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When I was 15, the televisions show called Eye on LA visited my house to do an interview with me on the martial arts for a spot they were producing on Ninjitsu. They also wanted to see my backyard as I had turned my 2000 square foot garden into a fully fledged ninja training camp. This series of articles is going to tell you what I had in my backyard so you too can create your own martial arts backyard dojo too. Since there have been a lot of developments in the arena of fitness and martial arts gear, you should be able to come up with a more modern version of a training location.

Before I begin.

If you are just beginning to place some items into your yard, garage or large room – do not worry too much about looks at first. Your first priority is performance and training. As you progress, you can focus on improving the look and feel of your workout location. This means that you can start by throwing in some used tires, old weights, or whatever you can find at the dump that can be somehow converted into a training tool. In the beginning, get very creative.

I have not put the items (or tips and ideas) in any particular order and since this is article one of many, you will need to review the other articles for the full scope of what to include.

THE NINJA BALANCE BEAM

I started training on 4×4 wood (covered in duct tape) balance beams in the martial arts as part of a warm up. They are great for improving balance as well as working on your kicks. In my backyard I was lucky as we already had some long wooden poles about 12 feet each. They were being used as a sort of border before the fence that led to a schoolyard. They were similar in size to a 4×4 only they had rounded edges. Because they were meant to look rough, I had to worry about getting splinters. However, they were a welcome addition to my obstacle course.

I have used everything from a fallen coconut tree to a simple block of wood (4×4) from Home Depot. Whatever you use, try to find something that you can walk across in your bare feet. You can raise the beam for more of a challenge or just leave it on the ground as it is.

Here are a few ways to use a balance beam:

Basic training

Simply practice walking across the beam or beams. Then try walking faster or even running across the beams. Finally, close your eyes and try to walk from one end of the beam to the other. This is a lot harder than it sounds.

Slow motion kicks

One simple exercise we use in our camps is for students to perform slow motion kicks (like front kicks) on the beams as they walk across the beam from one end to the other. For example:

  • Step up onto one end of the beam
  • Focus first on getting your balance
  • Perform a front kick step-by-step in slow motion
  • Take a step forward and repeat the process with the other leg

The above training is simple, but it will drastically improve your balance as well as your kicks. Good kicks to work on are:

  • The low sweep kick and front kick (easiest as you do not have to pivot the foot as much).
  • Side kicks and round kicks (harder as you need to move more and maintain balance)

You should be familiar with the coil position, pivot, extension and recoil parts of any kick. The main idea is to perform the kicks slow. It is much harder to throw a kick slow (breaking it into 1 second parts for example) than it is to throw a fast kick. You can also combine the training and perform one at a slow speed, another at medium speed and the final kick at a fast pace. Kicking slow will develop the muscles and parts of the body that create the foundation for powerful kicks. Kicking fast will help you advanced balance (adjusting and regaining balance …

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Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage, a spongy protein that covers the ends of the bones within a joint. Normal cartilage helps with shock absorption by serving as a cushion at the ends of the bones. The cartilage as the fluid within the joint allows for smooth joint movement. As osteoarthritis progresses, the space between the bones narrows, the cartilage wears down and the underlying bone is exposed. This results in painful movement of the joint as well as limited motion. Bone spurs can develop around the joint, limiting motion further and contributing to more pain. Inflammation plays only a minor role in osteoarthritis.

There are many causes of osteoarthritis, the most well known is the aging process. As we age, the water content of cartilage increases and the protein content decreases. As the water content increases, the cartilage becomes softer, more permeable and loses it’s mechanical properties. The protein content decreases which contributes to slow degeneration of the cartilage, resulting in flaking and erosions.

