Monday, August 31, 2009

My Training

I went through a little funk after a friend of mine died earlier this year and I got a little out of shape; however, I've been back on track for a little while now and I've been enjoying the little aches and pains and soreness that comes with training.

I have completely switched to doing Anime Training workouts. I'll continue to post more workouts as we get deeper into each anime, so there will be more and more to pick from. Gonna post Hajime no Ippo- Part III tomorrow, so be ready for that.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to go ahead and post the workouts that I've made for each anime (even if we aren't exactly there yet), just so you guys can have some variety and then we'll keep the Training Manuals separate from the workouts. If you have an opinion, leave a comment and (while you're at it) go ahead and click the "Follow" button on the side over there or subscribe, if you like! :D

See ya tomorrow. Good luck and train hard!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

GRAPPLER BAKI- PART XI

Who's An Adrenaline Junkie?

Chances are you've heard of the lady who lifted the car off her child out of sheer force of will. This limit-breaking ability is due to the flow of epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline. Adrenaline release is a part of "fight or flight" response in humans, preparing us to either meet a threat head on or escape it in some way. The increase in strength or performance for humans during an "adrenaline rush" has not been entirely fleshed out. Needless to say, in some rare cases adrenaline has prompted human beings to perform feats just short of miraculous, but sometimes at the cost of their own well-being.

In this episode of Grappler Baki, we are introduced to a man taken to the absolute brink of death, his adrenaline pumping so hard that his hair falls out, but is saved by his comrades at the last second. In this extremely rare occasion, the soldier's body remembered the feeling of the adrenaline and, in dangerous situations, a second personality would take over, fueled by adrenaline, turning the man into a superman named Gaia.

Nomura, the soldier Baki easily defeated, unburies himself and rises to meet the young Hanma in one-on-one combat as this super soldier. Baki is generally outclassed by Gaia because the adrenaline has pushed his senses and reflexes to superhuman levels. This continues for a while, until Gaia decides to give Baki a little critique on the punishment he's been dishing out to his body through training. He tells Baki that his body will not listen to him because he has abused it using "unnatural" training methods for so long. Gaia says that training in such a fashion is not needed, because all he needs to do become stronger is to increase the flow of adrenaline in his body to meet the need. Baki is stunned, to say the least.

Baki's Body Answers

Once Baki stops thinking about how he is going to defeat Gaia, his body automatically begins to respond to Gaia's attacks. The techniques Baki has practiced thousands of times come to his aid without thought. Muscle memory allows a human being to perform an action not only more efficiently than someone who has never trained at that action, but also (if trained enough) to respond to a stimulus without thought. This is the reason why martial artists, athletes, and anyone who wants to be good at anything have to practice. Tens of thousands of punches and kicks, hours of drilling throws and submissions against live opponents-- without practicing the techniques, they do not become second nature and, in a fight or playing a sport, if you have to think about what you're going to do before you do it, it's probably already too late.

Gaia pulls out his trump card: Environmental Weapons. He claims that anything and everything in the environment is his weapon. As an example, he uses a blade of grass as a knife and then wraps a vine around Baki's neck, hanging him from a tree (with Gaia dangling off his back!). Baki's body answers again with the power to break the very branch the vine was curled around. Baki then says that while Gaia has been pampering his body with adrenaline and then resorting to weapons, he has crafted a body that has no need for such things and a mind that is full of ways to beat another human being in combat. To prove it as such, he simply walks up the shocked Gaia and places both his thumbs and forefingers on the veins in his neck, forcing him to pass out. When he awakes, he admits his defeat and the soldiers invite Baki to stay for dinner.

