My first attempt at a Vlog! Here’s 5 tips to keep your zoom classes fresh!

Here are 5 tips to keep your zoom classes fresh.

Hopefully the end is in sight guys! It’s been a long old road this past year or so, from the first initial months of moving our academies online, to those wonderful few weeks where we could re-open in some capacity, to then having to close again!

Zoom has been a godsend for many and thanks to technology many of us have kept our academy doors open – through the virtual world! I know I will never take for granted the atmosphere in my academy again and cannot wait to get back open and see everyone.

Although the end is hopefully in sight – we are not quite there yet and zoom will still be needed for the time being, and hey, maybe we should keep some level of online training available for people – it may not be a bad idea and we’ll be ready for the next global pandemic… yay! 😛

So here are 5 top tips to keep your zoom classes fresh, fun and interesting in a time when many are really suffering from lock-down fatigue.

1 – Bring in guests

Guest instructors have been awesome for my academy! We had 18 of them over a 24 hour period during our 24 hour challenge last summer, but I have always kept bringing guest instructors into our regular adult classes on Zoom.

I’ve done this for a few reasons…

Firstly it gives me a break as teaching online can be a little stressful at times! It’s hard to translate some things online or into solo work and hard to keep the motivation going for people, especially if you’re like me and quite a hands on coach! Every cloud has a silver lining however and it’s certainly improved my teaching ability and taught me some new skills!

Bringing in a guest instructor means you can chill and enjoy learning for the hour rather than having to host the class. I’ve made sure I’ve kept learning this lock-down, signing up with the Minnesota Kali Group for some JKD and Kali I will introduce into my academy at some point. Bringing in a guest instructor takes the pressure off for one lesson and you can just enjoy the process of learning something new or having a workout again.

Secondly – it keeps it fresh for the students. I’ve already said they’re suffering from lock-down fatigue, the last thing you want is for them to get your-face-fatigue too! I think some of my guys have had this for months, but their troopers can keep on training. Bringing in a new instructor, especially from a different style to your own, adds value to your academy, shows you are willing to look outside your own ego and also gives the students a new perspective on something. It’s also great publicity for the guest instructor as to what they do, so a win-win for everyone involved!

I’m always willing to do a guest spot/workout for someone if they’d like so just get in touch!

2 – Use props!

This is must, especially for the kids classes. A 40 minute class with kids where you simply go through drills or patterns is going to get tiring pretty quickly. You can be the most passionate and enthusiastic instructor in the world, but sometimes we all need a little help in the form of a prop or two!

For my junior students (and some adults…) a pirate sword has worked great. We can do virtual evasions where they jump, duck, slip and roll out of the way of the sword cuts, and it can be a good way of learning basic footwork too!

For my adults – along with the pirate sword – we also do virtual pad feeding drills occasionally. This is a great workout for the students and means you can simply pad feed towards the camera, doing a certain number of rounds for a certain length of time e.g. 10 x 2 minute rounds.

Invest in some props and use them to keep your zoom classes fresh! Think outside the box a little and get your students to make their own props too!

3 – Think about more than just classes

A lot of the time people come to your classes for a sense of community as well as the physical aspect of martial arts. This should translate to online as well. Are you simply doing your classes, then logging off, never to be seen or heard from again until the next class? If so, you’re missing an awesome opportunity to build your community stronger through a global pandemic. Be the academy that helped people through this and give as much as you can of your time, energy and brain power!

Use Facebook community groups for your students to post things that are only for current members. It could be drills done from class, or special event e.g. a guest instructor! But it could also be more fun things like links to a zoom quiz night or funny videos/bloopers from your online filming if you are doing any for a course or project!

Build the community up now and you’ll have students who are also friends and big fans of your academy who in turn, speak to their friends, hence building the word of mouth we all love. Plus it’s just a nice thing to do at the moment – be sincere and give to your students, without them you’re just someone with some martial arts skill but no-one to teach!

4 – Set challenges

Challenges have worked great for us in the past, so I think it’s probably time to set another one! Unlucky any of my students reading this! During the first lock-down we completed a 5000 rep challenge – 10 exercises, 50 reps each for 10 days. We then completed our 10,000 rep challenge – 10 exercises, 100 reps each for 10 days. We then set ourselves the 24 hour challenge and not only did we raise £2000 for charity, but 8 of my students all completed the full 24 hours. Trust me, there is nothing that brings an academy closer together than knife drills with a butter knife at 5am after too much coffee slashing away at our zoom screens!

