Are Books Relevant in Training?

In this episode I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. James Hatch, and our chosen topic was books on training.

As usual in our conversation we drifted over different subjects. I always enjoy talking with James as his depth of knowledge in Karate and many other subjects is just impressive.

We have ventured into some very controversial topics, that might spark up some debate.  I hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Karate for Mental Health talk at the Guildford Library Anxious Black Belt Podcast

Recording from my talk at the Guildford Library 📚 If you got some value from this episode or simply like it, please share via social media and with your friends. If you did not enjoy it please impose it on your enemies and make them suffer! If you would like to support the show at no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you! Please find the link below. https://amzn.to/3qqfuhy If you would like to support the Karate For Mental Health Programme, you can buy our merchandise (links below) or donate via ☕ Buy me a coffee 👇 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KFMH Karate Journal here: https://amzn.to/3l9spmt  🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur, and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally. let's connect: info@lesbubka.co.uk — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/lesbubka/message
  1. Karate for Mental Health talk at the Guildford Library
  2. Rory Miller Seminar
  3. Keep Your Mouth Shut
  4. Karate Black Belt with Sue Roberts
  5. Karate For Life

If you would like to support the blog with no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you!  Please find the link below.

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🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally.

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Strong & Caring

Hello and welcome,

I hope you are well. If you’re in the United Kingdom, I hope that you’re coping ok with the lockdown. 

I’m going to start off with a bit of shameless self-promotion on my part, if you would like to support this show please check out my merchandise where you can get unique t-shirts, ranging from Mental health and a hikite spoof to a Les Bubka Karate Jutsu one.

I would like to bring your attention to my freshly published book Thoughts on Karate, all of the goodies mentioned you can find at www.lesbubka.co.uk. In the description section of this podcast you can find other ways that you can support this show.

Finishing the promotion segment of this episode let’s move on to the subject of this podcast, Strong and caring. When I was establishing my club, I was looking for a meaningful motto, I looked around and could see that most people use the same quotes.

Fall seven time get up eight,

Black belt is a white belt who never gave up

Black belt is just beginning etc.

You get the idea what people use on their dojo walls, not that there is anything wrong with using them, but none of them really resonated with me. I was undecided what to use and was jumping between a few. Then I was writing my Anxious black belt book and as per usual it struck me at one am in the morning. That is when I usually have my best ideas, but then immediately forget them having told myself that I will remember them. I think we’ve all done that, for once I’m glad that I took my phone and wrote it down. It must have been destiny in action as I usually leave my phone downstairs so I’m not distracted during the night.

So I grabbed my phone and thought in the spirit of Shu Ha Ri I should look in detail on what my Karate represents and what message I want to share with my students and other people, and create my own. From there I came up with this motto which I’m very proud of –  Strong and caring people are the pillars of society and Karate helps to cultivate them.

I had so many people giving me positive feedback on this that I’m overwhelmed by it. I thought that explaining what I mean be strong and caring can be a good subject for a podcast and here we are.

On subject of strength, I talk about both the physical and mental aspect, I know how it is to be weak in both of these realms. As many of you who know me will have probably noticed – I’m vertically challenged. If you haven’t met me, I’m sure Jamie Gray will have mentioned it to you. As I was always small during my childhood, I was not particularly strong, plus having anxiety made me weak mentally and when you are weak you cannot function normally. When both body and mind are not able to stand up to challenges you feel betrayed. And I mean both to the bullies and to the mental challenges of daily life.

In a way the physical aspect of strength is easier to overcome, as you can start working out at home and see clear results. For me it was going to the gym that started the process of strength development, and I have to say that I got strong. For my structure I was able to lift a lot. For those who like stats and lift weights here’s my personal best – bench press 105kg at 55kg body weight at 19 years old. Getting stronger physically improved my mental strength too. Having that trust in my body’s capability made me more comfortable, at least in the gym environment. Then I found Karate and that was something else, a different side of strength, physically more challenging than weights, having to overcome fatigue and constantly pushing boundaries made improvements in both body and psyche.

