Core Training and Martial Arts

I have been training in Martial Arts for about five years in Uechi Ryu or Pang Gai Noon. This is not considered a popular style in the United States probably for the fact that it is a traditional style that requires body conditioning that probably looks a little insane to the average person. Uechi Ryu  requires receiving body shots (lets face it,in a fight nobody gets away without taking a hit) and then moving into attacks. For this reason a type of Iron Shirt Kung Fu, or Iron Body, Depending on your history, is practiced. This practice means that there is a lot of focus on core strength. This focus is essential in the ability to refocus the attack back to the attacker. (See Qi Gong)


The reason I’m writing this is My beautiful wife has lost her mind and decided to start training in Uechi Ryu also. Before she begins her training next week, she asked me about a month ago if there was anything she could do to get ready for training and the only thing I said was core strength and diet. So she began a light training regimen of crunches and leg lifts to help build her core muscles and a diet high in vegetables and a small amount of meat protein to build muscle and lose fat around her abdomen. Immediately she saw results in weight loss and core strength. Two weeks into the program she had lost 15 Lbs. and had increased her core workout to include a variety of exercises that included her arms, shoulders and legs. Over the last several weeks I introduced her to the heavy bag hanging in the garage.

heavy bag 2.JPGShe took to it like a fish to water and enjoyed hitting the bag with a combination of kicks and punches. The work out on the bag is intense and although it only lasts for fifteen minutes it will leave you drenched in sweat. Over the next few weeks she combined her core exercises  with the bag work and lost an additional 10 lbs, hit her goal weight, and you can now see her abs.

I know the bi weekly work outs will be tough but when I started I didn’t prepare and the first six months were an ass kicking experience. Hopefully the preparation my wife has done will make it easier for her in the beginning. If you are considering a new exercise regimen make sure you set realistic goals-nothing will  keep you from moving forward faster than setting unrealistic goals. Remember, it will take time. Patience and focus will carry you through the times when you feel like you aren’t making progress. Trust me, when you start to see a difference in the way your clothes fit, it will help drive you forward. Treat yourself to a gift when you reach your goals. I find new clothes are a great gift-enjoy your new self and keep your passion alive.  And remember, all the exercise will not do anything for you if you don’t change your diet. Diet is 80% of the equation! Please read my articles on proper diet.



Back and neck pain.

I have touched on my struggle with back and neck pain and I am ready to say “I am pain free”. Yes I am pain free for the first time in 30 years. For the last three years I have been working towards a goal of pain free, medicine free health. Well I was able to achieve a success in some measure due to a very simple belief that my body could repair itself to some degree if given the proper care and nutrients. Now there isn’t any easy path, or quick fix, or miracle drug. They don’t exist! The real key is steady growth and constant care of your body and mind to achieve your optimum capacity for health. Some of you have read my post on back pain and exercises to alleviate some of the pain. I have also touched on the importance of diet in the equation for better health, also you have to stay positive mentally with your goal always in sight,  and the final ingredient is staying active.  You have to stay moving in a positive direction as much as possible.

In this article I am going to touch on a little bit of each aspect. I am going to go old school and quote a little Hippocrates.


Excess in any aspect of your life is never a good thing. To achieve my goals I had to remove anything that was taking to much of my life and find a balance. I also had to address the issue of food and nutrients. A well balanced diet is the key to giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Don’t waste your money on some nutrient rich supplement when you can actually eat food that is good for you and lose weight at the same time.

Exercise: I have talked about finding an activity that will keep you active and flexible for about four hours a week. I chose Martial Arts, but Yoga, Dance, anything that will keep you moving and active is a plus.

images (1)

Focused exercises on the area of injury are also a must. You have to work the area of damage in order to activate the bodies repair mechanism and build a stronger guard against further damage.

Keeping a positive attitude during this process is as important as diet and exercise. When you are stressed and depressed your body doesn’t produce the proper amount of chemicals to allow for nutrient absorption and muscle growth. Something as simple as just saying to yourself ” You can do this” is all it takes. Seems pretty easy, but can be the most difficult hurdle. See “Happiness and Letting Go”


It sounds strange but sometimes we can create or own disease. Yes through stress and poor lifestyle choices we can make ourselves physically ill. Make the choice to live a healthier happier life and you will find yourself making good positive choices and  living a pain free, drug free future like me.


“The Devil Is In The Details”

Some of you have read this blog before and know that I am a student of Uechi Ryu a Okinawan style of martial arts that is based on southern style Chinese boxing. As I go into my 52 years of age I am hoping to accomplish one of my lifetime goals, a black belt in martial arts. I am testing in May and I have all my requirements learned, now I’m fine tuning the small stuff. “The Devil is in the Details” one of the hardest things is the position of the body as you move through a set of attacks known as Kata. In the style we only have eight Kata, some styles have as many as fifty, so we really put a lot of time perfecting each Kata. Even the most basic Kata known as Sanchin is never perfected in ones lifetime.

That being said, learning this style can be a very humbling experience. But I am going to talk about transition in movement, and body position, not about my many failures in martial arts. Transition and body position is everything. The position of everything and every muscle from head to toe. (literally) I like to compare it to ballet, When a great ballet dancer moves through the performance the will seamlessly move from one position to the next making it appear effortless and stop and hold poses during the performance.


A martial artist will do the same thing focusing on foot position, hand position, center balance, head and neck position and even facial expression. You have to be very aware of every muscle of your body and how it moves, sets, and flexes. You don’t just throw a punch, every aspect of the movement from the chamber of the strike and core position to the extension of the strike and the finishing position of the body. as with anything in life over extension will leave you exposed and under extension will leave you short of your goal. Sounds like Sun-tzu in The Art of War but it is true in everything in life. Where I struggle is not anticipating the next move. Like a chess player I have to be patient between moves and not rush to begin the next move. You don’t want your attacker to know what your next move will be.


The other thing that I struggle with is shoulder and core position specifically my hips. Most people don’t realize or even care that all the power in a punch or kick doesn’t come from the limb involved but from the hips. That’s right the power of the punch comes from the hip and one of the hardest things to learn is whats called the hip twitch. By twitching your hip forward and back during the punch or kick can double the power transfer from your core to your hand or foot. Think of a Bull Whip and try to reproduce that quick whip-like motion. You will notice when your hip moves your arms will automatically move with with the hips.


The patience required to achieve these methods is beyond the average person, which is why so many people quit. I think it takes a certain type of crazy to want to dedicate ones self to the advance of martial arts. This may be why there are so few Americans that teach traditional martial arts. Most people ,unfortunately, give up learning and try to create or change the style and create their own style. The proliferation of the Mac Dojo here in the United States is saddening to any true martial artist. I can’t imagine anything worse than spending years and thousands of dollars on some made up martial art that has no place to go and no real use in a fight. But enough of that, the subject at hand is the details and the importance of these details in the application of the moves.



Is your core centered, are you balanced what is your hip and shoulder position, are your feet in proper position to move in the direction you need without compromising balance. these are my Great White Whale. But, I know, With hard work and determination I can get this down in about Five or Six years.