this thing just happens,” without emotional context) then you don’t have to have any emotional response such as anger or embarrassment or “why is this happening to me” type feeling sorry for yourself, then you don’t actually feel attacked and can easily shrug it off.

The problem comes when you mirror aggression or whatever, instead of projecting a strong confident frame. If you take it personally, you will project aggression or fear or some other destructive emotion, which will feed into the other person and create a feedback loop that ends in destruction for the both of you.

Instead, smile, laugh and literally shrug it off and not only will you do better handling the strike, you may de-escalate the whole confrontation.

Here’s a pic of a pressure-point that Chris was pressing on at one point in the practice. I call it a “badge of honor.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Badge of Honor

Badge of Honor

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Been laying low in the workout scene for an unusual amount of time; around three weeks. Except for a fencing practice and a heavy bag session or so, and a couple of trips to the gym strictly for sauna, steam and jacuzzi. And some walking around D.C.

Today, I broke that workout fast. Funny thing, I felt pretty good without a lot of PT, though I had a nagging feeling I should be doing it. On the other hand, due to whatever factors, I felt pretty unmotivated about doing any of it. Thinking something must be up, I respected the lack of mo, and held off until I felt it was time.

So I sort of made up for it today. Started off with Systema warm-up and breathing practice for a while, then went to town on the heavy bags. Every which way. High, low, from the floor. Elbows, knees, hands, thumbs… yep, thumbs. Paid a lot of attention to my breathing when striking, etc. For how long? Well, I sort of lost track of time. I *think* it was somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour of that, but I’m not sure. It might be more. I wasn’t officially timing it, I just sort of noticed that it was a lot later in the day on the wall clock than when I had started. That ever happen to you?

Then I got into the workout part of things…

Simple Tabata protocol with the kbells this time. All the way, baby, for three rounds.

Started off with the baby bell (16 kg), doing 20 seconds of snatches left hand, 10 seconds rest, then 20 seconds right hand snatches. Moved up to the medium bell (24 kg) for long cycle clean and jerk (LCCJ). Again with the 20 seconds left hand, 10 seconds rest, and 20 second right hand.

Moved on two sets of swings with the 32 kg kbell. Thought I was done for that round, but mis-counted and actually had two more 20 second sets to go to complete my eight. Oh, well, I’ll catch them next time. Waited for a couple of minutes, then repeated.

This time, though, I added just jerks for two sets after the LCCJ (right, then left hand–24 kg), before the two swings sets of 32 kg. Got my eight.

For the last round, I started heavy, doing 20 seconds left hand LCCJ with the 32 kg, followed by the same for right hand after the 10 second break. Then jerks for either hand, same pattern, with the 32. Then two sets of swings with the 32, same pattern. Followed by LCCJ with the 24 kg bell, same pattern. Getting ready to pick up the baby bell, the GYMBOSS beeped it was done. Guess I was so into it, I didn’t keep very good count and was ready to do more. Anyway, then I finished off with a good round of active stretching/cooldown, and was done. This evening was a fasting evening, so I didn’t have any post-PT meals or anything. That’ll be lunch tomorrow. Yum!

Pre-Fatigue
30-60 minutes
Systema Breathing (including bodyweight push-up, sit-up, and squat work)
Heavy bag work

Core

Round One
20 sec, kb snatches, left hand (16 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb snatches, right hand (16 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, left hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, right hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)

Rest Set
2-4 minutes

Round Two
20 sec, kb snatches, left hand (16 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb snatches, right hand (16 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, left hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, right hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb jerks, left hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb jerks, right hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)

Rest Set
2-4 minutes

Round Three
20 sec, kb LCCJ, left hand (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, right hand (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb jerks, left hand (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb jerks, right hand (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb two-handed swings (32 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, left hand (24 kg)
10 sec, rest
20 sec, kb LCCJ, right hand (24 kg)

Post-Fatigue
Systema active stretching/cooldown

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I’m pretty much a soggy mess right now; trying to see through salt-streaked glasses while I type and chill down from today’s PT. It probably should be called, “How to sweat buckets in three easy rounds.”

A simple protocol again; three rounds of five minutes each, with kettlebells.

Firstly, you take two kettlebells, and do several reps of jerks, then finish off the bulk of the five minutes with swings. Rinse, repeat–twice.

I started off lightly with a few Systema push ups, then went downstairs for a couple of minutes striking the heavy bag. Then went right in on the rounds. I picked up the 16 and 24 kg bells and did five jerks with left hand having the heavier bell and right hand the lighter, then reversed it for five jerks. Then one- and two-handed swings with the 24 kilo bell for the balance of the time (3.5 minutes or so).

