Sunday, September 15, 2013

Windows of opportunity

Let's starts this blog with a video

I'm not usually a fan of MMA shows like this one, but lots of good stuff there.

So I would like to focus this instalement of the Budo Blog on how to specifically train for Kinetically Adaptive Unconscious.

That same concept is what I believe Ueshiba meant by Takemusu Aiki or randomly creating technique - the highest level of Aikido.

So how can one train themselves for Kinetically Adaptive Unconscious?

Start by developing your personal combatives platform and defining your training goals.  After that focus on human physiology.  What are humans capable of under extreme stress? Work backwards to training from there.

All of that is to refine your skill sets down to what works for you.  The skill sets you want to have available to you under "Combat Stress" (Kinetically Adaptive Unconscious.)

You want to refine your response tree down to as few as possible.  Train for what happens most and you can handle most of what happens.  Joe Lewis only had like 4 -5 moves, but he owned those 4-5 moves.

Once you have discovered that you need to build the strongest neurological pathways to those skill sets possible.

This can not happen over night.  You have to put in, as the guy in the video said- tons and tons of reps.

However, not all reps are created equal.

Practice does not make perfect, PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT

Perfect practice (conditioning quality responses) makes perfect.

Fundamental principles must be understood before repetitious training, especially self lead training.  Otherwise you just get very good at doing it wrong.  Practice makes permanent good or bad.

Once you have developed  fundamentally sound skill sets - DRILL THOSE SKILLS with lots of high quality reps.  Repetitions in solid fundamentals establish a neurological pathway with strong myosin links.  The more reps the stronger the links, the bigger the neurological pathways.  The bigger the pathways the faster the reflex, and less cognitive capability is required to perform an action.

That training will help lay a concrete foundation for your personal combatives platform.

You will understand what it feels like when you are doing the techniques correctly and it is working.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.  Rarely does an operation unfold exactly as planned.

You must be able to adapt.

In order to have skill sets to unconsciously adapt to you must also know what it feels like when you are doing the technique correctly and it is not working.

Once you recognize that felling, that stimulus has to trigger a response that takes advantage of their resistance.

Last blog I showed a Nage Waza work out that I like to do.  Here it is again:

Rear Off balance (Irimi Kuzushi)

  • Ura Otoshi - Rear Drop
  • Koshi Nage - Hip Throw
  • Osoto Otoshi - Great Outer Drop

Lateral Off balance (Yoko Sabaki Kuzushi)

  • Ura Otoshi - Rear Drop
  • Koshi Nage - Hip Throw
  • Osoto Otoshi - Great Outer Drop

Circular Off balance (Tenkan Kuzushi)

  • Yoko Seio Nage - Side Shoulder Throw
  • Soto Maki Komi - Side Winding Throw
  • Harai Goshi - Hip Sweep

Opening Off balance (Hiraki Kuzushi)

  • Uki Otoshi - Floating Drop
  • O Goshi - Big Hip

Take Downs from Contact Control

  • Ikkajo / Ude Osae - Arm Bar Take Down
  • Tai Otoshi - Body Drop
  • Uchi Matta - Inside reap
  • Hiji Ate Nage - Hitting Elbow Throw

Rear Off balance (Irimi Kuzushi) is my bread and butter.  I know what that feels like when done correctly. When it is working I can do any rear off balance throw because they can no longer resist.

I also know what it feels like when it is not working, and what actions / forces created by the opponent are causing it to feel that way.

Their resistance is the stimulus, using their resistance, taking them in the direction they want to go is the response.

Transition to a different off balance, take what ever technique is gifted to me form their loss of balance.

So you need to know:
What it feels like when it is working - establish control / limit variables

What it feels like when it is not working - adapt to something that is working / take the gift their resistance provides

What it feels like when you are fucked and  - Increase chaos / increase variables the opponent has to deal with.

We will be focusing on those first 2 feels like stimulus - responses on today's blog

That last one deserves an entire blog of its own.  But to help illustrate the concept I'll use an example I stole from Rory Miller.

Let's say you are a Corrections Officer walking the 3rd tier of a detention pod.  A convict gets you in a rear naked choke.  You are defiantly experiencing that 3rd category what it feels like when you are fucked.  You have 3 seconds or so before you are unconscious (assume dead).  Increase the chaos / variables the attacker has to deal with.  You are about to die, do you have anything to lose by throwing both you and the convict off of the 3rd tier?  You know what is happening, he doesn't.  Maybe the lunge towards the railing will scare him enough to let go.  Maybe not.  Maybe as you fall you can position him so you land on top of him. Maybe not.  The point is you are going to die anyway, you have nothing to lose by making things more chaotic for both of you.  That chaos may gift you what you need to survive.  Also you won't make it into Valhalla if you don't at least go out swinging.

As I wrote this a scene from Sherlock Homes popped into my head

I think it illustrates the third point nicely.  Need to know it but you can't really practice it on a regular basis.

Back to the first two.

After those skills have been ingrained you need to get them form the mid brain to the hind brain (survival instinct).  You need to own those skills on a cellular level.

