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5 Sparring Tips to Kick Start your Sparring!

sparring01Sparring is perhaps one of the most challenging experiences in the sporting world. Like in all sports, there are many factors that contribute to the difference between an expert and a novice, however with kickboxing there are so many applications to consider it can quickly become a very overwhelming experience. Here are 5 pointers from an array of top coaches that help to shed some insight on sparring, and give the mental fortitude to push your goals even further!

Focus on leading the attack, not indirectly countering!
In other words, the hesitant nature of a beginner (whether they know it or not) will often coerce them to have to counter! This is a BAD idea! Countering is tough, and a lot of beginners don’t realize they’re attempting such an advanced art! According to trainer Joe Lewis, countering is about knowing the “attack” of the opponent, understanding the distance/timing of the attack, and the type of counter required. If you don’t know all three, it’s important to just work on executing attack combinations!

Don’t let your opponent beat you to the draw!
Often you’ll hear an instructor pushing you to form fight as fast as possible! Why? Because with the incentive to push yourself physically you’ll open possibilities in sparring you wouldn’t notice at a slower pace! It doesn’t matter who you are even your area of discipline in martial arts. A lot of coaches encourage you to take the initiative and set the pace!

Make sure you’re not standing square!
This means shoulders will be left open giving your opponent ample opportunity to strike you and infringe your balance. Which leads to the next point: your technique will be limited as you wont be able to rotate your hips and generate power in your strikes! If in doubt, just keep it simple and remember the basics. Keep the back heel up and make sure your stance allows you to twist your hips.

Keep your feet under your punches!
This is all to do with not overreaching with the reverse punch, which will only impede your flow and hurt your balance. Not to mention the “hang time” of leaving your right arm out stretched, rendering you incapable of following up with a roundhouse kick or attack combination.

Keep moving!
As Georges St-Pierre said, “standing still is never a good option. Not in the ring, and not in life outside the octagon either. When you stop moving, you’re done.”
Make the most of your space and build your footwork. This will develop the mind-set to try new techniques and change rhythm, which will disrupt an aggressive opponent!

Sparring week is just round the corner, so try to keep these simple pointers in mind while training and give them a go! It won’t just improve your work ethic but will allow you develop a greater level of self-confidence and belief!

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Willpower! The Secret Weapon of Martial Arts!

Rule number one: Chew your food 30 times, before consuming.

Rule number two: Put your chopsticks down when eating.

Rule number three: Eat everything on your plate with chopsticks, including every grain of rice.

aaron pose02Sounds obsessive… and obsessively impractical… but it’s actually one of many stereotypical routines of a Shaolin Monk. The purpose: building a way of life and medium where developing focus, patience and willpower becomes second nature! It’s a “small win” geared towards creating a mentality constantly in harmony with martial arts.

For centuries Shaolin Monks have been perfecting skills in martial arts while leaving many in consternation with their level of dexterity. But what really stands out is not necessarily the intensity of training but the lifestyle that Shaolin Monks uphold! Because at the core of martial arts there’s an important muscle that helps make all the difference when training! That muscle is willpower!

Understanding Willpower

During an interesting psychological experiment conducted in the mid-nineties by Psychologist Mark Muraven, it was discovered willpower acts just like a muscle. Meaning: willpower can become strained and exhausted after a long day, but will also increase with the right amount of exercise. As Muraven explains, “If you want to go for a run after work, you have to conserve your willpower muscle. If you use it up too early on tedious tasks all strength will be gone by the time you get home.”

The more you exercise this muscle, the more patient and tolerant you’ll become particularly in sport. When it comes to martial arts; willpower has played a substantial part of the discipline for centuries! It’s naturally ingrained in psyche an spirit of the experience and is key to improving many aspects of a lifestyle!

Australian researchers Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng further demonstrated the impact of willpower in an experiment in 2005 by observing “struggling” participants. Those taking part of the experiment were asked to keep a detailed diet diary while being pushed to their limits during exercise! Surprisingly not only did their tolerance increase, but it lead to other good habits: decreased smoking and drinking, low caffienated diets, and overall a less depressed and more proactive life!

The research by Muraven was so ground breaking and effective, big corporations and institutions make it a top priority to increase the willpower of their employees.

etiquette01It’s easy to think of willpower as a self-regulatory skill, but surprisingly it’s more appropriate to think of it as a muscle. It’s a factor that can be increased and the intense training in martial arts strengthens that muscle by providing the opportunity to spark focus, face fears and overcome anxieties on a regulated basis; whether it be through focused pair-work, training basics or even heavy sparring.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to recommend holding horse stance while brushing your teeth, or planking while reading a book. But the application of martial arts in lifestyle will help you achieve goals in ways you wouldn’t expect! Expanding your willpower is one of them! Hit the Dojo and watch your life evolve around you for the better!