Then you start to realise that with all that strength comes courage, courage to hold your ground – you know that your body is there to support you, and your mind is strong enough to hold that ground. You are no longer the pushover. Karate taught you that whatever comes you can overcome it. If you are weak there is no courage as you fear for yourself, fear of the consequences, fear of the physical pain all comes down on you. If you cannot take care of yourself there is no room for taking care of others. It is just like with love, if you don’t love yourself you can’t love fully others. In order to be able to be happy with the world you need to be happy with yourself. If you want to take care of others you need to be able to take care of yourself.

Strength also takes over the fear, you can get involved in difficult conversations, support your ideas and be truthful to yourself without doubt. If you can stand up for yourself and hold your ground, then you are able to take difficult decisions and stand up for others. Not necessarily in a physical way, but also getting involved in different causes. 

I firmly believe that Karate can help create those strengths in individuals, if the dojo has the right teacher and role models. In my dojo students who walk through the doors immediately feel safe and welcome, they see strong people who care about each other. With that role modelling the transfer carries on, new members start their journey into strength and care.

I don’t think that my dojo is special by any means, most of the dojos I have visited have the same atmosphere, of course there are exceptions but mostly from my experience martial arts clubs are all very supportive.

Our constant exposure to challenging training and supportive comradery is the key to the marvellous confidence boost of martial arts, in my case it’s Karate.

I hope that my explanation makes sense to you, I would love to know your take on this, what do you think about Strong and caring? Also what is your favourite motto?

Thank you for your time, and I wish you great week.

If you would like to support the blog with no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you!  Please find the link below.

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🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally.

📹 Check out my videos

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Walk up the River, by Mary Stevens

I had the pleasure of talking to Mary Stevens from the Athena School of Karate on my podcast a few months ago. After a very interesting conversation I asked Mary if she would like to write a guest article for my blog. Mary said yes. True to her word, here we have her ‘walk up the river’ article, which covers a very important subject that is often overlooked and neglected by male instructors. Enjoy! Please find more information about Mary and her work below the article.

‘There comes a time when you need to stop just pulling people out of the river. You need to go upstream, and find out why they’re falling in’ Desmond Tutu.

Les invited me to write a guest blog here and I’m grateful to him for the chance to share some thoughts. When we spoke on his podcast, his commitment to understanding and supporting women in martial arts was very clear. I started my training in 2002: Wado-ryu karate originally and then several years of BJJ to gain some competence on the ground. I’m a full-time professional now, and I describe what I teach as traditional karate with modern self-protection. We can debate the definitions, by all means, however I’d think the majority of Les’s readers will feel fairly comfortable with those parameters. I love a good shuto uke; I think Iain has led a revolution; I list Gavin de Becker and Rory Miller on my dan grade syllabus; and I’m clear on the varied legalities of pre-emptive striking in the context of different countries. Just so we know where we are.

An unexpected side effect of the pandemic has been an increase in the number of conversations I’ve had with people about the value of karate and, in particular, the ongoing scarcity of female instructors. No one has secure data on this but a broad consensus seems to be that about 75-80% of karate instructors are male. Rather like black footballers, even if they make it as a player, they rarely find their way up to management level. So, while we all might sweep the dojo floor, something goes on to polish the glass ceiling as well. If you raise this question, you’ll get a typical range of answers as follows:

‘Girls quit when they are teenagers because they don’t like fighting.’

‘Women quit when they have children because they’re too tired or busy for hobbies.’

‘Guys in my dojo don’t like to partner with women; they feel uncomfortable hitting a woman.’

‘My dojo is 50/50 anyway so I don’t have a problem.’

If you read those statements and agreed with them instinctively then I’ve got great news for you. You can have an impact on progressing gender equality in martial arts if you want to! There’s room for you to make some changes which will make the dojo a fairer and more welcoming place for everyone, not just women.

The problem is not one person, nor is the solution. It’s a collection of the times when a girl doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the line because she’s worried she might be leaking period blood on her gi trousers. She might get through the class and then rush to the toilet, but another time, she’ll save herself the anxiety and avoid training instead. It’s the assumption that a woman with a baby ought to be at home, and will get the chance to catch up with her training later…when the kids have gone to university. It’s the partner work where women feel second best because if they ask for any consideration they’re seen as weak and worthless. It’s the fact that when presented with these points a lot of senseis will automatically knee jerk into disagreeing and pointing out how inclusive their dojo is, or saying one of their female students trains ‘just like the men’ or ‘it’s the same for small men’. Sure. It’s about individuals and individual situations. ‘Remember that when you are on the mat you are not male or female, your ethnicity does not matter and what you work with is no factor, you’re just a kimono.’ Marit Tyssedal Gabrielsen. That’s how it should be, because everyone kicks differently, is built differently, and interacts differently with the people around them.

