Category Archives: Training

Training while sick

I am sick a lot.  It’s just a part and parcel of my lack of luck with my immune system being shitty. Lots of cold, lots of flu symptoms.  These days I get a lot less muscle strains / aches and damage, but that’s mostly because I’ve slowly gotten pass the ‘I am a weakling stage’/

So, should you train while sick? From what I’ve read – it seems to be a case of – it’s mild sure.  If it’s a flu – no.  If it’s below the neck; no.

My problem is that a lot of the time, I have a cough / cold addition.  That sucks because it’s hard to do anything because your cardio is out and doing a major routine like the MMA training requires a lot more energy / oxygen than I can handle.

It’s weird, but being an adult sometimes means staying away from things even when you want to do it.  Bah!

Valyrie, WMA & Traditional Training

Since I’m not in Vancouver right now, I’ve been doing training at an MMA Gym up here in the Great North.  It’s actually pretty solid and the teacher knows his stuff (especially grappling) so it’s been good.  I’m going to focus specifically though on the warm-up / exercise section in this post.

Valkyrie WMA

The breakdown of warm-up for the class is relatively simple.  It generally is only 30 minutes long before we go to focused training, so I’ll discuss that part here.  It breaks down into:

  • Animal Walks / Springs- 10 – 15 minutes generally
  • Gymnastics strength training  – 5 – 10 minutes
  • Movement work (handstands, six-steps, cartwheels, etc.) – remainder 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Break

That’s the general breakdown.  There are numerous short breaks after each portion – e.g. after we do a single animal walk, we have a short (10 second break) then move on.

So, what do we see with the training? From experience, the focus seems to be on muscular strength (absolute) and power (explosiveness), with power the main focus.  In addition, there’s more focus on developing a ’rounded’ core and improving general mobility.

WMA Training

Now, WMA strength training at the gym I’m at seems to be more ‘traditional’.   It’s pretty much a 30 minute workout using traditional exercises – pushups, situps, jumping jacks, wind sprints, wheelbarrows, standing jumps, etc.   If you did it at Physical Education class, we’ve probably done it.

Quite often there’s no breaks between each exercise, so you go full-out completing each repetition of exercise before switching to a new one.

From my experience, even after my time with Valkyrie; I’m ‘gassing’ out.  The focus seems to be on cardio (muscular endurance) more than anything else.  Some muscular power obviously and probably a bit of hypertrophy added in.  However, endurance seems to be the major focus of this – classes are a constant ‘go-go-go’ (other than grappling, where things have to slow down).

Traditional Martial Arts

From my experience (and obviously, this is a very broad term I’ve used), TMA warm-ups are more focused on stretching and gentle warm-ups.  We might do 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups the entire warmup and the warmup is often only 15 – 20 minutes long.

The goal is to get the body mobile and ready for class, not to improve physical strength at all.  In my years doing TMA, while my overall endurance and strength might have gone up; it’s more a by-product of the training (forms, punches, etc.) rather than a specific focus.

Again, this varies – I’ve had TMA warm-ups / classes which are much more vigorous than others; but compared to the above two, the differences are still striking.


It’s interesting to see how the different systems of warm-ups work.  TMAs, due to their need to be ‘everything’ for most people have extremely simple / relaxed warm-ups.  The focus seems to be on getting through the warm-ups fast so that you can focus on learning the ‘art’, with some expectation that individuals will develop their strength / etc outside of class.

Valkyrie’s system seems to work very well at getting people who have little to no experience at exercise to exercise.  The idea of ‘play’ is important, as does the constant mini-breaks.  While cardio / muscular endurance doesn’t increase at the same rate as the MMA training, I couldn’t see some of the students I’ve known / had doing WMA coming to an MMA gym.  They’d be frightened off / wiped immediately.

MMA training is in some ways the most intense.  The expectation is that most people have some minimum level of fitness.  While the Beginner classes might be less intense, they are still intense.  There is little directed training, with the focus on ‘go-go-go’ exercises.  It’s great if you are already fit, but I’m not sure I’d put someone who is new into it.  It’s also less useful as mentioned for building absolute strength – there’s an expectation people are going to go out and lift weights if you wanted that.

