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 Post subject: Peak Experience
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 1999 5:13 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 17032
Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
I've always been a fan of cross training. Actually my athletic roots are in baseball (pitcher, outfielder, first base), track, and weight training. Martial arts came my way at age 17, and I stuck with it because it appeared to be something I could maintain for a lifetime. But much of what I am as a martial artist comes from generalized skills gained in other athletic endeavors.

I know I have alluded to this in the past, but I will reemphasize it given some recent events. First of all, the fellow I work with (an M.D. who has a very healthy outlook on life) is a rock climber. Ever since he viewed my resume over 5 years ago and saw the one-line blurb about martial arts, he's been trying to get me to climb with him (he already has me surfing, much to my delight).

Recently a new facility - Peak Experiences - opened up just south of the James River near Richmond. Larry, my "boss", already had passed along some training equipment to me for grip strength because I had expressed an interest in gaining these skills for my martial arts. Well Larry finally got me out to his climbing gym last Friday night.

This isn't my first time climbing, nor is it my first time at a climbing gym (there's one in Chicago near the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association headquarters). But it is the first time I have had a training facility of this calibre available to me on a regular basis. Those who are students of the Uechi system and of history know of the specialized methods that the Chinese and Okinawans use to develop hand strength for the specialized Fuzhou hand techniques. Well let me tell you this: climbing in a gym of this type is a LOT more fun than walking with vases in your hands. And from what I can tell, these climbers have it all over your average martial artist in terms of forearm, hand, and finger strength. At this point I can do a lengthy 5-7 level climb, but I come out of it with THROBBING forearms and hands that can't even tie a shoe. Larry can take his 200 lb plus frame and navigate it up a 5-11 rated climb with ease. And this level of grip strength is a far greater challenge than any vase-oriented exercise I have seen. Some of these holds on the climbs have unimaginably small points of grip. Also, the climbing activity reinforces the notion of using technique and whole-body activity vs brute strength with the upper body. Ever heard that notion before?

If you have a gym like this available to you, I highly recommend the experience. My son is already addicted, and he is a mere 6 years old. I can't imagine how good his grip strength will be given the opportunity to do an activity like this while growing and developing. And for many folks - particularly the very young - this is the key to getting them to do the necessary work that brings the martial ability to the next level.

If it isn't fun, why are we doing this anyhow?

Bill


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 Post subject: Peak Experience
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 1999 12:45 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA
Bill san: Sounds like fun. I'll have to stop in there some day during my lunch hour.

I've only done a wall like that once, but in my youth I was an avid climber and spelunker and still have a number of climbing devices in the attic (Sam is using an aluminum carabiner as a keychain), including 150' of Bluewater 2 climbing rope.

When I did the wall, after I was done I experienced the burning forearms you mentioned. I changed my workout at the gym by throwing away my hand straps and now do all exercizes, even using 100 to 110 lb. dumbells, without any aid.

Question? The grip is much improved, but is that the root of my 'tennis elbow'?

What good do the handstraps do anyway?

Rich


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 Post subject: Peak Experience
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 1999 3:03 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
Rich

Tennis elbow usually involves inflammation of the tendons in the forearm that control pronation and supponation. There are other types of inflammation that you can get of all kinds of tendons in the forearm from overdoing it with various exercises. As a matter of fact, Larry gave me one of his personal gym climbing torture devices because it gave him bad tendonitis. Like anything, you need to take it slow and consistent. Like anything, you need to be in it for the long haul. Larry just got a bit too anxious and overdid it. Once you inflame some key tendons, it can take a year or more (sometimes) to get them back to health. It's easier to avoid stupidity than to cure it. We've all been there....

As tempted as I was last Friday, I did two and ONLY two climbs, and called it a day. Next time I'll do three... My son climbed and climbed until he couldn't any more. He had problems going to sleep for the next few nights because of the pain in his forearms. But he has the gift of youth. He heals quickly. You and I need to be smarter.

There is another important rule of thumb here. Each athletic activity involves using the body in a unique way. You can be in perfect athletic shape in one activity, but you won't be in another that you haven't done before. There is always a high injury risk period at the beginning of any new activity, particularly if you tend to go hard. It's best to always take it easy the first few times in a new sport to get your body used to being used this different way. One needs to put the ego to bed for the first few sessions.

Doing a flexion exercise in the weight room CAN involve quite a few muscle groups. The more muscle groups involved, the less energy you can put into any one of them. Often in a pulling motion, the hands are the weak link and take away from the energy you can put into the biceps and the back muscles. Thus using hand straps takes the grip away as the weak link and allows you to pull more weight because you can focus on the major muscle groups. That's great....if your goal is to get big biceps and a big back. However if you are doing weight training (as opposed to bodybuilding) as a means to an end (better athletic performance), then you WANT to work all muscles at the same time and learn to make them work together. This best approximates a real athletic motion, like grabbing your opponent and pulling them into a punch.

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 02-17-99).]


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 Post subject: Peak Experience
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 1999 12:24 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 1089
Oh baby, this is a subject dear to my heart! Are you all familiar with the training stones used by Chou Tzu Ho Sifu and Uechi Kanbun Sensei? Rik Lostritto Sensei affectionately known as Los Hombre del Stones (from this moment on) introduced me to these wonderful torture devices. They are according to my friend, Dr. Ken Leistner (truly the point man of high intensity training in this country) very similar to training apparatus used by climbers. Rik and I will have an article on them in a forthcoming issue of Milo (check it out at www.ironmind.com) Also for anyone that's interested check out my article in Sept '98 Inside Kung-Fu on hand and grip strength training.
Tendonitis!!!! UGHHH!!!!! Power cleans are one of my favorite movements yet is seems every time I get up in weight I get an annoying tendonitis of the brachioradialis. Now I've gone from being a dinosaur doing PC's to an armadillo doing hundreds of 10 lb. hammer curls.
Bill San, couldn't agree more about the use of supportive gear in lifting. Unite karateka and burn your belts, straps, wraps, etc. I stopped using all of the above alltogether (except for above mentioned tendonitis - in high rep movements like side bends where it just isn't worth the nominal stimulation to my grip relative to prolonging tendonitis.) Now some years later, I'm much stronger in basic movements like d.b. rows, squats, trap bar dead lifts, cleans, shrugs, etc. and never use any supportive gear (Oh I guess if you count compression shorts.) The real payoff is that I'm beginng to feel the enhancement of power in my girdle vessel area. I think part of that is also that I don't believe in doing hundreds of reps of ab work - manual labor! I much prefer heavy bent leg sit ups with a plate behind the head, heavy side bends, and simulated "shoveling" with a bar weighted at one end. All wonderful stuff, and as a side benefit you too can have that much sought after T'ai Chi Master pear shape.
Good and "painless" training,
David


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