More Burpees and Bulgarian Bag stuff…


Though I am a firm believer that regular skill practice is important; I’m still a proponent of fitness/conditioning as a cornerstone to good martial arts/self defense practice.  The upside to breaking out of the ‘gym rat’ workout mind is that I can work out anytime, anywhere as long as I have enough space to swing a jump rope or a bulgarian bag.

  • 50 Burpees
  • 5 Open spin/Burpees (left and right) x 5 sets
  • 6 Power Snatch/Arm Throw x 6 sets

Teaching is it’s own art…


Obviously I am partial to all things USMC (Once a Marine… ) but in this case it is also a good example of the difference between

training instructors vs. training ‘martial artists.’

This is a short (and obviously promotional) video on the Instructor Training Program at Quantico, Virginia for the MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program).  These ARE NOT ‘martial arts’ students.  They ARE instructor trainees.

What’s the difference?

The focus is not primarily on technical skill, it is on how to teach these skills.  Notice too that there is strong emphasis on role modeling (teaching by example) from personal behavior and historical examples.

Most recreational martial artists are really teachers first and practitioners second.  But, how much ‘teacher training’ have they received or sought on their own?

You can’t teach well if you don’t know what you are teaching, true.  But how many of our fellow ‘martial artists’ (who really are teachers of martial arts) have not spent even half as much time on learning to instruct/coach/mentor as they have on perfecting their technical skill?

Inner Tube + Duct Tape + Flat Rope + Play Sand = DIY Bulgarian Bag Fun


This is my DIY (Do It Yourself) “Bulgarian Bag

After tripping over this exercise tool and watching some videos of how it is used, I thought it was a pretty nice way of getting a challenging workout… but the ‘real’ ones that Ivan Ivanov created are a bit pricey to test drive.

But, thanks to youtube, I found some DIY tutorials to cut the price from $211 – $155 (Leather costs more than canvas) down to about $30.00.

It is ugly, but like my camera equipment, its a tool for getting ‘pretty’ results not to look pretty.

Cut the inner tube, fill with sand, roll the ends toward the inside of the arc (better handles), and zip tie them closed.  Then duct tape the ends tight for grips.  I added the flat rope loops for some of the spinning exercises and to vary the hand positions for triceps/bicep exercises.  Mine came out to be around 39 pounds at first, but was too heavy to start with so I reduced the heft to about 30 pounds (between the 26 pound “medium” and the 37 pound “large” bags Mr. Ivanov sells) which is probably still a touch heavy, but my pride won’t let me go any lighter.

The variations on bulgarian bag exercises are endless, but this is a series of simple (but definitely not easy) exercises that I started with:

5 Rounds of:

10 “open spins” (full circle rotations to the left for 10, then right for 10)

10 push ups (which I varied with ‘frog’ push ups and ‘climber’ push ups)

5 Rounds of:

“Snatch Jumps” (execute a classic ‘snatch/clean’ motion’ with the bag landing – GENTLY – on your shoulders then jump/throw it back to the start position)

10 Repetitions of the TacArnis Concept Footwork patterns.

I shot the video on on my deck for better light and more room (because my wife likes nice things in her house to stay nice) – please don’t think I’m all hardcore/Rocky IV about this stuff.  It was 30 degrees and the deck was a little slick.  I have enough room for this routine in my basement and the floor is much safer there.

There is a learning curve to using the Bulgarian Bag, but I know that applying the “Form, Power, Focus, Speed” training concept from the Kenpo/FMA blend that is the foundation of TacArnis, this will be a fun/challenging addition to my fitness program but also develop kinesthetic awareness that translates to TacArnis training as well as overall health/fitness.

I strongly suggest ensuring you have enough room and a safe space to exercise in with something like Bulgarian bags or any exercise routine for that matter.

Burpees, Body Weight, and Bands


In a previous post I mentioned “Instructional Alignment” is a fancy way of saying that TacArnis uses the same concepts to instruct that students will apply as tactics.  This goes for our conditioning/fitness component as well. The conceptual lesson of “FLOW” is challenged when we combining conditioning exercises with TacArnis strikes/drills – creating ‘gut check’ experience.  As a drill “FLOW” is a basic drill in FMA to teach the more important idea of “FLOW” as a state of mind – KEEP GOING!  Even when you are tired, stressed, scared or injured.  KEEP GOING!  Taking concepts out of the physical drills and recognizing them as Concepts/Ideas means remember that they can be applied in other ways – and that is the bigger lesson.

I know I’ll catch flak from FMA/Martial arts purists out there, but the goal of TacArnis is not to teach “FMA” as “FMA.” It is to USE “FMA” and other martial skills (and ‘non martial art skills’) in order to “Train Smart” for self defense success.  The concept of “FLOW” as a state of mind is as important (if not more so) than mastering a drill that is meant as a primer for basic physical skills.

