THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

The storm raging within.

The storm raging within.

Have you worked so hard for something that you felt was reachable and you were so determined, come hell or high water to get it, but for reasons you couldn’t quite explain it eluded you? 

You just couldn’t figure out how or why. The doubt starts to set in. Did you really do everything you could. The little voice in your head goes off on a tangent and starts eating away at the very fibre of your being, pushing you to ever closer to your breaking point. It just eats you up inside.

You’re probably wondering Why the hell I am I telling you all this?

Let me explain.

For a long time I tried so hard and pushed myself to reach a new level of skill, strength and durability when it came to my training. (Especially martial arts and believe me, I’m still constantly striving and pushing to reach new plateaus). All in the pursuit of reaching a “higher level.”

The hours, weeks and months I spent hitting my heavy bag with my bare fists. That’s right ladies and gents, no gloves, mitts, hand/wrist wraps. No damn protection whatsoever. Just skin coming into contact with vinyl.

The storm within me raging. The intention was crystal clear.

I wanted to make my fists like iron. I wanted to develop the power in my punches to the best that was humanly possible for me.

Note: I don’t claim to have the greatest, most powerful punch in the world, nor do I care to. I simply want to train my body to the best I can get it.

For a long time my hands would bruise, turn red and the skin would tear. (If you didn’t get the picture already. Yeah it dang well hurt a lot too).

At first I would throw in the towel and walk away. Let the hand heal, I figured. 3-4 days later I’d be out again doing the same thing.

Slowly my pain threshold grew and I endured more, lasting longer and longer each time, but it still wasn’t good enough. (At least to me at the time). No matter what I did the pain would be too great to deal with and I felt disappointed. If only there was a way to manage it. To work through it.

One particular day as I walked out into my garden to hit the heavy bag, expecting the usual to inevitably happen, I started up, took my stance and began hammering away at the bag. Sure enough the pain started to develop with the onslaught and flurry of my punches.

But then suddenly a weird, unexplainable calmness filled my body and mind. Suddenly, I really didn’t care about how hard my punches were, or how much it hurt.

I didn’t care anymore and that’s when the magic happened. It was as if my body shut out the pain, all the thoughts, feelings and emotions. All the reasons for hitting the bag become insignificant. It was as if I’d been able to let go of all the things holding me back.

I lost track of time, space, maybe even reality. Nothing mattered. I continued pounding away at the bag, with no thought. No emotion.

When your mind becomes so clear. So empty. When you become immersed in the movements and actions. 

It feels strange writing this and was insane at the time. But I’d actually found peace in the fact that I didn’t care about reaching my goal or anything for that matter.

I ended up having one of the best power bag sessions I’ve ever experienced and at the end of it my knuckles weren’t bruised. There were no cuts, blood or any trace of swelling/inflammation.

Just a bit of redness over the knuckles, which was to be expected. It was about 10 mins or so after I’d finished working on the bag, that the pain finally registered. But it didn’t hurt as much as it had on previous occasions.

It’s an odd feeling that I can’t explain. I just like to call it “THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM EFFECT.” And man is it wonderful. (You’ll only be able to relate to this when you experience it for yourself).

You’re probably thinking cool story but what’s the whole point of it?

Well, keep your shirt on we’re getting to the good stuff.

If you want to take your training to the next level, the answer doesn’t always lie in consciously forcing yourself to add more weight or grind out more reps. Just try to connect and flow with the movement. (Easier said than done, right?).

That’s why before every training session I mediate to eliminate all the useless garbage that floats around in the mind. I also do it before I start each and every day. It’s a very empowering feeling.

Sometimes you’ve got to completely free your mind of every darn thought and feeling towards every damn thing you’ve worked so hard for. It sounds bloody insane, and it’s downright difficult, but not impossible.

I believe when you’re pushed to a certain threshold, a certain level of mental and physical stress, (that more often than not is self created), due to the intense desire and longing  inside of you to reach a goal.

Eventually you’ll likely reach the tipping point and lose track of said goal. You just won’t care about achieving it anymore. When you get to that point, your breaking point, your limit, that’s when crazy things happen. That’s how I experienced it.

It’s like the more you think and strive for something the further it gets from you. (Sounds like a damn paradox).

LET THAT SINK IN FOR A SECOND. RE-READ IT AGAIN IF YOU HAVE TO!!!

Let me give you another example you’ve probably heard of this situation occurring dozens of times. Heck, maybe it’s even happened to you.