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The Power of Habit!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle.

habit01Elite athletes have a number of exceptional habits; they obsessively work hard, they’re practical and well organized, they visualize structured routines, and have strong willpower to stick to well planned diets and disciplines. Easier said than done, but if you dissect the structure of habits you’ll learn it’s all about the cue, routine and reward that motivates you.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the WORST teams in the History of American football! It’s November 17, 1996 and the Buccaneers are up against the Chargers on a late Sunday afternoon, the Buccs are losing 17-16. They’ve been losing all game… and all season… and for the past decade… as a matter of fact, they haven’t won a game on the West coast for 16 years. So how on earth did the Buccaneers go from being “America’s orange doormat”, to one of the most successful teams in American football, eventually winning the Superbowl?

The answer is they had Tony Dungy as their head coach. Tony Dungys will be the only coach in NFL history to make the play-offs 10 consecutive times, become the first African American Coach to win the Superbowl and one of the most respected figures in athletics. All because of a unique and courageous attention to remaking habits, an approach that not only significantly altered sports science but helped re-shape the lives of many; ranging from addicts to huge companies such as Fabreze or Starbucks!

aaron attila04Dungy knew habits are a three step loop consisting of a cue, routine, and reward. All Dungy did was attack the second step, the routine, turning a complicated training program into accessible actions! Ring a bell? It’s a routine that parallels your pair techniques, breaking down a highly complicated art (sparring) and altering it into an accessible routine/habit for anyone to learn!

Even if we take a look at the most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps.
Michael has been swimming since he was 7 years old, but what would set him apart from other competitors is a core habit and routine that would target his mind, calming his mentality to give him exceptional vision!

The routine: ever since being a teenager Michael constantly visualized victory to great detail, morning and night, to a point where his insight was so strong he was able to train body and mind to instinctively overcome obstacles. It just so happened on the morning of August 13, 2008 Phelps broke the 200m butterfly world record by swimming blind! (On his final length, Phelps actually had water logged goggles!) Despite the impediment, his mind had already won from the moment he shot off the block!

The TMAP structure is there to help you hone your skills as a martial artist. If you’ve sparred, you’ll know you have milliseconds to react which is a very challenging experience! Core habits, therefore, become essential to your training! There’s great deal to learn in martial arts: vision and insight through form fighting, improving footwork, technique, balance or understanding distance. However pair-techniques and basics become a powerful ally in remaking habits and routines!

It’s fundamental to consistently practice your pair-techniques, basics and form fight as often as you can. Turn it into your habit, your routine!

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What Every Martial Artist Should Know About Explosive Exercise!

Interesting Fact: What do Jamaicans, Europeans, Kenyans, well… just about everyone, have in common?

The ACTN3 Gene, you guessed it!

Whether fast twitch muscles are genetic in origin is a prominent debate, and the focus of much racial discrimination in strength and speed based competitions. However, in 2003 genetic research blasted that “stereotype threat” out the water! According to Matthew Syed (Author of Bounce), interestingly 82% of Europeans have the relevant gene ACTN3 responsible for fast twitch muscle fibres, so too do 98% of Jamaicans and 98.5% of Kenyans (Renown for ENDURANCE, not sprinting). So why are there many black sprinters? Well not to go off at a tangent, but it’s now believed to be due to the environment where the athlete was raised!

explosive03This may come as a shock to you (or if not, try to act surprised), but you’ve already been incorporating explosive proclivities in your workout! In your basics and pair techniques you’ve already made sure to increase hand speed at the right interval of training. When practicing pair techniques you’ll find your understanding of when to accelerate to control distance between you and your opponent. When increasing fitness you’ll occasionally push yourself instantaneously.

Explosive energy is a big part of martial arts and prominently makes the difference in sparring! So here’s what every modern martial artist should know about sparking explosive energy!

Slow and Fast Twitch Muscles

Muscles are actually broken down into two classes which induce power: Smooth and Striated. Where as smooth muscles are responsible for digestion or circulation, striated muscles are voluntarily contracted with the legs, arms and so on…

There are three types of power, explosive, static and dynamic; dynamic and explosive being the main focus in regard to martial arts.

explosive02The basic breakdown: your muscles are made up of two basic fibres, slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch are associated with mitigated lactic acid build up, and therefore endurance based sports. Fast twitch, are associated with explosive exercise and anaerobic energy production, in turn producing power and speed of contraction.

