Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sports Massage - ouch!

I have a recurring quads injury in my right thigh. This 'pulled muscle' injury goes back about 8 weeks now and keeps getting better and then recurring again. It recurred again last week and has bothered me a lot during the last 3 karate classes.

The activity that seems to set it off is jump kicking. Front kicks and round kicks don't seem to bother it though back hook kicks do bother it a bit. Once it is set off I literally cannot do a jump kick with my right leg, it's just too painful!

I am worried how this is going to affect me in my grading. I desperately don't want to pull out at this late stage if I can help it. Unfortunately the kicking combinations are the second section on the grading so I am worried that if it pulls again during that section it will affect my performance of all subsequent sections.

To try and avert disaster and get this pull sorted out once and for all I decided to have a sports massage today. I've never had one of these before (life's full of firsts, even at my age) but I've heard that they can produce good results.

Anyway, I have just returned from this sports massage and I can confirm that it is not for the faint hearted!
After prodding away at my thigh to see where the tightness was he recommended a deep tissue massage. Aarrghh! He was pushing his fingers so deeply into my quads muscle that I felt like he was going to go right through my leg. It was definitely a painful experience but hopefully one worth going through.

I was starting to regret telling him that I also had a bit of lower back pain and that an old injury to my left shoulder was bothering me a bit. However, I did let him massage my back and shoulder (in for a penny, in for a pound!) and this was not nearly as painful as the thigh.

The prognosis? Well, he said it may feel worse tomorrow but after that should get better. I have got to do regular stretching exercises on my thigh and must warm up thoroughly before attempting any kicks. He has advised me not to do any kicking in karate class tomorrow but after that it should be okay to try. He also recommended using a heat pad to warm up the muscle before exercise and to basically just keep moving.

He was hopeful that it would feel a lot better by next week but if it didn't he suggested going back for another massage (I'll have to summon up courage for that!).

Here's hoping it's done the trick! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tabata training

Have you heard of tabata training? It is a new concept to me. I was interested in finding out more about it after reading a little about it in a newspaper fitness supplement. I was particularly interested when I realised it was Japanese in origin.

Tabata is a form of 'mini' circuit training or interval training 'Mini' because each circuit is only 20 seconds long with a 10 second rest between circuits. There should be 8 circuits for a full tabata session. After an initial warm-up a tabata session takes only 4 minutes to complete. The exercises for each circuit can be anything you like as long as they involve full body movements, so sprinting, push ups, lifting weights, kettle bell squats, bear crawling - you name it! It is probably best to tailor the exercises to the sport you are in training for.

Tabata training gets its name from its developer -  Izumi Tabata  at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Basically he researched and compared various exercise protocols to find out the most effective way of increasing both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. The 20 second on 10 second off protocol was the most effective.

It sounds easy doesn't it : 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for eight rounds. Apparently not! It's not for the feint hearted. In fact it is recommended that you are in good cardio  condition before trying tabata training as it is very intense. If you are not exhausted after it then you are not doing it properly. Tabata training is used by top athletes and is particularly suitable for combat training. In fact it is such high intensity training that it is recommended that you only do it once a week or even fortnightly.

Martial artist require the ability to produce short bursts of energy quickly to generate power and speed. Fast twitch fibres are needed for this type of muscular action and interval training is ideal for this. Kata also makes good interval training by the way.

Unlike aerobic training such as jogging where the fat burning abilities stop as soon as you stop running, tabata training is said to continue fat burning  for up to 2 days after the training session, so ideal for weight loss!

Sounds good doesn't it? I might give it a go. If you want to find out more about tabata training here's some links:

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Fear of failure or fear of success...

I did a pre-dan grading course on Saturday to find out if I'm definitely ready for this black belt grading on June 12th. I have written my main report about this on my other blog: Pre-dan grading course - a dose of reality! but there are a few extra things that came out of it that I want to discuss here.

What do I fear most failure or success?

I don't actually fear failure. If I fail and I can see good reason for it then I could accept that with good grace. In fact I would be one of the first people to feel disgruntled if people were passing  when they didn't deserve it as this diminishes the success of those that do deserve to pass. I don't want to fail obviously but I don't fear what failure would do to me - as long as I could see it was fair. I would just train for longer and try again - I wouldn't quit.

What about success? We all want success in our black belt grading but does it always sit comfortably? People often feel unworthy of their black belt, worried about the expectations that may be placed on them or worried that they may not live up to people's expectations of a 'black belt'. I'm not particularly worried that I may feel like this. If I feel that I've really earned a black belt then I hope I will feel proud to wear it.

But there lies the rub....What I really fear is that success may feel like failure; that the experience of grading will be so bruising emotionally that I won't be able to enjoy my success. I want my grading to feel like a positive experience - Physically shattering, yes! Mentally draining, yes! But emotionally battering, no! I don't want my black belt to be a constant reminder of a negative experience. Why should I fear this? Well because I know it has happened to someone close to me. Someone who never really came to terms with his black belt because of the experience gone through to obtain it and he no longer practices that martial art. Don't get me wrong, he is a mentally strong and resilient person and he was physically capable of performing the art but those emotions just creep up on you in unexpected ways and can leave scars that last for years. I don't want my karate to be tainted in this way.

Forewarned is forearmed! My pre-dan grading course has made me realise that I am susceptible to emotional pressure - that I can become negative and stressed way too easily. I need to deal with now. I need to change my perception of the grading - knock it off its grand pedestal and realise it's just another grading, another step of the journey completed. I need to get my head in the right place and go into the grading with a positive spirit and a realistic expectation of my ability. A pass, whatever the mark will be a worthy pass and should feel like success.

What do you fear most success or failure?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Getting to grips with goshin waza

At class last night we got the chance to work on our goshin waza  (self-defence techniques). I had them more or less worked out in my head. Some of them were ones I'd learnt many months ago and some were fairly new. However, it doesn't matter how well you work things out in your head you really don't know what you can make work until you try it out in practice!

What always amazes me with many of these goshin waza techniques is how fairly subtle changes in the techniques lead to huge improvements in their effectiveness. A small shift in weight distribution, re-positioning of the hands, stepping closer to the opponent etc can suddenly change a weak technique into a strong technique. Many of the self-defence techniques that we do tend to have an overlap with some jujitsu techniques. Luckily for me my training partner (who happens to be my husband) is also a black belt in jujitsu. He is able to talk me through all the little nuances that make a big difference to effectiveness. This extra tuition that I can get from my husband as well as my instructor means that my performance at goshin waza tends to be one of my strong points in karate.

At the end of the lesson we got to demonstrate all our techniques to the class. Being on show like this is always slightly nerve racking but it's good practice for the grading - we'll definitely be on show then! I think the demonstration went okay (apart from the belt and gi problems) though my escapes from lapel grabs still need a bit more work.

Another step closer to shodan.....need to focus on bunkai next.