Laying Low

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“That each should in his house abide, Therefore was the world so wide.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sometimes although we feel we want to keep doing what we normally do, whether it’s a specific workout routine, going out to enjoy the company of friends, eating and drinking the things we love, we are almost forced not to and do something different. Why is this you may ask? Our bodies tell us otherwise.

In a lot of cases, our bodies are smarter than we are and we don’t give them their due credit. Although we may not ‘agree’ with our body, we should listen to it for it can tell us things our mind will not. This can be experiencing anything from physical pains to a physical reaction, getting sick, to spontaneously having an aversion to something we normally used to do regularly. I used just ‘work through’ injuries for example when I was younger. Now I kind of question this attitude I used to hold dear.

It seemed if it wasn’t one thing, it was something else that I had to deal with injury-wise from the hard training in martial arts and pushing myself daily in my workouts. I rarely if ever took some time off to really allow myself time to heal, or ‘lay low’ even in the midst of a lot of pain. Sometimes this pain came as mental fatigue as well when I felt something should have went a different way or if I felt I ‘plateaued’ for example.

It’s tough because we feel like we are missing out, or like if we don’t do something we might regress. This is especially true if you are practically addicted to working out and physical activity like I am. It’s very easy to get angry at yourself and your body. This can also happen with the food we are so accustomed to eating. In order to heal, sometimes our bodies need a break from our usual diet to focus more on healing foods and medicines so they can really do their job. lonely house winter

I have learned to let these types of feelings go more and more though. It just means we can and should focus our energy elsewhere, at least for the time being while we are allowing our bodies to heal themselves. A good place to focus this energy is to go inside.

If we can do that, we can dissipate any kind of annoying or negative feelings to practically nil. In fact, we can rather quickly start feeling much better about ourselves. It really can open us up to new opportunities to do things differently as well, learn more about ourselves and discover new concepts and ideas we may have been putting off and always found interesting.

The fact that this is also winter time also helps. This is the best time of year to stay in and ‘lay low’ to not only heal on various levels, but to work on yourself in a more internal way. Just as nature and many animals withdraw for the cold winter months, when we do it as well it feels more natural for us on a deeper level as this is the natural ebb and flow of things.

Meditation is one of the best ways to going inside and delve deeper into ourselves. It also promotes healing on many levels. There are many other methods we can play with and throw into the mix, but meditation should be one of the core foundations to this process. Also practicing chi gong and different types of breathing exercises can be done in almost any state and this also can accelerate the healing process and goes hand in hand with any introspective and healing practice.

So in the midst of this cold winter, I highly encourage you to go ‘inside’ and lay low if you don’t feel well or just not right. Listen to your body and do some research to find a practice that resonates with you or resdiscover an old one you may have been neglecting.

Listen to Your Body

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Something I’ve noticed about myself over time has been that my body knows what’s best for me, even better than my mind does. Our mind can be something that can be quite hard, if not impossible to pin down, but our body is always right there telling us things about ourselves and the world around us. Yet for some reason most of us tend to ignore what it tells us.

In many cases what it tells us is so concrete, ranging from a gut feeling to a twitching sensation, from a nervous reaction to a fluttering in our chests. A lot of times, our body can tell us things before we know it mentally. Sometimes we even get sick, and believe it or not it may even be for good reason. Maybe we just need to slow things down in life, and yet we don’t… but our body just shuts down sometimes and gives us no choice but to slow down and rest.

Another way our body tells us what’s best is when we get hurt. Recently, I’ve been recovering from a severely strained ligament in my right hip/leg. Being that I am so active, it’s been really difficult for me not to engage in some type of exercise or physical activity. I really haven’t had much choice but to limit myself though, because the pain has been so constant and rather intense. As I slowly recover, I can feel my mobility coming back but really it’s up to my body to tell me when I can resume the type of dynamic movements I am accustomed to doing. Again, my body knows best!

Smarter Training

If we listen to our bodies as well when we train, we can also prevent injuries from occuring, or lessen their body outlineimpact. This seems obvious, but as many athletes will tell you, they always seem to push themselves harder than they should. Our bodies will cramp up telling us we need more fluid intake for example, or the pain is not the good pain from a muscle ripping workout, but something deep in the tendons or connective tissues that tells us to let off and go easier.

I’ve ignored my body many times in the past and to my peril. From overstretching certain joints thinking I needed to push, push, push to ‘get there’ and thus causing damage… to pushing myself too hard, too fast in a run without going gradual first to allow my body to adjust and adapt because I haven’t done that particular type of run in a long time. We can be our own worst enemies, although our intentions are usually good.