Set challenges for short term, medium term and long term and keep the motivation high in your students.

5 – Communicate

Communicate with your students on a regular basis and I cannot emphasize this enough. Talk to them! What do they like? What don’t they like? What would they like to see or change? They’re the students, you’re there to provide a service – listen to them!

On top of this – communication is key for people’s mental health at the moment, so check in on your students. Some of them may be living alone or struggling with the current circumstances, so if you haven’t seen them in class online for a bit, check in and see how they are and if you can do anything. It takes a minute, but means the world to people – trust me!

Let’s hope we’re out of this pandemic soon and can get back to doing what we all love ASAP. Until then, think about your business and try your best to keep it afloat so there is something to come back to. Also be kind, be human and be there for your students though who have supported you financially and perhaps emotionally this past year too. I hope these tips help you to keep your zoom classes fresh and see out online training until we can open again!

Talking nutrition with `The Body Engineer`

Today I am interviewing Casey Marshall A.K.A. The Body Engineer. It’s Friday so that means interview release day – I hope you’re all excited! Casey comes from a martial arts family, and her father is a good friend of mine and honorary coach at my Empower Martial Arts Academy. David Titch Marshall used to be a professional kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter before he got old… but the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree with Casey!

Casey has competed in martial arts from a young age in all sorts of categories including MMA and weapons. If it’s martial arts related – she’s there! She’s now translated this into coaching while studying for her MA in Sports Nutrition and building her brand The Body Engineer.

We talk about why nutrition is so important for everyone – not just elite athletes. Casey offers some quick and easy tips for staying healthy during lock-down when the temptation is to close the curtains and go face down into a chocolate cake. Something I’ve always struggled with is meal prepping too – how much to prep? How long does it stay okay in the fridge? What are the benefits? Casey answers all these questions and more so you can be a meal prep expert in no time!

You can contact Casey through Instagram and Facebook for hints and tips on nutrition and training. Just search for The Body Engineer.

Check out the interview below via YouTube or if you would prefer to simply listen to it – just head over to our Podcast feed or Spotify and the interview will be live there!

I’ve got lots of content planned for the podcast, YouTube channel and the blog, so make sure you subscribe to the site to never miss an episode! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram at The Martial View and don’t forget to join our community group where the discussions take place!

As always – if you’d like to see something or have any questions. Get in touch!

New Interviews on YouTube and Podcasts Channels!

Did you know we’re on YouTube and Podcasts now?

Hey everyone and I hope you’re all keeping safe and well at the moment! It’s certainly been a testing time for the martial arts industry, but the way we have come together to help and support one another is awesome!

It’s also given many the chance to get projects set up that would otherwise have been postponed…again!

This can certainly be said for myself for instance! During lock-down I have re-released Martial Masters Volume 1 available now on Amazon in paperback form, and I can now happily say that Martial Masters Volume 2 is now written! 16 interviews with some truly world class martial artists from all around the world – it’s going to be something very special! Release date for this is looking to be around Spring 2021 so keep an eye out and subscribe to The Martial View to get first glimpse when it drops on Amazon!

In addition to this, I’ve been busy interviewing all sorts of other top martial artists, health professionals and generally interesting people for the YouTube channel and Podcast channels.

New interviews will be released every Friday from now on leaving me enough time to get some truly awesome names involved and not rush anything, so check out a few of our most recent interviews below 😀 all of which are now available on YouTube and Podcasts.

First up we spoke to Fight Dad Harry Flexman on his online courses. Check out his fantastic online courses here
Our next interview was with Andy Gibney of Unified Fight Systems. A master instructor in Jeet Kune Do under Richard Bustillo and 6th Grade Black Belt in Doce Pares Eskrima! A very interesting guy for sure!

Podcasts and building the YouTube channel has certainly kept me sane and busy this lock-down, in combination with the book and keeping my academy treading water! So thank you everyone for the support for The Martial View – I hope it continues to build and grow with the help of all you lovely people. My email is always open if you wish to see something, or have an idea for an interview or topic – so get in touch! I am just one man so give me some ideas too! I have limited brain power!