The way of the Isotonic Warrior!

The two creations of stress you should be aware off are: isotonic and isometric exercise. Getting to the point: isotonic muscles show when one muscle contracts the complimentary muscle lengthens (normal exercise, e.g. push ups, weight lifting, etc), isometric exercise is all about exerting your muscles against an immoveable object.

Increasing strength and the Correct Way to Exercise

explosive01So what’s the point of all this information? By now you should noticed that the physical or explosive nature in martial arts is highly dependent on “positioning”. Applying yourself in the wrong manner will infringe your form, stability and becomes a completely different exercise. A slight deviation in form will make it harder to accelerate and develop those fast twitch fibres to catch your opponent off guard!

In other words, don’t cut corners and cheat when exercising, it’ll do more harm than good. When you train make sure you complete all repetitions properly. Not completely flexing your arms on a push-up may lead to an extra ten reps but will stop you from gaining more strength and power in the long run. Stick to the correct form, even if you can only do five push-ups! 5 will lead to 10, 10 to 20… and so on until eventually you’ll be doing reps in the 100s!

For the best results try to make it to the Dojo and train three times a week! However just remember, after every explosive training session minor tears in the muscles need at least forty eight hours to recover, allowing muscles to grow and build strength. It’s important not to interrupt the recovery period!

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4.5 Essentials to be an Excellent Training Partner!

partner02Martial arts seems to be an individual-based experience however it quickly becomes blindingly obvious just how important the teamwork becomes in order to improve as a martial artist; in fact you wouldn’t get very far without your partner in crime. How you and your partner work together in martial arts becomes one the focal point of your development and endeavour; after all, you’re not learning to spar against yourself. Your growth as a martial artist and your partners development are one in the same thing! Here are few important tips to make the most of your TMAP experience; work together, help your partner and improve your training.

One word: Motivate!
The man next to you can be the most important part of your training session. Be sure to help your partner break limits by attentively correcting mistakes, and becoming vocal! That said, it’s important to push past barriers and build confidence but keep it light, don’t take it too seriously. Have a sense of humour and a crack “kick-ass” joke! Even bad ones.

You’ll need to understand when to decrease or increase the pace, ultimately creating interval training. Just don’t get in the habit of mundanely padding your partner, once they reach a plateau motivate them!

partner01Keep Frosty!
Martial arts can be emotional for anyone. Frustration, fear, and excitement are all part of the experience. Instead of allowing yourself to be impeded by the experience allow it to heighten your focus, turning the anxiety into a reminder to keep your cool. It’s important to understand you wont become Bruce Lee overnight! Like many aspects of improving in sport, it’s a gradual process! You should be setting personal goals and applying yourself to achieve them with purpose.

Always Respect the Learning Curve.
Patience becomes an important ingredient and will allow you to be more aware and conscious of how you spend your time training; in certain cases will probably help discover new and innovative ways to practice.

Don’t just bulldoze into the combination without paying attention to the capabilities of your partner! Often beginners will be surreptitiously battling nerves and anxiety before they become used to the Dojo environment. There are a huge amount of mental and physical hurdles students will be overcoming. Martial arts will set a grounding to building upon and hit goals, bettering people from all walks of life! For one individual it may be about physical gain, always pushing the bar higher, for others it’s about developing mental resolve, be mindful of what your training partner needs.

partner03Assume you know less.
It’s a funny point to make, but as the saying goes: “Don’t be the smartest person in the room”. Be open to advice! Your attitude towards the drill can be the deciding factor between a productive training session or a glorified way to waste time.

One last point err… perhaps one of the most important… hygiene. Nobody wants to train with “that guy” who hasn’t washed since yesterday morning, reeks like a bin or fails to cut his toe nails! For your partners sake, make an effort to keep fresh, trim the nails and wash your uniform before training!

Put these essentials to the task, and instantly expand your experience and improve your training!

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It Begins and Ends with Etiquette!

“Practice Begins and Ends with Etiquette!” as the ancient martial arts saying goes. Martial arts gives rise to accomplishments in very unique ways that many take for granted…That said, what do you only have once you have given it? Answer: Respect; and inspired by etiquette, can take you a long way.

