Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crisis Averted

Good evening

I was so mad at myself for messing up the background on my blog page that I kept at it until I figured out a way to fix it. In the end it wasn't too complicated and I'm pleased with the result - it's a little cleaner and easier to read without the distracting panel. Also- I think now that I can update it or customize it whenever I please :-)

I have a couple more video clips to edit and upload to You Tube for my next post.

Happy Sunday


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oop's - I messed up!

Good morning
If you are reading this post then you are also noticing the odd appearance of the page. Yesterday while on my Google+ account I accidentally deleted an image file that provided the background theme for this page. I wish I could go into my recycle bin and retrieve it but it's not there. (yes..I actually looked lol) I will post again when the problem is resolved. Thanks for your patience
Have a great weekend!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Friday! Roll into the weekend

Good Day -'s Friday! 

Friday's have long been my favourite day of the week - even more than Saturday's. It's that feeling one has knowing that there are two whole days of freedom ahead. Even though I have retired from the post office, that Friday feeling hasn't diminished. It means that it's the weekend for my wife Joanne and we can do things together. I am so fortunate to be able to practice and teach karate full-time now and develop my personal training endeavour at the same time.

The great thing about not having a day job is that  feeling of Sunday evening gloom is gone!

So onto the abdominal roll-outs. Most people have probably seen an ab-wheel. They are only around $10 - $15 to purchase, but are a great tool. Not only do you train your abdominal muscles when you use it, but also the lumbar and erector muscles in the back, plus the shoulders and upper trapezius. When doing the roll-out be sure to contract the abdominal muscles with a slight crunching action or upper pelvic tilt to prevent the low back from sagging - therefore keeping a neutral spine. As well - even the glutes and hamstring muscles become engaged on extension.

*This can be a difficult exercise if you've never tried it and you should be careful not to go into a full extension of the movement at first attempt. A foundation of core strength is important before attempting this exercise. Movements like leg-raises, sit-ups, crunches, and planks should be employed first. If you have any doubts about your ability to perform this or any other exercise- or if you have sustained any type of injury- particularly in the  back or neck region- contact your physician or qualified  physio-therapist beforehand to get clearance.

Click here to view exercise demo clip

So now onto the advanced version of the movement which is performed from your toes instead of using the knees as a pivot point. This obviously increases the percentage of your body-weight being supported and puts tremendous strain on the lower back. It's like having a long dowel in your closet being used to support too many heavy garments. If all the clothing is crowded into the middle, the dowel will sag and even break. By putting an extra support at the mid-point of the closet rod this is avoided. The way that we solve this problem in regards to the exercise is to employ an exercise band as we did in the supported pull-ups. The heavier the band one uses (in relation to body-weight), greater is the support that is achieved. As one becomes stronger, a lighter rubber band can be substituted until the exercise can be performed without one.
No -I'm not there yet. But you can be sure that I will post it when I am!

Again -  use caution when attempting this or any other exercise. If you can't perform at least ten repetitions of the basic roll-out do not do this one yet. Don't get hurt- it just sets you back days, weeks or even months in achieving your fitness goals

Click here for the video clip -advanced/supported version

Check in frequently for updates and exercises. The next installment will be another back exercise with a new person performing one of the movements.

Have a fantastic weekend!!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Body - Weight Exercise

Fitness is a big part of training at London Shido-kan Karate Dojo and for myself personally, I enjoy resistance training with barbells, dumbells, and kettle bells etc, but I also like to do various body - weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and a variety of calisthenics like burpees and mountain climbers.  

At our dojo we have a good selection of equipment (which is constantly growing) but for variety,  I occasionally go to the gym with my wife Joanne. Even though the gym is well-equipped I seldom- if ever- implement machines. I prefer to do exercises that  employ the greatest possible degree of core stability and whole-body integration. For example, when doing a shoulder press with either a barbell or dumbell (s) - it's preferable to do so in a standing position, rather than sitting. That way the low back, hips and legs all become involved in the exercise. This is just one example of many. Of course there are traditional exercises that defy any tampering with -  dead lifts, squats, power cleans, etc.

