Archive for November, 2011

What no one told me when I first started training how often I’d be waking up groaning the morning after a workout. This is especially true for anyone who’s “getting along in years” like I am. I am 42 — not old but certainly not a spring chicken. I train hard and my body reminds me of this after every workout. In a strange, sadistic kind of way I sometimes like it. Within reason, of course. My knee pain I’ve been enduring on and off hasn’t fallen into this category but the other aches and sore spots, in their own kind of way, are not too bad. I’m kind of proud of my pain.

This said, however, pain relief is frequently the order of the day. There are a lot of ways you can tackle pain, internally and externally. Internally would be taking medication like Advil, Tylenol, Motrin, Alleve…that kind of thing. Externally, or topically, would be remedies like Ben-Gay, Tiger Balm, and (my favorite for tendon pain) Penetrex.

Like many other students, I have learned more about sports injuries than I ever wanted to know. I have tendons, muscles, and get injuries I didn’t even know existed. Virtually very week is a new discovery. Patellar, Achilles, and extensor tendons. Injuries like tennis elbow, pulled muscles, shin splints, sprains, fractures, blisters, cuts, abrasions, jumper’s knee, and plantar faciitis. Good times.

Here’s a quick guide of a few preventatives and remedies I’ve found to be helpful over the past 6 months. No, I’m not a doctor, salesperson, or a therapist and I’m not getting any kickback. Of course, your mileage may vary and you should use all these things at your own risk as I don’t offer any guarantees, apologies, or refunds.

Stinger Organic Energy Chews These things are fantastic! Ever try cherry Life Saver gummies? The cherry blossom flavor tastes exactly like ’em. I usually munch a package of these 15 minutes before showtime and it gives me a nice boost. If it’s a particularly intense workout I will often down another package mid-way into the session, along with a LOT of water.

Advil Everyone knows these magic pellets, of course. I have had good luck with it as it’s usually easy on the stomach. I find it does a good job with muscle soreness and also when I feel a headache is coming on. I think it’s more effective than Tylenol, at least for me. By the way, does anyone else think the Advil coating would make a great candy or is it just me?

Tiger Balm This is particularly good for deep muscle aches when I don’t mind stinking like a medicine cabinet. Very effective but smells pretty awful. Has a nice burn but also feels cool as well. A little goes a long way so this tiny jar will last anyone — even a klutz like me who gets hurt a lot — a good amount of time! Has the consistency of ear wax and is a little bit greasy feeling.

Ben Gay Despite having a name that would make Beavis and Butthead proud this stuff works mighty fine. I have only used the Ultra Strength variety and I learned pretty quickly that you don’t want to slather this stuff on indiscriminately. Fools who try are treated to the kind of sensation not unlike that of a fierce chemical burn. One time I imagined I felt blisters appearing and thought I smelled smoke emanating from my back where I smeared it on too generously. Unwise move. If used more carefully this product does a nice job penetrating in and providing a nice amount of relief to strained muscles. Smells kind of medicine-like but not nearly so much as Tiger Balm. Plus it has a Tic Tac, candy-like scent to it that isn’t altogether unpleasant. My niece gave me a hug once after I’d just put some on and said, “You smell nice!”. Not greasy and doesn’t seem to stain clothing that I’ve noticed.

Penetrex As I mentioned above, I am a big fan of this ointment cream. It has a very slight odor, more reminiscent of menthol than anything, goes on non-greasy without any residue. As they say in the product literature, it penetrates the skin to reduce inflammation but it can take multiple applications (sometimes days) to really hit its stride. This latter difference seems to vary from person to person. I felt a difference within hours, especially for tendon strain, my wife has been using it for weeks and still claims that it isn’t effective. The jar is pretty small and you need a fair amount per application. At $20 a jar it can be an expensive remedy if you need to use if often but I think it’s worth it.

ACE bandage multi-purpose wrap This is a good reusable solution for icing sprains and tendon strains. It consists of an elastic bandage with a pouch inside where you tuck the cold gel pack. Usually lasts about 20 – 30 minutes which is good since I usually only try to keep it on an area (like my knee, for instance) for about 15 minutes. So far I’ve been reusing mine, pretty much daily, for about 3 months and it’s holding up pretty well.

There are certainly many other products on the market that can either prevent or treat injuries; these are just a few I deal with on a routine basis. So as long as I train i think it’s a safe bet that these things will be within arm’s reach.

Aggression Before Technique?

