Monday, December 15, 2008

Fit to Fight

The title: Fit to Fight
The subtitle: An Insanely Effective Strength and Conditioning Program for the Ultimate MMA Warrior
The author: Jason Ferruggia

It’s a good book that effectively outlines and details strength training exercises, speed training methods, workouts to build endurance, and important dietary information.

Ferruggia does a good job of providing and explaining the general characteristics of a successful combat athlete, physical assessment and injury prevention methods, ways to build anaerobic endurance, ways to build raw strength, how to greatly increase speed, and the nutritional information every fighter should know. He even goes into an overview and assessment of supplements, as well as rest/recovery.

I’ve found it to be a very educational/helpful book. The author writes about the importance of anaerobic endurance over aerobic endurance, unique training methods (that have recently come into vogue) like tire flips and working with sandbags, as well as the fact that most supplements are unnecessary or even harmful to athletes.

The book is part of a somewhat recent movement in fitness/training circles that takes people “back” to hardcore training methods designed not to give you a six-pack, but simply make you a better athlete. I’m a big fan of this movement, as I too have grown sick and tired of seeing people exercising for the sake of vanity, or taking up fad diets and workouts.

While the book deals with MMA training, it isn’t about fighting techniques at all. It focuses only on the fitness aspect.
An important note: This book is not for someone who’s just looking to lose weight. In fact, all of the dietary suggestions in the book are meant to help you stay at your current weight. That’s because it’s not necessarily a book for the average person who goes to the gym one to three times a week in order to get or maintain a six-pack. It’s intended for someone who wants to be a better, stronger fighter.

If you’re interested in getting stronger, faster, and generally more powerful, you should definitely check out Fit to Fight. Of course, we live in the internet age and you can easily get all of the information available in the book by doing your own research over several websites. I, of course, will be providing some such information from time to time.

If you don’t want to buy the book, here’s a basic exercise routine you can do with some space and a couple of dumbbells (5 or 8 pounds will do):
25 bodyweight squats
15 lightweight rows
15 pushups
50 jumping jacks
20 mountain climbers
15 lightweight rows
10 close grip pushups

Do it twice. Little to no rest.

If you don’t have dumbbells, then you could just not do the rows, but add a few more push-ups.

Also, here’s some important supplement information:
In general, don’t take them. You don’t need them. Just eat properly and get some sleep.
However, some that are actually useful and not harmful:
Multivitamin (just in case you don’t get your daily values from food)
Omega-3 fish oils (just in case you’re not eating fish like you should)
Basic protein powders (just in case you don’t get enough from food)
Post-workout “shake” (just in case you won’t eat for a while after working out)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Iron Gym

I just got the Iron Gym ("As Seen on TV!") as an early Christmas gift from my girlfriend, and I've already put it to good use.
As everyone knows (or at least should know), the chin-up is one of the most effective/important exercises anybody can do. Like the push-up, the chin-up primarily targets the arms, but it is also beneficial for most of the rest of the body. Aside from the biceps, shoulders, trapezius, the deltoids, and the lats (latissimus dorsi, the main thing worked by the chin-up), it also helps develop the abdominals and even lower back muscles. Also, since it's done (or should be done) mostly as a muscular endurance workout, it benefits the cardiovascular system.
Of course, you can find a chin-up bar for cheaper than the ~$45.00 that the Iron Gym costs, but most of those have to be screwed into the wall or door jamb. If you want to not put holes in the wall or door jamb (which was my girlfriend's primary concern), then the Iron Gym is great, as it basically wraps itself around the top of the door frame and can be pulled out and put back in any time.
Another benefit of the Iron Gym is that it can be used for other exercise. One can use it for chin-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, or dips.
I use it almost solely for chin-ups. One can effectively do push-ups and sit-ups without any such device, and dips can be done with a chair, or on the edge of a bathtub or bed. Pull-ups are kind of a weaker version of the chin-up.
Whether you use an Iron Gym, like I will from now on, or a cheaper bar, or even just go outside and find a strong tree branch, you should definitely be doing lots of chin-ups.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pacquiao vs de la Hoya

It was brutal. It was beautiful. It was boxing at its finest, I’d say.