If you’re listening to your female students, if you’re offering a comfortable environment which doesn’t have the men owning the dojo as a changing space while the women use a dirty toilet…then you’re making a difference. If you are sensitive to suitable size and power pairings, if you understand that grabbing and grappling might trigger traumatic memories for many women and you know how to deal with that…then you’re creating decent training spaces. If you have the guts to stamp on sexist attitudes from the dojo dudes and set an example of openness and trust … then you are rare.

I don’t think we need men to solve the problem of women in martial arts. We need men to solve the problem of men in martial arts. As in women’s self defence (a much longer blog!) it’s time to look at the causes, not the symptoms. Over to you.

Mary Stevens is a practical martial artist, club owner, writer, and charity worker.  My conversation with Mary focusses on the empowerment of women and her charitable work for the Fair Fight project in India and Africa, where she manages Karate teaching.  We also talked about mental health, inclusion, and story telling.  Mary also gives us some insight into creating a world for her Warrior Monkeys book series.

 Please if you can support Mary’s project at the Fair Fight website below.  

I hope that you find this episode inspiring.

Fair Fight

Warrior Monkeys

Athena Karate Club 

If you would like to support the blog with no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you!  Please find the link below.

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🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally.

📹 Check out my videos

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Slippery Slopes and Dark Places of Karate

Lengthy conversation with Rob Davis from Red Fish Karate, about all things Karate. Visiting the “dark place” enjoying the ride down the slippery slope of being different, and having ability to think. Exchanging thoughts and experiences about the techniques and our perception of them, exploring fear and our reaction to it. Contemplating lightening the fu.k up. 

Hope you will enjoy this one as much as I did. 

Come along and join us on the engineering side of Karate ( correction I’m only a technician!)

Karate for Mental Health talk at the Guildford Library Anxious Black Belt Podcast

Recording from my talk at the Guildford Library 📚 If you got some value from this episode or simply like it, please share via social media and with your friends. If you did not enjoy it please impose it on your enemies and make them suffer! If you would like to support the show at no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you! Please find the link below. https://amzn.to/3qqfuhy If you would like to support the Karate For Mental Health Programme, you can buy our merchandise (links below) or donate via ☕ Buy me a coffee 👇 https://www.buymeacoffee.com/KFMH Karate Journal here: https://amzn.to/3l9spmt  🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur, and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally. let's connect: info@lesbubka.co.uk — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/lesbubka/message
  1. Karate for Mental Health talk at the Guildford Library
  2. Rory Miller Seminar
  3. Keep Your Mouth Shut
  4. Karate Black Belt with Sue Roberts
  5. Karate For Life

More about Robert Davis:

Red Fish Karate

Red Fish Facebook

Bunkai Bastards

If you would like to support the show with no cost to you and you shop with Amazon, please feel free to use my affiliate link, for which I get a small commission when you purchase something – note that it is completely free for you!  Please find the link below.

Amazon

🥋About: Les Bubka is an author, Karate coach, entrepreneur and creator of the #Hikite4ever T-shirt. Promoting inclusive Karate with a focus on mental health aspects of training. Teaching both nationally and internationally.

📹 Check out my videos

👇 My videos

🔔 SUBSCRIBE – so you don’t miss NEW videos 👇

  Les Bubka Karate Jutsu 

👕GET MY #HIKITE4EVER T- shirt 👇

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👍 CONNECT WITH ME:

👉🏻 Facebook    ➡ https://www.facebook.com/lesbubka/ 

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Karate Unity Q&A with Les

karate_unity

I’m sure that some of forum members came across Chris Hanson’s Live Q&A,

Chris does awesome job bringing all sorts of martial arts instructors from wide range of arts and sports to chat about all martial arts related topics.

I find his work entertaining and really helpful in learning what other people do within martial arts, in a humours and energetic way.tarcza2

I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of his sessions where we talked about cross training, mental health and bit about my book.

 

Recording from that session below, hope you will enjoy it.

