Tag Archives: kung fu

Squats & Stuff

This week has been particularly hard on the legs. Being already sore from “Nancy” on Monday, I came in last night expecting to do 100 burpees. That’s what was posted on the CFCP blog. We had been asking for some sort of max rep WOD, so Nikki was nice enough to let us do a 3 RM on back squats. Our workout last night was this:

  • 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 Back Squat
  • Weighted Squat Ladder (65lbs)

My back squat 3 RM went up 45lbs to 270. My sets came out like this:

  1. 135lbs
  2. 185lbs
  3. 205lbs
  4. 225lbs (previous max)
  5. 250lbs
  6. 270lbs (I know this is the 6th round, but I knew I could do more than 250lbs)

To top it off, we polished the night off with a weighted squat ladder. Ouch! I got through 18 total rounds with a 65lb barbell on my back. The last round was by far the hardest as I felt what I would describe as “searing pain” in my quads with every rep. Others would just call that “lactic acid” but lets not split hairs.

I am pretty sure that I went somewhere else during round 18 as I had to actually ask Ryan today how the bar got off my back.

I went back to KF class on Tuesday night which was a blast. I finished up one side of the Hsing-I 2 man set and got in a really good review of tiger and spear katas both before and during class. We even got a good workout at the end consisting of 100 push ups, 100 crunches, and 30 frog leaps (which did not help the leg soreness from Monday, but hey, what doesn’t kill you… right?).

This Holly Jolly Challenge finally ends this weekend. I think that we ( my team ) have all done exceptionally well in terms of both eating and working out. I am really curious to see what the final results will be and what craziness CFCP has planned for us on Saturday. Hopefully it will leave my hands and feet intact for the 10.5 hour drive to Mississippi.

I am really looking forward to having the week there to relax and let my body rest. I am sure that we will get in a few small workouts here and there, but overall, the net output should be lower as we won’t need to be getting points for the challenge.

Negative Nancy

I always make the mistake of checking the blog at some point during the day before I go for a workout. I definitely had some reservations about going last night when I saw “Nancy” listed.

Cedar Park Crossfit had just finished their “Caveman Nancy” challenge when V and I joined, so this was my first go at it. As I have been Rx’ing more workouts, I have that “should I or shouldn’t I” debate before almost every workout now.

When we got in, I saw the bar and gave a few OH squats a go to see how it felt. Heavy, but OK. I decided to go with it.

Again, the workout was “Nancy”:

  • 5x { 400m run, 15 overhead squats  (Rx 95lb) }

My time was 19:23 which shocked the hell out of me. Honestly, I felt great on the first run and did the first set of OH squats unbroken. The sets got consistently harder and my running (if you even want to call it that, I’d call it "walking really fast”) got worse and worse. I got a really bad cramp on my right side (again) in both my side and in my shoulder.

I am going to back to KF class tonight! I haven’t been in, I would say probably over a month for various reasons, mostly schedule conflicts, work, and just the general busy-ness of this time of year.

I have been thinking quite about my goals in this area. Sometimes, I wonder if I really need to have hard set goals for KF, then I remember that you can’t really be good at something if you just sort of float down the path of said thing. I think I do need some goals for KF and I have lost sight of that. I need to re-evaluate what I want out of the kung fu and tai chi programs so that I can feel like I am working towards something and making progress.

Are goals really necessary all of the time? Is it possible to just go along for the ride? Yes, I think it is and I think you can do that for a long time. Eventually thought, you might reach a point where you feel that you are at a crossroads. Do I continue floating along or do I do something else? Why am I doing this, anyway? I have done this with a few things throughout my life. The most notable example that I can think of is music.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I was really good at the French Horn and I didn’t really have to put all that much effort into it. I didn’t really have to practice all that much as it mostly came very naturally to me. I never really had clear set goals with music. When I was in high school (at the HS for performing arts in NYC), I had very vague goals like “play in a professional orchestra” and for a while “play in groups for soundtracks” or “study with <so and so>, but they were very abstract and I never really implemented a plan for achieving these goals.

When I graduated high school and started out at Manhattan School of Music, it became really clear to me that I couldn’t really just be along for the ride anymore and still succeed in this area. No, if I just stayed on the ride, I would end up with a bachelor’s degree in French Horn performance with no leads on a job, living from gig to gig, miserable with my existence. It was at this point, that I had to make a decision. Do I suck it up, control the ride, figure out what I want, and get it? Do I just stay on the ride and hope for best? Do I bail out, re-evaluate, and choose a new path? Clearly, I chose #3.

