How to get a great massage

Really good post from Rockstaryoga, about massage therapy. Massage can be used as part of recovery after workouts, hope you will enjoy it. If you looking for great massage in Guildford area we recommend” Total Massage & Beauty Therapies”

rockstaryoga's Blog

This may be more for the first timer but I’m sure more experienced massage goers can get a tip or two here.

First Comminicate
What is it that you like? Even if you have never had a massage before you know you better than anyone. I’m sure you have had someone “rub” your shoulders. What pressure did you like? I’m sure you have some sort of an idea. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up during your session. What feels good to one client may not on the next, so weather it’s the therapists technique, pressure or combination of the two your therapist can always adjust. I’ve heard many times you are the therapist, you know best. While there is some truth to that if my client can’t relax my client won’t get the most out of his or her treatment. We are massage therapists not mind readers. Please interrupt…

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Forgotten recovery


How many times have you heard from your teachers, friends or fitness people the phrases “do more”, “try harder”, ” no pain no gain” etc.?  These are all very challenging words that are aimed at pushing you that little bit further in your physical and mental progression, but how often do you hear phrases such as “stop, have a rest”, “you should take a break”, “you need to recover”?

We all like to think that training to the maximum limits is the best way even though working out smarter is much healthier for our mind and body than working out harder.

It is common knowledge that the body needs times to recover, but we rarely hear about resting our nervous system, not to mention our psychological wellbeing. Overloading our systems is no good, too many stimulants pushes us into regression.

This issue of lack of emphasis on recovery has led me to do some research into how we can be more efficient in training.  The following information I have gleaned from reading such books as:

  • “Strength training anatomy” by Frederic Delavier; Michael Gundill
  • “Periodization Training for Sports” by Tudor Bompa; Michael Carrera

For those who are interested in finding out more about recovery, I would highly recommend the above two books.

So let’s start by looking at different types of recovery. We have five types of recovery system:

  • Energy recovery
  • Hormone recovery
  • Contractile system recovery
  • Joint and tendon recovery
  • Nervous system recovery

All of these systems in themselves will need time to recover.  The length of time required for regeneration depends upon the intensity of the workout and the technique(s) used.  All of us have our own unique recovery times.  The systems mentioned above differ in their “recharging” rate, not only because of the amount of time they need but also because they recover via different mechanisms.

  • Energy recovery – after working out our energy level is low and it should be topped up by nutrition and supplements.  If our nutrition intake is adequate our energy recovery should be completed in a few hours.
  • Hormone recovery – our hormone balance changes after an intense workout.  Our overall testosterone level will fall and cortisol levels will rise. This distortion should pass after 24-48 hours after an intense workout.  When completing workouts back to back with similar intensity the changes in our hormones will increase further as the body does not have time to recover to normal levels in between.  This is why it is recommended that people have a day or two to rest between similar workouts.
  • Contractile system – the recovery of small muscles after moderate workout takes around 16 hours, with larger muscles taking around 24 to 48 hours to recover, and so we can see that different parts of the body will recover at different rates.
  • Joint and tendon recovery – our joints during a heavy workout are put under a lot stress.  If we do not allow adequate time for recovery, over time we will slowly developed chronic pain and may experience limitations in movement and the loss of ability to do certain exercises. We have to be especially careful with larger joints as they are used in multiple exercises, for example the shoulders and hips.
  • Nervous system recovery – when training our brain sends signal to our muscles through a network of nerves.  Just like our muscles, our nervous system will get fatigued, which will result in the signals getting slower and weaker.  The recovery of the nervous system is very slow.  A study was published in the Journal of the Neurological Science  [2000 Deschenes] that showed that the recovery following a heavy thigh workout resulted in:
  1. Muscle soreness, which lasted for 5 days
  2. Loss of strength for 7 days
  3. Distortion of the nervous system for more than 10 days

Another system which needs recovery is our psychological system.  If we continuously workout without rest our body and brain becomes exhausted, which can lead to monotony and a lack of motivation that can stop our progression.  In the same way that we need to take holidays away from work, we need to take breaks from our sport/art.  If we take regular breaks from our workout routine to recovery our body and mind then after that break we will regain a feeling of hunger for training and when we start working out again we will progress.  The required length and frequency of these breaks will depend on the individual.  Some people will be refreshed after a couple of days, others after a couple of weeks.  Some people will want to take a yearly break from their training whilst others may have to take a break from their workouts once a month or once a week.

