Sorry its taken a while for a new post things have been hectic. Since the last post the following things have happened;

We visited Exeter to attend a Seminar with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, former world kickboxing champion.

We have hosted Former UFC and Cage Warrior Champion Rosi “the Surgeon ” Sexton.

We have launched our first Spirit Combat class for Children.

One of our students Nathan Pollard became the British Kickboxing Union (BKBU) U16’s Champion

We have been delivering sessions for OCRA for Primary Schools in West Devon.

No Class this Friday the 3rd June.

Unfortunately theirs no Kickboxing this Friday night coming the 3rd June. Head Coach 4th Dan Steve Lilley is away in Manchester working. Unfortunate Steve hasn’t been able to sort insurance cover yet for the Black Belts Chris and Matt to be able to cover the class.

Therefore, for one week only their will be no class but we will be back to normal from the 10th June. Sorry about this.

Why you don’t need to get fit to start Martial Arts this January!

People often say to Martial Arts instructors, that I will start Martial Arts once I have got fit enough. Then we never see them, ever turn up to a class, partially because they don’t fully know what’s involved and how fit the need to be. But why do people feel they need to get fit first? When Martial Arts training can get you fit.

Martial Arts is widely accepted to have many benefits, one of them is to get fitter, as Martial Arts training involves lots of aerobic and anaerobic fitness and due to the repetitive nature of some of the drills it help tone the body up as well. As most Martial Arts sessions involve lots of short bursts of activity which help improve the fitness of the participant. It’s very easy to feel hotter and to sweat in a Martial Arts class for more than 20 minutes which is all that is needed to improve your fitness level.

As most Martial Art classes last 45-1.5 hours and sometimes longer it isn’t hard to see how it can rapidly change an individual’s fitness level. So next time you’re thinking about getting fit, why not join your local Martial Arts club and give it a try.

Why not attend one of the South West Kickboxing Academy and Martial Arts (SWKA). We have a class in Tavistock at the Community Sports Centre and we have more classes launching soon. For more details please visit swkickboxingacademy.com or contact Steve on 07773863518 or email sculpting_fitness@hotmail.com


What makes a Black Belt or great Black Belt in Martial Arts

A Black belt in Martial Arts is seen by most people as a pinnacle of their time in Martial Arts and a High achievement. For some it is the top level you can achieve but also the time when you stop learning. However, meet any real black belt and they will tell you they have only just started to learn, just because you have learnt all the moves and show some real skill, and now must learn how to adapt your skills, how best to utilise them but also learning when they will and won’t work.

Patience is something it takes not just too get to get your black belt. It takes many years to get your black belt, but also patient is required to learn and start to master a number of kicks and combinations which you will learn. However, the patient is not just in yourself but also that of having patience with others. For example your training partners holding the pads for you, and with others who struggle to pick up skills when learning or to carry out activities.

Attitude of a black belt is very important, a black belt needs to have patients, but also be willing to help others when they are struggling and offer to help when they see newer students struggling. It’s also about following instructions from their instructor, sensei or master, in classes, rather than doing their own thing, therefore, setting a positive example to others in the club. The attitude is also about how they commit to training, by training regularly but also helping other, by putting them before themselves.

Commitment to the cause is also a key aspect, black belts will train regularly when they can, when you run a club it can be difficult to do train, but when your training for your black belt you should be looking for every opportunity to learn from your instructor, Sensei or master to ensure you will be ready for your black belt grading. Whether this is in class or in private sessions this is important to ensure you get all the input you need and ensure you are properly prepared.

Dedication to the art, which is about making sure you master the basics and not taking on to many arts in one go. When your start learning to many arts in one go without mastering anything, everything gets diluted, and they your performance drops.

Putting others before yourself is important, because by the time you are about to reach your black belt or reached it you should know you’re only as good as your training partner. If you don’t help them improve you will stagnate and head backwards. But also if you don’t look after your partner you won’t have anyone wanting or willing to work with you in class. Theirs’s no point in complaining about the standard of others if you’re not willing to help improve those around you and challenge them to become better.

Seeking perfection is about always analysing what you’re learning and working out when it would be practical and when it would not be. Therefore, being able to work out how to tweak things to improve it and what you could do instead. It’s also about constantly setting yourself little challenges to improve yourself, whether it’s kicking a bit higher, jumping higher or not getting hit as much during sparring or a fight.