Other causes of osteoarthritis include abnormal bone alignment. In the foot, the most common cause is faulty foot mechanics. When the foot is not in alignment and not functioning properly, this causes abnormal stress on joints in the foot, ankle, knee, hip and back. Trauma is a well known cause of arthritis. Direct trauma can disturb the joint structures, cause mal-alignment of the joint or cause weakness of the surrounding structures, resulting in instability of the joint and eventual osteoarthritis. Other causes, such as infection, medications (such as steroids) and genetics contribute to the development of arthritis.

Obesity is a common cause of arthritis. The exact mechanism of how excess weight influences osteoarthritis is unclear. Although the excess load placed on joint surfaces will accelerated the breakdown of cartilage, obesity is also correlated with osteoarthritis of the hand, indicating a more systemic cause. Obesity increases the chances of having metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a set of risk factors which are linked to coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The risk factors include high blood pressure, abdominal obesity (fat around the waist), abnormal cholesterol levels (such as high triglyceride levels & low HDL levels) and insulin resistance (which corresponds with high blood sugar). The underlying theories of metabolic syndrome are tied to the body’s metabolism, most likely insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the cells inability to efficiently use insulin, a hormone which transports sugar from the bloodstream to the cells. The result is high blood sugar. Insulin resistance is correlated to weight gain and inactivity.

In a recent study in the journal Skeletal Radiology, popliteal artery wall thickness was evaluated in individuals with osteoarthritis. Forty-two patients who were diagnosed with osteoarthritis at multiple joints were compared to 27 patients without osteoarthritis (the control group). An MRI of the knee was used to evaluate vessel wall thickness of the popliteal artery. The osteoarthritis group had thicker vessel walls than the control group, even when the researchers made adjustments for gender, weight and age. Because vessel wall thickness is directly related to high blood pressure and peripheral and coronary artery disease, the authors suggest that osteoarthritis might be another facet of metabolic syndrome.

One theory to explain the link between osteoarthritis and metabolic syndrome is based on white blood cells, immune fighting cells, increasing in areas where fat accumulates, especially around the abdomen (abdominal obesity). As the white blood cells increase, they contribute to widespread inflammation in the body, causing a pro-inflammatory state (as indicated by high blood levels of C- reactive protein) and the production of immune chemicals (specifically cytokines) which cause a chain reaction resulting in damage to the cartilage. The combination of insulin resistance and the pro-inflammatory state may also affect the normal cartilage repair process.

It is possible that osteoarthritis might be an inevitable outcome for those with metabolic syndrome.

Kornaat PR et al. Positive association between increased popliteal artery vessel wall thickness and generalized osteoarthritis: is OA also part of the metabolic syndrome? Skeletal Radiol. 2009 Jul 3.
Rojas-Rodríguez J, et al. The relationship between the metabolic syndrome and energy-utilization deficit in the pathogenesis of obesity-induced osteoarthritis. Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(4):860-8.
Cicuttini FM, Baker JR, Spector …

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In effort to improve my ability to deliver an amazing product at the Muay Thai gym I own, I felt compelled to travel to the Mecca of Muay Thai, Phuket, Thailand, and learn from the best of the best. This article is part of a series of articles, detailing that endeavor.

Part 3

Coming to Thailand was no easy feat. I am not an experienced traveler, so I experienced many pitfalls in getting here. I am learning as I go, and am confident my next trip will go a lot more smoothly.

I have detailed some of those pitfalls, as well as some early observation of Thailand in past articles. I am now in the ‘holy land of Muay Thai’ Phuket, Thailand. I am exhausted by the rip, and anxious to get right to work, but feel like I need some rest before getting down to business.

I really tried to take a nap when I got checked into my room. The sound of Muay Thai training right outside my door was permeating it’s way into my room. After about 20 minutes of tossing and turning, I decided to go check things out.

My first stop was Dragon Muay Thai, since they were right next door. It was intense. Everyone there seemed to be at a high level, and were training as thought their lives depended on it. I would later learn this was a fighter training session, and was not entirely indicative of their student base. They have beginners as well, but not on this day. There was some pretty hard sparring going on, and some grueling conditioning for those who weren’t sparring.