The majority of the episode was fighting, so there's not a whole lot of training, but I would like to pose a few tasks for you to try:
  • Stand at least waist deep in an in-ground pool and try to jump onto the dry land. It's ridiculously hard. If you can do that, good job! Now try stomach deep. Chest deep? Neck deep? If you can do it from neck deep, you're a monster. It's not necessarily a workout, but you can supplement your normal training by practicing this feat once or twice a week for about twenty or thirty minutes. Believe me, you'll be tired enough after just that.
  • Make a commitment to pick one technique that you know and practice it like wildfire for 1 week. Practice your other techniques too, but supplement your training with an extra 100 reps a day or so of a technique. Perhaps one you're having trouble with? Also, remember to do both the left and the right sides.
  • If you've never sparred hard before, find a friend you trust or ask your martial arts instructor to have a hard sparring class. You need to know what that flood of adrenaline feels like and the things it will do to your body. Just reading about it isn't enough to prepare you for it. Some people just freeze up or pass out. You need to find out where you stand before it's a real "fight or flight" scenario.
That's all for this installment of the Grappler Baki Training Manual. Good luck and train hard!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi- Part I

If you want to see a show with awesome action and amazing humor, History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi is definitely for you. (It's called Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple in the American dub; however, I am more fond of the other name, so that is how I will refer to it.) The story follows Shirahama Kenichi, a generally unimpressive high schooler on his martial arts journey. (I am hesitant to call it a "quest," because he is pretty much thrown into the martial arts world.)

The story begins with a chance meeting between Kenichi and a girl named Miu, when she sends him flying for walking up behind her. The two make it to school late, due to a little run-in with the river, and end up standing in the hall. After school, Kenichi goes to the Karate Club, where he doesn't so much learn as get beat up the entire time. To add insult to injury, the senior students make Kenichi clean the dojo after class. When Kenichi tries to hit one of the sandbags, Daimonji, another 1st year student (and total meathead) bullies him and challenges him to a fight the following week. The stipulation: the loser must quit the Karate Club forever. It's been a bad day for Shirahama Kenichi.

On his way home, the young Kenichi witnesses Miu standing up for an old man being threatened by some thugs. He attempts to help her, but fails miserably. However, Miu demolishes the gang of thugs with relative ease.

If you are in a situation where a weak or timid person is being bullied or abused, you should do something about it. If at all possible, appeal to someone in authority to handle it. However, if that is not an option, be prepared to verbally stand up for that person. Sometimes, that is enough. However, if it comes to it, and the person doing the abuse decides to make it physical, by all means, defend yourself and that other person to the best of your ability. Never just go looking for a fight-- it's dumb. That leads into something Miu said to Kenichi.

Martial Arts Are Not Only for the Strong

Martial Arts are, at their base, the means to most efficiently defeat your opponent, stop an altercation, or defend yourself. This means, if a fight can be avoided or a situation resolved peacefully, it is preferable to the alternative of violence. This is not only morality, but about survival, efficient use of your energy, and the well being of yourself and those around you. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" Martial Arts were invented by weaker men to defeat stronger men. It's out of necessity-- a need for survival. Martial Arts are not only for the strong.

In any case, off my soapbox. Miu then tells Kenichi that if he wants to be strong, he can go to a certain place. (In the manga, he doesn't go until after the fight with Daimonji.)

The Place Where Heroes Gather

Kenichi follows a very complex map to a place called the "Ryouzanpaku." He is greeted by a very large man, who tells him that this is a place for martial artists who have mastered their particular art or who have grown to dislike the sports-oriented world of martial arts. Here we have a Muay Thai fighter, a Karate Master, a Kung Fu Master, a Master of Weapons, a Jujitsu Master, and the Elder. Miu reveals that this is her home and that Furinji Hayato is her Grandfather. This is pretty much the end of episode 1.

I am an advocate of learning as much about combat as possible and not being limited to a style, per se. That being said, I don't judge anyone for being a "one style" martial artist. If you are a karateka, a judoka, a kung fu practitioner, a kickboxer, a fencer, a boxer, a ballet dancer-- ok, maybe not a ballet dancer-- whatever you are, be the best that you can be in that style. You must also, though, be aware that doing so may leave you weak in other areas, but it is your job as a "one style" martial artist to overcome the challenges in an inherent weakness in your style versus another style. It's another way for all of us to learn.

