Summer Martial Arts Essential? – Duke Cannon Supply Co Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels

Back when I did an endurance bicycling event (my ONLY one in life, but 300 miles counts), it happened to fall during the dead of summer.  And, apparently, on the hottest days – the first 100 + miles was in 110 degree heat.

As a non-heat, and non-endurance athlete, I HAD prepared somewhat.  I searched high and low for cooling apparel, wipes, sprays, really anything that could help lower my body temp.  While I was somewhat successful (thank you FrogTogs), and though I’m not planning any rigorous outdoor events for mid-summer, I am always up for learning about new products that bring a little heat relief.

Duke Cannon Supply Co Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels are designed not only to get you clean (a necessary feature if you are training – at any time – but especially during sweat-laden summer months), but also to give a cooling, refreshing feel. 

ulta.com

Per Ulta’s description:

The mountains of Afghanistan are not exactly equipped with state of the art plumbing, so a cold shower to escape the dirt, grime, and oppressive heat was never an option. Such was the inspiration behind Cold Shower Cooling Field Towels. Developed in concert with our military advisory panel, these face and body towels are manufactured with menthol, aloe, and jojoba to provide a chilling blast as they cleanse and protect. The perfect way to cool down and recover after 12-hour shifts, covert field missions, or back alley boxing matches.

As for the formulation, there are hydrating, exfoliating, calming and cooling ingredients throughout – these are definitely no bullshit:

Ingredients:

Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Aloe Vera Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Extract, Cucumis Sativus Extract, Althaea Officinalis Extract, Oat Kernal Extract, Menthol, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sucrose Cocoate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethyhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenxyethanol, Fragrance.

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Nutrition Humor – Germs

Everyone is always so quick to say there’s five seconds in which you can pick up your food an be safe.  I think as a figure skater who dropped food on the floor during summer training (when the rink was open but the snack bar wasn’t) the “five second rule” was more in effort to salvage even the tiniest morsel of food…lest I (like one of our cats claims an hour before dinner time) waste immediately away to a pile of skeletal remains.

The sad reality is, though…it happens much quicker.  I’m not sure who assumed germs are so nice-ie-nice but, hello, they aren’t exactly counting down on our behalf. . . E.g.: “Hang on, Irv!  Kid didn’t realize he dropped that – let’s give him an opportunity to pick it up first!”

No…they’re just like our vacuum…er…cat…. They’re on those crumbs double-time (sorry to burst any dreamy bubbles.)

(For the record, that didn’t stop me.  The lofty claim of germy kindness remaining my scientific excuse so I didn’t (not) starve to death. 😉 )

Train The Way You (Want To) Fight

Training the way you want to fight isn’t always so easy. . .but in a way, isn’t that supposed to be the point? That we train in order to potentially defend ourselves?

The tough reality is that what your muscles remember under duress – which is going to be what you have painstakingly programmed them to do in class, lessons, practice – is what matters.  If you train to hand the gun back to the perpetrator – even with mindfulness and the knowledge that you *shouldn’t* – it may happen in real life.  Terrifying it may be, I’ve actually heard of cases in which just that has occurred… Scary.

The other day in class, our Sensei decided to do a drill combining old school (as in centuries-old Ninpo) traditional movements with a modern-day scenario and vibe.  We had to disable our opponent with a distraction or strike, get away (using those traditional techniques), get to and behind cover, and then “draw” our weapon. The drill was one of the most fun I think I’ve ever done…but I was also so incredibly excited to have another opportunity to flesh out a possible, modern situation. No matter how old movements, or kata, or patterns may be, there are gems within them that can be adapted for, and applied to the times.

I don’t carry, for one thing…so I’m not likely to have a firearm at the ready.  But the idea was what was most important here, and learning to do all of those things – without the stress – was hugely valuable.  What makes it stick? Repetition!  Memory needs to be formed so that when we ARE stressed, we can still perform those functions. Just one day of that particular drill isn’t necessarily going to help me out if something really goes down.  But…the principles and techniques ARE ones we use every day…

We learn to strike, distract, disable…that’s number 1. 

