Full body workout with a partner

  1. Warm up with suicides – running from a base line to a line (5 metres away), back to base line, line (10 metres away), back to base line, line (15 metres away) and back to base line.  Repeat three times.
  2. Dynamic stretch from legs, mid and upper body.
  3. 30 arm rows.  With a partner, face each other and hold each other’s wrists.  Then push and pull hands rapidly backwards and forwards 30 times.
  4. Agility ladder (2minutes per bullet point)
    • Left foot out, right in, left in, right out, left forward in, right in, left out, right in, left in, right out etc
    • Jump two feet in, jump forward, two feet out, squat, jump two feet in, jump forward etc
    • One hand either side of a rung, press up and move laterally side-wards along the ladder, press up etc
    • Left foot in and right foot out, switch sides, switch sides and move laterally up the ladder
Agility ladder squats

Squats on the agility ladder

  1. Press up  (25 seconds per exercise, 5 seconds rest)
    • Scorpion press up – as you lower yourself down bring your knee to elbow, push up back to the normal press up position.  Repeat with your opposite knee.
    • Leg raise press up – as you lower yourself raise one leg (straight) as high as you can, push up back to the normal press up position.  Repeat with you opposite leg.
    • Wide press press up – lie flat on you front with your arms out in a crucifix position, bring your hands in a few inches either side and press up.
    • Wheel barrow press up – one person hold the feet/legs up of your partner, whilst they perform elevated press ups.
    • Diamond press up – put your hands together in a diamond formation and press up and down (this is to focus on the tricep).
    • Left/Right press up on a medicine ball – put one hand on a medicine ball so you’re lopsided, press up, roll the ball onto the opposite side and press up.
Partner press ups

Partner press ups in synch

  1. Crunches (50 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds rest)
    • Penguin sit ups – in a sit up position, lift your shoulder blades off the floor, bend round to the side and touch either heel and switch sides.
    • Crucifix – lie on your back in a crucifix position, keeping your legs straight raise them to the ceiling and to the floor (6 inches off the floor)
    • Russian twists – sit up to 45 degrees and twist your body either side from left to right.
  2. Static stretches to cool down

How to categorize a transgender competitor?

The title gives it away, but I received an interesting question recently about a transgender competitor: Can he/she compete and fight against men/women?

Transgender sign

Transgender sign

According to the International Athletics Committee, a transgender competitor who is now a man (from a woman) may compete against other men. However, a transgender competitor who is now a woman (from a man) must undergo a testosterone test which will determine how far along the transition she is. Apparently, this will then determine if she has an unfair advantage or not. This kind of makes sense but it assumes that men are “better” than women…

In most martial arts and combat sports, competitors are grouped by weight, age, gender and grade. This is to level the playing field so, for example, I (a black belt heavy weight adult male) am not fighting a little yellow belt girl. Obviously I have an advantage here. However, if most of those dimensions were equal bar gender, it could be argued this is a fair fight.

I know some may argue that men are just naturally stronger/faster than women – the 100m sprint is a good example of this:
100m sprint men’s world record 9.58 seconds
100m sprint women’s world record 10.49 seconds

Bolt 100m men's sprint

Olympic 100m sprint

Females have some attributes that are better than men, the first that comes to mind is flexibility. Women tend to be more subtle than men. Therefore, do women have an unfair advantage over men? Some sports may be more gender neutral e.g. darts, shooting and horse riding etc. Does Taekwondo or Martial Arts fall into this category? Probably not.

Back to the question in hand, which category can a transgender compete in? Was a woman, now a man – fine. Was a man, now a woman – questionable. This all comes down to is there an unfair advantage? There are parallels to Oscar Pistorious who was not allowed to compete in the able bodied Olympics as it was deemed his blades gave him an unfair advantage, despite the fact he is disabled (no legs).

On reflection, there is an unifying force here and that is how it feels, irrespective of gender, to compete with the natural attributes that are given to you or that you train so hard to improve. Personally, I think it’s great that we’re coming to the age where self-expression is less frowned upon and tabooed. No matter who you are, we all face our own challenges before we step into the ring.

Breaking my CrossFit virginity

I went to my first CrossFit class last month at Crossfit Shapesmiths (in Clapham, London). http://www.crossfitshapesmiths.co.uk/

Overall it was a pleasent experience but it didn’t blow me away.  The guys running it were nice and very enthusiastic.  As you can imagine, the gym owners really love crossfit – that fact made you want to support them.  It’s a brand new facility and during the taster session they were still constructing parts of it.

The owners brought a real sense of community – I think this is quite a common theme amongst other CrossFit gyms.  There was a post workout tea/coffee in a chill-out area next door to the gym where most people hung out after the workout.

The facilities were characteristically CrossFit and there were plans to put in a shower, changing rooms and physiotherapy.  The kit consisted of a big frame (for pull ups etc), bar bells and medicine balls.

CrossFit gym

There was quite a lot of time spent on technique, for the impatient it would probably be frustrating. The exercise itself consisted of 15 minutes of clean and jerk, wall ball, sit ups and 800m run. Repeated AMRAP (as many reps as possible). Overall a good test of fitness, however, over the next couple of days I noticed a twinge in my shoulder. This is nothing new as its something commonly said about crossfit. It is probably wise to exercise personal responsibility when training crossfit to avoid injury.

One of the things we did at the end of the session was to record the number of reps we had individually achieved. This is valuable practice as the saying goes, what gets measured gets done!

It was pretty pricey, which is the main turnoff at £112 a month for two sessions a week (unlimited access at £185 per month).  Compared to a Martial Arts club which ranges from £40 to £70 a month, or gym membership, I would prefer the latter two options.

Tournament Organisation: Awards

When it comes to awarding success at tournaments, what is the best method?

Possiple options that I’ve seen:

  • Trophies including shields, cups, belts, mini statues, swords
  • Medals
  • Certificates
  • A mixture of trophies/medals and certificates
  • Cash
  • Just the title e.g. “Men’s heavy weight black belt British Champion 2016”
Example awards

Example awards

Two perspectives are important here, the competitors and the tournament organiser. From a competitor’s point of view, a nice shiny trophy and cash is the most sort after rewards. Conversely, these are the most costly options for a tournament organiser. Trophies are often bulky and more difficult to transport. Medals on the other hand are easier to manage logistically (as they take up far less space) and custom medals can be made at relatively low cast.

If you want to add a bit of extra quality to your competitions, why not add some personalisation? In my opinion, the tournament name is a minimum and should be engraved/noted on the award. A step further would be to personalise each medal with the winners name. Practically this is a bit of a nightmare as it takes some time to engrave awards and would have to be done on the fly. Including the tournament name on the award could be engraved on the medal or on the ribbon. The main advantage of using the ribbon, is that medals can be reused at other tournaments, so you could potentially bulk buy and just change the ribbon at the next tournament.

I’m against this, but you could award participation with medals (perhaps just to the young juniors) for the feel good factor.  On the flip side, I have been to a handful of competitions where they award outstanding performance for referees and fighter of the tournament.

Finally, tournament organisers should carefully consider how they should prevent the awards. A few options I’ve seen:

  • Present at the end of the category in the ring
  • Present on a podium throughout the tournament
  • Stop the tournament and present on a podium at certain points through the tournament
  • Save all presentations until the end of the tournament
Podium

Podium

They all have their own pros and cons for spectators and competitors. One thing to consider is how tight on time you may be, as some of the options above are quite time consuming.