Blog Archive

Friday, September 25, 2015

More Thoughts From a Post-Rory Experience.

Got to participate in a portion of the filming of one of Rory's upcoming DVDs, which pushed some things I've been kicking around in my head a bit further.

Running through some of the drills I did there, and at some other workshops recently, I was struck by the realization that, when given the opportunity, I wasn't really moving like a Nak Muay. Yes, some of what I was defaulting to was PDR/SPEAR stuff (which makes sense for self-defense drills), but I was also finding myself pulling out movements and things from systems I haven't practiced in decades. Head and neck manipulations that I learned in Aikido and some classical JMA. A couple of Uechi tricks. I've been mulling over why I'm returning to that stuff.

Possibilities include:

1. Drill bias: Rory's a Judo/Jujitsu guy at heart, and it's possible that his drills are biased to favor the strategies and tactics that he favors. That may even be intentional.

2. Social bias/pressure: for a lot of these drills, I was working with people whose background is in various "traditional" (damn, I hate that word) martial arts, and I may have been unconsciously playing along.

3. Lodged in my brain bias: the Structure and Void workshop, in particular, got me thinking about some of the concepts from the arts that I started in, and they may just be coming out because I'm thinking about them, and want to play with them.

4. Personal Bias: Fun fact...I'm a Muay Thai coach who likes grappling. Seriously. I mean, Muay Thai is great, but grappling is the thing that I've always loved but have never made the time to pursue (or did, and then lost the time). It's something that I've always wanted to get back to, and am slowly starting to. Maybe I just need to direct more energy that way (when I can). 

In some ways, this is just an extension of a thought I had after the Structure and Void workshop. Namely, that I need to start making clearer distinctions in my head (and in teaching/training) between what I need for myself as an athlete/martial artist/whatever, and what my students need from me as a coach. Both are areas to work on, but they may be moving in somewhat different directions.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ambushes and Thugs, Structure and Void (Post Rory Miller Weekend Brain Dump)

Rory was in town this weekend, and I got to host him for a couple of seminars. Saturday was a compressed version of Ambushes and Thugs, which I've done in one form or another, but Rory was compressing stuff here. The second was a beta test of a workshop called Structure and Void.

I like being part of experiments. I also like watching good teachers teach, even if it's stuff I already know. It makes me think a lot. The stuff I got from Structure and Void is going to take a while to process. This is basically a brain dump to get some ideas out on "paper".

1. This weekend really highlighted for me the fact that there are skills I need/want to work on that I don't (or can't) teach to my students, and that is okay. There's a very clear separation between what I need and what my students need. Sometimes there's overlap, but I think that's going to be shifting more and more. I need to be very conscious of that.

2. I really want to be able to apply the Structure and Void material to how I teach. Some of it is hard. Parts of the structuring that makes sense for bare knuckle fighting doesn't make sense with gloves on. That means I have to adapt it, change it, or ignore it for parts of Muay Thai. Other pieces fit fine there.

For the PDR/SPEAR, the concepts integrate better, but not perfectly. Or maybe they do. Trying to layer one set of concepts into a concept based system is going to be hell on my brain.

3. Rory has said this before, but it stuck in my brain harder this time. The people who really need these skills are the people who are least likely to seek them out. The ones who do seek them out (mostly young, athletic men) are the ones least likely to need them.

4. The post seminar conversation lead to some interesting insights in differences about how men and women seem to be taught to think about physical activity. One is the obvious stuff (men generally have more experience roughhousing than women do). Some of it is less obvious. I'm working off a small sample size here, but I get the impression that women tend to want to know how to do something right before they try to do it, whereas men are more likely to go "I have no idea how to do this, but I'll try it". That may or may not be right (and yes, I am totally generalizing here), but if I'm right, it might lead to some useful teaching ideas.

5. Something Rory said about teaching martial arts like racquetball got me wondering if it would be possible to create a gym/martial arts training center with a completely different philosophy and structure from the dominant model. One where there are no scheduled classes, no specific training times. You show up when you want to, you work on the things you want to work on. There's spaces for grappling, striking, self-defense, or whatever else you want. There are coaches available to help you out, if you need it. If you want specific instruction, you arrange for lessons. If you want a partner, you seek one out. Hell, maybe there's a bunch of strength and conditioning equipment in there, because, hey it's a total fantasy right now, so why not?

Could it work? I don't really know. There's some clear barriers to the concept. The only model I can think of that works remotely like this is the old school boxing gym, and those aren't exactly moneymakers.

6. Getting people to let their partners take turns on the one-step appears to be a challenge. I had a couple of partners who would keep moving if I stopped to think (as I tend to do, in the one-step).

More stuff as it comes up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Some Notes On My Recent Training Cycle

Back in late May, I realized that my time for training was getting pretty crunched. Between taking care of one or both kids, coaching, writing, and dealing with a bunch of other life stuff, I could only reliably lift twice a week. Fortunately for me, I stumbled across a template from Dan John that required training only two days a week. So I figured I'd give it a shot. Here's some notes on the journey thus far, and my plans for the future.

The First Block (late May -- Mid July)

I committed a cardinal sin when I started this program. I modified it before I tried it. I know, I know...I've written about not doing it, everyone writes about not doing it, I know better, I did it anyway. In my defense, I saw a few different versions of this program floating around, and didn't find the one linked above until a couple of weeks in.

Specifically I
a) used a Front Squat instead of a backsquat
b) changed the reps on the DL (usually doing 5-3-2 or 3x3)
c) used different assistance exercises (mostly pullups, inverted rows, and TGUS)

I also experimented with working with a gripper in the mornings when I would take the dog out for a walk.

Despite all my screwing around, things seemed to be going well. My bench slowly but surely went up, as did my front squat. However, the gripper work apparently did a number of my hands and wrists, because after several weeks of that, I couldn't rack the bar for the front squats as well. And my hands and wrists were generally achy. So I decided to ditch the gripper work, and switched to the back squat. I also had a week off at the end of this, for a family vacation.

Second Block (late July -- Now)

This time around, I decided to do exactly what the program says (plus some mobility stuff). Followed the rep schemes, did all of the assistance work. My bench continues to slowly climb, but it is very slow. My deadlift hasn't changed a lot, but I have been mostly pulling those doubles cleanly. My back squat seemed to be going up, but then I ran into another issue.

I added a BJJ class on the night before my second lifting session. Which means that I would go into every day two (the squat day) fatigued, and it would hold back both the bench and squat. Having a lighter day for the BP seems okay, but I was getting frustrated with constantly having to squat through fatigue.

Also, all the assistance work seemed to aggravate the crap out of my forearms. I don't know why, but everything from my elbows down seemed to hurt more. When I took a deload week, and followed it up with a bout of stomach flu (great for the abs), things felt better.

The Plan for Now (Now -- Nov)

Things may change a bit in a few months, but for now, this scheme still seems like a good idea. However, I am going to try making some modifications once again.

A) Stick with the basic BP cycle, but plan that day two is a lighter day. I will either drop the total reps, or simply skip the last set (the really heavy one). (I considered subbing in a different exercise, but that seems to miss the point).

B) Switch the DL and SQ days. Yes, that means I'll be deadlifting the morning after BJJ class, but I'm sick of squatting fatigued. We'll see how that works out.

C) Go back to doing pullups, inverted rows, TGUS, and carries for assistance work. It feels way, way better on everything.

I've also noticed that I've added about 15-20 pounds since I started this program. Some of that is clearly muscle. Not all of it is. That's a dietary issue, which needs to be addressed.