We learn how to efficiently get away, and to not injure our bodies (or injure as little as possible!) as we attempt to do so.

We learn to asses for cover and get behind it if that’s what the situation requires (versus getting away.) 

In practicing those things, our muscles learn on such a level that we work on “autopilot” after a point.  And that’s what you want!

The difficulty in this particular environment is that we don’t have real firearms, and we aren’t truly hurting our “attacker.”  On a range, in a special type of training, an individual who DOES carry can certainly practice his or her ability to draw, aim, shoot, and make the weapon safe – frankly I think anyone in a job in which carrying a pistol is required SHOULD be doing that anyway! 

For us at the dojo, we are working on handling whatever is coming at us as quickly and smartly as possible – but again, there are some strikes we simply cannot do.  In Ninpo, strikes can be highly unorthodox and nasty – breaking fingers, ripping ears, gouging eyes…it goes on.  It’s tough knowing we aren’t going 100% in this case, but we can’t exactly…  So we have to keep in mind that in real life, were our safety on the line, we can’t play the but-he’s-a-nice-“uke” (opponent / attacker) game. It’s a challenge, honestly – how do we bridge the gap, then?  I’m not sure you really CAN because none of us are out to break another classmate’s limb!

This is – for me – where the repetition comes in.  Learning to master even basic movement can take a lifetime, forget years! But in the daily (or as many days as can be managed!) practice helps solidify as many of the effective ways in which to handle a particular threat.  There are – keep in mind – an infinite number of movements available to us, and if we could study every Art and master it in a lifetime, we’d be golden.  Not the reality, sad to say!  Learning to even do a handful of “go-to”s is great – learn to do them properly, to do them well, and to do them with all shapes and sizes (some techniques are really tough with a HUGE partner!)  If you want a real challenge, do them blindfolded.

It’s a very “wax on, wax off” concept – the drills help our bodies to do these things as involuntarily as possible so, should the need arise, we actually CAN do something about it. We don’t always have the luxury of training exactly how we fight – this isn’t the Colosseum, after all – but we *can* do everything in our power to focus, to drill, and to get our muscles so familiar with the movements that they will come to our aid when we need them most.

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Martial Arts Humor – Preparation (And The Benefit Of Martial Arts in Life)

I have to say, Mr. Rogers, you let me down! 

The streets here are not exactly tame, depending on the block – happy-go-lucky mindlessness and handing out “hi, neighbor!”s is a surefire way to get in (possibly serious) trouble.

When I began Martial Arts, it wasn’t because I wanted to be “badass” or that I thought I’d need to fend of a gaggle of muggers, necessarily.  I was a lifetime athlete – primarily a performing one (ballroom dancing, figure skating, ballet, and the like) – and I wanted to up the ante.  I wanted more power, newness, and something that combined athleticism with artistry (which figure skating, for one, manages by default.)

That said, I was enamored of Martial Arts in general from an incredibly young age.  It had nothing to do with being a female, by the way – I’ve never felt that I couldn’t achieve the same thing the “boys” did, and in sports the men were more my idols than the women.  The grace and fluidity were something my body already knew how to create inherently, but the power and strength of male athletes inspired me on a whole other level.  

Martial Arts movies were common enough in our household – older brother = badassery.  And watching them, in and of themselves, made me feel empowered – imagine being able to do those things, and hold my own, for myself?!

I didn’t start (Taekwondo, Hapkido, dabble of Kumdo) until the third decade of Life, but I still don’t think that was “too late.” My current Arts are Ninjutsu / Ninpo, and Brazilian Gracie Jui-Jitsu. I feel that the combination of the former, and being in a new, and much tougher city than those I’ve lived in before, has prompted me to develop and even stronger situational awareness.  I notice my surroundings, but also am more attuned to the details – how someone is walking, if they are carrying something, if they look in shape and strong, or less able. . . It’s sort of just “there” and it makes me feel even more thankful for my training.

