Tag Archives: judo

Link: Frank Gotch’s 1908 “Wrestling and How to Train”

Follow the link for a transcript of Gotch’s classic wrestling manual, Wrestling and How to Train.

Video Link: 1947 “Judo Jymnastics”

One from the vaults:

Just another good reminder of two things:

-there really isn’t much new under the sun when it comes to fighting techniques and “mixed martial arts”

-although there is some camp involved in the demonstrations,  proper leverage against a joint’s weak angles can go a long way- and it’s good to have some contingencies in store if a go-to technique fails.

Coincidentally, the guy looks a lot like one of the assistants from Jack Dempsey’s 1942 combatives manual, “Fight Tough,” and I love her liberal use of the heels…

Basic Thoracic Spine Injury Prevention for Fighting Arts & Combat Sports

The actions of fighting arts (including combatives and self-defense systems) and combat sports place regular high stresses on the spinal column. I’ve previously mentioned the anterior-posterior compressive and shear forces that affect the lumbar spine, but not the transverse rotational (torsional) and lateral compressive forces that actions like punching, kicking, throwing and falling places on the thoracic spine. Basic fighting postures, such as a standing guard or striking can encourage thoracic kyphosis and lateral asymmetry.  Left unchecked, torso actions can become plagued by dominant muscular patterns of imbalance to one side or the other, as a result of a favored limb or ingrained movement compensations due to faulty stabilization or movement system activity. Over time these muscular imbalances  can lead to vertebral facet degradation and arthritis, disk herniations and ruptures, nerve entrapment and bone spurs (typically in the direction of excessive muscular tension), all of which translate to reduced performance.

Curvature of a healthy spinal column. Note the lateral symmetry.

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Development of Expertise in the Fighting Arts- Some Basic Notes

 What constitutes an “expert” in a fighting art or practice? Approaching the question from a motor learning perspective is highly useful, and has many obvious inroads into discussing pedagogy, practicality and transferability of a training method to a performance setting.Experts in any physical activity exhibit several common characteristics, regardless of the nature of the activity:
1. Superior ability to anticipate the likely outcome of a situation as it emerges. This is distinct from a conscious effort to guess what will happen, which we see in relative novices. Instead, this is more efficient perception-action linking. It manifests as shorter reaction time, with reaction time being the interval between stimulus and initiation of movement. RT is a reflection of the cognitive processing going on between perceptual and motor regions before a physical response is initiated. Combined with more efficient motor programs for the movement time, the result is a faster overall response time (RT and MT combined).
2. Less visual search for the important aspects of a developing situation. A relative novice looks everywhere, whereas the expert looks immediately at the salient areas (a shoulder movement before a punch, a slight drop of the forearm towards the belt line, etc.)
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More for the Core: Are Sit-ups Helping Your Lower Back, or Hurting?

A topic that comes up frequently on the FSRI blog is “core training,” particularly as it relates to moderating the lower back/spinal stress  that training in all fighting arts creates. I dialogue quite a bit with people from various fighting arts circles, and often someone will respond to a core-related topic with  “I do x reps of sit-ups everyday.” Ostensibly this seems like a good way to train the core musculature, however it neglects many important elements of the core’s movement and stabilization systems at the favor of the most visible aspect, the rectus abdominis (the “6-pack” that people are unfortunately obsessed with). Due to their positioning in the spinal column and the muscular attachments of several muscles, notably the psoas,  the lumbar vertebrae end up being exposed to kinematic demands and kinetic forces that are greater than one might think. Full sit-ups actually increase these forces, since hip flexion is required along with the desired rectus abdominis action, which places a combined compressive and shearing force on the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back:

Clinicians often recommend abdominal exercises as both a prophylactic and a treatment for low back pain…However, sit-up type exercises, even when performed with the knees in flexion, generate compressive loads on the lumbar spine well over 3000 N (ed: 675 lbs. force) . According to one clinical report, the use of sit-up type exercises appears to have actually contributed to low back pain development among a group of 29 exercisers. Partial crunches have been advocated as providing strong abdominal muscle challenge, with minimal spinal compression (Hall, 2007).