When resting all of our recovery systems this does not mean that we should just sit and do nothing.  Studies have shown that active rest speeds up recovery times in comparison to non-active.  That is why it is a good idea to engage in other light sports or activities when resting to stimulate other nerves paths and let the weary circuits have a deserved rest.

I hope that the next time someone says “no pain no gain”, “do more”, “be tough” we will also consider the possibility of doing smarter workouts and ensuring that we include resting as a part of our training regime…

Thanks for your time!

Please share this with a friend who could find this article helpful or interesting!

Regards, Les.

Components of a Punch

In this article I would like to focus on the components of a front punch. I will try to show the basic mechanics of our body when punching. Our interest will focus on the following four key points of our body:

  • Fist – positioning the fist in relation to our target and the natural set up of the wrist and knuckles.
  • Elbow – the setup of a safe position to make use of our body’s natural cushioning mechanism and effective transfer of energy.
  • Shoulder – in relation to our target and our hips, allowing the most power delivery.
  • Hips – angle of the hips when striking to improve power transfer.

I will skip leg setup and the use of the back and front legs. I will come back to this in other article.

First we have to look at the natural set up of our arms, trunk and hips. As you will probably have noticed our limbs when relaxed are not fully extended, this anatomical adaptation is to protect our joints from injury.  We try to replicate this setup when punching.   To understand this natural setup let your arm drop to the side of your body in a relaxed position and have a look in a mirror to see this natural posture.  Now clinch your fist.  You should be able to see that your shoulder, elbow and wrist create a ‘zigzag’ pattern. Now if you raise your arm and point to your target you have a safe and properly setup arm from shoulder to wrist (please see pictures below).

[Arm in a relaxed position]
[Arm creating a zigzag when fist is clinched]
   Why is this set up the best?  All of the bends in our joints (especially the elbow) create a cushion. When our fist impacts a target a shockwave is generated that goes through the target and back through our arm.  A bent elbow allows us to absorb this energy – if we had our arm completely straight, all of the energy from the shockwave goes directly up our arm to our shoulder, which increases the possibility of damaging our joints.

Fist clinching – there are a few schools of thought on this and I will focus on the two methods that are best for me.

The first method is with all of the fingers tucked in with the thumb covering index and middle finger.

[Fist method 1]
The second method is with the index finger resting on the base of the thumb. As a result of this change the thumb is now only covering index finger. This setup gives me a firmer base for the front knuckles, but it is a bit slower to do.

[Fist method 2]
 The rest of the setup for the wrist is the same for both fist methods.  Looking from the top of the fist we should notice that fist is not strait but bend outwards.

[Ideal arm setup when punching]
 Why? If we had our fist straight the punch would be delivered by only the middle knuckle, which might cause unwanted movement in the wrist and sprain it.  There is also no cushioning effect.

[Wrist straight in relation to target, resulting in middle knuckle making contact]
[Unwanted movement caused by punching straight that may lead to a strained wrist or broken knuckles/metacarpals at the ring and little finger]                                
When the fist is bent both the first and second knuckles land on target, giving the most efficient transfer of energy with maximum stability.

Another very important angle is the vertical wrist position in that the wrist should be slightly bent downwards, which results in the first dropping slightly.

[Ideal vertical wrist angle]
 This position allows us to land two knuckles when punching at head level or higher. By bending the wrist we expose the knuckles.  If we have our wrist vertically straight our punch will land with the middle joints of our fingers, which may cause injury.  Note that there is a technique where we hit with these knuckles (hiraken), but the position of the hand is changed significantly to provide support for this.