Self-learning is about trying to identify for yourself were your weaknesses are, is it fitness, if so do you spend time away from your club working on this? Do you identify where you feel your weak, or ask your instructor, sensei or master how can I be better and then follow up on it.

As you can see there are many things to consider when you want to achieve your black belt or get through of as a great black belt by others. Why not find one or 2 black belts whom you look up to and watch the little things they do, and the way they are with others, which may improve yourself as a martial artist.

Why take up Kickboxing

Kickboxing is in my mind a mix of boxing, muai-thai and karate, which started to become to people’s attention during the 1980’s. It mixes the hand skills of boxers, with kicks of Karate but without the more static positioning and often used point scoring by being based on continuous fighting in bouts. With muai-thai skills, without the use of knees, and elbows as strikes.

There are different formats of kickboxing, and when you look at the sparing or fight components in points, semi contact, and semi heavy or full contact. Different people depending on what they want to get out of their kickboxing or their reasons behind taking up of the martial art. Some people are not worried about getting hurt or being knocked out, but there are also those who don’t want to risk concussion, black eyes and injuries which choose to participate in light contact levels of the martial art.

Kickboxing is a great way to improve flexibility, which can lead onto postural changes. Flexibility training is something that instructors take seriously as it helps prevent injury, but also helps participates to be able to kick higher. As the individual becomes more flexible then tight muscles can be lengthened, which can help correct posture.

It helps to improve fitness and change your body shape. Kickboxing is a high energy activity, utilising all of the body’s muscles. Due to it being high energy it helps increase your energy expenditure will help you lose body fat you may be struggling to lose.

Learning self -confidence and respect, but also for others, due to the team work required to look after your partner in class but also seeing improvements in your kicks, and belt progression.

Make new friends, you will meet many people through martial arts not just in the class that you attend but also at seminars and in competition if you decide to compete. You will work with different people in each class, which will improve your self-confidence.

Learning self-defence, by learning how to protect yourself should someone attack you, but also improve your awareness of what’s going on around you to help you prevent putting yourself in a position where you might be at risk.

So having gone through what kickboxing is and its many benefits why not come down and join us in one of our classes. Were a friendly group and everyone’s welcome, so what have you got to lose?

How to kick higher

We all stand and admire those martial art pictures when people kick high. Kicking high takes time and commitment, but also an understanding of how to position the body, to achieve those high kicks, so I have put some tips to help you start to achieve head height kicks.

Firstly spend time every day working on flexibility, whether it is one or two sessions a day. These sessions only need to be 5-10 minutes in length.  To improve your flexibility, you need to be holding stretches for about 1 minute, whether this stretch is held for 1 minute or in short time periods building up to a 1 minute time period such as 3x 20 seconds, etc.

The muscle groups to work on are hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh. The quads, the muscles on the front of the thigh. Hip flexors, the muscles which work on the front of the hip. Finally the adductor muscles which work on pulling the legs together. The reason behind the hip adductors is the tighter they are the smaller the angle will be between the 2 legs, the more flexible you are here, the more likely you are able to do the splits.

A key issue I see with a lot of kickboxing students is the knee. Your probably thinking why the knee, so I will explain. There the knee points the toes and foot will go. I see a lot of students lifting the leg pointing the knee down and then struggling to kick high. However, when you point the knee upwards then the toes strike where the knee cap is pointing.

The next issue is balance; the better you are on one leg the higher you will be able to kick. When I talk about balance and being on one leg, it is the ability to transfer your weight around when you try and increase the height of the kick. It you can’t transfer your weight but stay on one leg as you lift your leg higher.

The final one is body position, most students when trying to kick high try and keep their body up right or they try and curl up into a small position which affects kick height. So instead when kicking keep the body straight and lean over, this is where balance and your ability to transfer your body weight around without falling over becomes important.

So above is a number of top tips to increase the height of your leg kicks. So when you train try and consider and act out a number of the points above and you will soon be kicking head height if not higher.

The real difference between Martial Arts and Self-defence

We often watch Martial Arts films and they always talk about using their Martial Arts skills for defence and never attack, if you go to a Martial Arts club the instructor will tell you the same thing. However, there are differences between self-defence and Martial Arts, for example most of us would have some ideas on how to try and hit someone if they attacked us, but might not always have the same impact as a Martial Artist. There will be some Martial Artists who would freeze if they were ever attacked outside a class.

The art of using your voice

When you take part in Martial Arts you are not encouraged or usually taught to use your voice when someone is attempting to attack, rob or mug you. By using a forceful tone you can sometime put an attacker of. You could use your vice to attack nearby attention by speaking loud or shouting which might scare of your attacker.