Not a whole lot of training in this edition guys, but there's a lot more training and workouts headed your way from History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi. Good luck and train hard!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hajime no Ippo- Part II

Ippo is successful at catching the ten leaves and Takamura gives him a training schedule to follow for a month: push-ups, sit-ups, and running. Ippo works hard during this time and, at month's end, Takamura introduces Ippo to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym. Coach Kamogawa is a little reluctant about allowing Ippo to train at the gym, despite Takamura's recommendation. They yell a little bit, but set up a sparring match to test the newbie. Ippo's opponent-- boxing prodigy, Miyata Ichiro.

The First Spar

The fight is three, three minute rounds with a three down limit, which means that the fighter who falls three times during a round loses. Takamura tells Ippo that he is to cover up for the first round, in a plan called "Operation Turtle." Ippo is pushed hard, with Miyata pounding his fists into Ippo's midsection so that he drops his guard. Once that happens, he goes straight for the head. Ippo is fighting an opponent that is more skilled and more experienced than him. It would be a long road to travel in order for Ippo to win in this scenario. However, I think it is necessary to always use an opportunity to spar with an opponent more skilled, experienced, or powerful than yourself, so that you may bring yourself to a higher level.

The second lesson we can take from the first round of this sparring match is to listen to your corner or your coaches if they are available to you during a sparring match or fight. They are there to help you and they can see things you cannot.

During the second round, Ippo begins with the technique he acquired from the ten leaves training: the jab. The jab, if you'll remember, is the most basic and fundamental technique in boxing. Ippo lets loose a flurry of jabs, but Miyata dodges them easily. Takamura tells him to throw the right, but Ippo swings wildly, falling to the mat. Takamura reminds him of the right straight, and Ippo let's it fly after another volley of jabs, smashing through Miyata's guard. However, Miyata dodges and attempts to return fire, but the bell rings, ending round two.

Ippo starts round three off by moving in slowly and throwing several 1-2 punches. Miyata pops Ippo on the chin to show that strength isn't the only way to box. Ippo goes down, but he manages to get up by hitting his own legs until they work again. Miyata lays a beating on Ippo for the remainder of the round, forcing Ippo to throw his right straight; however, Miyata throws a counter. Countering means hitting your opponent just as he is attacking, using the force of his own momentum against him. It's a high-level skill that requires timing, speed, and a hell of a lot of courage. If you mess up the counter, your momentum gets added onto your opponents attack. This attack ends Ippo's sparring match with Miyata. Ippo wakes up a little while later, disappointed, but happy to hear that he passed the test. Miyata washes up in the bathroom, dwelling on how interesting boxing has just gotten.

Ippo heads home and gets a well-deserved rest.

Some Key Points:
  • Find sparring opponents (in whatever style you take) who are better than you in some way.
  • Don't forget the fundamentals. The fundamentals, if mastered, will make you a great fighter.
  • Technical skill, when added to power, creates a dangerous combination in a fighter.
  • Getting hit in weak points, like the chin or the groin, will cause extra damage, so remember to keep them protected.

Until next time! Have fun, and train hard!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ippo's Basic Training

This workout is based on the training Takamura prescribed for Ippo before introducing him at Kamogawa Boxing Gym.

1. Push-ups-  Max Reps
2. Sit-ups-  Max Reps  
---- 5 Rounds 
3. Then, Run 3 Miles

You should alternate the Push-ups and Sit-ups for 5 rounds, and then start your run.  Remember to warm-up and stretch before starting your workout.  Do the run at your own pace and try to keep the same pace the whole time for this particular workout.  If you are unable to run 3 miles, run as far as you can and walk the rest of the way.  

This is pretty simple, but still effective.

Have fun.  Good luck, and train hard!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

GRAPPLER BAKI- PART X

Strydum has Baki parachute into the area where there are five men, who are responsible for the defeat of several platoons of the Japanese Defense Forces.  His landing is a little rough, but thanks to his parachute, some trees breaking his fall, and Baki's excellent reflexes and gymnastics, it all works out.  Once he lands, he attempts to find his targets by wandering around. Unfortunately, in battlefield combat, being seen is probably one of the less favorable things that can happen to you.  This is essentially because of...