I can’t say whether or not my muscle memories would kick in – I certainly hope so – but I definitely know I am far more prepared than the average person, and have some chance of submitting, escaping, keeping my life. I’m also more aware in general, a direct result training with people, so I can possibly be more proactive.

It may not always be a “beautiful day in the neighborhood” much that my happy-empath spirit would like it to be. Mr. Rogers let a little me down but I picked up the slack and have trained my ass off in the last ten years just in case a “hi, neighbor” leans a little too hostile for my taste!

 

Holiday 2016 – Lime Crime Diamond Crushers

Wait…WHaAaaAT!?  Where were THESE when I was competitively Ballroom Dancing, dang it?!  

These are the PERFECT, iridescent light catchers (and I’m highly irritated that they’ve come out now…several years too late!)  The names are as sassy as the shades, and I love that they (along with many other companies) are following suit of such brands as Colour Pop and showing swatches on a variety of skin tones.  *LOVE*

Trip

STRIP

FLUKE. . .

I can’t well wear them to the dojo (lest my partner’s gi light up like a Christmas ball) but…I hope other people indulge in the high-wattage glow! 

The Diamond Crushers are meant to layer over lip color, but I’m sure you could use them on your own.  You could also very likely get creative (because…why not?) and use them to reflect light to / from other areas.  Eye gloss, anyone?  

Healthy Eater – Even At The Races

This showed up in my FB memories recently and I had quite the laugh – I’ve always been a bit crazy (er…neurotic!) about snack packing when I travel.  When I’m going to a car show, I have to be especially on the case, though.  Unless, of course, I don’t mind a corn dog, fried food, and / or beer (yes I’ve seen it be treated as a food group!) I can only imagine my fiancé saying to himself “yeah, because those are exactly the OPPOSITE of what she’d eat!” Annnnd, he’d be correct!  I’d rather go hungry, which is also a TERRIBLE idea!

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The one I was prepping for above was a drive away (not a flight), and the rooms at the hotel had refrigerators, so I was actually able to take some perishables along.  Typically my choices have to be non-refrigerated items…which isn’t as easy for the protein, but absolutely doable (note the salmon packs! 😉 )

Inevitably, my father will shoot me looks as if to say what I’m eating is positively grotesque.  People walking by, pizza dripping in hand, will sometimes also do a double take, and offer the same look of confusion and / or disgust.  But…my salmon packs and I are just as happy having lunch together as the rest of them are!

I think what made me smile about this in particular is the image is so typical – but then consistency is really the key to maintenance success (for me that means staying around the weight I am, nourishing my muscles, and giving me enough fuel to perform in my sports.)  

Everyone is different but where we are the same is that what we take in MATTERS – the fuel you provide your body with will determine your success as far as your own goals (and your goals are your own.)  Whatever they may be, they are achievable, even when you aren’t home in your own kitchen!

More of my Nutritional Silliness

Keeping A Strong Core – Ab Exercises

A strong core is absolutely essential – not only for athletes and sports performance, but for daily activities as well.  Having a strong core to support you will most definitely stave off those lower back aches and pains, and will help you even when you have to be bound to a chair most of the day (been there!)  

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While cardio and nutrition are important to allowing your abdominal musculature to show, the cool part about ab exercises themselves is that they don’t have to take forever – they can also be done at the office or in the car (for example, as you are seated, think about pulling your navel to your spine.  Hold that position and brace for a few seconds.)

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One of my favorites is the ab vacuum – it can be done absolutely anywhere, at anytime.  I sometimes forget to do it, but when I do, I ALWAYS see a huge difference.  Yes, HUGE.  I also try to sneak planks in, oblique twists, hanging leg raises, and certain types of crunches when I can.  Planks are another one of those quick exercises that you can do during a tv commercial or any time you get up at home.

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Here are some links to some of the exercises I do myself, and that have really helped to make a difference for me.

I definitely do other exercises, but these are my more regular suspects.  Give them a try and see what you think!

For more exercise stuff…