Sometimes we get so used to certain workout routines that we do daily and we will do them no matter what! I’ve noticed that sometimes when I take a break for a few days (longer than I’d really like to, I admit) I come back stronger and faster than ever it seems. It’s like the break in between is what our body needs and craves for us to take things to the next level.

Greater Awareness & Safety

Our body will tell us things that can often save our life as well. From the odd feeling deep down that someone is watching us, yet we don’t see anyone (usually someone is watching us in most cases) to the gut wrenching sensation that something bad is going to happen and then it does! This is usually the case because we went on doing what we were doing without pausing and reflecting in that moment to make the necessary changes.  We usually don’t notice that we had that feeling until after the fact.

I remember, I had this really weird feeling about this party many of my friends were going to when I was much younger, it kept nagging me. I was actually on my way to the party after I got out of work late when I turned my car around and went home instead. I couldn’t explain it at the time, I just chalked it up to me being ‘not in the mood’ to really go. Turns out, a huge fight broke out and some people got really badly hurt. This has happened to me more than once, where I just felt strangely uncomfortable in a place and decided to leave instead of forcing myself to stay and turns out something bad happened later I found out.

There is a reason why they call it a gut feeling, (some will call it intuition) but it comes from your gut and your body is telling you something! So do yourself a favor and get more in tune with your body and to listening to it, you’ll thank it later.

Taking Responsibility For Your Health

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When I speak with people on the topic of health the subject of ‘responsibility’ inevitably comes up. So I put some thought into why this might be, and a key point kept coming to mind. First, I noticed that most people that do not accept responsibility for their own health usually, and if this is the case are always blaming others and things outside of themselves for their ill bodily conditions.

Saying something like – ‘oh I always get sick this time of year, or that person made me sick’ is a perfect example of something I hear quite often. I believe that if you can change your lifestyle gradually to a healthier one, which includes having a healthier mindset, you don’t have to get sick every year if you really do not want to. Most of us mentally program ourselves to get sick and we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Another example is when we see a person sneezing and coughing, and our first thought is ‘uh oh, I hope I don’t catch what he has’, or we see ads on television that the so called ‘flu season’ is upon us and we think, ‘well I’ll probably catch the flu this year sooner or later’. Thinking in this way, like so many people do is disempowering to say the least. So in addition to acting healthier – exercising, eating healthier – eliminating junk food and fast food, we can be thinking healthier as well.  A good place to start is by taking responsibility for our health, whether we are sick or feeling great.

When was the last time you felt great and you said to yourself something along the lines of ‘gee I feel so good because of me, because of who I am and what I do.’ Well if you do say things like this to yourself then congratulations because most people do not give themselves enough credit for feeling good and doing their best to lead a healthier lifestyle. So what I am saying in effect is that it works both ways, you can create your own health circumstances in life or you can act as a victim and be a slave to them. shunan-bamboo-forest-02

Once we begin to actively and consciously take credit for the good, as well as the bad health circumstances we encounter in our lives, we will begin to notice that it’s up to us to how well we would like to feel and not so much on the outside world we once thought controls us. A great question to ask yourself everyday is: how did I bring this into my life? You examine your thought processes, correct your thinking and move on.

This is much more powerful than you may think, but of course prove it to yourself.

We can consciously choose to enhance our well-being and health through adding a healthy exercise regimen to our daily routine for example. This will give both your body and mind a boost and you can easily thank yourself and praise yourself for the high, glowing feeling you get after a great workout, whether it be with weights, calisthenics, yoga, pilates, martial arts, etc., you get my point.

Doing healthier activities compound over time and become cumulative. In the case that you do get sick even though you are taking supplements to enhance your immune system, exercising regularly and eating healthy… don’t beat yourself up. Accept that you allowed yourself to be sick and nothing else. Then make up your mind to get healthier and become better, faster than ever before. Don’t get negative, and you will see that over time you will stay healthier for longer and longer periods until you do not get sick anymore.

Yes it is possible to be healthy all year around, you just need to accept that it is possible.

I personally rarely, if ever get sick and I don’t remember the last time I went to see a doctor for that matter (besides my sports related injuries!). By accepting responsibility for my health and everything that happens to me in my life, I am able to stay healthy and feel great. Of course my daily activities, internal exercises, food and vitamin/supplement intake and mindset have everything to do with this.

