SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

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.

College Student Special

August 30th, 2017

Our Fall martial arts special: $30 to train through Halloween for all full time college students.

Sign up now, pay $30 and train as much as you want in our adult martial arts classes starting today and lasting until October 31st. This offer is valid only for new students only and only for our martial arts program, not our CrossFit program.


January & February martial arts training
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How Much Weight Should You Put on the Bar?

August 23rd, 2017

Some of you have, no doubt, been to gyms where they post the “prescribed” weight for a workout on the whiteboard. Others of you maybe remember long ago when I used to post weights alongside the workout. This leads us to three great questions: Why did I stop posting weights? Why do other gyms post weights? If there is no weight listed, how much should you do?
I stopped posting weights because some people would do the posted weights with atrocious form. Others would do the posted weights with passable form but take forever to finish, essentially getting a strength workout when I intended to give them a conditioning workout. And finally, a few folks would do the posted weights and it was too easy. The takeaway for me was: people need to find a weight that they can do with decent form, that allows them to get a conditioning workout, and that delivers a decent challenge for them.
Other gyms post weights because… no two CrossFit gyms need to be the same. One gym’s awesome culture is another gym’s nightmare culture.
As a general rule, if there are 21 or less reps of something in a workout, you should pick a weight that you can do unbroken (at least for the first round, if there is more than one round). This is a rule with MANY exceptions but it is a pretty good starting place. If you’re not sure what weight you should use, try asking the coach what the INTENT of the workout is. Is the intent to test your strength? Then go heavy. Is the intent to push your technique? Then pick a weight that you can maintain good technique with. Ask questions and discover the purpose behind the workout which will hopefully lead you to an appropriate weight.
As a final note, if you are not very competent with the movement, the weight you should use is A DIFFERENT MOVEMENT. Don’t do motions you don’t have at least a moderate technical grasp on during the conditioning section – you’ll just burn in crummy technique. Do something else. Ask your coach for a substitute movement.