Fight Sciences Research Institute » Blog Fight smarter Sun, 19 Oct 2014 01:22:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This Old Guy Still Has Some Moves Sun, 19 Oct 2014 01:22:30 +0000

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Yes! Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:43:28 +0000

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Armor Sat, 11 Oct 2014 23:33:08 +0000

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Maybe It’s Not Just the Dark Alleyways… Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:07:20 +0000 Domestic Violence Map
Domestic Violence Map


From the Huffington Post.

Every year, the Violence Policy Center tracks which states have the highest rate of incidents in which one man kills one woman, a typical indicator of domestic homicide.


Related: Personal Defense Chat Room

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Frontline: 76 of 79 Deceased NFL Players Found to Have Brain Disease Thu, 02 Oct 2014 16:40:38 +0000

As the NFL nears an end to its long-running legal battle over concussions, new data from the nation’s largest brain bank focused on traumatic brain injury has found evidence of a degenerative brain disease in 76 of the 79 former players it’s examined.

The findings represent a more than twofold increase in the number of cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, that have been reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository in Bedford, Mass.


Related: Sports Science and Performance Chat Room

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Fall is Beautiful. Go Train Outside! Sun, 21 Sep 2014 19:20:45 +0000 Excellent advice from the Huffington Post.

Autumn is the best season for exploring the outdoors — hands down. With oppressive summer heat and humidity behind us, we’re delighting in only semi-drenching our workout gear on these cooler mornings and crisp evenings…


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Guilty Pleasure Wed, 10 Sep 2014 22:57:46 +0000 Sometimes all that’s good in the universe aligns perfectly.

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Rotator Cuff Injuries and Physical Therapy Podcast Sat, 06 Sep 2014 12:19:39 +0000 From Move Forward Radio

Listen to all of their excellent podcasts here.

Continue the discussion in the Injuries and Injury Prevention Chat Room.

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A Few Quick Postural and Stability Tools Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:24:22 +0000 A couple of simple ideas for checking posture and lateral stability:

1- Face a mirror. For a warm up, grab your jump rope, stand feet together, and begin swinging it in figure 8’s (on either side). Do 20, then stand on the right foot, repeat 20, then switch to the left, repeat 20. Is your torso swaying from side to side or rotating? Do your knees move from side to side or rotate on the vertical axis? Are your feet pronating with each swing, or toes pivoting off the center line? A quick frontline fix: brace your anterior core, and isometrically push outward (abduct) with your hips (your feet should not move). Once you can stay stable, with no lateral or rotational movement at the ankles, knees, hips, or spine, continue the figure 8 pattern, begin alternating feet, and then move into jumping rope when it feels right. Stop and “reset” as needed.        *This assumes adequate shoulder mobility.

2- Stand with a relaxed but tall posture. Don’t think about it and overcook it, just assume what you feel to be your normal good posture. Without moving, take your rope, fold it in half, and place the midpoint right at the tip of your chin. Don’t cheat, stay in your initial posture. Better yet, close your eyes and have a partner do this. If it dangles out several inches from your stomach, you likely have some degree of the Upper Crossed pattern of muscular imbalance (the upper and lower are rampant among martial artists- with some styles encouraging them more than others). If it rests totally flat on your belly and groin, you are likely demonstrating a Lower Crossed pattern. If it hangs right down the mid line, just touching your abdomen, you likely have a good, neutral posture.

If you can integrate and maintain the “neutral” patterns in both of these quick assessments, you will find that your jump rope ability becomes markedly more efficient, and lose the “T-Rex stomping in mud puddles” pattern that I see so often. Soft tissue work and targeted corrective exercise can also help, but sometimes these measures are not as effective until the individual has an opportunity to see the compensations in action.


3- People frequently include swings or unnecessary articulations out of the lumbar spine when performing standing weight exercises, especially overhead presses, curls, and upright rows. Often times it’s a mixture of poor lumbo-pelvic-hip complex proprioception and stability, with limited hip mobility, and a tendency to use too much weight too soon. They often swear that they’re not doing it, even as they do it, or just don’t care. A very simple but effective way of helping people notice these compensations is to have them perform the exercise in a tall kneeling position. Ensure that there is enough clearance for the weight to move (in the case of the curl or row), and then perform as normal. Be prepared to spot behind the person, as a loss of balance to the rear may occur. To help the person notice lateral stability issues, perform the exercises in a split-kneeling position (a lunge, back knee resting on the floor), and watch for swaying from side to side. Ideally, have the person perform these in front of a mirror, so they can both see and feel the compensations occurring.  If they occur in these situations, they are also likely occurring during execution of martial art techniques, such as strikes.