I have been going to Shaolin-Do for close to five years now. I have met amazing people and made great friends there. I have learned so much information that I could quit right now and have enough material to practice, perfect, and analyze for the rest of my life. Do I want to quit? No. I don’t. But…

What I have been feeling, I’m guessing is this transition between being along for the ride and choosing my goals and what I want to get out of this. In that vein, I have a bit to think about.

When I first joined, I never thought that I would get in as deep as I am. I didn’t think that I was getting into something that would have such a large influence on my life. I joined the tai chi program so that I literally would not kill someone when I worked for big blue. I was stressed out and needed an outlet to calm me down. That eventually blossomed into almost five years of physical activity, learning (A LOT of learning in many areas), friends, and other various positivities (I know that isn’t a word).

Can I continue being along for the ride? Yes. Do I want to? I am not sure. This is something to think about. Do I want to be good at it? Yes. I certainly don’t want to do something looking like a schlep being out there just b/c I feel like I have to. These are the things that have been on my mind.

I think that one of the things that is making this difficult is progress tracking. I am not sure how belt ranking goes in other arts, but in ours, when you first get started, your tests are pretty close together and you have this semi-constant feedback on your progress. You learn stuff, you test on it, you pass or fail (no one ever fails, but yin has to have yang, right?). When you pass, you get that feeling of accomplishment to fuel the fire of the next round. When you get past the “every 6 month or so” testing plan, you move on to no testing for two years, three years, or more. I suppose this is the time where you are left alone with the art to really get to know each other. How do you measure your progress during this time? I’d love some feedback on this from the 2 people that read my blog =).

Are your katas better, faster, more graceful, more powerful, less taxing on your system i.e. more output for less perceived effort? Can you do more push ups, more sit ups, more knee bends? Can you hold a plank longer? Can you retain your information (katas) better? Can you learn new katas quicker? Can you apply the concepts that should be internalizing from katas? Can you hold your own in sparring or “not get your ass kicked as bad”? Can you fight your way out of a 12 man attack when previously you would have been bested by one dude?

Do you even need to measure progress or again, is it OK to just be on the journey? Is measuring progress important in this respect? Maybe it is to some people. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know.

When compared to a traditional workout plan, for example, if you track your numbers it’s really easy to see progress or slide backs. If you have ever been a gym rat (like I used to be), you know that if you write down your weights and reps for every set of curls you ever do, you can do some stuff to manipulate that raw data. You can make fancy charts that show you if you are progressing, staying stagnant, or decreasing in strength. It’s right in front of you in plain sight. How do you measure this with a martial art? Is it even important? I don’t know.

To be clear, this is strictly a personal question and something that is completely up to the individual. If you don’t have specific goals for your training and you just go along with the journey because you like it and it’s fun, that’s great! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I also don’t think it’s up to the particular institution to push clients/students to have to make goals or evaluate their needs (unless that is part of the services they offer and something that the client is expecting from them, of course). If they are paying and are happy with the product they are getting, more power to them. This is something that is very personal and differs quite between individuals.

Well, as you can see, I do have some things to think about and you have just read what I would a call a stream of consciousness that I wasn’t even intending t
o have come out in this post. I would love to get feedback from my friends/readers on this and what they think about some of the ideas here. If you’ve made it think far, thanks for putting up with my pontification.

The Terrible Twenty

I had debates in my head about going to class this morning. Last night, I didn’t think I would be able to make it down to class this morning, but well, when the alarm went off, I actually felt good and rested.

It was a bigger class than usual, about 6 people. The workout was a really good one today. I felt like it hit all of my areas without really killing me. I am sure that I will still be a little sore, but I find that the more often I workout, the less sore I actually get. There seems to be a fine line.

Anyway, here’s the workout which we named the “terrible twenty” in honor of the 20th of November:

  • 20 front kicks (each leg)
  • 20 lunges (10 per leg)
  • 20 burpees
  • 20 floor washers (55lb barbell)
  • 20 front squats (55lb barbell)
  • 20 push ups
  • 20 push presses (55lb barbell)
  • 20 sit ups
  • 20 kettle bell swings (40lb kb)
  • 20 side kicks (each leg)

My time was 10:45.

On to work and other things today.

Tonight is the happy hour with CFCP to kick off the holly jolly challenge where we will be in teams of four to help keep each other on track through the holidays. Yet another thing that I love about the encouraging environment of the crossfit culture.

Otherwise, I have a seriously bad case of vacationitus. Although I am getting all of my work done, I am really having a hard time focusing with a 5 days weekend on tap for next week. I literally cannot wait to be away from my computer (mostly) for five days straight!

