SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

Adding Function to Forms

December 8th, 2017

Forms are usually solo performances. This means that the student is usually executing the motion alone, against no resistance. It is difficult to see what the martial application of doing something by yourself might be and so, by extension, it is difficult to see how forms can be of any use to the martial artist. The key to making forms functional, I think, is to take a piece of a form and run it through the mill of: technique, drill, spar.

On Thursday, we got even a bit further afield than the usual direct connections we try and make between form and function. We took a punching section from one of our forms and then tried to use it to understand a grappling move. A stretch? Probably, but I love making connections between different modes of movement.

The idea we were extracting from the form was twisting the torso 180 degrees, and thus throwing the punch by moving the hips. The idea we were applying in the mount escape was twisting the torso through 180 degrees and thus repositioning the limbs to establish a less crummy position.

Watch the two videos and see if the connection makes any sense to you.

New Years Martial Arts Deal

December 4th, 2017


Want to give the gift of martial arts? Through the end of December, you can buy yourself or a loved one TWO months of training (January and February of 2018) for only $30! That is an absurd savings of $150 (our normal rate for training is $90 for a month).

To recap: spend $30 and get you or someone you know two months of training. This offer is good for January and February of 2018 only and may not be used any other months. This offer is for our adult (13+) martial arts program only and may not be used for our kids program or CrossFit program. This offer is good for all our classes on our schedule that fall under the heading of martial arts (Mo Duk Pai, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, etc). This deal is for new students only. If you have trained previously or are currently training, sorry, this deal is not for you.

Click below to signup! Download and fill out the image if you want a paper copy. And yes, of course you COULD print out the image without actually buying it, but we’re sure you’re smart enough to realize that we get a list of who actually pays for the deal and wouldn’t try and pull something silly like that.

Gift Certificate - January & February martial arts traininf
Enter the buyer’s first and last name below:

Technique, Drill, Play.

November 29th, 2017

There are countless ways to analyze the learning process that goes on in martial arts and movement. One way is to break things down into three steps: technique, drill, play.

Technique is all about body mechanic. How do you move for maximum efficiency? What limb goes where? In the video, the technique the kids are doing is a soft inward block followed by a punch, so a huge part of the technique is making the correct hand shapes – the block needs to be open handed and the punch needs to be a closed fist.

Drill is the part where you work with a partner to see how your actions and their reactions are supposed to play out and make the technique work. The drill is prescribed, a bit like a choreographed dance so that both participants can see what is ideally supposed to happen in a sparring situation if they apply the technique at the correct time. The students in the video are demonstrating the block and counter attack against a incoming punch.

Play is the chaos in which you discover the difficulty of timing, distance, and the resistance of your partner. Because of the chaos of play (and particularly the unpredictable actions of your partner) things don’t usually go the way they went in the Drill (until you have built up a solid level of skill) but that is the fun of martial arts: adapting, learning, and being a creative problem solver. In the video, the students are playing a game called “tournament sparring”, which is essentially a martial arts tag game.

By breaking things down into these three pieces, my hope as a teacher is to make the process and goals clear. Because this is a general tool, it is applicable to any martial technique or game.

Benchmarks Done Right

November 14th, 2017

I get as amped up as the next CrossFitter when it comes to doing benchmarks. I look up my old time. I have to go pee ten seconds before the workout. I check the room to see who is going to be my closest competitor.

I also, given the wisdom of experience, remind myself to not let my form turn into garbage. If I am uncertain about the weights, I do a few reps BEFORE the workout and see if I can handle it. If I don’t know the movements well, I take a few minutes before the workout and watch someone more skilled than me do them.

What I’m trying to get at here is that these are both valid modes. Yes, be competitive. Yes, be careful. You can do both. They need not be in conflict. I tend to err more on the side of caution but I know I have learned a ton from people who err more on the side of throwing caution into a hurricane.

Bring the competition. Bring the conscientious.

Intro to CrossFit Series

October 14th, 2017

Are you interested in learning CrossFit but intimidated by the idea of being a beginner in a regular CrossFit class? If so, you should try out our upcoming intro to CrossFit series. We are running a limited class size (maximum 10 people) class on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November and December from 9AM-10AM.

Students will be introduced to:

Basic bodyweight movements: The squat, sit up, push up and pull up.
Basic barbell movements: The deadlift, back squat, shoulder press and power clean.
Basic motions: jump rope, wall ball and KB swing.
Mobility and stretching: how to warmup, increase range of motion, and reduce everyday pains.

All the workouts and movements are scaleable, meaning if you have injuries or limitations, the coaches will find a movement that works for you.

There will be no classes on November 23rd or on December 26th or 28th.

Cost of the class is $100 for November (8 classes) or $140 for November and December (14 classes). Click here for more details.