Surprise Attacks

Military combat isn't generally about pride or honor or what have you.  It's about completing a mission in the most efficient and timely manner and, oftentimes, that mission involves killing other human beings. If you are in a situation where you are going into enemy territory, be it a warzone, a gang-infested neighborhood, or even a schoolyard full of bullies, be prepared for an attack at any time.  That means while eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and even sleeping.  You must be on your guard at all times in these situations, because if you aren't, you may be dealt an incapacitating or killing blow before you know what's going on.
Baki is forced to deal with a similar issue, as a man inside a tree tries to kill him.  Baki manages to fare well against him and eventually wins, but not before the guy pulls a knife. Knives are quick, efficient, and deadly.  If a guy is good-- really good-- with a knife, you will probably be in a lot of trouble.  Here are some things to think about when fighting someone armed with a weapon, especially a close quarters weapon.

Fighting Unarmed Against an Armed Opponent

If you find yourself up against a guy with a weapon, stay calm.  If you start panicking and only thinking about the weapon, you're not likely to do well.  If you are unable to escape the situation or do not wish to, then your first course of action is to keep your distance.  If you close in on his range, you are looking for a "grab and stab."  You might be strong, but if a guy grabs onto your clothing and shoves a knife at you in a second or less, you won't have much in the way of defense and you can't guarantee you will wrench free of his grasp.  Whatever you decide to do, it must be done immediately, with full resolve, full power, and no remorse. Remember, once a weapon is involved, your primary goal is survival.  If you have to fight unarmed against an armed opponent, be ready to kill your opponent the moment the opportunity arises-- jam a finger is his eye, punch the throat, find something to throw.  
Here are some resources for you:

After beating this guy, Baki runs into a big guy.  Baki fakes drowning in the lake, and manages to grab a choke on the soldier.  Two down, three to go.  He takes another one out while the soldier is urinating.  The final two team up to fight him, but he takes them down as well.  Something must be said about all of this-- it is almost 100% certain that in a real life combat scenario, the attacks thrown at you will come from out of nowhere and they will do so in a flash.  Your reflexes will have to be top notch to survive, but, more than that, you'll be better off avoiding these places altogether.  
Finally, after Baki thinks he's won, Nomura begins to freak out, rocking back and forth in one of the holes Baki has buried to soldiers in.  It seems it's not over for the young Hanma boy.

Until next time, good luck and train hard!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baki's Trainer Workout

This workout is based on Baki's training with his trainers in the first episode. It's only three exercises, but it's done in a circuit and there is very little rest.

Alternating Biceps Curls- 1 Minute
Sit-ups- 1 Minute
Sprint- 1 Minute
Walk- 1 Minute

3-5 Rounds, depending on your level of fitness.

Pointers:
  • For the Biceps Curls, make sure to keep your elbows at your side and bring one weight up at a time. Pick a weight that you can normally get about 12-15 reps.
  • For the Sit-ups, if you have a decline bench, make use of it. However, sit-ups on the ground are acceptable. Do them quickly, but don't sacrifice form for speed. Keep your arms crossed over your chest or your fingers lightly touching your ears.
  • Sprints can be done on a treadmill, a football field, or a hill. If you are not used to sprints, work your way from flat ground to an incline. Try to push yourself for the whole minute. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!
  • While walking, raise your arms over your head and breathe slowly and deeply. This will lessen the "dead space" in your lungs, allowing you to absorb more oxygen. You'll need it.
  • Don't start with 5 rounds if you are not already in shape. If you are in shape, give 3 rounds and try and see what that's like.
EXTRA CREDIT: Baki goes ballistic!
After your workout, if you are still remotely functional, end with 3 minutes of all out shadowboxing (or shadow kickboxing).