In other good news, my parents will be coming on December 9th to visit until the following week. That makes me really happy as I really miss them. I probably don’t tell them enough, but, I really do wish they were here all of the time. One day…

Back to work for me…

Three days of working out…

…makes Bryan a very tired guy.

Last night’s workout was really hard for me. It showed in my 400 runs. In my posting about progress with running, I thought I was starting to get these under my belt, but I feel somewhat set back. The workout was:

21 – 15 – 9

  • Ring dips
  • Box Jumps (20” box)
  • Kettle bell swings
  • 400m run

My time for this was 16:06, which I wasn’t terribly happy with. I was able to do about 10 unassisted ring dips before I had to switch to using a red band (thanks for grabbing it, Nikki). My runs, as I stated above, sucked. The first one was OK, but then they got worse. By the third one, I had to take walk breaks and run really slowly because I got really bad cramps in my right side and shoulder.

On the positive side, I did all of the jumps and didn’t have to do any step ups. 

Following this madness, we did what I referred to as “five minute abs”:

  • 1 minute straight crunch
  • 1 minute left side crunch
  • 1 minute right side crunch
  • 1 minute reverse crunch
  • 1 minute straight crunch

I was able to bust out 256 total reps. Burn!

We did a good job of getting to bed early last night, but it was one of those nights where you just kind of toss and turn, then roll around for a bit. We were both tired, but neither of us could fall asleep.

Right as we were *finally* falling asleep, Bella and OC got into a really bad cat fight. They both drew a little blood which was a little frightening. If anyone knows how to deal with this, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Since I really didn’t sleep well last night, I didn’t do so well this morning. I was wide awake at 4am so, getting out of bed wasn’t really a problem. When class started, I was pretty much done after the warm up. Argh.

The workout for this morning’s class was:

5 rounds for time

  • 30 squats
  • 20 SDHP (Sumo Deadlift High Pull)
  • 10 burpees

My time on this was 15:35. I was pretty much in agony from round one on. The follow up for this was a nice Tabata set of sit ups. I realized on the fourth round that I wasn’t counting my reps. Doh! Oh well, maybe next time.

At any rate, my body is TIRED, so, no working out over the weekend! Tomorrow’s cheat day too, yay!

Saturday Suffering & Mental Gymnastics

This was a really busy weekend. I don’t even know where to start, really. I guess I’ll just start with Saturday morning…

We (Victoria and I) have never done a workout that was all kettle bell (that I can remember, anyway), so we decided to go to the free kettle bell class down at crossfit central. I have to say, I was pretty intimidated when I got there. It was the same feeling that I got when I went to the main pool at the Riata for the first time. It was the feeling of “I’m not even close to being attractive enough to allowed in here” and “I’m not even close to being fit enough to be allowed in here”. After being there for about five minutes, I realized that I was being silly because everyone was really nice! I also saw two people that I knew there that I had no idea were going (Andy and Sarah).

At any rate, the workout was challenging to say the least:

20 – 16 – 12 – 8 – 4 (60 total) of

  • Sprawl to high pull
  • Clean
  • Step-up

We did this in groups of three. Each did the number of reps for that round, then you rotated until each had done that number at each station. You couldn’t move on until everyone finished their reps. Out time was 14:55. Not bad. I used a 1 pood kettle bell and I think the box was 2’, not sure though.

After we got home Saturday, Victoria had to go get some wedding business taken care of and I had to straighten up the house. When she got home, she had to leave pretty quickly to go hang out with her little brother. I then had to leave to go to the kung fu seminar given by Elder Master Smith.

This seminar was eye opening and transformative, to say the least, but it’s too much to go into here. I will post something else about this. I sat down and tried to write about it, but I think it was just too much information and I am still processing on some level.

I sent an invite out Saturday night to a few friends to come over and watch UFC 104. It was last minute and no one but Ryon came over. I am thinking we can have the next one here too, but, I’ll give everyone a bit more notice =). It was a fun night full of delicious paleo food and some pretty damn good fights.

Sunday was another day of kung fu seminars. The first was about utilizing internal martial arts for sparring and fighting. Fantastic ideas here and honestly, a lot that I had just never thought about. I will say that Master Smith used me as a demo puppet for a slow motion fighting demo. He had me pinned up against the column in the school with his fist on my solar plexus. I can honestly say that I saw my life flash before me. That is one powerful guy.