The action of a full sit-up creates several surprisingly high forces: compression on the anterior (front) facets, tension on the posterior (rear) facets and shear at the medial rotation point of the lumbar spine, particularly the lower vertebrae.

If the goal is to correct the stresses that training and conditioning place on our lower backs by strengthening the rest of the core, it should be clear that full sit-ups are not a good choice, and that the RA muscle is not the best target for “core training.” Don’t forget the image of the core as a tall tower with guy wires stabilizing it in all directions. The other core movers and stabilizers also need proper conditioning Although the RA is visible and easy to target, standard sit-ups and targeting it exclusively may actually increase the stress load to the lumbar spine, worsening existing muscular imbalances, performance deficits  and increasing the risk of low back pain/chronic injuries.

The solution is to leave full sit ups out of your conditioning routines. Take a look at Bob’s Back Brief article for some suggestions and links to video demonstrations of many core exercises which can add balance and increased performance- as well as decreased stress on the lumbar spine- to your conditioning.

Feel free to contact one of us for consultation and more ideas.

References:

Hall, S.J. (2007). Basic Biomechanics (5th ed.) (p.305). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Spinal Overuse Injuries in the Fighting Arts: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

The modern understanding of “the core” and the need to properly condition it has become well known among athletic and active people, including martial artists (yes, the importance of the hips has been belabored for centuries, but the modern anatomically based concept is not necessarily the same thing). The core refers to the muscles, connective tissues and bones of the torso, yet to many it’s just the rectus abdominis (the “6-pack’).  However, the core can be more accurately thought of as the support, stabilization and movement system for the spinal column. This stack of 33 vertebrae (24 moving and 9 fixed) is connected by many ligaments and muscles, which provide oppositional tension akin to the guy wires on a tall tower.

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Evidence Based Practice in the Fighting Arts: Appraisal and Suggestions

The practice of martial arts has come to be diverse in terms of the wide range of  arts and schools available and in terms of the population that is involved. Physical fitness and talent may only be required to a small degree, or they may be paramount to success. Students may be dedicated about conditioning, or they may be “weekend-warriors” whose primary physical activity is a class.  An instructor may be qualified in a technical realm but not be a good source of information in others, such as the nature of violence. The need for Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is just as high as in any other vigorous physical activity, yet appeals to tradition, history and authority and “experts” often lead students and practitioners to accept dubious information or ignore new information, which can have consequences on a number of levels. For this discussion, the practice of the various martial arts can be divided into two realms: non-competitive recreational (i.e., oriented at self defense, fitness, cultural pursuit, etc.) and competitive (amateur or professional competition). Most of this discussion will focus on the recreational realm.

What is EBP?

Briefly, evidence-based practice can be seen as a tool for:

  • finding evidence to support decision making and for analyzing the quality of the available evidence
  • distinguishing low quality sources of qualitative and quantitative information from high quality sources
  • promoting critical thinking and synthesis of the literature
  • recognizing that best evidence may change over time

Evidence-based practice is a key feature in modern medical education. In the above diagram of EBP components, it doesn’t take much effort to exchange “patient” for student and “clinical expertise” for instructional expertise

It’s also important to recognize what EBP is not:

  • A cookbook approach to training and decision making
  • Not based solely on hard evidence- empirical experience, intuition and active experimentation have a role. EBP considers personal experience, judgment, values, etc. alongside information from objective, quality sources.
  • Not restricted to RCT’s and meta-analyses

Failures of EBP in the Fighting Arts

An extreme example of a lack of critical thinking and evidence-based practice can be found in  the cult of personality that has developed around Ueshiba Morihei, founder of the Japanese art of Aikido.

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