After watching for a while, I decided to go down and check out the place I had already signed up for, Tiger Muay Thai.

Upon walking in the front office, I was very impressed with how polite and professional their staff was. They were very welcoming, and very detailed providing me with all the information I would need during my stay. I was given a tour of the facility, issued my equipment I had purchased on-line, and given all the paperwork describing all the amenities offered there-And there were many!

They have on-sight dorms, a full kitchen and restaurant, CrossFit-type Fitness classes, Yoga, Boxing, MMA, Jiu Jitsu, and of course Muay Thai. Additionally, they offer courses in Muay Boran, which is Muay Thai, but for street application, rather than sport. They also have traditional Thai stick fighting called Krabi Krabong classes.

There are four separate Muay Thai training areas; 1. Beginners 2. Intermediate 3. Advanced 4. Fighter Training.

One thing I liked was that EVERYONE starts in the beginner section. You advance only when a trainer deems you ready-No matter what your background is. I had no problem drilling basics the first few days, but sparring beginners is like trying to tame a bull. They are nervous to be training Muay Thai in Thailand, and have a hard time controlling their nervous energy.

When formal classes are not going on, the Trainers teach private, one-on-ones, so there is always action going on throughout the complex.

Walking through the different areas really got my blood pumping, and I couldn’t wait to get started. I hadn’t expected to be wanting to train on my first day, so my membership didn’t start until tomorrow. I would have to wait one more day to get underway.

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Source by Mike Stidham

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Beware of “burn out.” This usually happens after you have achieved a short-term goal. You pat yourself on the back and decide to “kick it up a notch,” but your body is at the limit. You have to listen to your body. Although you can make improvements “in leaps and bounds,” it is not a machine.

Use different approaches: Walk, use cardio machines, swim, and use weights. If you are bored, jump into a group fitness class such as Yoga, Pilates, cardio kickboxing, spinning, aerobics, body shaping, or something else. You may find one of them to be your “calling.”

Don’t knock anything until you have tried it. Many people perceive an exercise to be one thing, until they are deeply involved in it. There’s nothing wrong with being the only man in a Yoga class. Also, there’s nothing wrong with being the only woman in a martial arts class.

Fitness is an equal opportunity environment, so get the stereotypes out of your head and don’t buy into classic excuses. I had a client with Cerebral Palsy on one side of her body. She had also been involved in a traffic accident, which caused permanent damage to her knee and ankle, on the other side of her body.

She used to drive an hour from her home in Massachusetts to our location in North Providence, Rhode Island. She was around 60 pounds over her ideal weight. She never made excuses or missed an appointment. She lost all of that weight within two years, and she is now a personal trainer.

Make sure the people you surround yourself with are supportive of your goals. For example: It’s hard to lose weight if your husband insists on bringing home a supply of Big Macs every night. Your resolution may turn into a disaster if this is the case.

You may have to adjust your lifestyle to be persistent, positive, and goal oriented. Once you carry through, and succeed with one resolution, it will be a fantastic experience. This is the beginning of using goal-setting skills to enhance the quality of your entire life.

Lastly, remember this all started with writing down a plan that I mentioned in Part One. Your resolution should be as detailed as possible. Clearly define your resolution with realistic time frames and deadlines. Your odds of following through, making progress, and reaching your goals, will exponentially increase just by putting it in writing. Consider this a contract with yourself.

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Source by Paul Jerard

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"Take Control Of Your Health Naturally"

Social Health

Social health refers to a person's ability to interact with others and thrive in social settings. Social health has shown to assist in improving other forms of health such as physical, mental and emotional health.