Pushing Through

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Life comes with it’s ups and downs, pleasure and pain… and from an athlete’s point of view training hard and relaxing and recovering. They are not mutually exclusive. Knowing your body and knowing when to allow it to rest and heal is key to pushing yourrself to higher levels of performance. This always seems to come to mind when I am sore from over-training or taking on a new exercise regimen.

What’s funny to me is that no matter how good of a level of physical shape I think I am in, if I engange in some new exercise regimen or physical activity that I have never done or haven’t done in a while, boy do I feel it the next day… and especially a day later! I had this happen to me this past weekend from doing some new types of pull up exercises (including one-armed) as well as with some other activities I haven’t done in a long time, like chopping wood… a lot of wood!

It also reminded me of how impressed I am with some of my friends and family members that do a lot of manual labor in their jobs, namely in the construction business. You gain a natural, gradual all around body strength that is different from going to the gym for example or doing calisthenics for that matter.  It’s something that you don’t seem to lose either, because your job conditions you over time. I am not saying it is necessarily better, but different. I will still put my uncle (who is a mason) up against almost anyone in an arm wrestling contest though!

Change It Up

So where am I going with this?  Simply that you need to push through your training but be smart about it. Change things up! In this case changing things up in the exercises you engage in or doing new ones altogether. Expect to be sore or more sore than usual. But this diversity in your training is a good thing. It is the antidote to one of my personal (and many other athletes and martial artists) greatest nemesis — hitting plateaus.

Monument Valley, Utah, USA

I remember in the past when I have hit plateaus in my martial arts training, I got so discouraged that I almost did not want to do anything and even wanted to miss my classes which I went to religiously. I almost get lazy about my training. I must say this is natural though and will happen to almost everyone sooner or later. It will probably even happen several times in your life.

Why does this happen? It comes from doing the same training regimen over and over, which for some people who have never done it would be quite difficult. But for you it’s relatively easy because your body is used to doing it and has adapted. Also understand, that your mind also can get run down from doing the same thing over and over and that it’s all connected (The Mind-Body Connection). By changing things up so you can push through plateaus in your training, you will re-ignite and add excitement back in to it.

Take a Break & Disconnect

The other key in this equation to pushing through is taking a break and allowing your body and mind to recover and disconnect for a few days or more if need be.  I did this the first time it happened to me in the martial arts, I felt compelled to take some time off and my teacher at the time said it was a good idea for me to do so as well. It worked wonders for me when I came back almost a week later excited to train hard again. But be careful though, this can be a slippery slope and can be used as an excuse to get lazy.

After taking a break you will be refreshed both physically and mentally.  Changing things up applies to all areas of your life really, not just your physical fitness level. It is natural to hit plateaus in your relationships, work and even in your spiritual practice as well. Most likely you will. Find new ways to push through. If you’re a martial artist for example, take on a new art that you have always been interested in but for whatever reason have not.

Another thing that can help a lot is taking a trip somewhere new or somewhere you haven’t been to in long time to disconnect from the norm and gain some new perspective in any area of your life.




Improve Your Grip, Improve Your Confidence

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Whether you climb rock, ride motorcycle, practice martial arts or do lots of glad handing having a better grip will increase your ability to perform and improve your confidence. Most will agree that a quality grip is a benefit in life, yet very few take the time to train effectively to improve their grip. In fact, aside from breath control/work (Your Breath is Your Power), grip training is possibly the most neglected area of training. If you hold on to handle bars, twist a throttle, wrestle, etc., a healthy and strong grip is vital. So some of you may be asking what exactly is grip training?

Grip training is movements and exercises that strengthen your hand, wrist, forearm and fingers. Contrary to common belief, your grip strength and development is not limited to just your hand. Actually, much of your grip strength comes from the muscles in your forearm. This combination of muscles gives your hands their strength, while retaining the range of motion of all your fingers. When most people think of grip strengthening exercises what comes to mind is that spring loaded device that we used as kids. But that really only trains one part of the over all grip.

So let’s talk a bit about grip. Your hand is an amazing and complicated mechanism capable of four basic types of grip.

  1. Crush or Power grip— Crushing grip that provides the strength required to close your hand against a resistance.
  2. Pinch grip—Pinching grip  is the strength generated between your thumb and your fingers.
  3. Support or Gripping— Gripping strength is required to hold something in a static position for an extended period of time.
  4. Mantis, monkey or hook grip— The grip used when your fingers and thumb are on the same side of an object forming a hook.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and your grip may just be that weak link. In order for your grip to improve your hands have to be used. And it’s best to stay away from straps, resins and assisting devices since these types of aides can lead to your muscle groups becoming out of balance, which in turn can cause ineffective training and result in injuries.

