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
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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.

“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.

Dan Donzella Rocks….


I don’t do the math often, so I’m stunned every time.  I’ve been involved in martial arts for over 28 years….

After all that time, the most important lesson as far as I am concerned was from Dr. C. Jerome Barber, my main instructor.  He always encouraged us to explore other systems, styles, and schools.  As a TacArnis minded guy, this makes a lot of sense since it exposes a student to different movement styles ‘because you won’t be attacked by someone who moves like you’ as Jerome would say.  Jerome trains in defensive firearms as well as martial arts so his mentality has always been a practical one.

As a life lesson, though, training with other styles is a way to stay in that ‘newbie’ or white belt mentality.  After 28 years of training, I still get nervous about stepping onto someone else’s training floor, but that’s the point!  It’s humbling, frustrating, and exciting.  In the end, it makes you a better teacher, student, and person if you are willing to ‘put on your white belt’ every once in a while.  Submitting to someone else’s system – especially when you have your own way of doings – is not an easy thing to do, but shows respect to another view point.  And, as far as leadership goes, sometimes the best way to ‘lead by example’ is to be willing to follow.

On, August 25th I attended a seminar with Dan Donzella at Ken Swan’s school .

I’ve known Dan since the early 90’s and I want a blood transfusion or the secret to his diet – he has not change one iota!  Fit, fast, lean, and skilled as ever.

Dan’s no-nonsense approach to training has always impressed me.  His style of movement is intricate at times, but he has a knack for breaking it into bite size elements that make it easy to learn quickly.

Dan intended the seminar to cover his Beginner and Level One curriculum, but he took the time to give me some one-on-one work on higher level material.  The material blew me away, but also Dan’s generosity because he had so many other students to teach as well.  Ken and his students were gracious hosts and training partners.  From the time I registered/paid to the end of the session, I think just about all Ken’s student’s took a moment to say hello.  As training partners they committed to mastering Dan’s curriculum and worked hard.

Training with Dan, Ken and his students was a great time.  Ken’s school is minutes from me and I could have just dropped in to say hi and hang out with him instead of getting on the floor, but it’s about the training.  That’s what bonds us.  Taking Dan’s class was more than training, it was a sign of respect, cooperation, and camaraderie.  I could have walked in with the mentality that I had already ‘been there done that’ since I’d trained with Dan before, trained in Arnis for over 23 years . . . but I walked away with a head full of new discoveries from “old” material, and reconnected with a long time associate.  Besides, if I expect students to follow my instruction, I should be willing to follow someone else’s on occasion too.

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Congratulations to Dan for his partnership with the Syracuse PD.  During our conversations, I was glad to hear that the Syracuse PD is taking advantage of his knowledge too.  He teaches a defensive tactics program specifically designed for Law Enforcement Officers (LEO).  As a martial artist, Dan is great but as a TacArnis minded kind of guy, the topper for me, is that he’s a shooter too – just like my instructor.  His mentality about training has always been a practical one as well.

T.A.W.G. Workout Rewind 5/20/11 – Power and Focus training


Form, Power, Focus, Speed… This is the technical progression from the Kenpo influence on TacArnis training.

Tonight’s workout targeted POWER and FOCUS by using a ‘functional training’ approach.  It’s challenging, fun, and good strength/conditioning to boot.

GOALS/OUTCOMES:

  • Using objects as visual and ‘touch’ references to develop awareness of where energy is going and how much energy is being creating
  • “POWER” training using the 10 pound medicine ball to ‘trick’ the nervous system into recruiting more muscle/energy than just empty hand alone
    • – it’s also a lot of fun to bounce that ball around the room.
  • “FOCUS” training with a focus mitt (no pun intended) held in both hands.  This helps students ‘see’ where their energy starts and where they send it because they know where they are starting/sending the focus mitt when the throw it.

Many times – especially as beginning students – we only ‘throw’ our energy TO the bad guy  instead of THROUGH the bad guy.  By using this type of drill/training, students learn faster, get stronger and better conditioned – as well as ‘smarter’ about their movements.  Students ‘own’ their learning since they observe what they are doing, adjust/orient themselves, decide  what to fix or repeat, and act by trying again.. and again.. and again.  This is the OODA Loop in action.

For Self Defense focused martial arts, this is a BIG win win since they are learning to operate independently –  to succeed –  by using the OODA Loop.  I won’t be there to tell them what to fix in a crisis or in daily life.  Don’t get me wrong, I still coach and guide things, but this approach builds self confidence vs. the ‘is this right?’ (constantly seeking the teacher’s opinion about what’s right or wrong).

TAWG Workout Rewind 5/12/11 – Basics Training Inventory


A Senior Drill Instructor supervises the inspe...

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A good dust kicker.  Thanks to Michele for the chance to run through ALL of the basic self defense techniques, ALL of the basic stick and empty hand drills, ALL of the footwork drills… all of the basic ‘stuff.’  PHEW!

Goals/Outcomes:

  • Self Defense basic level techniques:
    • Wrist grabs
    • Shirt Grabs
    • Chokes
    • Bearhugs
    • Strikes
    • Ground
    • Wall
  • Block Check Counter/Trapping Hands
    • Three count
    • Four Count
    • Two Count
    • “One” Count
    • “No” Count
    • Reverses
    • “Hand Flash” drills
  • Stick strike/defense
    • 12 Angles of attack/defense
    • “6 Position Blocking” drill
    • “Live Hand” basics
  • Footwork/Mobility
    • 12 directions of mobility
    • Bob/Weave/Slipping
    • Stances

Now I know this is a long list.  But, don’t think we stood in rank and file with me calling out like a drill instructor… All of these elements are interconnected so deeply that I just had to make sure there was an ‘opportunity’ for each of these listed skills to be used.

I like to keep things moving, and this was a LOT of stuff to get through… but it was fun, a good workout, and a good ‘road mark’ evaluation.