It seems like Mexicans and Filipinos wanted to see a battle of cultures. This honky just wanted to see a good boxing match, and he was not disappointed.

The first round, like in most boxing matches, was spent by each fighter trying to feel the other one out. It didn’t take too long for each fighter to gain some confidence, though. Though both Manny and Oscar are astounding talents and great athletes, it was obvious from the start who had more energy. The younger Pacquiao danced and ducked and dodged with more pep and grace than the 35-year-old de la Hoya could hope to have mustered. Though he was slower and less energetic, Oscar still showed experience and skill by not wasting any precious energy trying to keep up with Manny. While it almost looked like Pacquiao was all over the place, he landed some telling shots on de la Hoya’s face before the end of the round.

Both fighters came out strong and fast in the second round. They took a lot more risks, but didn’t deal too much damage. Oscar looked more like a teacher than an opponent as he poked holes in Manny’s defense with only glancing blows, never really hurting Pacquiao. Once again, Manny was all over the place. But hey, it works.

Pacquiao and de la Hoya slowed down for the third round, but it was no less interesting. Both fighters exhibited almost perfect defensive skill for the first minute-and-a-half. Pacquiao ducked and dodged expertly, while de la Hoya used a much more subtle (though no less impressive, to the trained eye) method; while de la Hoya was using technically-perfect-though-inaccurate jabs to keep Manny at bay, you could tell that Pacquiao was dying to get in a good body shot, but Oscar kept slightly adjusting his posture – just enough so that Manny couldn’t get in a good shot. Sadly, though, after the first minute-and-a-half, their defensive skills were much less than perfect, and de la Hoya took another bad punch to the face. The fighting became a bit more frantic as the round came to an end.

In round four, de la Hoya was showing his age again. Pacquiao just danced circles around him for most of the round, and towards the end he was just flat-out out boxing de la Hoya.

For the most part, round five was more of the same as Pacquiao just continued to out box his older opponent. Towards the end, however, Oscar seemed to summon up some strength from what must have been pure ferocity. Unfortunately for him, Manny was showing no signs of slowing down and met him blow for blow.

The sixth round was a lot like the fifth, as Pacquiao was still going strong and de la Hoya was still looking like he was waiting for his turn.

The seventh round was fairly dull up until the second half, when Pacquiao got de la Hoya in a corner and kept him there for a while, just throwing punches effortlessly and masterfully. Even after Oscar got out of the corner, Manny just kept hitting him, never letting up, and never losing his pace.

The eighth round wasn’t as exciting as the seventh, but Manny kept working on Oscar. In the last ten seconds of the round, Pacquiao just went nuts and looked like he was beating the crap out of de la Hoya.

Oscar threw in the towel after the eight round, knowing he didn’t really have a chance. Pacquiao got a TKO win, and de la Hoya had a busted eye.

It was a great fight, and both fighters showed more skill and athleticism than most of us could ever hope to achieve. I wasn’t really rooting for either fighter, but in the end I think I’m more glad that Pacquiao won than I would have been had de la Hoya won. Oscar’s had a great run in his career, and now it’s time for a younger man to go further.

In the best way possible, Pacquiao reminds me of Bruce Lee. Even though he’s a real lightweight, he could still beat the living hell out of just about anybody. Even when he’s not throwing great punches, he’s always bouncing on his toes, moving around, ready to defend or attack, whatever the situation calls for. They’re both great examples of pure efficiency in motion.

While most people find fights boring unless there are two heavyweights in the ring, I generally prefer to watch fights like this. These guys have much better stamina, and they fight in a much more technical manner. While two heavyweights will beat the crap out of each other, they’ll also repeatedly hug each other or hang on the ropes to take a breather. The beautiful thing about lighter weight fights is that the fighters can keep going, and that’s much more impressive to me than just using your weight as a weapon.