Posted: November 12, 2011 in Attitude, Older, Technique

Out of curiosity I recently ran an informal poll on this blog asking folks what they thought was most important of the four:

  • Speed
  • Technique
  • Power
  • Aggression

I didn’t have a ton of responses so I didn’t have a large sample size but of the people who did respond, the last place answer was power. I don’t know if there’s a universal “right answer” but based on my training I would tend to agree with that. The interesting thing about this answer is that most people who do not train in martial arts would probably rank power as top of the list. I imagine this is because people envision trained fighters ending matches with one well-timed killer blow. WHAM-O! Knockout! In reality, fights are hardly ever that decisive or clean. They are brutal, fast, no-holds-barred affairs with no finesse. If I were to rank the factors in order I would think it might be:

  1. Aggression
  2. Speed
  3. Technique
  4. Power

I recognize that they are all important and one without some of the others is probably a recipe for failure. What’s aggression without power? What’s technique without aggression? They are all intertwined. But there is a critical balance that needs to be achieved to be successful.

Students come to the school all the time who go through the drills with over-the-top power, at least for their current fitness and skill level. They pay attention to the techniques they are taught and try to hit as hard as they can while applying these techniques in drills. Eventually they believe that, as they progress and get better, speed will naturally follow. This was me too.

One of our top senseis tells us all the time that aggression is king. He’ll ask if we’ve ever seen a brawl in high school where a brawny football player faces off with a highly trained Black Belt in the school halls. The Black Belt squares off and starts to get in form as the football player charges in like a rabid rhino and beats the surprised, overwhelmed Black Belt into a pulp. The lesson is that aggression wins out. The tiny dog can savage the slower, bigger dog with the same principle. Overwhelm the attacker.

When I first started, not too long ago, I was having difficulty trying to figure out what I should be emphasizing. I was in the “Power Camp” and thought all my strikes should be knockouts, regardless of speed. This left me exhausted 30 seconds in on a 3-minute drill, wiped out and often with strained muscles. The instructor would be yelling, “Faster! Faster! More aggressive! Like you mean it!” I thought this meant I just needed to condition more and all would be better. This turned out to be only partly true. While in this phase, I was also wondering how speed fit in. Surely if I got my power up with my better conditioning I could just do it faster. But then, what about technique — where did that fit in? Do they all equal each other. Oh, my head.

This notion of power was put to bed quite effectively when we were enlightened with a simple example. If you have your opponent in a clinch and have the opportunity to land a driving knee to their head, leg cocked back and ready to strike, would you be better served to pull your leg back several more inches to deliver a crushing sledgehammer of a blow or launch your flurry of lightning fast attacks at that moment? The answer was the latter. The thinking here is that the split second of additional time necessary to cock the leg back gives the opponent that much more time to recover — and in many fights that can make a big difference. Knee! Knee! Switch step! Knee!

We should attack like a hive of VERY pissed off bees. The opponent should not know where the next hit is coming from this enraged, psychotic dynamo who, only seconds ago, was the victim. No longer the case, the victim is now the attacker, doling out pain in a barrage of quick, painful blows from seemingly every direction as the former attacker either collapses in a bloody and bruised heap on the ground or runs for their life.

Aggression! Roaring, adrenaline-soaked, raging, furious, break-the-chair-over-the-guy’s-head aggression.

This doesn’t mean that technique is out the window. Of course not. Otherwise we’d just show up at the dojo and flail violently at each other like psychotic patients in the mental ward. It also doesn’t mean that power is out the window. With proper form and execution the power will be there. We certainly learned this with 180 kicks when first starting out. Kicking our tombstone pads, our tendency was to power into the kicks — RRRRAAAHHH! Whop! turned into driving a nearly deadened leg around using mostly our core muscles — RRRRRAAAAAAAHHH!  WHAP!!!!!!!! Huge difference. And strangely, a lot less straining to perform.

To some degree or another I struggle every class to find the right balance. I don’t think there’s a universal formula that works for all people or even the same person across all circumstances. I haven’t gotten this all figured out. What I do believe though is that I have to keep these attributes in mind and be aware of how I am applying them.

And in Krav Maga, I’ll try to never forget that to overwhelm any attacker, Aggression is King.



You’ll notice that this post doesn’t have a survey, just results. That’s because the original survey tool, Polldaddy, now charges for use of its tool. As a result I have moved to Surveymonkey, which you’ll see in use from now on. For older surveys, I have included the results in the original blog post.