I stumbled upon a video recently that deeply moved me. A martial artist demonstrates kata and self defense. However, this was no ordinary martial artist... this is someone who has profound physical challenges. But yet, in this video there is power, strength, beauty, creativity, respect and amazing technique. I found myself cheering him on as I watched him perform. In the self defense portion, when he took on two men, there was emotional joy at seeing him perform.
The man's name is Said-Elmahmoudi from Morocco. Watch the video below (note the video is in another language, but you don't need to speak the language to understand what's going on.):
If you have trouble viewing the video here is a direct link:
I am inspired by this man. He is proof that karate is for everyone, not just those who are privileged with perfect health. Never say, "I can't!" As there are people who may have told this martial artist he couldn't do something, but as you can see, he is proof that nothing is impossible. I hope you are as inspired as I was after watching him perform.
It may sound like the lead in for an email in your Spam box, but you really can change your life in 30 days. The secret is selecting a single, meaningful change, goal or project that you commit to doing for 30 days in a row.
I was inspired when I watched a TED talk by Matt Cutts. If you are not familiar with TED, it is a Web site that contains a full library of "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." You can watch the video that inspired me here:
If you can't see the embedded video, you can navigate to it with this link: http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html
Come to think of it, watching one TED video for 30 days could be a positive life changing endeavor. I challenge you for the next 30 days to do something amazing. If you are short on ideas here are just a few in various categories. (Thank you to my students who offered up a number of these!)
I welcome your comments on this blog as to what you selected as your 30 day challenge, what happened along the way, if it was successful for you or how it changed an aspect of your life.
My philosophy of the martial arts is based on three things: Mind, Body and Spirit. My goal as a Sensei (teacher) is to facilitate growth in all three areas for every student that comes into my dojo. For good health I believe it is important to strive to improve these three areas of ones life.
First, it helps to understand the meaning of each of these elements:
The Body = represents your physical health; strength, flexibility and stamina
The Mind = represents your mental health; alertness, expanding ones knowledge through learning new things and stretching the mind with new challenges, ideas and thought processes
The Spirit = your spiritual health; development of strong character, positive attitude, slow to anger, a purposeful life, belief in a power greater than yourself.
I believe that each of us, myself included, must constantly work to hone our minds, bodies and spirits. Karate and the martial arts are methods for improving all three. But, it is important to also seek opportunities for improvement outside of the dojo.
Just for today, do something healthy for your body.
Just for today, read or talk to someone about something that expands your mind.
Just for today, take time to meditate or pray to your higher power. Focus on finding the positive aspects of any situation.
If you choose to do these three things each day, you may soon find peace and the rewards of a healthy and fulfilling life.
Basic exercises you can do to increase overall body strength.
In a past blog entry I discussed exercises you can do to increase flexibility. In this entry I will discuss some basic exercises you can do to increase overall body strength. The exercises I chose have been selected for their simplicity and use of little to no training equipment. I also have narrowed it down to four main exercises that produce excellent results for overall strength in muscle groups needed for the martial arts. Finally, I've provided a work out plan for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.
1. Push ups: start on the ground, feet apart for balance, hands positioned directly under your shoulders. Keeping your back and legs straight, push up with your arms and slowly lower yourself touching your chest to the floor for each count.
2. Air squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Grasp your hands together and hold them straight out parallel to the floor. Pull your belly button toward your spine and contract your abdominal muscles. Slowly lower your body, as though you are sitting in a chair. Lower until your bottom is in line with your knees (knees at 90-degree angles). Make sure your knees are BEHIND your toes, your back is straight, and the weight is in your heels.
3. Leg lifts: lay on your back on the ground with legs fully extended. Tuck palms of hands under your bottom. Keeping legs straight and together, slowly lift heels about four inches off the ground. Tightening tummy, lift legs up further to 45 degree angle. That's one count. Slowly repeat to the four inch position. Do these reps very slowly to a cadence of 3 seconds per rep.
4. Pull ups: locate a pull up bar, kids jungle gym or sturdy rafter in your home. Grip the bar with fingers pointed away from you. Pull your body up so your chin goes over the bar.
After performing all four exercises, rest for one minute. That means you have completed one circuit. Repeat the circuit a minimum of twice and work up to repeating the circuit five times. Once you can repeat the beginning level five times, go ahead and bump up to intermediate. Once you can perform five circuits at the intermediate level, bump up to the advanced level. If five circuits at the advanced level is a snap for you then contact me for a new set of exercises to challenge you!
For the best results perform all four exercises in circuits twice a week.
Vashon Borich-Leach, Sensei teaches traditional karate and tai chi in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™