Ever been in a situation where you lost your house or car keys. You get all pent up and frustrated looking for the sucker and you just can’t find it anywhere. Then you forget about it, you just stop thinking about it and then presto, out of nowhere you end up finding it. Usually they were right where you left them, in plain sight.

The point is, when you block out all your desires and thoughts and learn to stop being overly consumed by your goal, you’d probably end up reaching it a lot sooner and with a lot less hassle and stress.

Don’t take that the wrong way, you still obviously have to work hard and strive to achieve your goals, but when it takes over you to the point that you lose sight of everything else, particularly your enjoyment in life. You’re probably over obsessing.

We’ve got a tendency to over think and analysis everything. It does nothing except complicate situations and lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety, making things harder than they need to be.

Hey!! “Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to move two steps forward.”

MIND-BOGGLING, ISN’T IT?

ACUITY AND MENTALITY

PACK A PUNCH: 4 WAYS TO POWER UP YOUR PUNCHES

“I’m not one to start fights, but I sure as hell am not afraid to end them.” G.K 

The ol' canucklehead Wolverine lets his fists do the talking.

The ol’ canucklehead Wolverine lets his fists do the talking.

Sometimes you just have to let your fists do the talking!!

Punching is a basic self-defense mechanism. One of the few things that people often just intuitively do. I don’t think anyone really over thinks throwing a punch or taking a “swing” at someone. However, you want to make sure your punches count, whether in the ring or out on the street. (I don’t condone going around and starting fights).

You can take any other weapon away from someone, but you can’t remove a part of their anatomy. (Not easily anyway).

Here are a few pointers that I  myself use with pretty satisfactory results in the punching power department.

Time to build some “hurting bombs.”

Bare knuckles on a heavy bag 

It’s not uncommon to use a punching bag. Everyone from boxers, martial artists to Joe Blogs at the local gym use them. They’re great. Feeling angry? Well you can unleash that fury and frustration on the bag.

Best part is you can unload all you’ve got and it’ll still be there for you. It’ll take all your hits and still stand as if to say, “Was that really the best you’ve got?” Nothing’s more honest than the good old punching bag in that respect.

If you really want to power up your punches, go bare knuckles. (No mitts/gloves). Truth is, your skin will probably  tear and turn red.  Your hands will hurt like hell. But hey,you want fists of iron. So, you’ve got to go through the effort to get them, and sometimes that effort comes with the added element of pain.

Beginners shouldn’t attempt this. If you’re a beginner I recommend you start with mitts and work up to using your bare hands.

Fist Pushups

A personal favorite of mine and pretty self explanatory. Simply get down into a regular pushup position, but instead of resting on the palms of your hands you’re going to rest on your fists. From there just perform regular pushups. Do as many as you can, until you can’t do anymore.

If you’re beginning with these I would start out on a softer surface, like a rug or carpet, then progress to harder surfaces. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you can do them on solid concrete. That’s when you’ll know you’re in rare territory.

Finger-tip Pushups

http://youtu.be/fIVfe-crHDs

This one’s a further progression from the fist pushups. Now you really are taking it up a notch. You’re developing your finger strength here, which is often overlooked by plenty of martial artists.

This move’s a killer. Especially when you’re doing it the first time. Form is everything. Better to do 1 good than 10 lousy ones. Don’t get disheartened if you can’t do that many, they’re tough. Perform them the way you would a regular pushup but use your finger-tips to support your body. Once you’re doing them consistently and with ease, congrats you’ve done well and reached a level many can’t imagine.

Forearm work

If you have weak forearms you can be damned sure your punching power’s going to suffer. The take home message is, unless you already have big or strong forearms you should work them. (Especially if having powerful punches is one of your priorities).

Bruce Lee had incredibly strong forearms that weren’t amazingly big, but damn they were powerful and his punches reflected that.  He got them, by training them hard.

My preferred forearm moves include the farmers walk, deadlifts and shrugs performed with a thick bar.

Nothing works your grip strength and forearms like squeezing and holding a thick bar. If you don’t have a thick bar wrap a towel around your barbell to thicken it up.

You have the knowledge. Now go sculpt those Iron fists. 

Important consideration: Self-defense and martial arts are not childs play. They’re not a damned excuse to go out and incite violence. Used incorrectly they can result in injury or even death. I’m not suggesting anyone go out a start fights. As always seek medical advice before undertaking any form of physical activity.

PAIN AND PLEASURE 

Photo Credit: http://dualspades.deviantart.com/art/Wolverine-133103565#skins