A minute for a rest set, then back to the jerks–this time I did 20 total, switching bells halfway through. Then the swinging for the rest of the time. A rest set of a minute again, and back to the same pattern as the last one. I was getting blinded by sweat about halfway through that last round, and it continued as I was cooling down, doing my Systema active stretching. Plus, I was getting the start of a touch of the nausea during the workout, so I know that I was hitting it hard.

Pre-Fatigue

2 min, Systema push ups
2 min, heavy bag striking (arms/legs)

Core

Round One (5 minutes)
– 10 two-handed jerks, switching hands halfway through (24/16 kg)
– One/two-handed swings (24 kg)

Rest Set (1 minute)

Round Two (5 minutes)
– 20 two-handed jerks, switching hands halfway through (24/16 kg)
– One/two-handed swings (24 kg)

Rest Set (1 minute)

Round Three (5 minutes)
– 20 two-handed jerks, switching hands halfway through (24/16 kg)
– One/two-handed swings (24 kg)

Post-Fatigue (Cooldown)

Systema active stretching

Today’s also a fasting day, and one thing I’ve also found is that the workout helps keep me busy on fasting days such that I don’t worry about eating for a while, which is nice! I last ate yesterday a little before 1600, so I plan on breaking fast a little after 1600 today, though no hurry on that.

I did suck down a bunch of water and some minerals, after the session (zinc and magnesium), as well as a big tab (1000mg) of Vitamin Charlie. Well, off to get a much-needed shower–and then maybe a nap!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Since I did a power PT on Sunday, today’s session would be all about sustained strength (aka “strength-endurance,” “prolonged strength,” or “strength-over-time”), featuring “fun with kettlebells.”

For the ramp-up to get my blood moving, I did a simple set of ten push ups on my Perfect Push Up (or are they “Ultimate Push Up”–I’ll have to check that out) handles, then a set of 20 swings with the 32 kg kbell.

Then it was the “Secret Service Snatch Test” (SSST), a simple but brutal set, using the 24 kilo bell. Basically, you have ten minutes to do as many kettlebell snatches as you can, anyhow you like. Totals for both hands add up, you can set the bell down if you like, just don’t quit your swingin’ ’til the timer goes off.

It’s been a long while since I did one like that, so I basically sucked. I did an even one hundred, by doing five sets of ten each hand. I think I still had plenty of go–overall energy-wise, but being my first time in a while, I took it easier than I will later. I could feel my forearms getting pumped, so I didn’t push it.

Since my grip was getting pumped, my next set of sustained strength was five minutes of Turkish Get Ups (again with the 24 kg). One of my fave exercises, for some reason. That got some sweat rollin’, too. My ankle was up to it, and the 24 is light enough that I didn’t notice much more pressure on it than if I was just getting up and down without the bell.

After that, some dynamic stretching รก lรก Kwan Lee’s “Strength & Flexibility” Systema DVD (which is a good addition to training protocol).

Today was also a fasting day. I’ve been experimenting with Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat fasting protocol. I’ve noticed that it’s been relatively easy to follow, once I got used to eating during the day. Hmm. That sounds odd, I know.

His method is super easy, in the sense that one of the things he’s trying to accomplish is to break people of certain obsessive-compulsive behavior toward food and/or eating. He wants this to fit easily into your life style.

There are other protocols out there that I’ve looked into. Most of them are pretty good in many ways. Warrior Diet, Leangains, and Fast-5. What each of those have in common is a timed fast every day.

Warrior Diet is 20 hours fasting, four hour eating window. Fast-5 is 19 hours fasting, five hours eating window (the “5” in Fast-5). Leangains is about 18 hours fasting, six hours eating window.

Fast-5 is the easiest in terms of instructions, in the sense that nothing else is stipulated in the diet, other than don’t eat for the appropriate time, then eat whatever your normal life would have you eat during the eating window. It works fairly well in social situations because more than likely you’d be having your first meal at dinner, with is convenient for eating with family and friends.

Warrior Diet is much more complex, in the sense that the author, Ori Hofmekler, outlines a whole philosophy that the diet, and its accompanying lifestyle spring from. What he’s trying to accomplish is a lifestyle that’s based on freedom and passion, and one of the cornerstones to that idea is being free from slavery to multiple daily meals is one major step in that direction (though he gets pretty specific in terms of eating certain foods in certain orders). From a lot of the comments and reviews I’ve read on different sites, a lot of people don’t get that thread. But that may be in part due to Hofmekler’s writing, too. He says over and over that you CAN do this or that, but you can also do it this way. But it’s all packed in there quite densely sometimes, so his multiple suggestions may be easy to miss. Sometimes he seems to contradict himself with suggestions that say, “however you want to practice is okay, just make it work for you,” and “if you’re doing this, you’re not doing the Warrior Diet.”