So just how important is etiquette in the grand scheme of things? Well… very.

etiquette04We’re all familiar with the engaging TMAP experience. Shoes are hygienically removed before entering the Dojo, members and instructors are greeted, silence is politely abided by and entering and exiting the Dojo is adhered to with a prominent bow. And if you’re evidently late or forget your belt, you’ll probably remember being rewarded with a set of err… fun push-ups.

It certainly wouldn’t help the discipline, or any aspect of sport for that matter, to practice without a coherent focus, even mental calm.

Meet Coach Vigil. Vigil is an interesting coach to say the least, a master motivator and statistic freak who guided and trained many to success! He’s renowned for taking many average runners and turning them into OLYMPIC contenders! Take the success story of Deena Kastor, a Californian baker, for example. Deena had no right working with Vigil, the level of exertion and training that would follow was out of her league. Sure enough, Deena gained renown smashing national distance championships, breaking US records, earning the 2002 Humanitarian Athlete of the Year award, and a 2004 Olympic bronze medal in Athens (Outlasting Paula Radcliffe!).

And that’s not even the reason why Vigil stands out! If you took a stroll into his office you’d find written on his bulletin board things like: “practice abundance by giving back”, “improve personal relationships” and “show integrity to your value system”. Vigil’s nutritional advice was even more astonishing, “eat as though you were a poor person”! None of which would seem relevant to sports science in the slightest.

etiquette03But it is, and Vigil’s emphasis was on the generous nature of a human soul, a good character, the power of spirit and a heartfelt clear mind that drives and motivates the creation an indomitable perseverance! He even said one “wintery” night with pure elation that he’d found the culminating ingredient for an athletic mentality (at least he “felt” he had, whatever it was); and he “felt” it was “compassion”, “love” and… you guessed it, “respect”.

Mentality in sports is crucial! Mentality in martial arts is absolutely essential, so it’s only natural that there is a traditional etiquette to help give it a kick! Sorry about the pun.

etiquette02The power of etiquette is an exceptional asset of martial arts and is paramount for the building blocks of character, focus and mindfulness, it’s a reminder not to procrastinate in an environment where it’s never acceptable to let your guard down. In any Dojo it becomes the framework of responsibility that every member needs to uphold in order to achieve their goals, do more and become more. Without an appropriate level of focus, or a diminished sense of character, it is very easy to lose sight of your aspirations, falling short of potential; and to be anything short of your best is to sacrifice the gift as Steve Prefontaine once said.

The next time you step into the Dojo remember, it’s a sanctuary we all have a responsibility to look after. Try not be late, aside from avoiding push ups, remember etiquette is the consideration that inspires the integrity to help one another achieve, and our community at TMAP!

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6 Super Foods of the World Every Snack Warrior Should Know!

chiaseedsSpanning the continents of Asia, South America and Central America some of these interesting snacks (or ingredients) have been chomped on for centuries. If you can get hold them, try throwing these on your lunch, or wolf down as a quick snack. Whether it’s running miles, cutting through waves or scaling mountains, these 6 super foods have a formidable reputation!

1) Chia Seeds
As depicted above, chia seeds are native to Mexico where they are linked to the diet of the legendary Tarahumara tribe in Central America; a tribe known for running extraordinary distances of up to 50 miles at a time! Packed with fiber, calcium and valuable minerals a plenty chia seeds were once very rare. Now you can get your hands on them at Holland & Barratts, just don’t expect them to be cheap!

2) Acai Berries
Acai berries are found in the rain forests of South America and contains powerful antioxidants in the form of anthocyanins. They’re known to combat cancer and heart disease! Acai berries are typically sold as powder, tablets or in juices, but good luck finding these berries as a fresh fruit!

3) Probiotics
Pushed to the limit in your training, you’ll often find yourself physically and mentally exhausted causing your immune system to slump. The result means a very sloppy and depleted respiratory system! Probiotics, or active cultures in yogurt, help make the difference. Furthermore yogurt is an excellent balance of protein and carbohydrates for an ultimate super post-workout recovery fuel! And if you can grab it Kefir, an old yogurt drink believed to have originated from Russia, has the right ratio of amino acids to carbs.

4) Goji Berries
Goji Berries are found in Tibet and Mongolia, and contain a huge amount of vitamin C and antioxidants. Although not scientifically accepted for its medical applications, goji berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for centuries. .

5) Seaweed
Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine, Zinc and omega-3 fatty acids… you get the point. Seaweed is inundated in significant minerals! If you’re struggling to find away to add seaweed into your diet just get in the habit of snacking on sushi and rice wrapped in nori seaweed.