I have some great ideas for future content for the YouTube channel too so make sure you subscribe to us and never miss an episode! Trust me it’s going to be cool!

Empower Martial Arts Academy Lincoln Raises £2000 for Charity

Well last weekend was a pretty crazy one with my Empower Martial Arts Academy Lincoln team! A 24 Hour Live Virtual Class – all for charity.

Like many other instructors around the country, and indeed the world, the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard! I was forced to close my academy down in a matter of days and move it online. My system is a kind of mixed martial art style with a lot of close quarter training from my previous experience – something that is hard to do online and shadowing for any prolonged period of time!

I, along with the vast majority of martial arts instructors, had to adapt. We moved all our Empower Martial Arts academy classes online with a full timetable to keep people healthy and active, both physically and mentally! Zoom workouts 3 times a week, kids zoom classes twice a week and adult classes twice a week. As well as pre-recorded classes, family classes and a weekly stretching class by my super talented girlfriend all the way from India who saved my butt by mixing it up a little!

I, and my Empower Martial Arts Academy Lincoln team were in constant communication with all our members who have been amazing supporting us during this difficult time. We found that challenges were a great way to build the community even more, and also keep people motivated in a time where motivation was at an all time low!

We started with a 5000 rep challenge. 10 exercises. 50 reps each, every day for 10 days equaling 5000 reps! After this, we upped it even more to 10,000 reps so doubled the reps each day. We all smashed it and it was time for the next challenge.

This one, we felt, would be nice to do for charity and so I came up with the idea of a 24 hour live martial arts class via Zoom. 24 classes, 24 hours starting at 10am Saturday 18th and finishing Sunday 19th July at 10am. All for the PAPYRUS Charity which supports young people struggling with thoughts of suicide – a cause I know means a lot to quite a few of my members.

Originally, we were going to cycle the lessons between myself and my team, but then the idea hit to include other instructors from around the country. All instructors have had to move their classes online, so why not involve different styles too to keep it fresh?

So I reached out on social media groups asking for anyone that would be willing to give up an hour of their time, and I was overwhelmed with responses. So much so that we had filled all the sociable hour slots in one day. Everything from MMA sessions, to Tai Chi, Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing and Filipino arts.

I was, and am, still so overwhelmed with the level of response and how many people were willing to get on board. The martial arts industry can often be pretty insular, with people thinking the style they practice is the be all and end all. However, a host of amazing instructors came on board more than willing to take part.

What impressed me the most was that a number of instructors actually stayed on to learn other styles, watching, listening and taking part after or before their time slot. An amazing act of humility and something I always stress with my academy – never stop learning and never stop improving.

8 of my students from Empower Martial Arts Academy Lincoln completed the whole 24 hours with high intensity workouts at 2am, knife drills at 5am and all sorts of craziness. Over 30 other students from my school and other schools hopped in and out for varying hours throughout and I am pleased to say that as of 23rd July 2020, we have now raised £2000 for the PAPYRUS Charity.

I want to extend a huge thank you to the instructors and students who took part, as well as everyone that donated for such a worthy cause. I haven’t ached as much as I did on Monday morning for years, but seeing the amount we raised, and getting to experience so many different coaches and styles was more than worth it.

Our Just Giving page is still open until Sunday 26th July if you are able to donate with the link here.

Suck It Up Or Go Home… The toughest martial arts course in the world…

Today I’m writing about Simon Gray’s new book Suck It Up Or Go Home and his time in Senshusei Yoshinkan Aikido course in Japan.

Whenever I write about Aikido, I’m always slightly careful with what I type. For a long time, it was a huge part of my life. I began training at aged 9 and stopped training when I was 23 after achieving my 3rd Degree Black Belt. I spent a month in Australia training full time as a dojosei or live in student and loved it! However, I also cross trained in MMA, combatives, boxing, jiu-jitsu etc and saw some of the shortcomings of Aikido.

In the martial arts world, Aikido is often seen as the weird uncle at a party… and I say that in the most affectionate terms. The uncle who tells you all about his younger days chasing ladies, getting in scraps outside pubs and downing 10 pints… of whiskey…. You like him, he’s nice and there’s nothing wrong with him, but you take what he says with a pinch of salt.