Your grip can be easily trained using everyday movements and simple equipment. I will touch on each of the four grips and give some simple exercises that can help you improve your grip.

Crush or Power grip—The crush grip is the grip between your fingers and your palm—the one you use for shaking hands or seizing an arm or limb. Crush grip can be trained by opening and closing your hand against resistance. The resistance can be created by a tennis ball, squash ball, towel, etc..

  • Exercise 1 Ball squeeze—Squeeze a stress ball or tennis ball, opening and closing hand pause at the point when you have squeezed as far as you can and repeat.
  • Exercise 2 Paper crumble—crumple newspaper page by page with one hand (not the online version).
  • Exercise 3 Towel Squeeze— (My favorite) Find a small to medium sized towel or rag.  Soak the towel in the water. Hold the towel vertically “wring” the towel out by twisting your wrists and squeezing. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Start at the top and work your way down. The thicker the towel the more resistance. Hint–it’s best to do this over a bucket, sink or outside.
  • Exercise 4 Thick Bar Training–This is done by increasing the thickness of the bar you are using for your regular workouts. Just wrap the bar you are using for bench press, back pulls, dumbbells, etc., with a towel. The increased bulk of the surface or circumference increases demand on your hands and forearm 

Pinch Grip —The Pinch Grip is the grip between your fingers and your thumb.

  • Exercise 1  Plate Pinch—Pick up a couple 10-pound plates, smooth sides out, with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Pass the plates around your body from left to right then reverse direction. Repeat this until you feel your grip start to fail.
  • Exercise 2 Pinch-grip chin-ups using bouldering handholds. Perform regular chin-ups holding on to bar or wall with just pure fingers.

The Support Grip — is the ability to maintain a hold on something—like holding a hammer, baseball bat or carrying a suitcase handle.

  • Exercise 1 Flexed Arm Hang–Grab pull up bar with both hands-use underhand grip and pull up until your chin is over the bar. Hold this position until you can’t hold any longer. Increase difficulty by adding weight (by using weight belt, holding a dumbbell between your feet or wearing a weight-vest).
  • Exercise 2 Farmer’s Walk—Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand and pace back and forth until your grip fails. This exercise can also be used for pinch grip if you use weight plates instead of dumbbells.

Mantis, monkey or hook grip— Mantis grip can be defined as the grip used when your fingers and thumb are on the same side of an object forming a hook. Work the mantis grip on an object that is to large to fit your hands around.

  • Exercise 1 PVC hold— Using a piece of PVC pipe hold pipe horizontally between your hand (formed as a hook, fingers and thumb on same side) and your wrist. As you hold the pipe in this position really flex your wrists down and hold pipe parallel to floor. Increase difficulty by adding sand to the pipe.
  • Exercise 2 Mantis pull-ups— Grip pull-up bar without wrapping the thumb.  Do pull-ups as normal using this grip. This also works on wooden rafters.

I find it useful to set a challenge for myself that includes grip training and to incorporate grip training into my daily workouts. As you start your grip training and pump it up with more resistance and holding positions longer you will feel the after affects. By all means, you need to build your grip training and evolve it as your hands, wrists and forearms get stronger. Make sure you are not doing too much too soon–build it.  What helps and should be part of grip training is stretching and massage of your forearms, wrists and hands with an all natural, topical rub (Warrior Rx and Massage – Perfect Together) .

I hope you found these suggested exercises helpful and if you have others please share them!

What is DMSO?

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DMSO or Dimethyl Sulfoxide has an interesting history dating back to 1867 where it was first isolated by Russian chemist, Alexander Saytzeff. It is a byproduct of the paper making process and is a natural compound that comes from trees and has been used as an industrial solvent for over a century. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a strong odor.

When medical researchers started looking into this multi-faceted compound in the 1950’s, DMSO’s ability to protect cells from freezing damage was discovered. As research continued, other medical applications of possible use came to light. This is where things start to get really interesting. In the 1960’s, DMSO was hailed as a miracle drug by the press and more clinical trials of the compound began.

The Healing Properties of DMSO

DMSO was found to relieve pain, act as a diuretic and rapidly be able to penetrate human skin. This is where DMSO’s amazing ability to work as a transport agent come into play. It will transport other substances with it as it penetrates, including other pain relieving ingredients. DMSO can be taken orally mouth, used topically or intravenously. The most common use is topically though, where it is known to help speed up wound healing, decrease inflammation, pain and swelling.