6) Coconut Oil
If you find yourself stranded on a desert island, coconuts are the way forward! Coconut oil contains a number of beneficial qualities however the research that stands out revolves around lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which coconut oil contains in spades! Studies show lauric acid and MCTs are directly linked to increasing your immune system while helping you release energy efficiently to burn more calories and fight a number of harmful bacteria. It’s benefits are many, ranging from combating alzheimer’s, anxiety and heart disease, to improving the health of your skin and hair… In other words, just try to include this stuff in your diet!

Find out what works best for you! As Usain Bolt casually attested to before smashing the 100m world record: “I woke around 11am and decided to watch some TV and had some chicken nuggets.” Eat well, train hard and reach your goal!


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4 Tips to Improve your Agility!

Agility05Jump on YouTube and check out the highlights of Guillermo Regondeaux, you’ll see an ostentatious wily boxer who gets the pulse racing as he demonstrating how footwork is perhaps the most important form of defense. Inspiring to say the least, and if you need more inspiration, then you need look no further than Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali, or Pernell Whitaker; athletes that effervescently used agility-based training to formed an integral part of who they are in character and physique! Agility is all about training your muscles to gain the impetus to change direction and react swiftly. It’s crucial to be nimble and agile in the world of martial arts to help you utilized the distance between you and your opponent; go to the Dojo during agility week and you’ll probably find these exercises running rampant, and for good reason:

Ladder Drills

Tip: Don’t just focus on your feet, move your feet and hands Simultaneously!

When it comes to punching, your feet are just as important as your hands! When it comes to footwork, (and this may come as a shock)… but your hands are just as important as your feet! The point being, learn to move your feet and hands simultaneously over a tiny distance! Don’t just focus on your feet, ‘pump’ your arms as you move, building “sharp” attributes that will be intrinsically applied to your sparring routine. The awesome point about the “ladder” is there are a variety of exercises but the important movements are making sure to keep the knees high, and from time to time be sure to move laterally.

Box Jumps

Tip: Think about WHERE you plant your feet. (An especially important habit when learning spin-side or spin-hook kicks)

This plyometric exercise is great for building explosive movements in martial arts and beating your opponent to the punch, giving you the initiative. It may seem a little strange to find box jumps involved with agility and footwork, but they will help you to utilize momentum under pressure; improving balance, footing and… you guessed it, agility. Add a quick burpee to increase the challenge. (Make sure you DON’T let your knees go past your toes when bending your knees! This can lead to injury).

Jump Rope (Skipping)

Tip: Try not to throw your arms around. Just rotate the wrists, this will help generate more momentum and speed.

The Mayweather specialty… Often you’ll see beginners swinging the whole arm while skipping, this limits momentum and stops the exercise from doing its job; which is build your footwork and agility. Keep the arms still and just focus on rotating the wrist to begin with, speed will naturally follow. Make sure to stay on the ball of your toes and improve stamina, circulation and strength in the legs. Vary your motion to exercise agility and become more nimble. In other words: throw speed drills with high knees in mix, cross your arms and alternate feet.

Perform Cone Taps

Tip: Stay light on your feet. Mix up the pace and acceleration!

Great for making you lighter on your feet and strengthening the muscles in the ankles and feet. The idea: gently tap the top of the cone with the ball of your foot and alternate with the other foot for 30 seconds. Look to increase your pace and speed without knocking the cone over, helping you control momentum and footwork.

With emphasis on technique and agility, keep these pointers in mind. The good news is there are a variety of ways to achieve a high level of agility that you will find in the Dojo this week; drills that will help you on your way, the sky’s the limit with this technical aspect of training!

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Smart Choice: Breakfast for Champions!

green smoothie02What do top athletes eat for breakfast? One of the most common questions asked. According to many coaches, it’s not what you eat but about how you eat; the habits you pick up in your daily lifestyle to enhance a formidable athletic performance. With a number of different diets comes a variety of healthy and nutritious ways to start the day! Here are few examples inspired by top athletes such as Jessica Ennis Hill or discus thrower Lawrence Okoye to help you kick start the day with the right amount of nutrition and caloric intake!

Steel-Cut Porridge (Heptathlon Jessica Ennis Hill)
Becoming increasingly popular for the avid cardiovascular athlete steel-cut oats provide a lot more energy and fiber than rolled oats which lose fiber from being de-husked. Add a banana and you’ve got a great source of potassium, electrolytes and a natural way to lower blood pressure!