Aikido can be seen as kind of similar nowadays. No doubt, Aikido has it’s place as a martial art, but as a combatives system or self defence system, there are some serious shortcomings – the main one being a lack of pressure testing and sparring. Some, due to this, question to relevance of Aikido nowadays as a practical martial art and I’ve written about this topic here. This is not true in all Aikido schools and I’ve been fortunate enough to train with some incredible instructors who were not only genuinely incredible people to be around, but also knew their stuff!

If you teach Aikido for fitness, health and studying a martial arts and budo, Aikido is a great choice. If you want something fast and effective for self defence, or want to competitively fight, it isn’t for you.

However, someone who has a wealth of experience competitively fighting in Muay Thai, as well as training in BJJ is Simon Gray – the author of Suck It Up Or Go Home.

Simon and I actually met years ago in around 2004 training at the Shudokan Academy in Nottingham and he took his 1st Degree black belt test the year before me! I recently interviewed him about his book and why, after studying Muay Thai and BJJ, he chose to undergo what has been called the hardest martial arts course in the world. You can check the full interview out here.

Simon traveled to Japan to undertake an 11 month course in Yoshinkan Aikido, designed to create black belts and foreign instructors who can spread the Yoshinkan system around the world. 11 months of training 5 days a week and being treated as the lowest of the low in the dojo. Drop out rates are high and only a select few who start the course actually complete it due to injuries and general attrition.

As Aikido is often seen as a soft martial art, it’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of this with being labelled one of, if not the, toughest martial arts course in the world.

The course was first bought to the public’s attention through the book Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger. This recounted Rob’s 11 months in the senshusei course taught to the Japanese riot police in the early 1990’s when arguably Yoshinkan Aikido was in it’s prime. The founder, Kancho Gozo Shioda, was still alive and the top and most notable Yoshinkan teachers were all instructors at the Honbu Dojo.

Mike Tyson visits the Yoshinkan Aikido headquarters with Kancho Gozo Shioda.

Although Simon’s book is similar in terms of his journey in the course, it takes a different approach, focusing more on Simon’s ability to suck it up or go home attitude. When thing’s get tough, you either deal with it and carry on, or give in. This, as Simon has said, is something that was instilled in him from the senshusei course, and something he has carried with him after.

Simon sent me a copy of Suck It Up Or Go Home, to have a read of and asked me to write a few words for the start of it, and after reading it in 2 days, I was more than happy to do so. This is a great book and I honestly couldn’t put it down. As a martial arts blog, I’m sure the vast majority of people reading this are martial artists, but I will also say that you don’t have to be a martial artist to enjoy the book. This has something for everyone and the lessons and essence can be applied to anyone regardless of martial arts background or not.

From dealing with the daily struggles of living in Japan, to adjusting to a new way of training as the lowest of the low in the dojo, Simon candidly speaks about his time on the course, doesn’t pull any punches and you can tell he is writing from the heart. He talks about continuing to train in Muay Thai and BJJ while in Japan (even though it was forbidden to train in other styles on the course) and as far as an ambassador for Aikido as an effective martial art, I’d rate Simon pretty highly!

I’d highly recommend Suck It Up Or Go Home to anyone interested in martial arts, and even those with a passing interest in Japanese culture or self development – there’s something in it for everyone.

The book is available on Amazon now in Paperback form and also kindle and you can grab your copy here.

The quick and easy break falling system.

Let’s face it, if you study any form of martial arts, there is an element of break falling involved. Traditional arts place heavy emphasis on the need to break fall such as Aikido or jiu-jitsu, but these principles can just as easily be applied to MMA or Thai Boxing when being swept or taken down.

Break falling is one of the most crucial aspects of martial arts to learn, especially as a beginner for a number of reasons.

Safety first

The first and most important reason to learn how to break fall safely is obviously safety! In most martial arts, traditional or sport based, at some level you will have to learn how to take a fall. This could be from a sweep during sparring in kickboxing, or Muay Thai, to a single or double leg in MMA. From a wrist lock in Aikido, to a hip throw in jiu-jitsu, break falling is a crucial aspect of the martial arts to learn to prevent injury and keep you learning and on the mats.