  • Burpees (0:08 to 0:29):  I have to confess that I have a love/hate relationship with the Burpee exercise, but it’s like one of the best whole body exercises you can do, so I do it.  For this workout we did the following:
    • 1o burpees w/4 punch combo (Jab/Cross, hook/hook) Tom punching
    • 1o burpees w/4 punch combo (Jab/Cross, hook/hook) Paul punching
    • 10 burpees w/single and double siniwali
    • 1o burpees w/bob and weave defense and 4 punch combo (Jab/Cross, hook/hook) Tom punching
    • 1o burpees w/bob and weave defense and 4 punch combo (Jab/Cross, hook/hook) Paul punching
    • Total 50 burpees per person.
    • NOTE:  You can give the ‘focus mitt guy/gal’ a longer rest by having them not burpee if needed BUT it will add time to the overall goal of 50 burpees (or whatever total number you are shooting for).
  • Body weight (0:30 to 0:36):
    • 10 body weight/partner squat lifts combined with bob and weave defensive movement Tom lifts
    • 10 body weight/partner squat lifts combined with bob and weave defensive movement Paul lifts
  • Bands (0:37 to 0:39): SOLO
    • 2 x :60 intervals continuous motion w/the band wrapped around your chest or waist to ‘punch it out’ – Tom
    • 2 x :60 interval continuous motion w/band wrapped around your chest or waist to ‘punch it out’ – Paul
  • Bands (0:40 to 0:52)
    • 2 x :30 intervals continuous motion with partner hold (use the stick to save your hands) stick and empty hand – Tom
    • 2 x :30 intervals continuous motion with partner hold (use the stick to save your hands) stick and empty hand – Paul

“Concept First” training


As with the AGILITY AND FOOTWORK post, this one highlights one of the central training ideas of TacArnis –

TRANSLATION (The ability to apply a concept/tactic/technique in a variety of situations effectively with available resources).

Tactical Arnis focuses on using sticks/weapons as training aids not solely as ‘weapons.’  There is a danger in getting really good at swinging rattan sticks intricately… you can only swing rattan sticks that way.  When will you have them in a practical, realistic self defense situation?  You probably won’t.

But, you will have a belt, broom handle, shoe, pencil/pen, bookbag, car keys, flashlight…

So we ‘train smart’ and keep things simple with a priority on fundamental concepts and movements at every level of training.

In the video below are a few patterns/translations that are common to Filipino Martial Arts (FMA’s).

Double “Siniwali” (weaving) – Stick translation to empty hand reinforces combination strikes and continuous motion.

Downward Figure 8 – Stick translation to empty hand is either a hammer fist to back hand or hook punch to backhand strike.

Upward Figure 8 – Stick translation to standard upper cuts (fist or palm strike) as well as upper cut looping to a hammer fist to the grown.

These are obviously not the only translations of these concepts, but they are a good start.

 

Agility and Footwork


TacArnis streamlines training by using ‘Instructional Alignment’ built on a concept training approach… which is fancy teacher talk that simply means:  We use the same basic ideas/theories (Concepts) to teach different skills and abilities.  The major advantage is the speed for the learner.

  1. New material can be learned more quickly because the format of instruction is familiar from prior lessons.
  2. Movements/patterns are built ‘into the bones’ of students quickly for application under stress.
  3. Concepts/tactics grow beyond ‘techniques’ because students apply the same movements under a different stressors/situations.
  4. Students will be ‘faster’ because they can adapt the same patterns of movement to fit situations instead of the ‘if the attacker is doing this, you respond with that…’ approach (which slows down the OODA loop process considerably).
As a student and a teacher I stress ambidexterity in training as well, so notice that I move the patterns with both left and right leads as well as using both my left and right hand w/ the stick.
This vid was shot after about 70 burpee combos with stick strikes, focus mitt drills, and pistol draws, so ‘when’ you include this type of training into a class can add a challenge factor as well.  This was like trying to rub my stomach and pat my head while tap dancing – but it still beats a day on the treadmill as far as I’m concerned.

4 Friends Seminar, October 8th.


On the heels of working with Dan Donzella, I have the chance to share the floor with three excellent martial artists.

I jumped at the chance to do this seminar for a lot of reasons – like the chance to work with Frank Heinan and John Kovacs, but, the big reason is the chance to see Keith Roosa in action.

Keith has been digging into Ising Atillo’s “Attilo Balintawak” and I can’t wait to compare/contrast what he is learning to the “Cuentada Balintawak” version I learned from Bobby Taboada.

As students of Dr. C. Jerome Barber, PhD, we were both required to explore other arts and systems while we were training with Jerome.  This goes for all his students.  When we find another system that seems like a good fit, Jerome encourages us to explore it as deeply as possible.  Thanks to this “Liberal Martial Arts” approach to training I’ve been introduced to many great systems and artists, but Bobby Taboada and Balintawak (Cuentada Balintawak) were such a powerful influence on my growth and understanding that they still remain a major component both technically and conceptually in TacArnis training.

I can’t wait to share some of the fundamentals Cuentada Balintawak and share the floor during the last hour with Keith, Frank, and John. But, like I said, I’m going to be picking Keith’s brain (and ‘stealing’ a few drills and skills if I can) while I’m there too.