Naturally, it can be used to treat medical problems such as arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and sports related injuries such as joint and muscle pain and inflammation. Furthermore, DMSO is said to also have potential to be effective in treating various types of cancer and aid in various cancer therapies, treat skin conditions such as scleroderma, as well as fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

DMSO-400Dr. Stanley Jacob, who pioneered much of the early and on-going research on DMSO has found that it also holds great promise in treating severe closed head trauma. He claims he has found it to reduce brain swelling and increase blood flow and oxygenation. Unfortunately, in 1965 clinical trials were stopped by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of questions of its safety. Many advocates and scientific researchers, including Dr. Jacob pressed the FDA to re-consider in light of the depth of research and data compiled regarding this amazing compound. Advocates and researchers pressed that the safety issues were unfounded and only minor in humans.

The vast treatment potential the compound has for such a wide range of conditions almost makes it seem to be too good to be true, but with clinical trials being cut short this could not be verified at the time.  Eventually the FDA approved the use of DMSO and lifted the temporary ban on human testing. The approval was only for one rare bladder condition though – interstitial cystitis, which causes inflammation in the bladder. Besides that, it has only been approved for use as an anti-inflammatory treatment in dogs and horses.

So Where Does DMSO Stand Now?

The FDA only approved DMSO for one human medical condition –  interstitial cystitis up until this writing. More research is needed to test its safety and effectiveness for other medical purposes. It is legal and easy to purchase, as well as inexpensive. It is available through some health food stores, mail order catalogs and readily available on the internet (I’ve seen it on even).

Since most people use it as a topical liniment for pain relief, it is most commonly sold as a cream, gel and liquid. In some cases it is mixed with other natural ingredients to enhance its pain relieving effect for muscle and joint pain. This is where I saw the value of what DMSO could do to help to relieve my muscle and joint pains from hard training in the martial arts.

When we created Warrior Rx Muscle & Joint Pain Relief, DMSO seemed like a perfect fit to tie all of the other powerful pain relieving ingredients in it together. Indeed that ended up being the case and we included it in our pain relief rub. You can learn more about the role DMSO plays in our topical rub on our store blog here.

5 Daily Rituals to Have More Energy, Promote Lean Muscle Mass & Muscle Recovery

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I will cover in this article 5 basic daily ‘rituals’ if you will, that will help you have more energy through out your day, help you get leaner & more muscular & promote recovery from your workouts. These may seem simple, which they are yet are powerful.

Daily Ritual #1 – Getting Enough ‘Proper’ Sleep

This seems simple and obvious enough, but many people do not get nearly enough sleep or in some cases too much! How much is enough? I am sure you’ve heard the old 8 hours of sleep a night is what’s needed and this is fairly accurate. We are all wired differently and studies have shown that 7 hours is usually enough.

Even if you are getting your 7-8 hours a night, a nice 20-30 minute nap during the day will do wonders for you and have your refreshed & re-energized if you get tired mid-day like I do sometimes.

Also, the quality of sleep is important. What this means is, getting enough REM sleep & the more, deeper restorative stages of sleep is key. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol & other drugs such as diet pills & decongestants stimulate parts of the brain and can prevent you from hitting the deeper sleep stages or even cause insomnia. Be sure to keep this in mind and limit, if not eliminate these substances if possible, especially in the latter parts of the day.

Also it is helpful if your room or ‘sleep zone’ is as quiet and dark as can be. Wearing a sleep mask, ear plugs & heavy blinds can really help to achieve this. Disengaging from your work & everyday tasks 30 minutes to an hour before bed is great to promote a healthy sleep cycle. Taking a short walk, meditating or doing some light reading (non-work related) before going to sleep help calm the mind & prepare you for a good nights sleep.

Daily Ritual #2 –Drink Enough Water

Our second daily ritual seems almost as obvious as the first one. But again like sleep, most people do not get enough water either. Hydrating our bodies properly is so important for many reasons. Our bodies are made up of about 70% water which says a lot in itself. So why is water so important?… here are some main reasons:

  • Removes waste/toxins from the body
  • Helps you to lose weight & decrease your appetite
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Digest food more efficiently
  • Increased organ function
  • Lubricates the joints & decreases muscle soreness
  • Decreases water retention (believe it!)
  • Overall improved health

Also, the best way to start your day after you wake up is to drink a tall glass of water in the morning, (Tip: drink preferably warm water with some lemon juice for added detox benefits). This helps get your organs/internal system moving and ready for the day ahead of you. How much water should you drink? Depending on your weight of course this will vary a bit, but if you are active (which if you are reading this you probably are) a gallon of water a day should be your daily target.