Martin Berkhan’s Leangains is a method that’s also pretty specific. His thing is a combination of fasting/eating window with very targeted and specific nutrition. I haven’t seen a book out by him yet, so I don’t know what his specific nutritional guidelines are, except that he likes to rotate low carb with moderate carb eating. Typically, I think, the moderate carb eating will be as part of post workout “recovery” meals.

Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat stipulates two musts: one to two 24 hour fasts a week, and make sure to do adequate strength training. Then he says that when you resume eating after the fast, don’t eat a big reward or recovery meal, just a normal meal to break the fast. He likes the 2×24 hour fasts because he believes it integrates into your life better. A lot of the Paleo crew agree most with this philosophy, as it is not an every day occurrence, and therefore the body reads it as more random (more “intermittent” from their perspective).

By integrating into your life very easily, it’s more likely to be sustained. For a lifetime. The benefits of intermittent fasting are becoming more and more known, and more research is being done to confirm earlier findings, on humans.

I could go into all that here, but the post is becoming a monster, so I’ll leave that for later.

To conclude, I’ve found that over the years of trying these different protocols, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost never hungry for breakfast until after 1030 (awakening at 0600). I can eat, if I must, before then, but usually no earlier than like, 0900. But I can usually go until 1130 or noon without becoming uncomfortably hungry.

Trying Brad’s method, I’ve already gotten to the point that a 24 hour fast is not only doable, but easy. Will it provide me with benefits? Well, here’s to experimentation, and finding out! Oh, and one other thing: it fits in perfectly with Systema. The earliest book they put out years ago recommended two days of fasting a week. Hunh. Whaddya know.

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Another good day of sweat and bruises! ๐Ÿ™‚ Around eight to ten students showed up to Dagger Seminar 2, as well as guest instructor Devon, who recently moved from his hideout in Portland, Oregon.

It’s definitely such a reward to me as an instructor to see the tired, but smiling faces of the participants. I think we really brought out some latent talent and physical confidence in some of the students.

Again, we were rushed for time as the gym staff came in and had to shoo us out. The time goes so fast! One of the students said that it seems shorter than the fencing practices of the fencing club, which are about an hour and a half, max. The seminar yesterday was from 1130 to 1730, for an elapsed time comparison. Basically, all day.

The format was similar to last time’s, except that since we had all repeat students (if I remember correctly), less time was spent (and of fewer students) on the basic format of how to fall/roll, and more on roll confidence drills. Typically (and with the head instructor’s blessing) I sneak in some aiki and Systema-like drills, such as “monkey rolls,” where you line up everyone face down on the mat and have the first in line “alligator” roll over the whole line of folks, then the next one, and on and on, progressing from one end of the mat to the other. That’s a good trust and familiarity exercise that gets the students (and instructors) in a mood for personal contact without intimidation.

Chris had us do the short-range “trust fall” circle, which was a lot of fun for everyone.

We had fun with the “three wrestlings” drills, which in some cases devolved into me showing some ground work. We took some time to attempt to talk about the sort of no-hit Systema-style “psychic” attacks/defenses (as in, “of the psyche”) that Chris wanted me to demonstrate, but I failed fairly epically at it–insofar as I think the students seemed fairly confused about why we were talking about it, and what was I talking about anyway? I had my doubts about teaching it at this time (the subject is not about some sort of magic or anything, but I felt that it may be a little bit esoteric for the class, when they had no context for it) so I may have actually ended up sabotaging myself. But through some good fortune it still morphed into a good discussion about tactics, strategy, and intention, with a discussion of why in modern sport fencing “right of way” is important to foil and sabre practice.

Finally, we got to “daggering,” and that part of the session also seemed all too short. But I’m actually okay with that, for now. I think as a class, they’re at a point where they are comfortable (though not expert, of course) with all the basics, and can start to practice with their mates on their own. As we sat in a circle at the end of class last time, most of the students had wanted more time with rolling, and wrestling, so that’s what we gave them. Concluding the class this time, more was made of wanting more actual weapon time, and perhaps introducing things beyond the dagger. So, we’ll see about that. Next time is definitely more dagger time, with more and more complex techniques, now that folks have basic movement patterns down and comfort with contact.

As it seems interest is still keen, we’re trying to work in another session soon, some weekend when most of the same participants can be around. Fall break, holidays, and heavy class-loads all make it an adventure to find a weekend available to most people.