Some quick facts:
Pacquiao was credited with landing 224 of 585 punches to just 83 of 402 for De La Hoya.
At the time of the stoppage, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, had Pacquiao ahead, 80-72, winning all the rounds.
Ringside statistics showed Pacquiao landed 45 power punches in the seventh round to just four for De La Hoya.

Check out for a better account.

I wasn’t lucky enough to watch it Pay-Per-View. Instead I had to watch it on youtube.
Here’s the first round, navigate from there:

Unfortunately, if you leave the sound on, you’ll mostly hear some Filipinos laughing and generally being excited for Pacquiao.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Punisher: War Zone

Man, what a shitty movie.

It’s a very comic book-type movie. It’s played for laughs a lot of the time. And if there is one comic book character that you just don’t play for laughs – that you just don’t treat like a comic book character – then it’s the Punisher.
But no, the writers and director don’t see it that way, I guess. Which is unfortunate, because the Punisher has a lot of cinematic potential (as evidenced by the 2004 version starring Thomas Jane).

Like any relatively new director, Lexi Alexander does try new things. There are a few shots in the movie that blew me away. Some of the framing was just so new and refreshing, and other shots made me think of Stanley Kubrick as far as just sheer beauty and control of the frame go. Unfortunately, that only accounts for 1% of the movie. The other 99% pretty much amounts to shit.

The action is over the top, which is usually fine by me, but the camera barely holds on any shot in which someone isn’t blowing up. I’m normally a fan of gore, but only when it’s used correctly. “War Zone” fails in that respect.

If there were a saving grace for this movie, it would be Ray Stevenson’s performance. The guy’s got chops. I completely believe that his heart is being torn up every time he talks to the little girl in the movie, being reminded of his own daughter. The brief, wonderful moments between Frank Castle and the little girl are heart wrenching and pretty much pitch perfect.

I won’t be seeing it in theaters again, even though I am usually a repeat viewer.

I am a huge Punisher fan, but when the DVD comes out, I’ll have to take a good, hard look at the special features before I decide to shell out any money for it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Beginner's Solo Martial Arts Workout

Here's a martial arts workout that will benefit a practitioner of any style, and can even be done by a beginner (so long as they know basic kicks and how to punch; instructions for which can be found many places online or in books).

50 air punches
12 right front kicks
12 left front kicks
6 right roundhouse kicks
6 left roundhouse kicks
6 right side kicks
6 left side kicks
6 right stretch kicks
6 left stretch kicks
20 high blocks
20 low blocks
20 middle blocks
Hold a horse-riding stance for as long as you can (at least 2 minutes)
25 push-ups
100 jumping jacks

You should do this at least once a day. It doesn't take long, and it will help either build the basics for more advanced training later, or serve as good practice/refresher for even an advanced practitioner.

My Solo Martial Arts Workout

This is the martial arts exercise I do when I'm not sparring/training with someone else or in a class.


Punching pyramid (right)
Front kicks (12 right, 12 left)
Roundhouse kicks (12 right, 12 left)
Side kicks (12 right, 12 left)
Stretch kicks (6 right, 6 left)
High blocks (10 right, 10 left)
Low blocks (10 right, 10 left)
Mid blocks (10 right, 10 left)
Backfists (10 right, 10 left)
Hammer fists
Punching the floor (50 punches)
Running in place (1 minute)
Brief rest (1 minute)

Punching pyramid (left)
Combo 1 (Jab, Cross, Front kick) (6 right, 6 left)
Combo 2 (Jab, Cross, Roundhouse kick) (6 right, 6 left)
Combo 3 (Jab, Cross, Side kick) (6 right, 6 left)
Combo 4 (Jab, Cross, Uppercut) (6 right, 6 left)
Combo 5 (Jab, Cross, Knee, Elbow) (6 right, 6 left)
Running in place (1 minute)
Brief rest (1 minute)

Punching pyramid (right)
Songahm Form One
First two sections of Sil Lum Tao (wing chun)
Self-Defense practice routines
Songahm Form One
Stick practice (12 lines) (right, then left)
Knife practice (12 lines) (right, then left)
Running place (1 minute)
Brief rest (1 minute)

Do the whole thing twice.
Should take about an hour.


