SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

Cold Challenge

January 25th, 2018

Anyone who makes a Nietzsche reference in their book title immediately gets points on my nerdy philosopher scoreboard. The book that grabbed my nerdy attention is titled “What Doesn’t Kill Us”. The full Nietzsche quote (from his book “Twilight of the Idols”) that many of you have probably heard or seen quoted numerous times is: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

The meaning of both the quote and the book is that adversity leads to adaptation. In the case of the quote, the notion is quite general. In the case of the book, the author, Scott Carney, is being quite specific – exposure to cold temperatures will make you stronger.

Carney leads the reader through his chilling adventures with Wim Hof (aka the Iceman), climbing Kilimanjaro with no shirt on, jumping in icy lakes, and swimming in pools while carrying weights. The adventures are compelling and seem to suggest that cold exposure increases general physical and mental resilience. Throughout the book , Carney also references a growing body of scientific research that seems to be showing that regular cold exposure increases the efficacy of the human immune system.

The takeaway from the book for me was, that which makes you cold makes you stronger. There are obviously limits to this: frostbite and death being some pretty obvious ones. So maybe the takeaway should be that which makes you cold but does not permenantly damage you makes you stronger.

The book inspired me to start finishing all my morning showers by turning the cold water all the way up and turning off the hot water. It was, at first, remarkably unpleasant. After a couple weeks, it became tolerable. After three weeks, it became pleasant in a similar (but measurable opposite) way that very hot showers are pleasant. I don’t know that it has done anything for my immune system but it definitely gets me awake and alert for the start of my day.

Thanks to coach Spencer for the book loan. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in challenging themselves.

New Year’s Special

January 1st, 2018

Been waiting to sign up for martial arts classes? Well now is the moment. If you pay $30, you can train as much as you like in January and February of 2018! Normally, this would cost you $180, so that’s an absurd savings of $150.

This offer is for new students only, and only for adult martial arts classes. Put another way, this offer is NOT valid for kids classes or CrossFit.

The sooner you sign up, the more training you get.

July & August martial arts training
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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.

July & August martial arts training
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.