Daily Ritual #3 – Have a ‘Real Energy’ Drink Each Morning

So after you drink your glass of water in the morning, a nutrient packed health shake/smoothie should be an addition. A drink like this will give you steady, sustained natural energy, unlike most so called ‘energy drinks’ or highly caffeinated drinks which you usually feel a crash from or the need to keep up the intake of.

Nothing fancy is needed, most blenders do just fine in addition to the vegetable greens & fruits you blend up. Feel free to experiment on your own different combinations. I have found that mixing fruits with vegetables is the best way to go. Water or organic almond, rice or help milk can be used as a base. Also if you can, buy organic.

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Banana
  • Strawberry

A favorite combo of mine is vanilla almond milk, blueberries, a banana & a tablespoon of peanut butter… so good!

Tip:  adding some wheat grass powder or barley grass powder to ‘boost’ up your energy drink is a great idea.

Daily Ritual #4 – Deep Breathing / Internal Exercise

It almost goes without saying that you should be doing some type of daily exercise regimen. I will touch upon here in this article though, an exercise that is different from the type of aerobic (cardio) exercise(s) that you are most likely used to and engage in. This ritual is truly amazing because it can cause dramatic improvement in your energy level and overall health in general. Deep, controlled, concentrated breathing is also widely known as chi gung, chi kung, qi gong, etc. in the east which originally hails from China.

Many cultures though, have their own forms. As a martial artist I have practiced several forms and there are literally hundreds of methods or styles, from the simple to the complicated. I would suggest of course starting simple and to add it into your morning ritual.

I will offer a basic deep breathing exercise anyone can do that is easy and pleasant. The key when breathing in is deep belly breathing, inhaling and filling up both entire lungs, including the lower lobes which most people, unfortunately neglect to do, especially as they get older, thus being the root cause of many health problems.

  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips & tail bone tucked under to flatten out the lower lumbar region of your spine (as if you are almost sitting on the edge of an imaginary chair). This elongates and straightens the spine, which promotes energy flow.
  • The arms are held out as if holding a ball with a small space between the hands, finger tips facing each other. The chin is slightly tucked in, head is held up as if hanging from an imaginary thread so as to pull up the spine. The tongue is to the roof of the mouth behind the teeth & eyes preferably closed.
  • Breathe in through the nose deeply (as described above), hold for 2-3 seconds when full and exhale out through the mouth slowly. Now on the exhale engage your stomach muscles to sink the breath and help push out all the air until the lungs are completely empty. When the lungs are almost empty, you can also pull up on your perineum as you flex your stomach muscles to really engage your entire core, almost as if you are squeezing all of the air out.

When complete, relax again as you inhale to start your next cycle and repeat. Start with 9 breath cycles to start. I highly recommend doing more research into this area as it can do wonders for your health & fitness.

Daily Ritual #5 – Supplement with Vitamins & Supplements

This is by far the easiest of the 5 daily rituals to do, since it really takes almost no effort. Most vitamins are taken orally by pill form which works fine. Liquid forms are preferable though as they are absorbed by the body more readily. Taking vitamins, minerals & supplements is important as we just don’t get all the nutrients we need from diet alone.

Also, we may want to take supplements to increase performance in a variety of areas we may be lacking, or to help get that edge as athletes.  Being an athlete and a martial artist, I am always looking for that edge that will help boost my performance, energy level & recovery time and yet do it naturally… especially as I get older. There is a variety of supplements out there that can help you do this but I am going to just mention one I have been taking the last few months that has given me great results – Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet Extract .

I’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet, especially that allegedly Ray Lewis was taking it his last year playing football to help him recover from a triceps injury. Whether he took it or not (he said he didn’t), I looked into it since I hurt my shoulder in a soccer related injury.

I have been taking Warrior Rx Deer Antler Velvet daily since & have seen great results in other areas of my performance and training as well. In addition to my sped up healing, I look leaner and more defined than ever & my overall strength has definitely gone to a new level.

I simply take it with my other supplements and vitamins as part of my daily regimen and it’s a liquid/spray which is a bonus over pills or powders. I hope you can apply these tips or rituals as I like to call them in to your daily life and get some killer results like I have.