Continue the discussion in the Sports Science and Performance Chat Room. 

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Bound for the Floor, 8b Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:53:02 +0000 Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble/Ancient footprints are everywhere- Bob Dylan

After 30 minutes or so, the official called my name for round two. A few of the matches during the interval had been impressive, notably the running battle between my first opponent and the one that I would face next. They went the full 5 minutes, each being unable to secure a clean throw or osaekomi, both putting in an impressive effort. At the midpoint of the match, my first opponent wore a look on his face that bespoke a mixture of exhaustion, pain and uncertainty. Somehow, his opponent opened up a large cut along his jawline, likely as a result of a scramble for a high grip. After being taped up, he returned to the mat to prevail over his opponent. I had not stopped moving since the end of my first match, and I was practically vibrating with readiness.

As with the first match, I had a weight advantage on my opponent, and the advantage of having watched him in his previous bout. At the ref’s command, I jogged across the mat and got my grips, high on the collar and elbow, and went immediately for o soto gari. He stepped quickly around and I transitioned into an uchi mata attempt, backing out when I felt him drop his base. He entered for a seoi nage, and I stepped to his side for an attempt at tani otoshi. He began to fall, so I sat down and took him to the mat, knowing that the throw wouldn’t be clean enough for ippon.

As soon as we were down, I turned into him and locked down kesa gatame, keeping my head over top of my base knee and resting the weight of my upper body on his chest as I shot my hand around the back of his neck to grip my own pants leg. His arm flailed as I pressed it into my side, and I considered going for an armbar submission with my top leg, but decided against it. In the craze for submissions, superior positions can get lost, and a superior position will win just as surely as an armbar or garame technique. I also wanted to test my hold-down technique, which I had been sharpening intensively in preparation for this tournament. I settled in and waited for the ref’s count to begin. 25 seconds can be a long time, and the deceptively simple task of keeping the opponent on the mat requires one to be both patient and prepared to adjust to another position if necessary. Somewhere around the 10 count, my opponent stopped struggling, and then did what I had been told would never happen- he tapped out, ending the match. Maybe he was still winded from his earlier match, or maybe it was the difficulty of getting in a full breath with my weight pressing into his sternum.

I helped him to his feet and we shook hands before the ref could begin giving his commands. On the way back to the edge of the mat, I realized that the tournament was almost over, and that my division was played out. It was done, but several of us were not ready for it to be over. Just moments later, the officials lined us up for awards. My teammate placed in both of the divisions that he fought in, and I placed second in mine. I’m not usually one for awards and medals, but there was a definite satisfaction in showing up as complete underdogs, relative unknowns, and winning our club places in three divisions. We did what we had set out to do, and did it pretty damn well considering the difficulties along the path. As the crew began tearing the mats down, my daughter came scrambling out with an exuberant holler. I grabbed her and dropped into a few quick tomoe nage, which she loves. I put the medal around her and changed clothes, then my coach and I headed back to his house for a few celebratory beers.

By all measures, the day was a success. My teammate and I made an excellent showing at our first tournament, and I learned as much in those two matches as I had in the months of preparation for them. We mused on the relative merits of martial arts that include a shiai (competitive match) component, and those that don’t, and the quirks of explaining the appeal to the rest of the civilized world that obsesses over chasing balls around fields instead. After a while, he got out a box full of old tsuba, Japanese sword guards. This was part of an impressive collection of antique Japanese art and artifacts collected by generations of his family. Some were very plain and pragmatic, some quite intricate, some possibly hundreds of years old. A few bore the telling marks of workmanship, while others looked as smooth as something that might have been grown rather than hewn. They had all been cared for by various people over the decades, surviving the transition from their use as part of a weapon to pieces of art. I thought of some finely polished volcanic glass beads that a Bribri Indian elder in Costa Rica showed me, likely far older than European colonization, and of a perfect arrowhead that I recently found on my property. When you touch things like this, the Bribri told me, you are shaking hands with the person who made them. A martial art can be like that. The same throw or strike may show up on the walls at Angkor Wat or on a piece of Roman pottery, and when you practice it, it lives and breathes again. But instead of finding them, you have to find other people who can help you put them into motion.