The idea of the break fall, is to do exactly that – break the fall. We land in such a way as to absorb the impact, reduce damage and prevent any long term injuries. Break falling can start simply – with a simple back fall to protect the head, neck and spine, but quickly progress. At the most advanced levels we have silent break falls or high break falls, gymnastic in approach, but also functional in controlling the impact you receive off the technique or takedown.

Progression

In many martial arts, break falling is crucial in order to feel how the technique is done. Arguably, the best way to understand a technique is to feel it first hand from the coach, sensei, professor etc and if you can fall well and safely, you are more likely to be able safely feel how the technique works.

A single leg takedown can be drilled over and over again, but 1 demonstration of the single leg where you feel how it is meant to be applied is worth 100 drills on your own or with a partner who is also figuring it out.

If you get good and competent at safely falling, your skill level will increase. You’ll be able to feel how the technique works, and you’ll also be able to safely train, meaning less time off the mats for any niggling injuries! Win, win!

Drill development and principles

A lot of the principles found in learning to break fall occur in learning a martial arts. We learn the form, we learn the main points to consider, then we figure out how it fits best for us. I’m of small stature, so my break falls are likely to be quicker and more compact than someone who is 6ft tall and 18 stone. The way we teach the break fall is the same to ensure safety first, but the way it is applied and made your own differs.

The same can be said of martial arts. We teach the jab, the main points, get the range right, rotate the hip and shoulder and retract it with speed. Then we play! We experiment with the angles in light sparring, we try to improve our success rate of hitting it. My jab again, will be different to a jab of a 6ft tall practitioner simply because they have a longer reach! Therefore, we learn and adapt, same as in break falling.

When we figure out these core principles we can develop drills to help with agility, speed, flexibility and cardiovascular and muscular fitness – all important for martial arts.

The Break Falling for Martial Artists video series.

Time for a shameless plug now! As a 3rd degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido, break falling was instilled into me from a young age. Say what you like about the efficacy of Aikido (I may even agree). but one thing they do do well is break falling! This has served me well during my time cross training in other styles both in terms of the practical break falling element, and also the principles it teaches.

I’ve packaged what I’ve learned about break falling into my own course this lockdown! Starting with the simple basics of how to do a simple backfall, then progress to slam backfalls and angled ones, then moving to forward and backward rolls. Then finally flip falls and more gymnastic, but less practical break falling. With this I’ve added some drills and skills you can train yourself, or alternatively use in classes if you instruct kids/adults and want to add some break falling in. The basics, up to advanced, with some drill ideas to implement into your class. Super simple, but also super needed!

I’ll be launching this course at a 50% discount rate at the end of June, so be sure to subscribe to The Martial View to receive this discount if you want to take your martial arts training up a gear, or want another element to add into your classes.

The starter system to building explosive power.

The ability to generate explosive power quickly, and efficiently is arguably one of the most important aspects of the martial arts. From quickly sending out a powerful low leg kick, retracting it and following up, to sending out a mystical chi ball from 10 feet away – explosive power is crucial.

Disclaimer: I’m kidding about the mystical chi ball… Though given current circumstances an social distancing…

Delivering the big knockout punch is ultimately what many martial artists aim for. Whether this is for one hit stopping power for self defence, or K.O power for competition, explosive power is something we all strive for.

But what exactly is it….?

Simply put, it’s exerting more power, in less time. There are some AWESOME examples of this in all martial arts, hard styles and soft. From board breaking (boards… don’t hit back), to kata, all are examples of explosive power.

So how do we build this? Stand under a waterfall? Break chopsticks with your fingers? Grow a white goatee and name yourself Pai-Mei?

All valid and indeed I would encourage this… however there are some other ways too..

Martial Artists aren’t the only ones who need explosive power. Look as baseball players, American footballers, curlers…

Okay, maybe not curlers….

But almost all forms of professional sport require explosive power and there are a number of exercises we can do to build this type of power and improve our ability in any given sport – especially the martial arts.

Top Exercises for building Explosive Power!

The Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebells are awesome for developing raw and functional power. Relatively cheap and easy to transport around, you can get a whole body workout in using just a kettle bell so they come highly recommended on my list of equipment.