Grappling Class Notes

Some quick notes for my own rememberance from the latest 2 grappling classes.

First class – how to escape from guard to side guard.

  • push up to keep head away from body.  Hands go to liver or lower ribs
  • don’t leave hands on chest
  • get up on one leg, use the propped up knee to shove elbow into pressure point on inside of thigh.
  • slide opposite knee / shin over the now lowered leg and push over to side
  • keep body low, stay next to opponent
  • go into side guard, getting underhook and overhook if possible with knees to upper body and thigh as fast as possible


  • step past opponent’s front leg
  • sweep with second leg, kicking into his weak centre of balance while twisting with arm (elbow and arm hangs down in 90 degree) to throw
  • keep control of arm, get into side straddle with back to ground and his arm between legs
  • Curl leg around his head to you to control head
  • pull back to finish. Thumb facing up.

Counter to Throw

  • Let yourself be thrown, roll with the throw and keep arm to head.
  • Bring leg furthest from body overhead to counter and go into a direct armbar

Day 2 lessons

Getting out from guard to side

  • Trap his double-arm (i.e. two hands on you) with one arm.
  • Opposite hand, crunch to his leg and hook all the way to elbow.
  • Roll opponent to side
  • Enter side control

Head control in side

  • If you are grasping his head in side control (facing up), splay legs in 90 angle.  One directly perpendicular to him, the other as much of 90 as possible.  Grab thigh with your arm around his head.
  • This will stop him from throwing you off by pulling you towards him and then away to regain control

Head control to choke

  • From above position, flip legs around so that you are now facing him downwards
  • Prop legs up, angled into him
  • Squeeze with arms (gently, no need to use much force) and let your shoulder dig into him to create the choke

Head / arm control to armbar

  • push hand down towards leg
  • from there you can use first propped up leg (straight perpendicular before) to prop underneath and then cross to go into armbar
  • if arm starts turning, follow the turning and slip under opposite leg and lock with second leg.  Raise hips and push down gently to finish

First MMA Kickboxing Class

Quite a few years since I’ve done a lot of punching and kicking in a class.  Before I forget, things I found out that I learnt:

  • When punching / kicking continuously at a heavy bag / focus pads; wraps and gloves are good. If nothing more than to save the knuckles on your hands
  • I hit too much with the last couple of knuckles – right hand little finger knuckle skin came off
  • My left cross has a tendency to drift outwards and come in a circle instead of snapping right out.  Also, I’m way too lazy on both sides with putting a proper twist to my hips to generate power.
  • I fight southpaw naturally, though my lead hand is my right.
  • I throw way too many crosses as a start especially when I’m in southpaw
  • My right roundhouse though (from orthodox in particular) is very powerful.  My left roundhouse needs more work
  • Heck, kicks in general from orthodox / left need a lot more work
  • I need to work on shifting stances more often and more dynamically.  Time to do more research
  • I need to work combinations more, especially straights and body hook combinations.  Not as fluid as I’d like it to be.
  • Same with the front kick / switch / back leg roundhouse & forward plant roundhouse. (From orthodox, that’d be right front kick, right roundhouse after switch, plant with right foot forward and left roundhouse).
  • Don’t rush – plant my feet more before I throw a combination so each has power.  I’ll probably want to change that up a bit in a fight to throw both speed / power shots but it’s a good habit to make sure I’m throwing proper shots in drill.
  • Work on planting my foot better so I can throw a proper high roundhouse and pivoting all the way through.

Things I’m unsure I need to work on, have to consider:

  • Breathing out more harshly when I hit.  I do so normally, but not in the explosive manner these guys like.
  • Hands in muay-thai / boxer stance.  Shoulders raised, elbows in a lot more, hands at same height (or almost) and covering face much higher.

Other general observations:

  • Movement fluidity came back after a while
  • Same with combinations before I started flagging
  • Cardio isn’t as bad as I thought, didn’t have a huge amount of rest but I kept it up for nearly an hour and a half
  • I obviously didn’t kick things as much as I should – bruises all along my shin / top of my foot

Overall, good training.  Time to get back to it properly.