SW Portland Martial Arts Blog

Healthy Hamstrings

January 15th, 2022

All those squats, kicks, and triangles can leave the hamstrings haggard and the back bruised. How to cope? Make a plan. Here’s mine, and you’re welcome to steal it wholesale, although I really do recommend amending it to fit your own needs:

Repeat the following stretches twice a day, holding each one for 30 seconds: Child’s pose, up dog, standing forward bend. I’m currently on month number two, and my back already feels better. Let me know how it goes for you.


Improving your squat

January 7th, 2022

The squat is a fundamental movement. If you have trouble squatting to full depth comfortably, it’s almost guaranteed that you also have trouble doing all other sorts of movements. Assuming you’ve simply lost the range of motion required and you’re not injured, there is a fairly simple (though not easy) way to regain your squat: two minutes of assisted squat every day for two months.
The equipment you’ll need is: your body and something you can grab on to that doesn’t move.
The time you’ll need is: two minutes a day for two months.
Using the thing that doesn’t move (a post, the leg of a heavy table, whatever), climb your way down to the bottom of a squat. Once there, straighten out your back. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Stand back up and go about your day. At three other times that same day, repeat the process.
Every few days, check and see how your unassisted squat feels, and if it is improving. Continue the process for two months. If the problem was that you simply weren’t using that range of motion, you will see definitive results within two months.


December 11th, 2021

If you’ve ever sparred, you know one of the most sublime things you can experience is an effortless evasion of your partner’s punch accompanied by your own perfect counterpunch. It’s so sublime because against a partner anywhere near your own skill level, it’s really hard.

One of the more difficult things to get down when evading is moving your feet. Most folks can move their head out of the way and shift their torso but this usually puts you in a bad position to counter strike and a worse position to handle any additional strikes your partner might throw at you after the first one. To help with this difficulty, we broke the drill into four parts.

Step one: let your partner throw the punch and let it hit you. Provided you’ve got a decent partner, they will be feeding you a slow punch. You want to know that if you don’t move out of the way, there will be some (but not a damaging amount of feedback.)

Step two: Duck. When that roundhouse punch comes at you, and you now know that your partner is going to hit you if you don’t move, get out of the way. Keep your hands up and your eyes forward. If you know how to do a weighted back squat,  the structure of your body is going to be pretty similar to that movement, although you only need to make the punch just miss your head – there is no need to duck any lower. In fact, ducking lower will waste time, time in which your partner might throw another strike before you have recovered.

Step three: move your feet. Not one foot. Both feet. Try and go under your partner’s strike and end up on their outside – away from their other hand and away from their centerline. You have now moved to a spot where they have to turn and adjust before they can hit you. You have better position.

Step four: counterpunch. At the bottom of your duck, seamlessly throw your own strike back at your partner. It can be a hook, an uppercut, an elbow, or even a groin or throat strike if you’re drilling for self defense. I recommend getting one strike that feels easy for you (a hook to the body works well for me) and then branching out after a few minutes of drilling.

Drill. Be patient. Start slow. Take it step by step. One day, when you are sparring, you will achieve the nirvana that is dodging a strike and delivering your own counterstrike. When you do it right, it will feel effortless and require no thought but, you will know it was all those hours, days, and years of training finally bubbling to the surface.

New Fall Kids Schedule

August 27th, 2021

We are always changing things up in an attempt to make the gym a more awesome place. For this update to the kid’s schedule, we’ve made several adjustments that I’ll try to explain briefly here but if you have additional questions or thoughts, we are always looking for constructive feedback.
We changed some of the age ranges. It used to be a 7 and up class, now it is an 8 and up class. We’re hoping that giving the older kids a little more of their “own” class will help increase the quality and speed of learning.
We moved all the 6-8 classes to the “old” gym over on Sunset. We also took those classes out of Lara’s orbit and put them into Wally and Ramiro’s sphere. We did this mostly so Lara can expand the younger kids program (there has been a massive demand for 4 and 5 year old classes) but also so Ramiro and Wally don’t have to shuttle between the two spaces constantly.
As with all changes, there will undoubtedly be some problems. Perfect. Those problems will be the impetus for further changes to make things even better.
Check out the registration page and more colorful version of the schedule here.

Masks again!

August 13th, 2021

We’re back under a mandatory face covering order in Oregon, so everyone must wear a mask while inside public places until further notice.

Turns out Oregon hospitals are getting overwhelmed with Covid patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. Do your part, get vaccinated and wear a mask when you’re indoors.

Training with a mask on isn’t super fun, but having our health care system crash is way worse. We can get through this together. Below is the governor’s full speech from Wednesday.