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Keeping Energy Levels High Throughout the Day!

Whether you’re a martial artist or advocate of sport, recovery and refueling will have a big impact in your day to day lifestyle.

aaron pose03So what’s the best way to make efficient ‘energizing’ altercations to your lifestyle? Once again, the power of habit makes the biggest impact! Most athletes develop healthy habits through competitive training and routine. Initially it is important to keep a log of activities that highlight physical demands during the day such as diet, exercises in the Dojo and the gym, or even how well you sleep. Professional athletes pay attention to their fluid intake, how many times a day food is consumed and focus on recovery periods. The key is often consistency, striving to achieve good habits by utilizing healthy goals. Here are a few pointers to keep that chronological clock ticking throughout the day and all the way through training!

The Morning Haze

Typically, you’d think this is the one time you’d be alert and ready for action, especially after a good night’s sleep… Nope! Guess again. Why? Because of something psychologists call ‘sleep inertia’, which can last from 10 minutes to 2 hours and is so mentally and physically infringing it is likened to being intoxicated! (This is because the pre-frontal cortex in your brain, which is responsible for complex problem solving, is deprived of glucose.) Try drinking a glass of ice cold water which will increase blood flow to the brain, revive dehydrated cells and, for those looking to control weight, increase the metabolism.

For breakfast, try to consume rolled oats (high in B vitamins linked to energy production and zinc which aids the immune system) and make sure to consume carbohydrates with protein, especially if you’re training hard and need to recover. Porridge is an excellent choice, maybe mixed with bananas to help steadily release glucose into the bloodstream throughout the whole day. According to Susan Kleiner of High Performance Nutrition: ‘Work fibre into the diet. This will slow down the release of insulin and help digestion.’

Lunchtime Drop

First of all, it is important to understand why your energy levels fluctuate during this time of the day. Often the induced ‘crash and burn’ is associated with a high sugar intake, increased melatonin levels or processed foods, etc. Essentially resulting from an unbalanced diet or inconsistent lifestyle. In the case of combating melatonin (a sleep hormone), experts say a walk in the sunshine will make all the difference as recent research reveals sunlight directly influences serotonin levels, or mood and stress.

In terms of nutrition it’s important to consume carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index before training: for example try lentils, or a red lentil soup, which also contain a healthy amount of fibre and protein.

Pre-Training Snack

workoutTraining in martial arts can be taxing both mentally and physically, especially after spending a full day working. It means working far harder than the average person and an energy drink or bar simply will not be enough to compensate for the physical requirements of the body and mind. Make sure not to consume a large helping before training; a small flapjack, bananas or dried mango work well to release energy gradually throughout intensive training. However, the most important energizers are often overlooked; for instance, water and green tea, or consuming low-glycaemic carbohydrates two hours before training. All of which help hydrate, improve awareness and speed up the metabolism.


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5 Exercises to Bring Out the Explosive Superman in You!

exploding aaron3Explosive ability is all about initially reducing the tension that can limit rapid muscle contraction. There are just two phases to aware of: the eccentric phase (such as the foot touching the ground) and the concentric phase (the muscle contracting, foot pushing off the ground).

With certain exercises improving the muscle transition between both phases can have powerful results! The key is to develop your fast twitch muscle fibers in a process that is applicable to martial arts.

Here are 5 ways to help develop that explosive acceleration that will make your opponent think twice!

1. Medicine Ball Throws
Without a period of de-acceleration, medicine ball throws help develop a powerful reverse and front punch by encouraging explosive use of the triceps.

2. Clap Push-Ups to Superman Push-Ups
If necessary you can start by using your knees. These push-ups train a very useful burst of energy that can eventually be utilized for a variety of different training techniques! Try to reduce the interval of time between each push-up!

3. Box Jumps
Box jumps help to develop the lower-body, but if you want an extra challenge try seated box jumps! Jumping from a seated position will eliminate any momentum from the arms and allow you to target just your legs!

4. Squats with a Jump
To avoid injury to the knee, make sure your knees DON’T go past your toes. Bend your knees while going low and explode into a high jump. Many people can accelerate high, try jumping continuously on the rebound!

