Saturday, March 29, 2014

Backstage Look at The fights

To get a backstage look at the PPV fight Redemption at the Rock ( follow me on social media:


Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Kinesiological Perspective on the Rear Hand Straight

In the martial arts world it is a well established fact that straight punches are highly effective. While they may not have the same power as say, a rear hand hook, which has all of the rotational power of the core behind it, they are the quickest way to bring a fist to an opponent's face. A straight punch that comes directly down the center has much more power than a sloppy straight punch. Perfect straight punches also seem to sap the endurance of an athlete much less. From a human movement perspective, there is a good reason for this.

Before I get into it, I will need to introduce you to four words that you may or may not have heard before, as they pertain to the shoulder joint: abduct, horizontally adduct, flex, and internally rotate.

Abduct: When the bone of the upper arm moves laterally away from the body

When a person lifts their arm out to the side, the shoulder joint is abducting.

Muscles used: supraspinatus, deltoid, upper pectoralis major (upper pec)

Horizontally adduct: When the bone of the upper arm, when held out to the side, moves toward the center line of the body.

When a person is holding a bar on their chest, and then presses it up, the shoulder joint is horizontally adducting.

Muscles used: Frontal deltoid, Pectoralis major (pecs) , coracobrachialis  

Flexion (flex): When the bone of the upper arm is raised in front of the body.

When a person lifts their arm to grab a door handle, their shoulder joint is flexing

Muscles used: frontal deltoid, upper pectoralis major, coracobrachialis 

Internally rotate: When the bone of the arm is rotated in, toward the body.

When a person rotates their entire arm from palm up, to palm down their shoulder joint is internally rotating.

Muscles used: Latissimus Dorsi (lats), Teres major, Pectoralis Major, subscapularis 

For my purposes here the punch I will focus on is the rear hand straight and the area of the body I will focus on is the shoulder joint. Here is a short video explaining these movements in the context of a punch.

When new students are learning the rear hand straight, they often find it hard to drive their fist forward while keeping their elbow tight to their body. 

They tend to abduct their shoulder joint, causing their elbow to move away from their body. Next they horizontally adduct their shoulder joint and extend their elbow. Horizontal adduction allows the student to use two shoulder girdle muscles, the serratus anterior and the pectoralis minor, and this may be one reason that they tend to punch like this, in order to get more preceived power into their punch.

The main problem with allowing the elbow to move away from the body (shoulder abduction) is that this movement does nothing to add to the power of the punch. All of the energy used to move the elbow out is wasted, and then more energy must be used to bring the elbow back toward the center line of the body (horizontal adduction). So when a student punches in this manner, the only muscles of the shoulder joint that are being used to propel the fist forward are the front deltoid, the pecs, and the coracobrachialis. The shoulder girdle muscles serratus anterior and pectoralis minor are also being used.

Now let us look at a proper rear hand straight. The first movements that occur together are elbow extension and shoulder joint flexion. The flexion propels the fist straight towards its target. As the first travels forward, the shoulder joint internally rotates. This movement causes the fist to "turn over" as well as the "shoulder to impact the jaw" two terms which I constantly hear trainers talking about. The internal rotation is important because of the affect it has on the shoulder girdle. This internal rotation allows the serratus anterior and pectoralis minor to be used toward the end of the punch. 

In this way both the flexion and internal rotation of the shoulder joint lend their power to the punch, so their is no wasted movement in the shoulder joint. The muscles of the shoulder joint that are helping to propel the fist forward are the frontal deltoid, pecs, coracobrachialis, teres major, lats, and the subscapularis. The internal rotation of the shoulder is also allowing the shoulder girdle muscles, the serratus anterior and pectoralis minor to aid in the punch without wasting any movement and with perfect alignment of the bones of the arm so that the full power of the punch can be transferred to the target.

As can seen from focusing on the shoulder joint when a punch is thrown correctly, from begining to end, all of the energy being expended is used to propel the fist forward. When a straight punch is thrown incorrectly, there is a large amount of wasted energy that is being used for no purpose whatsoever. From a kinseological perspective, this is why it is important to keep your elbow tight when you throw a straight punch.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Taking a Break

Inspiration has been lacking and I won't put out bullshit, so The Santa Fe Ninja is taking a break. Maybe a month, maybe longer.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rapid Weight Loss and Dehydration

               The use of rapid weight loss techniques (dehydration, extreme calorie reduction) has long been an issue in wrestling. Though many steps have been taken to change the rules of wrestling to prevent rapid weight loss, these techniques are still widely used. With the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts, we are seeing the spread of these rapid weight loss techniques into a larger section of the population.

               The topic is rather controversial, as a number of wrestlers have died from these rapid weight loss techniques(1). Virtually no health professionals support the use of these techniques, yet they remain in use. This is largely due to the fact that scientific research is ignored and weight loss techniques are passed down from coach to athlete(2), something I have witnessed personally.