The other way to use your voice is to say things which will confuse your attacker. By saying something that will confuse your attacker it, affect their concentration and take their mind of you which might give you a few vital seconds to strike your attacker or start your get away.

You need to be able to strike an attacker

In Martial arts we teach you strikes and locks to put on an opponent, usually in the style or way you will compete in. However, when you’re on the street there are not rules and in theory anything goes, their maybe guns or knives involved depending on where you live.

The way you approach someone it class in a drill or sparring session is often very different to the way it is out on the streets. Therefore, you need to be adaptable to the situation and this is where you have the sort of anything goes. You can’t go to your attacker please come at me like this.

You need to be able to take being hit

A number of Martial Arts classes work on semi-contact or light training, some do work on full contact training. Yes getting hit can hurt a lot and repetitive hits can also hurt.

Your probably better conditioned being a Martial Artist to taking a hit, but you rarely in Martial arts get his by weapons which can hurt and cause more damage. The other issue is you won’t always be able to avoid getting hit even if you are a Martial Artist.

You need to be aware of your surroundings

When in Martial Arts training you’re not taught to be aware of your surroundings, such as choosing where to walk when, not to walk down dark allies. You don’t always learn to be aware of those around you and it’s common to bump into other class members when in a smaller space during sparring.

So as you can see there are some big differences between self-defence and Martial Arts training. On key issue I didn’t mention was that a Martial Artist could scare an attacker of with a hard fast strike which is pulled just short of contact. The strike would say to an attacker either you want to risk taking a beating or you want to get out of here. Physical Violence isn’t always needed.


Reasons why you should enrol your children into a Martial Arts Class

People are often advised to let or get their kids get involved with Martial Arts, and there are many of them and there isn’t a better one. Some people are afraid to let their child get involved because they may go round hitting people but it’s often found not to be the case. But there are many benefits not just those written about below.

Learn self-respect and respect for others
Learning respect for one’s self and for others is very high up on the list. We bow in Martial Arts as a mark of respect, but also to lose the negativity that is currently within us to empty it out so we can learn and become more positive.

The holding of pads for others is also a mark of learning respect, as the kid learn if they don’t hold pads for their partners, who will hold it for them properly. We also teach students to look after each other, as they will only achieve their goals and look good if their partner allows them to by following the rules, holding pads the way they should, and many more.

Motor patterns and co-ordination
Through Martial Arts we develop key motor skills, such as running, jumping, catching. These are often key to Martial Arts drills, balance improves due to kicking, as they have to stand on one leg a lot. Their co-ordination improves as they learn to target and control their kicks and punches to hit specific targets.

Learn how to overcome difficult situations
When a child struggles with a drill they begin to learn in Martial Arts that practice is the thing that makes it happen. Repetition helps kids improve, by doing activities again and again they begin to see improvements, and learn that they will improve and they will see others improve around themselves. With things like jumping higher, kicking higher, not always getting thrown over, or by making an escape when they usually get court.

Improved flexibility
Flexibility and stretching is a key aspect of any Martial Art, but it is something that is often neglected in other sports. So by encouraging your child to participate in Martial Arts you can help them remain flexible and supple. This can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries and growing pains in children in adolescence often brought on my bones growing quicker than muscle lengthen resulting it tightness and pain in areas of the body. However, being very flexible you can help reduce the tightness in muscles that can occur.

As Martial Arts coaches/instructors, we always look to praise students; from noting how much higher they are jumping or kicking to awarding a new grade and then setting a new goal. Kids love the achievement of passing their grading’s, and seeing new belts, trying to catch up to their friends levels and that of their instructors.

Often those who take part in Martial Arts are less likely to be bullied. You develop an ora around you which no one’s see’s but for some reason people stay out of your way when they want to pick on someone. Maybe it’s because their afraid of what the Martial Artist could do to them.

Those who learn Martial Arts learn to look after themselves, sometimes their taught the ways how not to get into a situation where they are attacked, but if someone tried to take your child, would you rather they knew some skills on how to escape better, than not knowing what to do at all?

Making friends
The kids and any person who starts Martial Arts, makes friends, most clubs are like a big family, and everyone looks after each other. If you don’t know one will hold pads for you, no one will want to spar with you. In Martial Arts you meet new people outside your club or school or in competitions and you build lifelong friendships.