There is a routine that can greatly enhance one's strength and stamina, and it is absolutely free.
It consists of nothing but push-ups.
It was taught to me by my philosophy teacher, who was ex-SpecOps and ex-NSA, so this guy knows how to quickly build a strong, powerful individual. I believe that it was taught to him by another special forces-type person.

How many push-ups you do is determined by how many (maxing out) you can already do. When I first did it, I was only able to do about 40 at any given time. When I was done, I could do 60 at any given time. I've since done it many times to increase my strength, and now I can do at least 80 push-ups at any given time. I started out doing 250 each day, but now when I do it I do at least 400. The version I'm putting here will start someone out gently, at 100, but I suggest pushing it the first time to see if you can at least do 200.

Here you go:
For 10 straight days, alternate between A and B.

A Day: do 100 push-ups in an hour
B Day: do 100 push-ups over the course of the day

For those 10 days, you should do other exercises, but DO NOT work out your arms in any other way. Just run, do sit-ups, practice martial arts, etc.
After 10 days, rest your arms for 2 days.
After 2 days of rest, drop and try to max out. You should find yourself much stronger and able to do many more push-ups.

You can experiment with what way is best for you, but here's mine:
Do 10 or 12 sets in the hour on A day. Do a set every 5 minutes. (i.e. 25o push-ups: Do 25 every 5 minutes, 10 sets; 400 push-ups: Do 35 every 5 minutes, 12 sets [that actually gives you 420 push-ups], or 40 every 5 minutes, 10 sets)
Do 10 or 12 sets over the day on B day. Do a set every 30 minutes.

There you have it. Try it out. It really is amazing.
I suggest this to all my friends and martial arts students/training partners, and those who have done it have not been disappointed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I'm not going to compare it too much to "Casino Royale", simply because they are two very different movies.

The plot is a little convoluted, and Forster isn't the greatest action director (please, sir, hold on an action shot for more than one second; I don't care about the old broad dropping her tomatoes, but I would like to see more than 24 frames of Bond shooting a bad guy). But this movie is certainly action-packed (love the knife fight with the "geologist", love the plane/free fall sequence, love the explosions in the end).

Though it is action-packed, don't think for a second that the action carries the movie. No, no, no. It's Craig. With little more than a glance, the man provides all the insight an audience needs.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I am a Kevin Smith fan, so I'm biased. I admit it.

Still, this movie is one of those rare and beautiful and very special examples of a movie being a comedy in premise, and much, much more at its heart. There is a trend in this Apatow-run Hollywood of the past few years to attempt at a mixture of soul and filth, but only so many can cut the mustard.

Here comes another movie from a guy who started making heart-filled raunch fests when Apatow, Rogen, and their like were doing very, very little (if anything at all). I've been surprised in the past that it took so long for someone to make a movie like "40-Year-Old Virgin" when Smith made movies like "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" way back when (and with no goddamn money!).

While I am a big fan of the View Askewniverse and all of its loveable rascals yelling "Snootch!" and "I'm not supposed to be here today!", I do think that Smith has done a lot better without those cats and that whole world. I wouldn't necessarily say that he's a better writer or storyteller now, but he's certainly a much better director, in a conventional sense.

I'm rambling, but I guess this movie really resonates with me because, essentially, it's a movie about love and also a movie about a group of people making their first movie. And, being a guy who fairly recently made his first movie -- which was kind of a movie about love -- that hits home in a very, very good way.

Go see it, cocksuckers!