Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Improving the hand you are dealt

Wow, it has been a long time since I rocked roll.  No excuses, the time pressure of end of year training and added responsibilities of the holidays are over.  I'm back.  Back to writing projects, back to Dojo business, and back to the Budo Blog.

Sometimes all of those things cross over.  For example I have been developing a student handbook for the Dojo.

As I was working on that, I was discussing applying martial arts for self defense with Jeff Burger (coachjeffburger.com)

Someone asked him in an interview "What are your 10 Commandments for Self Defense?"

 #1 Don't be an asshole. Don't be someone people want to beat up.

#2 Don't be a target. If you a 90 year old, 90 lb little old lady you're a target.  However, we can all be aware of our surroundings, how we carry ourselves ....

#3 Mindset. Read some books on the subject, start with Meditations on Violence" by Rory Miller

#4 Cardio / Anaerobic Conditioning Most people, even those who are in shape are going to be out of gas in less than 1 minute. If you can last past that you have a big advantage.  Then there is just being good at running away.

#5 Strength Training. Being stronger helps in giving and receiving and a visually fit person is less of a target.

#6 Boxing or grappling ( Judo, Wrestling, BJJ, Sambo )

#7 Boxing or grappling ... whatever one you did not do for #6

#8 Other striking arts that have elbows, knees, kicks ( Muay Thai, Kali ....)

#9 Weapons. Use with and defense from.stick, knife, gun, improvised. This needs to cover empty hand vs each weapon and each weapon vs empty hand and each weapon vs each weapon

#10 Multiple Opponents

Jeff asked me what I thought.  I told him I liked it enough to steal it.  Highest compliment I can give

#'s 6-10 we address at the Dojo on a regular basis
#'s 1-3 we address at Violence Dynamics

I'd like to use the Budo Blog to address:

#4 Cardio / Anaerobic Conditioning
#5 Strength Training

You may be asking yourself - Kasey, you run the world famous (hey if I say it enough it has to be true, right) Keishoukan Dojo.  Why don't you address strength and conditioning there?

I have a couple of pet peeves, so take this next bit with a grain of salt.
I dislike:
Martial arts classes that are over 70% conditioning.
Martial arts classes that use intense conditioning to sell a belief that the training is somehow more real.

I have had a lot of fun, and the Dojo has enjoyed increased success playing with the idea of - how would I train my 13 year old daughter to end me.

Being stronger, faster, and better conditioned than me are not options that she has. (Not yet anyway)

She has to play the hand that she has been dealt.  We all have to play the hand we are dealt.  So classes focus on principles - leverage and lever points, use of gravity, two way action, maximizing athleticism, breaking a threat down.

Then testing these principles under increasing levels of resistance.  Confidence through competence.

That takes up a lot of training time.  Not much time left for strength and conditioning.

The thing is, although you have to play the hand you are dealt, you can always be working on improving your hand.

You have time.  Your own time outside of the Dojo.

Strength and speed are fickle gods.  Don't depend on them, but if they are with you, you'd be a fool not to take full advantage.

So...how do you get those gods to be with you?  Just like any good pagan with sacrifice (time, effort, sweat)

This blog will be the first in a series covering -  improving the hand you are dealt.
Time Management (not even the best training program in the world will work for you if you don't have time to work the program)

At the same time I was writing this, I was discussing similar related topics with Nathan Corliss from the St. Louis Katamedo Dojo.

So I decided to kill a couple birds with one stone.


First and foremost clearly I am not a Doctor nor a Dietitian.  At best I am a guy who was pretty fat, busy with a family and a demanding job, who found ways to be less fat by trial and error experimentation on myself.  A Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde if you will.

I also write a blog and am willing to share what worked with me.  I'm nothing special, if it worked for me it can work for anyone willing to put in the work.

The point being it worked for me because I adapted basic concepts to meet my needs.  On this blog I will share general ideas that can be adapted and applied to any one's specific needs.

My discussion with Nathan brought up the idea of - Carb Cycling

The following article contains the basic concept
5 facts you should know about carb cycling and fat loss

Why carb cycling?

I lost a bunch of weight on a carb free diet.  I also think that was a contributing factor in rupturing my bicep

With Batman by 40 I was able to hit my goal weight by more strictly watching my caloric intake and the timing of carbs.

For Beyond Batman I wanted to get stronger.  That entailed a bulking season and a cutting season.

However, life circumstances changed.  I no longer had access to the training facilities and times I had previously enjoyed.  Bulking and shredding no longer made sense.  I had a bulking season then I was stuck with no shredding season.

Also, Crime Fighting / Personal Protection has no season and as such no off season.