Social skills are a vital component of your social health. Social skills are used to communicate and interact effectively with others. Some examples of social skills are:

  • Accepting differences
  • Asking for help
  • Communicating clearly
  • Complementing others
  • Disagreeing politely
  • Encouraging others
  • Following directions
  • Listening actively
  • Participating equally
  • Resolving conflict
  • Sharing materials
  • Staying on task
  • Taking turns
  • Taking risks
  • Using quiet voices
  • Waiting patiently

Now there are social disorders just like physical, mental and emotional disorders. There are also treatments. However, before you go labeling someone with a disorder, some of us are better in social setting than others. Personally, I am an introvert. I prefer to be the quite one in the corner of a party unless I am in a deep intimate conversation with someone. That is okay! My son is the extrovert. He is the one standing on top of the table with his shirt off. That is okay too! (I had to learn that.)

Here are some tips to improving your social skills:

1. Listen to what the other person has to say.

2. Don't take criticism personally

3. Don't go on and on and on and on …

4. Treat others like you want to be treated

5. Be positive

6. Use positive body language

Wherever you are on the social thermometer keeping a balance for your temperature gauge can be tricky when work, kids, life, etc. becomes overwhelmingly hard to handle. It is important for you to find some time for you to keep your social health balanced. Find some time for you. Maintaining an active social life is one of the best ways to stimulate the mind, reduce stress, and get out of the house.

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Source by Angela Brand

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Welcome to part 3 of the web course. Each part will reveal a new technique on how to build consistency into your exercise routine and turn that once hated event into a consistent pleasure where you reap the benefits. Say good bye to punishment, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed and say hello to your new life.

Ok, we are now flying. Hopefully you have read and completed parts 1 and 2. If not, please go to the link at the bottom of this article. This next part is where we really start to deviate from what you are used to. We are going to reveal the key steps to truly making progress on your fitness quest and enjoy the process.

Like we said in part 2 of this course, if you are not enjoying the process, you are not likely to be consistent. If you enjoy what you are doing, you can be consistent forever.

Now that you have your target and why you want it from parts 1 and 2, you are ready to turn it into a reality. Remember in part 1, when we talked about writing down what you really want and not to worry if it seems unattainable and how you will not be judging yourself based on that large goal? Well, we didn’t forget.

No punishment, frustration feeling overwhelmed!

We will do our best to keep this next section short for this article. You can always get the FULL course by following the link at the bottom of this article. It’s free, so don’t let cost slow you down.

You have your goal and it is probably a big one. You might be thinking,

“How in the world can I possibly achieve that?”

The first step is to put that thought out of your mind. When you are thinking about your goal, jump right over the how you are going to achieve it, and only think about all the why’s you wrote down in part 2 and how great it is going to feel when you get there.

In this section is the only, and we mean the only time you are to think about how you are going to achieve your goal. Don’t worry, we will make it easy. You are only to think about what is your next step to achieve your goal.

And, you want your next step to be small.

The next step should be something easy and comfortably achieved in about one month or loss.

The key word is “comfortably” achieved.

You can always do more or achieve the next step faster. Don’t worry about choosing incorrectly, because we have a whole system in part 4 of this course to correct any errors.

Your body target will keep you on course, so all you have to focus on now is achieve your next step and how great it is going to feel when you achieve your body target.

Simple enough?

Please download our full course, if you want tons of examples on how to go about choosing your next step.

Your next step needs to be small and truly a next step. If you haven’t worked out for a long time, maybe your next step should be working out for 15 minutes / three times per week. You can always do more, but if you make your goal too high at first; you will be setting yourself up for defeat.

What is the number reason people fail from part 1?

“They set themselves up to lose before they even start.”

Remember, your next step is from where you are at now. If you never worked out before, have someone else build a work out program, but make sure it is something you can do and you will enjoy. Don’t worry if the program seems too small, you are building the habit of working out. You can always increase your intensity once working out has become a habit.

Finally, please, please, please make sure your doctor knows what your next step is and he or she approves of it. Your health is too important to over do it or get yourself hurt. By becoming consistent, your body will adapt. …

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