[Straight vertical wrist angle leading to punch landing with middle knuckles]
 Now onto the elbow.  The elbow’s relaxed position is at a slight angle – if we relax our arm, the elbow rarely straightens completely.  This is our body protecting our joints.  When we punch we want to use this mechanism for our benefit.

[Relaxed elbow position]
 Apart from the safety risks, having a straight elbow when punching causes our shoulder to turn towards the center of the body as the shoulder is unnaturally lifted up, which results in power loss. This elevation of the joint also tenses the trapezius and neck muscles which reduces the speed of the punch.

[Straight elbow causes shoulder lift and direction of force to move away from the target]
 To insure the most powerful strike our hips must be directed towards the target. This allows the direct transfer of energy through the trunk, shoulder, elbow and wrist to the target. If the whole system is correct we will have minimal losses in energy transfer.

[Ideal hip and elbow setup ensures that the energy of a punch is directed at the target]
If we turn our hips too much we will increase the reach of the punch, but it will lose a lot of energy as the hips provide the direction for the power.  A simple exercise to test this is to place your fist against the wall in a punch position.  Now push your body weight into the punch with your hips directed forward.  You should feel supported by the two first knuckles of your fist with your shoulder in a comfortable position.  Shifting your hips towards the centre of the body (pushing the fist further forwards) causes the rotation of your trunk and you should feel the change in direction of the energy.  Moving your hips changes the direction in which the shoulder is pointing as it moves with your trunk and so the energy is directed in line with the hips.  Therefore the punch does not impart the maximum power.  This position may also cause shoulder injury.

Ideally, the hips should be directed to the target (for a front punch) and lifted up to help with the contraction of stomach muscles.  Then the energy of the punch will flow through the shoulder, elbow and wrist, exploding via the first two knuckles.

I hope this explanation will help with understanding the components of a punch from Shin ai do karate point of view.

All of the mechanisms described here are best tested and trained on a makiwara (punching flexible board) or a heavy punch bag under the supervision of qualified instructor.


About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.


Do not “Osu” me please!

Do not “Osu” me please!

Our group at Shin ai do martial arts Guildford

Across karate dojos all over the world we can hear the term “Osu” being used for all manners of expression, from greetings to acknowledgement or even goodbye. Some people use this expression outside of the dojo, for example in shopping centres, cinemas, bbqs etc. when they see someone from their dojo.  However, how many of us have really put any effort in to understand the meaning of Osu?

For years I was using it in my dojo without really paying any attention to it, as our style is an offshoot from Kyokushin karate and so everything is Osu! The only difference for us was that we did not use it outside the dojo. My teachers have always said that we are not in Japan therefore there is no need to use it.  For me personally it feels awkward when I meet someone in Tesco and I am “Osu-ed” at, my answer is always “hello, how are you?” Some people just ignore this change others ask me why I do not reply Osu!

These kinds of situations make me think that maybe I should find out more about Osu. I started to talk about it with Sensei from different martial arts, and most of them informed me that it is a rude and impolite expression and is used by “common folk”.  Some people explained to me that it is used in the army and that is why Mas Oyama incorporated Osu so much into his Kyokushinkai.

Whichever origin is true for Osu, the common opinion is that it is not polite and should only be used in friendly groups, but not everywhere. I have come across a really informative article by Rob Redmond published in 2005 in 24fightingchickens. I am very impressed with his knowledge and explanation of all aspects of Osu. If you have any interest in the meaning and appropriate usage of the term Osu this article is a must read!  Hope you will enjoy reading it, please see link below:

Thanks for your time!

Please share this with a friend who could find this article helpful or interesting!

Regards, Les.

Can Martial Arts Prevent Bullying ?

Excellent article about martial arts and bullying by Osu Magazine. This subject is not only in relation to kids, adults can improve their self confidence through martial arts. Whole training system helps to be more healthy and  confident. Enjoy reading 🙂


Kid is bullied

How bad of a thing is it, and can martial arts prevent bullying? Well, According to the National Education Association , it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. It also states that 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying. Bullying is one of the most difficult and prevailing issues these days. Issues that students, parents and educators are dealing with on a daily basis both in and out of school. Martial Arts is one avenue that has been proven time and time again to be effective in curbing bullying activity. Both for the one being bullied and the one doing the bullying.