In retrospect it doesn't do me any good to have peaks of strength, but can't chase down a criminal, or run to cover.  Nor dose it do me any good to have peaks of conditioning, if I can't lift and carry a downed officer to safety.

I need to be strong and conditioned year round, every year.

Myron Cossitt delivered an excellent presentation at Viody 16

In it he outlined a cycle

My Goals:
Strong and conditioned, improving both slowly / consistently over time (you have time)

Making sure I have the calories / nutrients I need to fuel the training of the day while avoiding excessive caloric intake.

Carb Cycling

As I mentioned earlier this will be the first in a series of blogs.  As such I won't get too in depth on other topics here.  However, they all work together so they need to be mentioned.

First and foremost - Time management.  Making sure you have the time in your life to do the things you need to do to achieve your goals.

Strength Training - I have the time to strength train twice a week
Conditioning - I have the time (and need) to run once a week
Rest - I have to (can't get to the gym) have three rest days a week

How I use carb cycling.

I eat six meals a day everyday.  Again time management - even on rest days I have to wake up early enough to get all the nutrients I need.  The first two meals every day have carbs.  Carbs are necessary for fuel and recovery so I try to eat them early so I have all day to use them and they are not stored as fat.  On running days the first four meals have carbs.  Finally on lifting days all six meals have carbs.

An often repeated phrase at the Dojo is - for things to work under pressure they have to be stone simple. 

The more complicated something is the more likely it is to fail under stress.
Nutrition is no different.

How to keep things simple - start with your goals, then do the math.

I want to maintain my body weight at around 220lbs.
I can do that by consuming roughly 2250 calories a day

The general guidelines for endurance and strength-trained athletes suggest consuming between 1.2 and 1.7 g/kg of protein for the best performance and health.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day

220lbs is roughly 100kg.  I try to consume at least 200 grams of protein every day.
That is my baseline.  200 grams 2250 calories divided over six meals

Rest Days / Baseline
2000 calories in general + 250 calories roughly 100 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before noon if possible.
Caloric Intake:
40% Protein
30 % Carbs
30% (or less) fat

I have three to four rest days per week.  I understand academically that these are necessary.  That they are good for me, and allow me to grow stronger / repair damage.  However, they tend to drive me crazy.  I feel like I should be doing something, even if doing something is counter productive to my goals.  I also have a history of over training / under recovering leading to injuries.  Having nutritional goals / benchmarks to meet on rest days give me something active to do, keeps me in the grind.

I have to force myself to remember that I am on the wrong side of 40.  I may want to train 7 days a week, but I can't.  Being disciplined with my nutrition allows me to be active all week with out over training.

To keep things simple I try to have the same source of protein for each meal then add carbs as necessary to compensate for increased work load.
For example I like grilled chicken and veggies for an after noon meal.  On days I need more carbs I still have grilled chicken and veggies, I just add brown rice or a sweet potato.

Running Days
2000 calories in general + 500 calories roughly 200 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before 3pm if possible.
Caloric Intake:
35% Protein
35 % Carbs
30% (or less) fat

Strength Days
2000 calories in general + 750 calories roughly 300 grams of carbohydrates.  The carbs to be consumed before 6pm if possible.
Caloric Intake:
30% Protein
40% Carbs
30% (or less) fat

I understand that was a lot of writing for something that is supposed to be stone simple.
Bottom line, find sources of protein you like to eat, can afford, and can cook
Same goes healthy sources of carbohydrates.
Lastly learn how to make decent meals / snacks out of these different building blocks.
Stay tuned here for a special guest blog by Lise Steenersen on how to do just that.  The kickass cook book

Nathan asked me - Noticed any differences yet? Or still playing with it?
I have no objective means to measure, such as body fat calipers or the like.  However, my body weight remains the same while I have had significant strength increases, I can run a mile in under 7 minutes, and I like what I see in the mirror.

I'm nothing special, if it worked for me it can work for anyone willing to put in the work.

It worked for me because I adapted basic concepts to meet my needs. 
Don't copy me, if you want try carb cycling or any of the ideas I share here take what you find useful and adapt it to your needs.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe

Happy New Year


  1. Another pet peeve for me is a class that's 60% talktalk. To keep myself from 'espousing the wisdom' or rambling on with storeies, I go by the 10-5-1 rule: 10 mins for intro (goals, concepts,tactics, etc.) and conclusion (quick evaluation of each student's performance and ways to improve at their level); 5 mins for 'school circles;' and 1 minute for individual attention.

  2. I always like your posts, Kasey. Simple and to the point. I was discussing with my daughters today what fitness was. I said you are fit if your body is able to do the things you want it to do without to much effort. Then I read this blog and you mention your strength gains and 7 min mile and that you like what you see in the mirror. Perfect!