So–hopefully I can be around for the next one. It’s an honor to help train these students, and a lot fun, and it’s good training for me, too. I’m just glad I’ve been physically training in both the arts and in fitness all these years, so that I can be a good and credible instructor for folks literally more than twenty years (25, in most cases) my junior. Fireman’s lifting and throwing the largest guy (6’5″ or so) in the class can be a real respect/attention-getter… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers.

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Today’s workout was all about the Tabata Protocol as applied to kettlebells.

Started off warming up with a few LCCJ with the 24 kg bells, then went right into the Tabata interval sets with the 16 kg. Very simple: 20 seconds snatch as quick as you can, left hand, 10 seconds break, 20 seconds snatch right hand, 10 second break, 20 seconds snatch left hand, and so on.

Eight rounds total snatches, which meant four rounds each arm and four minutes total. After a little break, I did the same thing for eight rounds with the jerk (which sort of morphed into an explosive push press because of timing). Then cool down and stretching.

Felt pretty good, and I definitely felt I earned my dinner of steak and veggies, with kefir as dessert.

Earlier today, my neighbor James and I headed off to parts known and unkown on the bikes–beautiful day for a ride, though the air seemed a bit chilly. Introduced him to “saltfish” for brekkies.

Friday night was an interesting experimental night with the longswords. I’ve been coaching the roommate a little in Systema practices, including some knife work. So for longsword practice we used some of the same training techniques involving putting the point on the body and using it to push the body. Good stuff.

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Friday’s fencing class was a most interesting one. Not the usual breathing-heavy sweat-fest we’ve been doing in the rapier session. Rather, Coach Darren Di Battista was finally able to make his appearance and we had a two-hour rapier-only session.

Good stuff. Darren is quite knowledgeable and precise, yet informal and engaging in instruction. He definitely engages it as a martial science, and competently explains the reasoning behind each portion of technique.

I’m certainly looking forward to more instruction from him. And heck, he’s just a good guy, too. It looks like he will be doing more classes down in the Fredericksburg area, so that should afford him some more students when Mary Wash is back in session.

As I said, it wasn’t a sweat-fest, but holding the particular en garde position from Capo Ferro was somewhat taxing on the rear leg (which holds approximately 80% of the body weight for most of the time). So some practice time holding the guard is in order…

I did get some time for unarmed practice after class with one of the younger students, Trey (sp?). We did a little aikido and systema after he had some questions about them. That was good.

Afterward, Coach Chris and I hopped over to Denny’s for some late night grub. I hadn’t eaten much after breakfast/lunch, so it was time.

And since the practice itself wasn’t super-taxing, I’m glad I got in a hearty kettlebell practice session on Thursday.

For that PT, I repeated the simple routine I had done a week earlier, albeit with some mods.

Again, I did timed interval sets, starting with jerks, then went to snatches, then long cycle clean and jerks (LCCJ).

What I changed was the time intervals; one minute for each. So it looked like:

– One minute each arm, Jerks
– One minute rest set
– One minute each arm, Snatches
– One minute rest set
– One minute each arm, LCCJ
– One minute rest set

Rinse and repeat. I went through it three times. I definitely felt it, especially in the forearms. After the second time through, I thought I wouldn’t be able to hold on to the bell (24kg), but each time I grabbed it, the minute rest set was enough, and just barely enough, to recover for the next lift set. I think I could’ve done a couple of more cycles through, but time was getting on, and I didn’t want to go too long and too late.

If you do the math, that’s (2x2x2)x3 which comes out to 18 full minutes time under tension–time actually with the bell off the ground in some way with my body holding it up. I didn’t count reps, right now I’m just counting time under tension (TUT). I’ll get to counting reps again, later.

The total time under rest is 3×3, or nine minutes, of course. So that’s a workout of about 27 minutes, not counting cool-down and stretching afterwards. I guess I could’ve gone longer; my threshold I tend to keep is 45 minutes; in normal training mode, if I hit 45 minutes, I just stop whatever I’m doing. That is to make sure I haven’t exhausted recovery hormones like testosterone and such. Especially since I don’t do exogenous hormones (steroids).

Obviously, that’s for high-impact, high-intensity stuff. Hiking around the hills, or playing at the beach, I’m not going to just stop at 45, and be done for the day.

I brought my baby bell, Peta (16kg) back from work, where she was living. I just wanted to have the smaller bell to play with when I wasn’t feeling the two bigger ones, and to have around to other people that may want to train here. I’m getting a roommate again, after a year, and we are leaving the training room as the training room, and he will be welcome to use the bells and has shown some interest. But he isn’t really ready for the bigger ones–yet. So Peta is back with us and eager to train. ๐Ÿ™‚

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