SW Portland Martial Arts Blog


November 19th, 2023

Train long enough at a gym and you’ve inevitably sparred everyone dozens, if not hundreds of times. You know how they play, you know the techniques their good at, and they know your game too. This can be great because as you continually shut down each other’s games, things get pushed ahead. They figure out a way to stop your leg kicks, so you have to add in body kicks. You figure out how to defeat their armbar, so they have to move to chokes. It’s like race between predator and prey – except both partners are chasing and being chased.

In these continually evolving conversations with sparring partners, one thing that can really mess them up is to play in a completely different way. If you have one way you like to move and they’ve figured that out, do you have another way? Can you switch between your favorite way of moving and that alternate way? Do you have a third way? Can you weave them in and out, adapting them to what your partner is doing as they are doing it? If you can switch between these three games right before your partner figures out what you’re doing, your sparring and movement become incredibly difficult to predict.

Be unpredictable. Make your partner predictable. Use their “good” reactions to set up your counters. Learn new techniques and expand your repertoire. Watch videos of stylistically different fighters.

As a side note, unpredictability doesn’t mean random. There is a place for random (and even weird) moves, for sure, but don’t mistake twitching spasmodically like a malfunctioning octopus for being an unpredictable fighter.

All the Joints, All at Once.

October 27th, 2023

The overhead squat, like all the movements we do in CrossFit, is a diagnostic tool. The purpose of the doing the motion is to see where we need work.

Is it difficult to keep the bar in the correct position? Your shoulders or mid back might need some mobility work. Is it difficult to keep your heels on the ground? Your ankles might required some attention. Do your wrists feel like they’re going to implode? Take some weight off the bar and then consider a regimen of wrist strengthening and mobility.

Doing more reps and weight is fun. Strive to increase load and volume. Prior to that, technique is essential. If the point is a lifetime of healthy movement (and I think that is the point) then don’t race to put on weight and ignore all the diagnostic information that the overhead squat provides.

To Gi or not to Gi

October 20th, 2023

To Gi, or not to Gi: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler with the grips to suffer
The collars and lapels of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arm drags against a rash guard of troubles,
And by opposing choke them? To tap: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The rib-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That bottom side control is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.

Needs work but hey, if you’re following the generalist path, you should probably play both Gi and no-Gi. If not, do whichever one you like more.

Ida B. Wells Special

October 11th, 2023

We’re offering $25 for an unlimited amount to training to all Ida B. Wells students and staff. You can take the CrossFit classes, the Yoga classes, the Martial Arts classes. All of it!

You can check out the schedule here so you can see all the awesome stuff we offer.

Pay below and then whenever you come in (before the end of 2023), your month of unlimited training will begin! We’re looking forward to seeing you in the gym.

Punch cards & Specials
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September 29th, 2023

For most of us, it’s difficult to take criticism. We’re wired to take it personally. Clear pointers about technique get garbled inside our heads and we turn them into moral judgements. It makes the already challenging task of trying something new even more difficult, maybe impossible.

How do we solve this dilemma? As usual, there’s no perfect answer, and there’s not even a single answer, but there are some ideas that over the long haul appear to work for most people. As coaches, we try and deliver corrections in technique as just that – about the technique and not about you as a person. We’re trying to point out a more effective way, not to deliver a moral judgement. As a student, try and take corrections as steps to efficiency, rather than personally.

Yeah. Great don’t take things personally. So easy, right? Wrong. After all, it is you making the mistake, right? And since it is you doing the thing wrong then the responsibility falls on you and therefore you are wrong. Maybe. Even if it your brain convinces you that this is the true chain of consequences, it doesn’t mean you are wrong in some grandiose sense. It means you’re wrong about this one technique and (more importantly) you can fix it and be right.

Troublingly, even if you correct something in practice, you’ll almost certainly find you keep doing it wrong when the pressure increases. So it goes. It takes a long time to ingrain good (or bad) habits. Be patient with yourself as a student and we promise to be patient as coaches. Together, we’ll improve your technique and heck, maybe it’ll get easier to be wrong (and correct the problem) in the future.