Kind regards Les

 

Karate For Mental Health Interviews Part Two

At the Karate for Mental Health Seminar a set of interviews were conducted by Richard Barnes. This video represents part two. In this part we hear the thoughts of John Johnston and Marek Mroszczyk about the value of Karate for mental health.

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LES BUBKA IS A DEDICATED PRACTITIONER OF THE WAY OF THE EMPTY HAND AND HAS BEEN FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS.HE IS THE FOUNDER OF LB POSTURE TRAINING, WHICH INCORPORATES THE ART OF KARATE WITH HIS PERSONAL TRAINING QUALIFICATIONS IN ORDER TO HELP PEOPLE.
LES HAS EXPERIENCE IN RUNNING PROJECTS IN ASSOCIATION WITH MENTAL HEALTH CHARITIES AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS, INTRODUCING KARATE AS A TOOL TO HELP BUILD CONFIDENCE, SELF-ESTEEM AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY TO DISADVANTAGED MEMBERS OF COMMUNITY.
LES RUNS AN INCLUSIVE CLUB IN GUILDFORD (UK) WHERE EVERYONE IS WELCOME.

 

Karate For Mental Health – Interviews

At the Karate for Mental Health Seminar a set of interviews were conducted by Richard Barnes.

This video represents part one of two. In part one we hear the thoughts of Iain Abernathy and Les Bubka about the value of Karate for mental health

Did you like this article? You can help support this writer, securely via PayPal:

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LES BUBKA IS A DEDICATED PRACTITIONER OF THE WAY OF THE EMPTY HAND AND HAS BEEN FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS.HE IS THE FOUNDER OF LB POSTURE TRAINING, WHICH INCORPORATES THE ART OF KARATE WITH HIS PERSONAL TRAINING QUALIFICATIONS IN ORDER TO HELP PEOPLE.
LES HAS EXPERIENCE IN RUNNING PROJECTS IN ASSOCIATION WITH MENTAL HEALTH CHARITIES AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS, INTRODUCING KARATE AS A TOOL TO HELP BUILD CONFIDENCE, SELF-ESTEEM AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY TO DISADVANTAGED MEMBERS OF COMMUNITY.
LES RUNS AN INCLUSIVE CLUB IN GUILDFORD (UK) WHERE EVERYONE IS WELCOME.

 

Not all roses

 

As most of you probably know I’m a strong advocate for the benefits of Karate in relation to mental health. As with everything in life there are two sides of the coin and rarely things are black and white.

 

For some individuals or groups Karate might have a negative impact on health both physically and mentally. Whether or not a person benefits positively from training depends on several factors such as:

  • Personal circumstances
  • Instructor
  • Group social setup
  • Training methods

 

Personal Circumstances

In the case of personal circumstances, an individual might have an underlying mental health condition, which Karate training can make worse if not conducted properly. Most people who start a martial art will have to face fear in some form. For example, fear of sparring, public performance or overcoming the fear of breaking stuff. Without positive mentoring the result of these fears might have a negative impact on a person.

Instructor

Sometimes an instructor, or the head of an organisation, might be charismatic but lacking in understanding of the needs of students or is simply unaware of factors impacting their students health.

If training instructions are given in a form that pressurises a student to do tasks this might lead to a negative impact on health.

Often, especially in more “traditional” branches of Karate, there can be a culture of power and bullying. This can create a mental vicious circle where bullied students either quit as they feel not worthy or tough enough to be a part of the group or result in the creation of more bullies who then take revenge on new students. This situation was recognised in the Polish army and is named “the wave”. This situation is very difficult to eradicate.

This culture was very popular in Karate in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I believe that conditions have improved now, but “the wave” is not completely gone.

Group Social Setup

Karate is an activity that can make people feel that they belong to a group, which can easily turn into a sect or cult like organisation. This is a world wide problem that sports and social clubs face everyday from football, rugby, wrestling and Karate, leading people to feel that they are better than those who don’t belong to the tribe.

Browsing through forums, Facebook pages or YouTube comments we can easily come across conversations or comments about the superiority of a given branch of Karate. Many claim that their style of Karate is the original one, supporting their claims with lineage, or that their system is the strongest as they <…insert whatever you want here…>.