In order to perform tasks in Martial Arts, to kick high, compete in the ring, pass a grading, allow someone to hit pads you need to concentrate. If you’re not concentrating there is a great chance you might fall over, hurt your partner. When you don’t concentrate you miss instructions and could look silly, so gradually the concentration improves because they understand the task you setting has a goal or rewards and if they don’t achieve they don’t achieve their goal or reward, such as passing a grading, or being able to try a new move or play a particular game.

When kids or any adult to be fair comes to take part in Martial Arts balance is always something that is about poor. However, when you consider performing any non-jumping kick, to spar well you need to and end up spending lots of time on one leg. Also the higher you want to be able to kick; a key aspect is being able to transfer your body weight without falling over.

Some of the biggest challenges a child will find in Martial Arts is coming through the door and joining in the first few times. Also before grading’s can also get a bit stressful, but through training, seeing improvements and having fun this all disappears very quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Martial Arts student no matte their level who wasn’t nervous walking through the door and joining in not matter whether they are a beginner or a black belt, it’s always that step into the unknown,  but as we all know it I usually no that bad.

Leadership is something which develops do to kids bringing their friends and looking after them in class. It comes naturally as they will want to look after their friends or family members and ensure they perform well. So they naturally start teaching and ensuring their friend/family member gets all the help, support and advice they need and ensure they fit in well.

These are not all the benefits but just a few which your child could benefit from if you enrol them into a Martial Arts programme. Your probably thinking now why have we not done it sooner? Also the other question is which are is best for my child, to that there is no answer just one that they enjoy is the only answer anyone can give you.

Competition Advice

Since it’s come round to another fight day, I thought I would pen down some great tips, on how to be successful when competing in a Kickboxing bout. I help referee and judge at national events, and have been doing this for a few years and I help with K1, Semi contact, semi-heavy and full contact kickboxing. These are in no particular order.

* Don’t stand still, might seem a bit of common sense but it is common for people when they don’t have any ring experience to fade under the spotlight of an event and not perform. Standing there makes your opponent’s live easier as you’re an easier target.
* Don’t always back down in a straight line, simple reason is this makes it easier for your opponent to unload back on to you. You will know from training that as soon as you finish blocking you want to hit back directly where the blows came from. If you have taken a few steps back at an angle you won’t be where you opponent things you will be or are, which gives you a little breather but also, it can open your opponent up for you to strike when they’re not expecting it.

* Use the ring space, only engage your opponent or let them engage you when you’re ready to strike or take contact. This is about controlling your opponent. Putting space between you and your opponent, a few steps so you’re not in easy striking reach, allows you to quickly think and get your breath back. You see professional boxers doing it all the time, they are saying what worked well, didn’t anything I can capitalise or weakness I spotted, which I will capitalise on when I engage my opponent again. This will annoy your opponent and they will lose concentration and therefore, tire and become easier to fight.

* Don’t throw one strike and then step back. There’s no point throwing one hit and trying to celebrate it. The first 1-2 strikes of any combination you throw at an opponent is meant to be ensuring that you are in striking distance and testing their guard the 3-5 hit before you get out are meant to make scoring contact. As I’d hope your opponent is too busy blocking strikes 1-2 that they are not ready to defend strikes 3-5.

* Don’t drop your guard. Hands and forearms are meant to protect your head and rib cage, stomach and lower you can use your legs to block. If you lower your hands to protect your stomach, then you leave your head exposed and an experience or quick fighter will soon be capitalising on this. Remember your head contains your brain. It’s like a computer, it gets hit and doesn’t always work properly for a short period of time whilst it sorts it’s self out. Which could spell the end of your fight, as it will slow down your reaction time, and next few quick blows, could result in you being knocked out, as your concentration has been impaired.

* Make sure you know the rules, what is legal and what is not. I once stupidly decided to compete when I left my organisation to set up on my own. I went to the ISKA World Championship qualifiers in Birmingham. I’d never competed before and had no corner team. I didn’t know the rules and went in and fought a number of lads who competed at least once a month. Not knowing the rule’s did not help my performance but it defiantly helps knowing what will score you points and what will get you a warning.

* When an opponent is striking you, try and turn the attack onto them, this will annoy your opponent. It will take their mind of striking you and into blocking. This can be tricky depending on how you’re being attacked, but it will break their confidence, as they won’t like not being able to score points against you.

There are many more points I could add to this blog and I will probably add to it in the future, but I hope it helps you with your fights, and helps you win a few more bouts.