Bullying victims and low self-esteem?

Absolutely! Bullies almost always pick victims that they think will be easy targets. What makes someone an easy target? It is a child…

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Evolutionary face shield?

Evolutionary face shield?


Click link above to read great article By Jonathan Webb, looking in to theory that “male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defence against fist fights.”

Intriguing idea that our ancestors developed face shields to withstand powerful punches to the face. Article suggesting that reason for this protection was fighting over females. As strength of our distant cousins was growing, they needed more protection, then in evolutionary turn when humans start to lose strength, our beefy facial features declined. But still male face is more protected then female.


Thanks for your time!

Please share this with a friend who could find this article helpful or interesting!

Regards, Les.



Seminar Sunday

This week I would like to remind you all about our International Budo Seminar, especially as this event will be the first in the UK organised by myself and our club


In the past I have done a few big seminars in Poland that have been mainly for our organisation, Shin ai do Karate, and Idokan Europa Poland.

Idokan Europa Polska

Upon moving to the UK in 2007 I decided to start a small club and slowly develop a base for this kind of gathering. Now, seven years and a few small seminars later here we are with my first attempt at organizing a larger seminar.

Shin ai do karate seminar UK


Personally, I do not expect crowds, but I am sure that all who attend will have fun and benefit from quality teaching that is free from politics.  In my experience I have often attended seminars that were dominated by politics, with attendees trying to entice others to join their organisations with the promise of higher grades etc.  For me one of the most important aspects of a seminar is to train and learn, even if I only learn one small detail the seminar will have been worth it.  This detail normally comes when I least expect it and from a person who I would not have thought of.

After nearly twenty years of taking part in lots of events and seeing some that were absolutely amazing and others that were appalling I started to wonder, what is it that makes a good seminar?  Is it the instructors who teach? Is it a good workout? Or simply the atmosphere created by the attendees?

I think it is probably a little of all of these. For me the main point is to be clear with people in terms of what they should expect.  If we are planning to do a seminar which will focus on technical aspects I will not say that there will be a hard workout, however, from the other side when we do an event focused on strength and conditioning I will not say we will do advanced kata techniques and so on…

Very important for me is the choice of instructors, not just from the technical aspect of their art/ sport but for their personality. If I was on a seminar and I was approached with political offers, like changing association, jumping through grades etc. there is no chance that this type of person will be invited by me to teach. If I have the right instructors I am pretty sure that there will be a great atmosphere at a seminar and judging by our previous seminars I am confident that this one will encourage a friendly environment that will promote positive learning.

On various seminars I have noticed that many people are afraid to ask questions.  At our seminars we encourage people to ask questions as that is the main point of our coming together to see and try what others do. When multiple styles and instructors are brought together we can promote martial arts in general much better. Our seminars are open to everyone and we welcome all martial artists and anyone else willing to join in. We welcome spectators as well.

On the 31st of August we will host our International Budo Seminar in Guildford, UK.  We are very lucky to host five teachers from across Europe:

  • Shihan Roger Payne, United Kingdom – Aikido
  • Kyoshi Dietmar Schmidt,  Greece – Karate
  • Renshi Jim Rooney, United Kingdom – Ju Jutsu
  • Sensei Artur Marchewka, Poland – Karate
  • Sensei Marek Mroszczyk, Poland – Kempo
Our teachers

I have great respect for all of these instructors and have been grateful for the opportunity to learn from them. They are from different parts of the world but have similar qualities and all of them are experts in their respective arts. They are all honest, hardworking people with a kind approach to others.  I am very happy that these instructors have agreed to give up their time to join our seminar and I cannot say how thankful I am.  I hope this event will be a success and all of the participants will have a great time and take a little special technique/detail away with them.

In the future we aim to host more instructors and do more open seminars and hopefully year after year our events will grow bigger and stronger.

Hope to see you there!

Thanks for your time!

Please share this with a friend who could find this article helpful or interesting!

Regards, Les.