This cult thinking can lead people into developing a delusional view of themselves as the better person. From history we know that this kind of brain washing activity can lead to the abuse of power and abuse in general. Resulting in traumatic experiences for members of that group and/or others.

Training Methods

Another factor to consider in terms of benefit outcomes is training methodology. Here again “traditional” ways can creep in, where people hold the belief that past methods are always superior to modern ones. The problem here is that even just 50 years ago we didn’t know aspects of sport science, mental health and physiology in general. So, as the masters of the past relied on their knowledge at the time, now we know we can train better, safer and more efficiently.

The term traditional can also be used to hide a lack of knowledge of modern methodology, to create an illusion of exclusivity, or be used as an excuse for the barbaric treatment of students in the name of worthiness and commitment to the only true style/system.

In every aspect of life all things can be used in a positive or negative way, Karate is no different. If you pop into a Dojo and would like to start Karate, please have a look first at how the club is set up. Consider asking yourself a few questions. How is the instructor treating the students?

How are the students themselves treating each other? Do the students look happy? How does the instructor refer to the competition?

Search for things that are not said – the body language of people within the dojo, the approachability of the teacher, the overall atmosphere etc.

All of these aspects can give you an appreciation of the feel of the club and I would recommend that you only join it if you feel good about it and you feel welcomed. Your gut instinct is usually a great indicator of things being good or not for you.

I hope that most dojos now have moved on from being cult like and provide motivating and fun classes.

If you enjoyed this chapter of my new book “Karate For Mental Health” and are interested in reading my previous work, the book can be purchased from Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

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Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

Speak Up!- Podcast for Matured Martial Artists

I had a great pleasure to talk with Sensei Matt Jardin about mental health, martial arts and brain.

Matt honoured me to be his first guest, I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, Matt has the gift to make you instantly welcomed and comfortable.

Please have a look at our conversation below.

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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

I hit Sensei !

A few recent events and conversations at the dojo inspired me to write this article.

The first event was during a sparring session when one of my students delivered a lovely, spot on, spinning back fist that nearly took my head off. The second was during another sparring session where I had a good rear naked choke on a student. As he was doing a good job of getting out from it I allowed him to escape.

 

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I didn’t think that either of these situations were unusual until we started to chat about it afterwards. I have to mention here that many of my students are already experienced martial artists and so have backgrounds of training and gaining achievements in other clubs.

 

What was surprising for me was their reaction to these events. In the first instance, after this lovely back fist my student got scared. I was puzzled, why would she be afraid? So I asked “what’s wrong?” She replied “I’m worried that now you’ll punish me like my old sensei did.” I replied “why would I punish you? I’m congratulating you as you delivered a perfect shot at the right time, it was superb.” She asked me if I was not embarrassed that a student had hit me in front of the rest of the class? Well we’ll get to that a bit later.

 

The second situation was similar. The student had a previous background in martial arts and he was puzzled, asking why didn’t I finish him? I had the opportunity to do so. His previous teacher had always done that, showing him that he was a lesser fighter than the teacher.

DSC_0856 - CopyI don’t attempt to criticise other instructors as everyone has their own methodology of teaching. My view on this is that as a coach I try to point out the best in my students, and the way to do this is to support, motivate, and praise them but to also be honest. If they do something incorrectly I let them know. If something is done properly they are always acknowledged. This applies to all training aspects from kihon to sparring. As a coach I have to leave my ego outside of the dojo for the benefit of my students.

 

My approach is to get the best out of students. When I see that they have an opportunity to execute a correct technique no matter if it’s a strike, kick, lock or choke, I allow them. It doesn’t make me weak or embarrassed and gives motivation to my students that they can get me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not easing off but I make it possible with effort to achieve. Always making sure that I praise them for their achievement. I don’t get upset if a student, regardless of their grade, will catch me with a great punch and I don’t need to get revenge or punish them. I enjoy their progression as it shows me that I have taught them correctly.

 

As someone who suffers with anxiety, this is one of the few areas that I feel confident that I know my value and I don’t feel embarrassed or a lesser man if a girl with a white belt will choke me out, she simply did a good technique.

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This approach builds trust between a coach and a student. Students know that no matter what they will be treated with respect, building the right behaviour model when they spar with someone else in my dojo. No one is trying to show superiority and all of the students and instructors respect each other. This attitude makes me proud to be a part of a great team of like minded people.

 

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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