Warrior Rx Helps Me Recover (Again)

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Thought I would write a quick post about a recent injury I sustained playing soccer. Now because I am very active in a variety of sports and especially because of my martial arts training, getting hurt is common and part of the game so to speak. Two weeks ago I pulled a thigh muscle (which I never did before) & I was back 100% in just a few days.

I attributed this to not drinking enough water due to a recent job change. That was no big deal, I adapted in no time (I used some Warrior Rx pain rub as well) and am up to drinking about a gallon a day again which is a good amount to drink on a daily basis, especially if you are very active as it helps to hydrate the muscles. I stretch all the time so I know that not stretching was not the cause.

Unfortunately Accidents Happen 

So then last week, during yet another soccer game I hurt myself much worse, making my previous thigh muscle pull seem like a walk in the park. Basically what happened was I lost my balance (a slight push from behind didn’t help) and landed on the left side of my chest with my left arm outstretched, thus hyper-extending my left shoulder.

Once I hit the ground I knew it was bad. What kills me is after all these years of martial arts training, especially in the arts of Judo & Shuai Jiao (Chinese fast wrestling) where throwing and falling are the foundational aspects I couldn’t believe I fell this awkward & ungracefully.

But it happened, so I knew I was hurt pretty bad, I  just wasn’t sure of the extent of my injury. I massaged my shoulder using Warrior Rx when I got home to help lessen the pain. That night I felt okay, hoping it wasn’t too bad. The pain was so bad when I woke up the next day that I took myself to the emergency room and got checked out, including having x-rays done.

I knew I didn’t break anything, but this is standard procedure and it’s never a bad thing to be 100% sure no bones are broken. Really, I was just hoping I did not tear any ligaments.

The toughest part for me through all of this, is the inactivity and no exercise for days!  I was told it’s most likely just a bad sprain and would be back to normal in a week or two. I was in a sling for about 4 days, applied ice at the proper intervals and was given pain killers and anti-inflammatory pills which I took in the beginning but stopped shortly as I am not a big fan of pain pills (they didn’t seem to really help much anyway).

I did apply Warrior Rx pain rub daily with vigorous massage which did help a lot & I felt much better every time after I was done doing so. Now as a topical muscle & joint pain relief rub, it’s not going to completely knock out the pain of an injury of this extent, but it will help expedite the healing process, cut down on recovery time and lessen pain significantly.

Use Warrior Rx Instead of Dangerous Pain Pills

Like I said I avoid pain pills as much as possible because of the negative side effects and the tolerance one builds very quickly to drugs in general, so Warrior Rx is a great alternative. You get immediate relief to the area and there are no dangerous side effects… only natural ingredients (there are twelve) that actually help expedite the healing process which other topical rubs really don’t do.

I use it for injuries both large and small and will continue to do so. When I say Warrior Rx helped me recover again, I mean it because when I broke my ankle a few years back from a bad fall, I was using my fair share of this awesome topical muscle rub daily and that was the worst injury I ever sustained in my life. It really helped me through it all.

I am still not back to 100% yet with my shoulder injury, as it hasn’t even been a week yet, but I am recovering steadily with noticeable improvement. I will get an MRI done soon to make sure there are no tears so I am not out of the woods yet.  I am rehabbing it now with some Tai Chi and Chi Kung so I know I’ll be back better than ever in no time.



The Mind – Body Connection

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So what exactly is the mind – body connection? The mind and body are really inseparable but most people I find are not as in tune with their bodies when they train or work out as they should or could be. This is a topic that I feel is very important when it comes to working out and getting optimal results from your fitness program.

Use Your Art or Hobby to Connect the Two 

As a martial artist, the mind – body connection becomes very evident during training and especially during sparring. If you are not in the moment so to speak and are not aware of your body position, your breathing, your environment, your opponent’s position and movement and are caught up in some random thought process, it’s going to cost you… in many cases with a kick or punch (or several) to your body & that is going to hurt.

That’s what I always loved about martial arts, because they almost force you to link your body and mind into one harmonious unit or otherwise your martial art will never evolve to higher levels. The human mind is super powerful, in my opinion quite frankly probably one of the most powerful forces we have at our disposal as human beings.

It has allowed us as a species to attain magnificent achievements in technology, architecture, medicine etc. It also allows us to do incredible things with our bodies. If you ever heard the term mind over matter, this is only possible if you have a strong awareness of your own mind – body connection…. the body follows the mind.