Green Smoothie (Surfer John Florence and Ultra-runner Scott Jurek)
If you’re struggling for time, grab a smoothie. A smoothie is not only hydrating but smacks an excellent source of protein and nutrition. Athletes will try all types of protein (whey, soy, pea or hemp seed… to name a few) but go ahead and try maca powder and chia seeds which are said to improve your immune system; or coconut water and almond milk to vary flavour. Another quick Scott Jurek tip: try throwing flaxseeds in the mix to give you 100% of your daily requirement of omega 3 fatty acids.

Bacon and Egg Muffin (Mat Fraser and Lawrence Okoye)
Inspired by Crossfitter Mat Fraser and discus thrower Lawrence Okoye. ‘My breakfast mainly consists of eggs! Not many, just five’, Lawrence explains. While a simple bacon and egg muffin mixed with sweet potato hash helps Fraser prepare for an explosive workout of burpees and snatches without feeling bloated. Why? Because it’s loaded with eggs that provide a perfect form of protein and vitamin D. The egg yolk isn’t too bad either by the way, containing choline, the building blocks for acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter linked to memory, mood and muscle function!).

Breakfast Burrito (Skier Lynsey Dyer)
Favourite among skiers that have to function at high altitudes! Try loading the burrito with that famous combination, egg, bacon, sweet potato and spinach. High altitude exercise means a lot of calories will be burned, making sweet potato an ideal option for high, explosive, cardiovascular workouts. More fiber found in the sweet potatoes mean a low GI index, allowing energy to be released slowly throughout the day.

There’s many ways to help boost nutrition, however the simple approach is always the most effective! John Honerkamp, a successful coach who has trained many athletes for the New York marathon, puts it another way: ‘If staging for the race means you’re going to be eating cold oatmeal on a bus, eat cold oatmeal on a bus. You know your stomach best!’ Don’t neglect your nutrition, eat well and fuel your focus and performance in the Dojo!

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We Were Born to Endure: Get Inspired this Fitness Week!

It’s 11am in California, and a blistering, shoe-melting, 40 degrees Celsius outside as Scott Jurek stumbles to the side- vomiting violently. He has just ran 70 consecutive miles in a race that very few have heard of, and has another unbelievable 65 miles to go! His team provide encouragement, but discouraged and fatigued Scott feels the race is over.

Surprisingly Scott went on to not only WIN the beast of a race in 2005 but set a record that hasn’t been matched to this day! In case you’re wondering, the race above is known as the Badwater 135 mile ultra-marathon that runs through Death Valley, California, and is one of the toughest feats of endurance on the planet. It’s a phenomenal task highlighting our ability to break limits. We’re not fast, but we have a deal with endurance! Two deals actually… As simple as it sounds, we breathe and we sweat like no other species, and that’s just the start of a fascinating ‘game-changing’ story of our physical evolution!

fitness05Step into a laboratory at the University of Utah or Harvard and you’ll probably find a healthy pig, lizard or even cheetah happily walking on a treadmill! It’s here Professor Bramble (University of Utah) and Dr Lieberman (University of Harvard) became part of a huge breakthrough: put a cheetah on a treadmill, (or any quadruped for that matter) and you’ll notice as the cheetah strides forwards the organs slam into the lungs forcing air out. When stretching out for the next stride, the gut moves towards the rear allowing air to be sucked back in! What’s the point of all this? It means that only one-breath-per-stride was inhaled/exhaled! A restriction that every ‘running’ mammal in the world is burdened with, with one exception… YOU! Human beings can inhale and exhale frequently while under exertion! The better you are at sucking in oxygen and spewing out carbon dioxide, the stronger you become, the more you endure!

fitness011So why are we not locked in a step-by-breath ratio like every other mammal? According Christopher McDougall, contributing editor of Mens Health Magazine: ‘the reason we are free to pant to our hearts content is the same reason you need a shower on a summer day. We’re the only mammals that shed most of our heat by sweating. All the pelt covered creatures in the world cool off by breathing, which locks their entire heat-regulating system to their lungs. But humans with our millions of sweat glands are the best air-cooled engine that evolution has ever put on the market.’ So, frustrated about turning the Dojo mats into an ocean? Well actually, funny enough, without sweating bullets you wouldn’t get very far, you’d either have to stop or die of heat exhaustion to be precise!

The next time you hit the Dojo this Fitness Week, keep breathing, keep sweating and keep going! You’re built for it!

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