To perform the kettlebell snatch, stand feet shoulder width apart, kettlebell on the floor. Squat down to pick it up, ensuring good form. Drive up using the legs and pick the kettlebell up through your centre and extend your arm straight above your head. Then lower the kettlebell down. This is one rep!

The explosiveness from this movement comes from pushing from the ground and extending the arm, using the feet, knees, hips and shoulders especially. A fantastic exercise to work multiple large muscle groups and develop explosive power.

Box Jumps

Another fantastic exercise to really get the legs burning, the cardiovascular system fired up, and a great way to build EXPLOSIVE POWER! Which is something we would all like right?

To perform…. Find a box… Jump on it…. Repeat….

Okay it’s slightly more technical but not much. Awesome for plyometrics and developing fast twitch muscles (crucial for those genuine K.Os, not so much for the no touch…).

Find a raised surface, or a study, preferably weighted down box, the height of which will be dependent on your ability. New people, try a curb or something… athletes… a double decker bus, you get the idea.

Stand shoulder width apart again. Bend the knees and get your body ready for some air time! Swing your arms in the air like you just don’t care, drive up from the floor and (hopefully) launch yourself onto the box. Either you’ll make the jump and if so repeat.

Or you won’t make the jump, so ensure you film it first because that shit goes viral. Then go for a smaller box until you can complete it. Make sure you land softly, bend the knees and keep good form throughout so as to reduce injury.

Plyometric pushups

Ah the good old push up! A great exercise for building multiple muscle groups again, and also one fantastic for building the explosive power we are all looking for.

The focus here is to perform your push up as usual, but really focus on pushing up as hard as you can, like you are pushing the ground away from you as you push your body up. Again, great for developing fast twitch muscles meaning you’ll be faster AND more powerful.

If this is just too easy and you’re too much of a pro for this amateur shit. Add on some clap push ups. Push off the floor, get some air time and clap your hands before you land!

Still too easy?

Double clap push ups! Clap in front of you, then clap behind your head before you land. Requires more air time, therefore more explosive power, therefore more chance of face plant.

Side note – want to be featured in a Martial View video? 100% guarantee of fame if you send me a video of you face planting while double clap push ups.


B

The Burpee

Because no fitness article is complete with a bastard burpee! Hated by many, loved by few, yet kind of usual as well, the burpee can be easily be compared to our current government, yet I digress.

Start standing, crouch down and hop back into a push up position. Perform said push up. Jump forward to a crouch, stand up. Jump in the air. Complete.

Lots of jumping. Lots of plyometrics, lots of cardio, lots of pain, lots of swearing, lots of explosive power.

A workout build around any of these exercises done consistently will build explosive power. Combine it with technique, pad work and bag work and you’re speed and power for martial arts is bound to increase.

Start slow if you’re a beginner and build up. For example

x10 Kettlebell snatch left and right

x10 Box Jumps

x10 Plyometric Push Ups

x10 Burpees

Rest for 1 minute and repeat 5 times, three times per week. As this becomes easier, either increase the reps, increase the sets or decrease the rest time and see your explosive power increase!

The Martial View – Tom Barlow BJJ Interview Part 1

This is one of my favorite interviews I’ve done so far! Got to be honest. Super interesting and great to chat with Tom who is a gent, but arguably one of the best BJJ grapplers in the UK today. He has been way ahead of the curve and has been teaching online for a number of years now, so it was great to talk all things martial arts with Tom!

We hear about Tom’s background and how his eclectic mix of martial arts training eventually led him to brazilian jiu-jitsu. Through training with Erik Paulson, to sparring Ken Shamrock, we hear about Tom’s experience in martial arts in a time when MMA was on the rise.

We speak about some career highlights in competing, travelling for hours to train with Braulio Estima and a hectic schedule in the days when BJJ wasn’t as popular as it is today. We also speak on the coveted Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Tom’s thoughts on the current state of BJJ in the UK and abroad.

The first part in a two part interview, we hope you enjoy as always and subscribe to The Martial View on YouTube to make sure you catch part 2! Also be sure to check out Tom’s BJJ School Escapology BJJ for some training while we’re in lockdown, as well as his academy when we can get back training together!

Are you too old to train? The Mike Tyson comeback…

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

I’m excited. Amid all the doom and gloom of Coronavirus and the fear in the world today, I saw something to potentially get excited about… The return of Mike Tyson to boxing.