               Basic scientific studies on the effects of dehydration and low glycogen stores show that the athlete's bodies will be less effective when engaging in competition. The actual effectiveness of lowering one's weight has not been widely investigated in wrestling or MMA, though one would assume that due to basic physiological principles, it would lower the effectiveness of the athlete's performance.

               The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) believes that lowering an athlete's body fat percentage below 6% is unhealthy, and that these rapid weight loss techniques lower performance.

               From all available research, it would appear that lowering an athlete's body weight through dehydration and extreme calorie restriction are a bad idea for optimal performance.

               One aspect of wrestling that was changed to try and prevent the use of dehydration was the changing of weigh in times. Where once they would weigh in 24 hours ahead of time, they now weigh in several hours before competition. This obviously causes the effects of dehydration to be much worse, since there is no way to replenish all the fluids that would be needed to be replenished in a severely dehydrated body. That being said, some athlete's still engage in this practice, and many wrestlers restrict their calories. Because of this, they are, for the most part, low on glycogen stores. Being that wrestling is a largely anaerobic activity, this would seem to be a poor idea.

               MMA, however, still allows it's athletes to weigh in 24 hours before competition. Because of this it is not uncommon for these athletes to lose 10 - 20 lbs of weight in water the day of weigh ins. The use of IV's after dehydration is widespread. The effectiveness of this is hard to gauge. I myself have lost 10 lbs in water weight (from 145 to 135) been given an IV, and competed the next day. In the 24 hour recovery period I was able to eat and drink a large amount. I feel as if I filled my glycogen stores and that my 
effectiveness was not lowered. My body felt as good as it did when it was hydrated and fed normally.

                In MMA and other competitions where striking is used, having a larger frame that is capable of generating more force when punching or kicking is useful, so if your opponent is dehydrating himself to get to a lower weight class and you aren't, he will most likely be much larger than you. I believe a new metric should be created, rather than relying on weight alone. Instituting urine specific gravity tests (testing for adequate hydration levels), much like those used in college wrestling could solve this problem.

               As the rules are set now, I believe an athlete does have a competitive edge if they use dehydration in MMA and maybe even in highschool wrestling. I also think that the rules should be changed, in wrestling and MMA, to remove this competitive edge. As of right now, I haven't heard of anyone pushing for this in MMA. 

Sources listed for once!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Micro-post: Exercise and Baseline Happiness

               Caught myself sleeping, almost forgot to write something up today. Forgive me. It was a leg day.

               I find one of the greatest benefits of regular exercise and training is that it keeps my baseline of happiness high. What I mean, is that it is almost impossible to fall into a deep despair. When someone I'm close to dies, or when a relationship ends, or when I get my ass kicked I get sad. It's a natural reaction, but I have an exercise schedule and I keep to it.
               When I'm doing squats, or rolling, or trying not to drown, there is no room in my mind for despair. I can't feel sorry for myself and do pushups at the same time.

               Afterward, the chemical cocktail that exercise releases relaxes me. The aching of my body lessens the pain in my soul. I can be sad, but only to a certain point, because whether I'm in a good or bad mood I'm still going to have to get off the couch and get my work in. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Protecting Our Children

 Taking personal responsibility for one's own safety is not something that is stressed in our society. This is especially true for children. Children are innocent, pure, and it is thought that they should be able to live a life devoid of responsibility for their own safety. They are supposed to be protected. 

 Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Assaults, both violent and sexual, can happen at any time. There have been instances of children being sexually assaulted while out to dinner with their family, in the public restroom. I believe an important thing to remember is that anyone, at any time, can be assaulted.

 I don't say this to instill fear. Indeed, if Steven Pinker is to be believed, human to human violence is on the decline. I personally expose myself to environments which might be considered dangerous, but when I do so, I take steps to safeguard myself. 

 Firstly, I believe awareness is key. Knowing where the people are in your environment, what kind of environments are dangerous, and when it is time to leave are all important parts of personal safety. 

 Second, once awareness as been established, a mental framework for setting boundaries and remaining assertive in the face of aggression must be established.

 A small example: While taking part in a political protest march, a loud, aggressive homeless man began walking near the line of people. As soon as he came close to me I stepped away, keeping him out of striking range. A woman behind me, chose to ignore him. She got punched in the head. Don't do that.

 After awareness and boundary setting skills have been acquired it can then be helpful to learn certain martial arts techniques to defend against an attacker. Without the previous two skills, even an experienced martial artist is at an extreme disadvantage in a dangerous street situation.

 For children, the same principles apply. Though they may not be able to effectively protect themselves using martial arts, they can learn awareness and boundary setting techniques which could save them if they were to be assaulted. I think this is something that should be taught in schools. The "Just say no to strangers," policy is a little to simplistic, especially since a large portion of sexual assaults are perpetrated by people who are not strangers.

 It's not fun, it isn't pleasant, but I believe these are things we need to speak to our children about. These are skills that our children need to learn.