We had a quick lunch then came back for Master Joe’s seminar which dealt with controlling your states of attention. Again, I will write about this somewhere else, but there was quite a bit of eye opening information in during this talk. Master Joe also did basically two sessions of open focus during this session and well, that is just heaven. If you have never heard of open focus, I strongly recommend you check it out (here’s a link to get you started: http://openfocus.com/)

After getting home from these seminars we just had a relaxing evening and eventually went to sleep. I must have been really tired as the heavy rain this morning that everyone seems to be complaining about didn’t wake me up at all.

Lots of Jump Rope

This morning’s workout was very similar to one I did a LONG time ago in Ryon’s Friday night class involving nothing but jump rope. The workout was:

  • 4 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 3 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 2 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 1 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 30 seconds jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 1 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 2 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 3 minutes jump rope
  • 1 minute rest
  • 4 minutes jump rope

I like this workout a lot. Since starting crossfit, I have paid more attention during repeat workouts to see if anything’s different. This time, I noticed a significant improvement in both my cardio during the workout AND my recovery time in between sets. All I can really remember last time from this workout was thinking I was going to die during and in between sets. This time, it wasn’t so bad.

Two of my friends did a workout yesterday at crossfit central that looked really run. I was thinking about trying it today in the garage as I have used my 2x @ Crossfit Cedar Park up for the week. If I do it today, I will post how it went.

Sandbag’d

I know I said I didn’t have much in me last Friday, but today was worse. I got to sleep pretty early last night but woke up a lot. I have been really sore in the upper arms and shoulders so that makes moving in bed sort of painful. Enough to wake me up, anyway. In addition to that, it started raining really hard somewhere in the 2am-4am range. That woke me up too.

The morning class was really small this morning. Like, 3 people small. Me, Hugh, and Cindy were there. Despite the small turn out, we carried on and did the following workout:

AMRAP in 20 minutes:

  • 10 {Burpees, Bicycles (10 both sides), Squats, Push ups}

I got 8 rounds in and about 5 burpees into my 9th when time ran out. Cindy and Hugh both got 9.

I felt done after the first round. My burpees really sucked. They were probably the worst burpees I have done to date, but well, they were the best that I had today, which is kind of sad. My shoulders burned pretty consistently through this workout as well. I think they are telling me to leave them alone for a little while. I think I will listen.

It makes me sad to see such a low turn out on Friday mornings. For the most part, the class is very similar to what Sifu Bren did when he was teaching, but it seems that people are scared off by a challenging workout.

I will be the first to admit that when I first started going to KF, I went to a Friday evening class (Sifu Ryon’s) and didn’t go back for weeks or months, I don’t really remember. I sort of had a “fuck that shit, why would anyone do that to themselves” attitude. Really, when I look back on it, I think I thought that Ryon was nuts, but in hindsight, clearly, I was wrong for having that attitude. The fact that I could not get through the workouts or that I  was sore has nothing to do with the instructor.

I felt that I needed to workout outside of class to “be ready” for that class. That is completely and utterly wrong. Going to classes is HOW you “get ready” for a class like that. It’s ALWAYS going to be challenging. It’s ALWAYS going to be uncomfortable. It’s ALWAYS going to make you feel like a weak ass little baby, but you have to swallow your pride and understand that you are making yourself just a little better with each workout that you don’t “FV” (a popular crossfit term for “quitter”) on.

These workouts are flexing your will just as much, if not more, than your muscles. The will required to even begin a workout like this is more than the average person has. Most would look at a workout and quit before they start. Some have the will to start, but once they see how challenging it is, don’t have the will to keep going. It’s sad to me. Is that how you are in the rest of your life? Do you immediately give up when things get uncomfortable, things are hard, or even slightly challenging and require more than that standard bullshit effort that you quantify as “enough”?

I was talking with Cindy this morning about some ideas for her class to get some people to come back. I think the biggest problem is that people have this idea that Friday’s at the KF school are for elite levels of fitness and therefore, are inaccessible.

They are wrong.

It’s for ALL LEVELS, but you have to understand what you are getting into. You are getting into something that will expose your weaknesses, make you hurt, be challenging, but, in the long run, will make you better at everything you do.

Here are some ideas I had to help make the students a bit more comfortable:

  1. Write the workout on the board along with a few scaled down alternatives, sort of like beginner, intermediate, and advanced. This might give the person who’s will isn’t really that strong the feeling of accessibility to the class. “Well, I can’t really do THAT workout, but THAT one looks a bit easier.” 
  2. Incorporate more KF related activities after the main workout. Perhaps the first part of the class is a crossfit/tabata/fighter style workout, but the second half is dedicated to some skill focus while we cool down i.e. kicks, punches, etc
  3. Talk to the students that show up other mornings and perhaps take an anonymous poll of why they stopped coming on Friday. Are they just not waking up? Do they think it’s too hard? Do they just flat out not like it? It may help to get a handle on this. Maybe the format needs to be tweaked based on that feedback.