That’s right… THE Mike Tyson!

Sure it will be for some exhibition matches raising money for charity, probably for 3 or 4 rounds, but hey! This is exciting stuff and got me thinking…

At what age should you hang up for gloves for good?

Tyson is now 53 years old and has his last fight 15 years ago at age 38. His return to the ring for some will be exciting and even inspirational, yet others, most notably George Foreman, have warned him to stay out the ring and that he has nothing more to prove.

So what do you think? Is there a time when a fighter should just retire, never to step foot in the ring or cage again and when is that time?

I’ve heard a few times martial artists say that the difference between martial arts and combat sports is that combat sports often have a peak. An age where you are as strong, fit and agile as you can possibly be.

After this peak has been reached, there is a steady decline where the body simply cannot take the same amount of punishment as it did before. Skill diminishes therefore retirement happens.

With martial arts however, the peak doesn’t reach as early as skill level increases consistently. A fine example of this would be Dan Inosanto – aged 83 and still hosting seminars around the world (pre-corona) and as skilled and talented as he ever was.

This may be due to a number of reasons:

The punishment the body takes…

Professional fighters put their bodies through so much on a daily basis. From regular hard sparring sessions, to fitness building that takes you to the edge and pushes you both mentally and physically – combat sports are tough man! That’s not even counting the fights themselves! Repeated kicks to the legs, punches to the body and head and general wear and tear take their toll and this for sure is a reason why combat sport competitors reach a peak.

Martial artists on the other hand – by broad stroke and not all, tend to train a little less intensely. Many don’t fight competitively, preferring to train for their own reasons such as fitness, health and personal safety perhaps. When and if they spar, it’s technical sparring which doesn’t kill you at the end and the level of punishment the body takes simply isn’t the same.

The martial art you choose…

Some martial arts are built with health and longevity in mind. If we look at some of the more esoteric martial arts such as Tai Chi or even some forms of Aikido (I know, I trained Aikido), the movements are more flowing and graceful. Many cite martial arts as a fantastic way to stay healthy, but this really does depend on the martial art you choose!

Enter the shark tank in an MMA gym, have an hour rolling session in BJJ or a hard sparring session and ask yourself at the end if you feel healthy! I’ve even had Aikido sessions where I have thrown up from exertion and the next day every inch of me has been bruised and achy – Thanks Joe Thambu Sensei…

The martial art you choose and it’s main function will often depend if you hit a peak. You don’t see many active 60 year olds in a kickboxing gym, but will see that age practicing Kung Fu or Tai Chi perhaps. Certain martial arts hit a certain demographic and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So to bring it back to the original point… Should there be an age where you can no longer fight competitively?

Are you fighting competitively now and what’s your plan for the future? Will you do a Tyson and fight until you can’t anymore?

Are you getting older now and has your training adapted and changed as a result?

Are you young and simply wanting to just kill someone in training?!

Let me know!

The Martial View – Joe Thambu Shihan Interview

I was lucky enough to be one of Joe Thambu Sensei’s students while studying Aikido, spending 1 month as a live in student with him at his dojo in Melbourne, Australia.

Joe Sensei began training at aged 11 in his Uncle’s dojo in Malaysia. At an early age he was lucky enough to be exposed to martial arts, and come into contact with high level martial artists such as Donn Draeger. After studying with his uncle, Thamby Rajah, he then moved to Australia and after trying other styles of Aikido and finding they didn’t suit him – he set up the first Yoshinkan school.

In 1993 Joe Sensei tested to 5th Dan under Gozo Shioda Kancho – the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido and was both the youngest non-Japanese to test to that level, and the last to be tested by the Yoshinkan founder.

Now an 8th Dan and head of the Aikido Shudokan. Joe Sensei is know for his speed and dynamic Aikido even at 59 years of age. He talks about his history in Aikido, what a functional martial art really is, and the future of Aikido in the 21st Century and why it has such a bad reputation in some circles.

A man I could spend hours talking to about martial arts (while drinking beer), as I say in the interview, if I lived in Australia and trained with him, I would still be practicing Aikido I think! A man that deserves a huge amount of respect, we are honored to have part one of our interview with Joe Thambu Sensei below.