5. Sprints
Excellent for not only building explosive acceleration in the lower body, but the upper body too! Just make sure your form is correct for the best results! Back straight, stay on your toes and kick your bum as you move forward. Fast jogging is NOT a sprint!

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4 Important Points you should Know about Stretching


As is the same with every goal, if you want to achieve a high level of ability it’s important to build a reliable foundation; and as you probably guessed, flexibility plays a fundamental part of that foundation in martial arts.

Even though stretching has incredible benefits, if you’re like most people, you’ve more than likely neglected this important aspect of athletics.

Here are 4 valuable benefits of stretching that everyone should be aware of:

1) Improves Breathing
Probably the most important point; how you inhale and exhale while under strain improves core strength while significantly improving the transfer of oxygen to your muscles.

2) Calms the Mind
Heavily linked to many forms of meditation, even after a short period of time, stretching introduces Zen-like applications that provide a mental break and recharges the body.

3) Increases Nutrient Supply
In conjunction with improving oxygen circulation across the body, the same goes for nutrient supply to muscles! This reduces soreness (lactic acid build up) and risk of injury.

4) Improves Posture
Of course this is a no-brainer! Many of us spend a lot of time at computers which pull the chest and shoulders forward, hunching the body. Stretching helps to lengthen tight muscles and correct posture.

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Devastating Knowledge: Fight Strategy in Martial Arts and Self-Defense

‘Half the battle is won when one knows what the adversary is doing.’ Bruce Lee.

billyrobinsonFloating around on the web you can find old videos of wrestler Billy Robinson. One contains an old interview of Billy expressing how he easily overcame a famous strong man during the 1970s. After numerous attempts of trying to get the better of Billy, the power lifter asked in consternation: what makes you so good? Billy Robinson’s response was simple, ‘It’s not me that’s good. It’s you that knows nothin’!’

The situation highlights the importance of knowledge and technique, and how ingenuity and creativity easily triumphed over strength, especially when incorporated in the world of martial arts.

Technique becomes extremely important, and the manner of how such technique is applied can be the difference between whether the martial artist is successful or not. When overcoming anxiety in a street brawl fitness and skill level play an insurmountable part. However according to Keith Vargo, free-lance MMA writer and instructor in Japan, knowledge precedes many aspects of the fight. The circumstance is instantaneous and a sagacious frame of mind to act, feeds the initiative to react accordingly. Knowledge is the key to utilizing the little crucial amount of time available.

aaronballStrength training and conditioning exercise can be very valuable to any physical development and simultaneously help the martial artist develop an adaptive mentality which is crucial in any aspect of life. From aikido wrist throws to a heel hook submission, knowledge significantly improves preparation and provides that vital confidence to execute your fighting style during sparring.

That said, very gifted fighters can often fail. So what’s wrong? Skill set or knowledge? Keith Vargo believes it is largely about what you do not know about fitness, psychology or other aspects that lose the fight. If a fighter struggles or fails due to overwhelming fear it’s largely linked to a lack of knowledge. Functioning under a significant amount of stress pushes skill levels to the limit and unless certain abilities are already intrinsically prepared, mistakes will happen.

gsp Confidence, technique, fitness, conditioning, fight psychology and other factors play an important part in martial arts and self-defense. However, as Georges St-Pierre explains in The Way of the Fight: knowledge becomes the big initial step before the fusion of ingenuity and creativity. ‘I keep a white belt mentality. On the first day when you receive your white belt, everything is knowledge’.

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The Power of Antioxidants!

antioxidantsSuffering from a hangover; antioxidants will help and will do much more in the long run!
What are antioxidants? On a microscopic level, the oxidation of cells occur due to large quantities of free radicals, or unstable molecules. These free radicals, again only in large quantities, induce a destructive chain reaction that impedes cell functioning. Long story short… antioxidants act as the superheroes of food, and put a stop to the oxidative stress caused by free radicals by pulling electrons away and neutralizing the unstable molecule.

Sources of Antioxidants
Carotenoids: Apricots, Mangoes, Red Pepper, Sweet Potato and of course? carrots.
Phenolic Compounds: Chocolate, Tea and Red Wine.
Vitamin E: Nuts and Vegetable oils.
Vitamin C: Citrus Fruits and Berries
Selenium A: Fish, Red Meat or Eggs.