Good luck and train hard!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Naruto Training Manual- Part I

The Naruto Training Manual is going to go in a different direction than the other training manuals. The posts are going to be separated by characters or situations, instead of the recent plot-based manual. First things first, we're going to start with ninjas in general. In Naruto, there is a lot of time taken up by running, jumping, and maneuvering around obstacles. There are a lot of modern day athletes (most of them amateurs) that do this all the time. Call them parkourists, freerunners, or just plain crazy, these hardcore athletes do some amazing feats.

The tricks and feats are dangerous and, I just wanna go ahead and say that you shouldn't try them at home! If you do, please go slowly and learn as much about each thing before you attempt it. You can actually do the following training without any flips or crazy things, but it just makes it harder if you do it that way.

Naruto Ninja Movement

Run a 2 mile course or for 20 minutes. Run in as straight a line as possible, traversing the obstacles in your path as quickly as you can. This will require running, jumping, climbing, swinging, and possibly crawling and swimming. Of course, some obstacles will be impassable, but try before you give up. Be careful and, if something looks too dangerous, skip it or go around.

Until next time, train hard.

PS- If you don't know what parkour or free running is-- GOOGLE IT!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hajime no Ippo- Part I

Hajime no Ippo is the boxing manga/anime.  It's been around for like 20 years and has a massive amount of training and fighting information imbedded in it.  Also, the series is hilarious and I urge everyone to either read the manga or watch the anime.  The story follows the rise of a bullied kid named Makunouchi Ippo, who inadvertently comes across a professional boxer and is introduced into the fast-paced, hard-hitting world of boxing.  

I will attempt to catalogue the training methods and fighting styles within Ippo and formulate workouts based on what is in the series.  Here's the First Step.

Catching the Leaves

After Takamura Mamoru saves Ippo from a group of bullies, he takes him back to the boxing gym, let's him hit the heavy bag (with astounding results), and lends him a video of Mike Tyson's fights.  Ippo then decides he wishes to be "reborn," like Tyson was and wants to be a pro boxer.  However, when he tells Takamura his intentions, he is met with irritation from the veteran, but is given a task to complete.

Takamura walks over and kicks and tree, causing a bunch of leaves to fall about him.  He punches rapidly, revealing two handfuls of leaves.  He tells Ippo that if he can catch ten leaves within a week, he will help him become a boxer.  With that, he leaves the 16-year old boy, believing he has left him with a task too daunting to complete.

It takes him the entire week, but he manages to catch ten leaves before the appointed time, much to the surprise of Takamura, who not only expected him to give up, but also only wanted him to catch ten leaves using both hands instead of just one.  He agrees to help Ippo and takes him back to the gym.  This trial taught Ippo the bread portion of the bread and butter of boxing (i.e.- the 1 for the 1-2 combination): the jab.

The Jab

The jab is the most basic punch in boxing.  The jab is performed with the lead hand, which is normally the non-dominant hand.  The extension of the jab is from the shoulder and it is a quick, snappy punch.  Proper execution requires the body and arm to be in a state of "relaxed tension," wherein the muscles are slightly tensed in order to create the speed necessary for the strike.  The hand moves first, followed by the rest of the arm, the shoulder, and (sometimes) the hips (to put more weight into the punch).  The jab is used primarily to gauge distance and as a set-up for other strikes.  It is also used to wear the opponent down over a longer period of time.

To mimic the type of training in "Catching the Leaves" you can, depending on the season, catch falling leaves, things flowing in the wind, snatch flies out of the air (that's a little gross). A partner can throw a series of small bean bags, tennis balls, or small rocks to assist in your training.  Jabbing is about speed and precision and that is what snatching leaves, rocks, tennis balls, bugs, flowers or whatever out of the air is to help develop.

An alternate training, if you don't constantly want to rob a poor tree of its leaves, is merely to practice jabbing in the air.  You can even imagine that you are catching leave.  Take 10-15 and just practice the jab.  You can even switch sides and try the jab with your dominant hand.

That's all for now.  There's a LOT of stuff to come from Hajime no Ippo, because it's been around for a long, long time.  Until next time, train hard!

Jab, jab, jab...