That is achieved by not only “pressure testing” these skills with scenarios but ingraining these skills sets under difficult conditions in the actual environments you will need to use them in.  Creating that dopamine tag for retention and retrieval under “combat stress”

Pressure testing and scenario training require partners and high levels of instruction and preparation.
For an example check out this blog from the past (which was published on Aiki Journal's Website)

It is great training, and necessary but difficult to do well.  Not really something you can do by yourself everyday.

So follow the advice in that blog and set up some scenario training, but today's blog is more focused on the "SMAKED" concept:


Just like studying for a couple minutes every day starting a week or two before a test yields better recall than cramming 6 hours the night before the test.

Training in difficult conditions (decreased physiological and cognitive capacity) in the actual environments you will need to use them (weather, noise level, light level, type of clothing / equipment) for some time every day will serve you better than one or two big scenario training seminars a year.

So how do we train like that?

We need to create windows of opportunity to train combative skill sets when we naturally find ourselves in difficult conditions.

In the Road Warrior blog I discussed the need to maintain fitness while traveling.

The process of maintaining fitness naturally puts us in a difficult condition  

Regardless of the type of workout, if you are working out intensely, your body will use glycogen as fuel. Glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver is best described as your body’s preferred fuel source for workouts. Depending on the duration, type, and intensity of exercise, glycogen stores can become depleted.

I took that paragraph from an article written by Marc Perry.  I have included a link, and most of the article below.

Intense physical training depletes glycogen.  
Glycogen depletion mimics the physiological effects of combat stress.

The stress caused by interpersonal violence, a person trying to hurt / kill you, is very different then the stress caused by surviving the violence of a tornado or house fire (forces of nature)
When you experience, let’s refer to it as combat stress, your brain functions change.  Your cognitive “thinking brain” functions don’t shut down, but become limited because other parts of your brain are taking over.

Don't believe me?  On a day you have been working really hard at the Dojo, have you or your partner suddenly forget what technique you are supposed to be training?  Or whose turn it is?  For the last 10 minutes you have been doing, for the sake of argument let's say O-goshi.  Right side, left side switch.  Your partner throws left side, right switch.  Not hard.  Then all of a sudden you step in to through and you are like duh, what am I doing?  There are probably only two or three of you in your group and for some reason you can't remember who is supposed to be doing what to whom?

Sound familiar?  If not, maybe you should train harder.  That is an example of decreased cognitive function caused by glycogen depletion.  If it can happen during the fun of training with your buddies you better know it can happen when someone is intent on causing you harm

You are exhausted and you have to continue fighting, or you will die.  You can't stop and catch your breath.
Death does not wait for you to be ready.

Again, that is why it is so important to have quality ingrained responses.  In a gun fight if my gun goes click, I can’t waste what cognitive function I have left trying to remember how to clear a jam, or re-load.  My cognitive function needs to be finding cover, figuring out how to out flank the shooter or coordinating with other Operators.  I need my hands to just take care of the problem without thinking about it.

Window of opportunity 1 glycogen depleted training

Again, this is only valuable after you have fundamentally sound skill sets, and strong neurological pathways to those skill sets.

Regardless of how you became glycogen depleted (exhausted) you can drive those skill sets into your hind brain (which will be calling the shots during combat stress) if you practice them in difficult conditions (decreased physiological and cognitive capacity) in the actual environments you will need to use them (weather, noise level, light level, type of clothing / equipment).

After your work out, its time for skill set training.  This should not be physically intense or cause over training. If your skill sets are physically intense, you are working too hard.  That means they will only work on people you are bigger and stronger than.  If that is the case you need to put more time into fundamentals.  Get a better understanding of structure and power generation.

Side note this type of glycogen deprived skill set training will show you any weaknesses you have in those areas.

(See also will teach you what it feels like wen it is not working, how to make it work, or when to adapt to something else that will work in these conditions)

Develop training procedures specific to your personal operational method that cover each aspect of your combatives platform. Remember we want the response tree to be as small and fast as possible so only a handful of techniques in each category.

For example, here are a list of work outs I use for this type of training:

Friday - Ne Waza (Ground Skills)
Saturday - Tachi Shime Waza (Standing Strangles)
Sunday - Kansetsu and Kuzushi (Joint Locks and Off Balancing)
Monday - Atemi Waza (Striking / Heavy Bag)
Tuesday - Nage Waza (The Throws/ Take downs work out I have listed above)
Wednesday - Close Quarters Striking (Plyo Bands) 

Figure about 15 minutes or so for training after a work out.  Or double that for a stand alone training session  first thing in the morning before you eat.

Training in those conditions trains the parts of your brain that is available to you under combat stress

For more information on the general (not skill specific) benefits / effects of glycogen deprived training check out this link:

The Science of “Bonking” and Glycogen Depletion

You worked really hard for a specific training benefit.
You took advantage of that state to drive skill set recall into your hind brain.
Now what

Time to rebuild baby!

Window of opportunity 2 - Replenishing glycogen stores

Remember, Oyama said you should train more than you sleep.  But sleeping and eating, when done well, and with purpose are all training.  So let's eat!