That’s really all I can think of right now, but I think that’s a good place to start. It’s important to note that this is my opinion and in no way a reflection on Cindy. Her workouts are great, challenging, and fun as is the class environment. She does a great job of demoing the exercises, addresses any questions that the class has, and is very encouraging during workouts.

I think the above brings up another question, though. When is it appropriate to for an instructor to make a class “easier” for students when they have the option of pushing themselves as hard or little as they deem necessary? If you were to go up to your Calculus professor in college and say “this is too hard, can we tone it down a bit”, you probably wouldn’t like the answer he gave you. Why should it be any different for fitness? Do you go up to your “kickboxing” instructor and say “man, there were too many kicks in there… if you don’t tone it down, I’m not coming back next week”. No, you don’t

This is a hard one and I don’t really have a concrete answer. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Friday Morning Funzies

My ___________ needs work. Insert there what you will. Here are some things I can think of:

  • Cardio
  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Flexibility

There are more, but that’s all my brain can handle right now. Again this morning, I could have slept until about noon, but by some act of God I was able to get up and drag my tired ass to Cindy’s class. She had a deceptively hard workout for us this morning:

Every minute, on the minute, do the following:

  • 3 burpees
  • 6 clean & jerk (used a 25lb medicine ball)
  • 9 sit ups

I completed 11 rounds and failed out on the 12th. I was one sit up away. Incidentally, sit ups still suck for me. I don’t know if I’m getting any faster at them or not, but well, they were very clearly the chink in my armor today. They took up the most time.

After the workout we did some focus mitt stuff, then reviewed our 30 short katas and 20 sparring techniques, then reviewed the 4 empty hand long forms that we learn between yellow and green belt.

Honestly, I had very little energy this morning. I felt cooked after the warm up. Once the workout started, I tried to put my tiredness out of my mind, but my body reminded me every second that it had no juice. I pressed on as hard as I could. I am taking it easy this weekend so that maybe, just maybe my batteries will be slightly charged next week.

Sick & Small Workouts

I haven’t updated in about a week. I have been sick…

On Tuesday, 9/22/09, Ryon offered to help me out with some dead lifts at the KF school before class since I missed the workout at Crossfit CP. I don’t remember all the different levels of weight that we used, but, I was able to lift a new one rep max of 325 lbs. Sweet! Also, I got lots of good pointers to keep in mind while dead lifting. No more trips to the ER for me! (hopefully)…

Since then, I have been sick with a head cold. I haven’t really worked out. I missed Wednesday Crossfit and also Friday class at the KF school. My heart really was there, but I didn’t think it was the right time to push it.

I went to black belt class Saturday morning and even that was challenging. The katas were tiring me out very quickly.

Today, Victoria wanted to do a workout in the garage, so she gave me the illustrious job of choosing. Much to my dismay, I chose the following:

20 minutes on the minute, do the following:

  • 5 dead lift
  • 5 hang cleans
  • 5 thrusters

* I used 75lbs.

I didn’t finish this. I make it through 10.3 rounds before I couldn’t breathe and was making this horrible wheezing noise. As much as I hate quitting a workout, I felt like I was still sick in my chest and decided to not push too hard. I would like to try this workout again when I don’t feel like absolute crap.

My legs…

I’m happy I went to class this morning before the soreness from yesterday’s workout set in. It was deceptively hard. In fact, the hardest part were the sweeps. Sigh. Due to all of the leg work this week, my sweeps really sucked. Anyway, the workout was a partner one again consisting of:

4x

  • 30 jumping squats
  • White Crane sweeps across the floor & back (2x, you 1, partner 1)
  • 30 jumping lunges
  • Farmer Walk (just like sweeps, 55lb dumbbells = 110lb total)

I partnered with Hugh and our combined time was 13:26. The reps above were shared between the team, so I did 1/2 of all of that.

The above was followed by:

2x

  • 1 minute freestyle bag work (me)
  • 2 minutes intense kata drilling
  • 1 minute freestyle bag work (holding for Hugh)

I was pretty damn tired after all of this. I am happy that I went and moved my legs around some more, but I have to admit, when I saw Cindy writing the workout on the board, I was a bit apprehensive about being able to do it. As I continue with Crossfit, the attitude of “oh wow, I can’t do that” is fading away. It’s still there a bit, but it’s getting to be less and less over time.