It reminded me of a similar moment from several years prior, standing in the St. Louis Botanical Gardens with our own Bob Miller. FSRI (then TKRI) used to do the karate demonstrations for the Gardens’ Japanese Festival, one of the largest such events in the nation. I had the pleasure of being involved from 2003-2010. The weekend of the festival demonstrations was always a pretty incredible tightrope walk. A couple of us would trek out from Virginia with our part of the demo material, and not long after arriving, begin learning the Missouri group’s material. Throughout back-to-back practices and the actual live demos themselves, we racked up dozens upon dozens of high-speed impacts on bare ground, and strikes that landed progressively harder as we gelled; these hard hours were followed by plenty of celebrating, and the whole thing was repeated again on the next day.

Our performances in front of the festival audience always brought a combination of awed murmurs, hushed silence, and disbelief that has likely been absent since our group stopped demonstrating at the event. The other martial arts groups in attendance tended to ignore us, like a dog that is suddenly turned on by the deer that it was chasing, and some made it known that we were an oddity that did not conform to their dichotomy of Budo and Bujutsu. We were not doing the karate that people took their kids to for daycare, or the kind that people have grown accustomed to laughing off as more or less useless. It was beautifully rugged and predatorily efficient, and in retrospect, offered the potential for catastrophic injury, but we pulled it off with consummate skill. Those were great times. And they existed because we all cared enough to make them happen.

After one such bruising demonstration under the early September sun, Bob and I went in search of the food area, which featured almost magically refreshing green tea smoothies. We arrived amidst the yakitori and sushi booths, and then Bob made a hard line for the sake booth. This wasn’t what we had come for, but it felt right. Bob bought us a round, served in little clear plastic cups, and took his down in one gulp. I followed suit, then bought a second round. Bob bought another. The physical and mental stress of the demos, the heat, and the sake all contributed to the kind of rapid onset buzz that leaves one suddenly very focused on staying upright. He suggested that we visit the indoor exhibition to catch a break from the heat, and take in the bonsai display.

I had seen the bonsai in previous years, but they did not particularly grab my attention. On this trip however, we scrutinized many of the older ones very carefully, walking from exhibit to exhibit and finishing our sake. A little placard next to each tree detailed its age and a list of past caretakers, with some being well more than a hundred years old. After a while, Bob spoke up, in his characteristically understated way. “A person had to start each one, and then keep it going. Some of these have outlasted several human life spans.” I suddenly grasped the unseen histories attached to each tree in front of us: people with different lives and struggles, yet all still linked by their relationship to a particular tree. “The only reason that we’re looking at them now is because someone found time every day to care for them.” That has resounded in my mind many times since over the years.

As my coach and I drank cold Modelos, I wondered over the histories of the tsuba, I reflected on the day. Barely a year prior, I got back into Judo to fill some holes in my skill set as a martial artist, and resume an activity that was my entrance into what has become a (thus far) lifetime pursuit of training. I entered the tournament to push myself past my comfort zone and to evaluate my progress in a live setting. I was happy with the results, and had new challenges ahead of me, based on my performance (like getting down to serious work on developing a reflexive knowledge of which grips afford which throws). Across the preparations leading up the tournament, my ground work improved markedly, both in aggressiveness and in a fluidity of going with pressure rather than against it. I finally had a chance to put my MA conditioning models to use under pressure, and see them work to great advantage. The tournament experience has given me the perspective to see that despite a frustrating lack of training partners outside of Judo, I am becoming a better martial artist by facing my inadequacies, rather than insulating myself against the chance of failure, or some perceived loss of status. All paths may eventually lead up the mountain, but they can also lead right back down. The only solution is to keep climbing, and understand that being there for it is the secret that so often goes unappreciated.

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