Post Training Nutrition

Post-Workout Meal: What Should You Eat After A Workout?
by Marc Perry

While the world of nutrition is rife with controversy, most experts agree a proper post-workout meal can improve results versus no meal at all. The challenge is simplifying all the nuances to consider so you can eat a post-workout meal that works well for you.
What are the specific benefits of a post-workout meal? What meal ideas can work best for you? These questions and a lot more will be answered in this introductory article on post-workout nutrition. For more reading, I’ve linked to several research reports throughout the article.

Numerous studies2 show the benefits of post-workout nutrition, which include:

1) Prevents Muscle Breakdown – A tough strength training workout will create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. If adequate nutrients are not supplied before and/or after the workout, these muscle tears can lead to further muscle breakdown, which means your muscle is broken down to form protein that your body uses as energy to repair itself.

2) Increases Protein Synthesis – After a strenuous workout, your body is biochemically primed to suck in nutrients. Your muscles are highly insulin sensitive, which means those carbs you eat can help shuttle protein into your muscles, instead of getting converted into fat. Insulin is a storage hormone that has a bad reputation because it is integrally involved in fat storage. After a workout, however, insulin is your friend and a proper post-workout meal can improve muscle building and increase fat loss.3

3) Faster Recovery – A properly timed post-workout meal with the right nutrients can help decrease soreness in your muscles for a given amount of training. For example, if you are able to recover in only a day as opposed to 2-3 days, that means you can train harder and more frequently, which will lead to better and faster results.

4) Glycogen Replenishment – Regardless of the type of workout, if you are working out intensely, your body will use glycogen as fuel. Glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver is best described as your body’s preferred fuel source for workouts. Depending on the duration, type, and intensity of exercise, glycogen stores can become depleted. Eating ample carbs after a workout can not only promote protein synthesis, but also help replenish energy stores to keep you feeling energetic the rest of the day.

Post-Workout Meal Timing

There is a lot of debate as to the proper timing of a post-workout meal, but the preponderance of evidence suggests eating immediately after a workout as generating superior results.

A 12-week study4 conducted with previously untrained men examined the effects of consuming supplemental protein “immediately after versus two hours after a strength-training session. Those who consumed protein immediately after their workout gained significantly more muscle size and strength than those who consumed it two hours removed from their workout.”

Because of studies like this one, the 30-60 minute period after a workout is known as the “window of opportunity” to help maximize the training effect.

Post-Workout Meal Size & Breakdown

Given that the speed with which nutrients reach the body is critical, we need to take into account rates of digestion to maximize the nutrient delivery effect. Dietary fat slows down digestion, so a post workout meal should be low in fat. While protein in the form of meat can take a good 3-4 hours to digest whey protein5 takes as little as 20-30 minutes to hit the bloodstream. Fast digesting carbs are ideal post-workout to help maximize the insulin effect and replenish glycogen stores. The only time when eating processed carbs is a good idea (other than on the occasional cheat meal) is post-workout. Fruit can also work well, which is what I prefer. (me too)

Whey protein combined with a fast digesting carbohydrate in liquid form has emerged as the top post-workout meal of choice for anyone from athletes to bodybuilders to recreational exercisers. Consider a carb to protein ratio of anywhere from 1:1 to 3:1, with an average of 2:16 depending on the duration and intensity of the workout (i.e. 60 grams of carbs to 30 grams of protein). Sports nutritionists will typically recommend consuming 0.25 to 0.40 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.

Your post-workout meal is the only meal in my opinion where a protein shake should be considered. Whole, natural foods are superior for getting a lean, healthy body for a number of reasons ranging from greater satiety to increased thermic effect (food burns calories during digestion whereas shakes do not).

Please keep in mind focusing on total calorie intake, smart food choices, and proper exercise are far more important than maximizing the “window of opportunity” of the 30-60 minute post-workout period. I can’t emphasize this enough. Sadly, pre and post-workout nutrition has sabotaged many fat loss programs because of excess calorie intake. People lose sight of the forest amidst the trees.

Post-Workout Meal Ideas

Let’s tie everything together we’ve learned so far to create some effective post workout meals:

Whey protein shake mixed with a couple handfuls of fruit (banana, strawberries etc.)
Whey protein shake combined with dextrose (fast digesting carbohydrate)
Whey protein “Ready to drink” shake with 20-30 grams of protein and 20-60 of carbs
Lean protein with fast digesting starchy carbs (i.e. grilled chicken with potatoes and veggies)
16 ounces of chocolate milk (not as effective as whey shake, but adequate)
…and don’t forget to drink plenty of water! A good 16+ ounces can help you optimize your performance.

In addition to whey protein, there are two other supplements worth mentioning that are supported by research (1) creatine and (2) glutamine. As I’ve discussed in depth, I’m not a huge fan of dietary supplements in general, for a number of reasons. With that said, ingesting 5 grams of creatine post-workout has been shown to help7 and 5-10 grams of glutamine post-workout can help improve recovery8 from a workout. In fact, some people swear by glutamine substantially reducing muscle soreness in the days following a workout (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Train Hard, Train Smart (take advantage of those windows of opportunity), Be safe