In this installment I am going to talk about Pull- Ups (or chin-ups)

The Pull Up

An old standard for developing strength in the back (lats) and biceps, this exercise is often called chin-ups. The difference in the two exercises is the grip one uses: chin-ups use an underhand grip (supinated) or palms facing you, and pull-ups use an overhand grip (pronated) with your palms facing outwards or away from you. Slightly wider than shoulder width is a good position for your hands,  but can be varied when the movement becomes more comfortable or for the purpose of customizing the focal point. In both versions the objective is to pull your body high enough that your chin clears the bar. Chin-ups are usually easier to do for most people due to the biceps being engaged more directly in the movement. In both versions the scapula (shoulder blades) should be retracted or squeezed together to properly stabilize and engage the muscles of the back before the load is transferred to the shoulders and arms.
The purpose of this article is to discuss and demonstrate an assisted pull-up using a heavy rubber exercise band to take up a percentage of body weight so that more repetitions can be achieved. This is helpful for beginners  who may not yet be capable of lifting their own body-weight for many reps- or for the more advanced who wish to perform a large number of repetitions in sets.

In the following video clip I am using a rubber band to perform a set of wide-grip pull-ups. I would typically use the band after exhausting myself with several sets and try to accumulate at least 50 reps.The movement should be done in a steady manner, avoiding excessive swinging and lurching upwards if possible. Simply loop the band over the bar and hook one knee into it. Try to position your body as naturally as possible- meaning - no leaning backwards or forwards. You can alternate which knee is used for support each time..

Assisted Wide-Grip Pull-Ups - click to view video

Check back next installment for a demonstration of the "roll-out" using a simple abdominal wheel. I will discuss the basic and advanced versions of the exercise.

Stay healthy!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Karate is Good for Children

Karate Kids: The Benefits of Martial Arts

By Alison Hendrie
With a bloodcurdling cry, your 6-year-old leaps into the air in a karate kick, raising your hair and blood pressure simultaneously. Before you panic and pad the walls, try channeling this urge into a martial arts class.

Activities like tae kwon do, kung fu, and aikido are a fun way for both boys and girls to achieve fitness and focus. Some parents may think they also promote violence, but that's a myth, according to experts. The martial arts actually help teach self-discipline and socialization skills. In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because self-control and concentration are exactly the skills underdeveloped in ADHD kids.

A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. After a warm-up, students practice the art's particular skills, which may include kicks, punches, and blocks. Each requires concentration and strict attention.

Progress is often marked by the belt system, which takes the beginner from a white belt through a variety of colors until black. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.

But, say experts, it's the respect kids learn, whether from bowing or standing still and waiting for the next command, that can be the most important benefit: It often carries over into school, helping to improve behavior and even grades, according to recent research.

"Six is usually a good age to start classes," says Mimi Johnson, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. By that time a child should have enough muscle control to punch and turn properly and safely  -- essential to getting a real kick out of the martial art he chooses. READ MORE about Karate and Children

Monday, September 2, 2013

Every Kid Counts!

At London Shido-kan Karate Dojo we are a non-competitive school, meaning- we don't attend tournaments as a rule. Our association Shido-kan Karate Canada, headed up by Sensei Roy Paul, has an annual friendship kata tournment. There are no fighting divisions as in most competitions.

In a traditional karate setting it's imperative that EVERY student experience growth and positive feedback as a result of his or her karate training. Yes each dojo has students who are "quick studies" so-to-speak - but those kids are like sponges when it comes to retaining information or reproducing techniques.
I am not suggesting that we own the franchise on this ideology- but in a society where competitive athletes are revered (even at a young age) we just may stand out in this way of thinking.

I will speak more of this in future posts.

For now it is my pleasure to direct you to a blog that belongs to a parent of one of our students- and a person I think of as a friend. Please have a look at Melissa Corbeil's article - Melissa Corbeil's blog

Thank you Melissa for your kind words and allowing me the privilege of teaching your daughters karate