Exciting times!
Research of antioxidants is rich. linking antioxidants to fighting against Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, HIV, supporting fitness and even ageing! Although the last one might be a bit of a stretch…

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How to make an Isotonic Drink!

isotonic drinksCheap, easy and quick!
Whether it be Isotonic, hypotonic or hypertonic, it’s important to give your body the right type of fuel during training. Isotonic drinks are required to give that needed boost of carbohydrates in the form of glucose, and replace lost electrolytes (in other words: sodium and potassium) during intensive workouts; and are stereotypically necessary for any tough cardiovascular exercise.
What you need:
500ml Water
125ml Squash (With no added sugar!)
A pinch of salt

Give it a shake and leave it in the fridge. Remember: simple to make, a big save on cash and important for muscle function and recovery!

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Angry Biscuits

cookie monsterIf you find yourself in need of a break, tea and biscuits may not be the right choice! While your trusty cup of brew comes with a variety of health benefits, biscuits have exactly the opposite effect. These artery clogging industrial fats, known as hydrogenated vegetable oils, are actually linked to aggression and mood swings according to a study conducted at the University of California. As it turns out, exercising generosity and letting your friends have the last couple of cookies may not be such a bad idea the next time you sit down to have a cup of tea.

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5 Tips for your Introduction to Sparring!

5 top tips to get you ready and into the sparring frame of mind… and becoming a take-no-prisoners force of nature!
aaron0.31. Slow is Focus, Focus is Fast.
The idea being to develop instinctive reactions with slow combinations that progress to a speed where it’s difficult to keep up. When training, start slow with particular focus on technique and form before eventually developing speed and an instinctive agility. As Oscar De La Hoya mentioned, take your time, look for that right medium between speed and power and make your combinations flow with confidence. Eventually combinations, counter-punches and reactions become wired into the mind. Remember, slow is focus, focus is fast!

aaron0.22. Drill Everything like a Mad Man! (In other words, work hard!)
It’s important to train hard in every aspect of your training, whether that be fitness or nutrition orientated, the process gives you an idea of where you need to apply your attention and work harder. Eventually a better understanding of your strengths surface. With top fighters it is a question of working hard, building your knowledge and experience to make a strategic analysis for fights.

3. Finish Fights, Be Exciting, Don’t be afraid to Experiment
First or all, relax and control your breathing. Don’t hold it, or you’ll get tired.

Form fighting is essential! You need a game-plan but like all exciting fights, predictability is at a minimum. Fights aren’t choreographed, it can go anywhere. Don’t just look to negate your opponent by finding his strengths and avoiding them. Be resourceful, focus and build your awareness.

4. Trust your Coaches
“I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I just do what my coaches tell me to do,” says MMA legend Rampage Jackson from an interview back in 2014 with Fighting Fit. “I’m not the kind of guy to tell my coaches what I want, they tell me what to do and I do it”. Put in simple terms: a fighter that listens is a fighter that learns and improves.

aaron0.15. Rest Up and Eat Right
Rest and nutrition are one in the same thing. Resting and eating properly is essential when training hard. Eat, sleep and training is a big part of the equation when it comes to success. Make sure you get a good diet and the right amount of rest to be ready for the next training session!

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Protecting your Eyes with Coffee

coffeeEveryone hates itchy eyes, which are a pain. But according to scientists in Japan, a solution has been found… coffee. The test demonstrated those who consumed caffeine contained significantly more moisture in their eyes. Furthermore the beneficial effects were seen 45 minutes after they ingested caffeine pills. Next time another late night comes ominously knocking at your door, or a trip to the pub makes you see red, try grabbing an espresso; the price alone should make your eyes water!

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Spring Bank Holiday – May 23rd, 24th, 25th



Our Swiss Cottage?Dojo will be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday this Bank Holiday Weekend. Classes resume as normal on Tuesday 26th May.

Our Stoke Newington Dojo is open on Saturday and Sunday, but closed on Monday 25th May.

Have a great weekend and we look forward to seeing you all next week, which is grading week by the way! :)

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Contact Details

The Martial Arts Place
88 Avenue Road
Swiss Cottage
London NW3 3HA
020 7586 1222

The Martial Arts Place
35-39 Stoke Newington High Street
London N16 8DR
020 7254 0332


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