But going back to the basics of how the everyday person can use their mind to not only enhance their workouts but achieve levels of fitness and attain their personal goals much quicker than most think possible. I’ll give a quick example of how one can do this right away.

Be ‘in’ Your Body

When I go to the gym, I see many people on treadmills watching TV as they run. This is not very productive because what you are essentially doing is putting your mental focus on external stimuli and your results will suffer for it. You should be focused on your body and your breathing and the signals/feeling your brain is sending to your body. Also what you can be doing is visualizing how you are improving your body’s shape and tone as opposed to being caught up in some pointless television show. Of course if you are watching an exercise video or training course that is a different story.

I’ll get into visualization more in another post, but suffice to say you should be ‘in’ your body when working out, whether it’s running, lifting, doing squats etc. Your internal focus on the type of results you are achieving while doing the actual exercise itself can speed up the actual time frame you get those results dramatically.

Be aware of your thoughts; are you thinking to yourself how difficult the exercise is or when it’s going to be finally over? Or are you thinking how much stronger or leaner your are getting, or visualizing your ideal body shape you desire?  Also if you are really pushing yourself and are in pain, focusing on your breathing is so important to not only pushing through but also calming your mind and oxygenating your muscles properly.

Staying Aware Keeps You Safer

Also if you are running outdoors in public, I always tell people to not wear headphones as this decreases your awareness of what’s around you which you really should be aware of. I am a big advocate of music and how it can enhance your workouts and practically give you energy but it should be done in the right place like the safety of your home or studio.

I will get into the mind – body connection in deeper levels in the future, for example moving energy internally and chi kung. This requires that you are intimately aware of your thoughts and breathing while training.




One of the Best Workouts Ever… Mud Runs!

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Just thought I’d make a post about something I just started getting into and now love… Mud Runs! Mud Runs are becoming more and more popular these days as there are many more being created and available every year.

The Tough Mudder was one of the first original mud runs I heard of but there are many more like the Spartan Race, Warrior Dash and the mud run I just did last weekend, the Rock Solid Mud Run (

A lot of people do mud runs now in teams so they can help push each other and help each other to get through and finish which is a good idea because some of these races/runs are grueling, long and very challenging. My friend has done the Tough Mudder for a few years now and originally it was 7 miles I believe and then they extended it to 12 miles which is almost half a marathon!

Use the Preparation to Enhance Your Workouts

Yes mud runs aren’t quite work outs per se as you can’t always just do a mud run when you feel like it… but one of the great things about them is they almost force people to train harder and push their fitness levels up to new heights to prepare for them, just like one would train for an iron man, triathlon or marathon.

Most people that engage in mud runs are usually in pretty good shape already, they are challenging so if you have a hard time running and pulling your own weight so to speak through obstacles you are going to have a hard time.

The nice thing about having more variety in terms of different kinds of mud runs being available now is you can find one that may suit you more than another. Some are more individually orientated like races than others which stress teamwork and camaraderie. Either way, they are challenging and fun at the same time and can really push you to your physical limits.

Be a Kid Again

I think that one of the main reasons that mud runs are catching on so much now and growing in popularity is two-fold: one it gives people that participate a sense of accomplishment when they finish such a challenging course and two, it brings grown men and women back a sense of child like wonder and freedom…. I mean it’s basically an obstacle course for grown ups.

It’s okay to get all dirty and muddy (it’s encouraged practically) just like when you were a kid. And just like the jungle gyms you climbed to see if you could do it and for the fun of it when you were 8 years old, the same holds true at age 25 or 55.

Run With a Goal in Mind

One last thing for me personally is that I am not a big fan of running just to run per se. I honestly find it quite boring… but I love running with a goal in mind, like playing soccer & edging someone else off the ball to move my team closer to scoring the next goal to running after a tennis ball with my racket to get it over the net.

In the case of a mud run, seeing how fast I can get through a challenging obstacle course full of mud before the guy next to me does. They are fun, challenging and will push you to your limits to see what you are made of.

I felt my cardiovascular endurance go up a notch from doing the Rock Solid Mud Run last weekend. When I played a soccer game a few days later, I felt faster and had more endurance than I did before the mud run.

I highly recommend mud runs, you will be a bit sore and banged up afterwards but it’s worth it. We were one of the sponsors at the Rock Solid Mud Run at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ and I also ran in it. We had a great time, met some cool people and I pushed myself and got myself in better shape at the same time.

Lastly, I also recommend you get yourself some Warrior Rx to massage on your sore muscles after the race! We gave out samples at our booth got some great feedback from a lot of fellow participants.


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