19 September 2016

Planning your schedule to train more

We all would love to have more time to do the activities we love. Some are blessed with getting paid for what they love but the majority of us are not. There are only so many hours in the week and we can't fill it with everything we love.

The biggest mistake people make is trying to fit in everything and either running out of time, getting stressed or sitting frustrated with the massive pile of tasks and activities to attend. There is no focus and if you are training in spurts you won't get much better if at all.

16 August 2016

Choosing the right competition

Just because someone runs a competition in your sport it doesn't mean you should attend. There are several factors you should investigate prior to signing up. Things like competitor health and safety are generally regulated but it doesn't hurt to confirm first aid is available from a competent practitioner.

For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu comps there are a number of factors to confirm before handing over any registration fees.

1 July 2016

First 48 hours after an injury

I am often asked how I handle injuries immediately after they occur. What I mean by injury here is any abnormal motion that results in lasting pain, bruising, muscle spasms and the like. If you are injured enough to warrant visiting the emergency room then follow your doctor's advice. First-aid people at your gym will be able to assist you while waiting for the ambulance in these cases.

The following is for the other times, whether you can continue the session after a 10 minute rest, or you are forced to the sidelines for a week or so.

29 June 2016

Injury Prevention Overview

As we get older our bodies tend to degrade quicker and take longer to heal. We can strain muscles by simply getting out of bed, or pinch a nerve doing movements we've done for years without issue.

The best strategy for preventing these kinds of injuries and strains is to improve our flexibility and strength. However, I'm not suggesting that we need to put our ankles behind our heads and bench press twice our body weight. We need to ensure our range of motion is adequate for the movements we expect to perform, and get our muscles stable enough to keep our bodies in the correct position when under strain.

25 June 2016

Cutting Weight for comp - My Journey

I have never had to cut weight for competition before. This is in large part due to the fact I was so overweight, that even getting rid of 70kg I was still in the super heavyweight bracket (over 97kg).

This year, I decided I wasn't going to compete until I was under 97kg and thus in a new category. One main reason for this, apart from getting rid of the last few kilos of unnecessary fat, is the fact I was constantly facing opponents with at least 20kg of weight advantage. With my age (almost 40) and chronic back issues, that weight advantage is getting too much. I also wanted a challenge and to prove I can reach a specified weight in a set time limit.

Enhancing no-gi training by donning the gi

The title may seem counter intuitive but stay with me. No-gi jiu jitsu is my preferred method of grappling. The controls in no-gi cross over into gi, into MMA and for self defence.

A lot of gi specific attacks cannot be performed in a real life defensive situation, which is what a lot of people start a martial art for. No-gi has techniques that would be outright dangerous for yourself if done on a concrete walkway, so it has its flaws in pure street defence.

However, the gi can enhance your no-gi and street defence skills because of one simple component: friction.

22 June 2016

Product Review- Knee-pads and braces

Knees are horrid for injuries and if you spend a good amount of time training you will eventually have need for a good knee brace. There are hundreds of different designs but if its a basic sleeve it will only keep your knee warm. There is no need to have them so remove them from your shopping list. The main two items to assist are pads and braces.

19 May 2016

Changing the Failure Mindset

Far too many people allow failure to rule and define them. Society is generally geared towards the idea that if you fail that is the end of it. You move onto something else and likely fail at that too. Perseverance is the key to success. As long as you don't quit you are still in the game and thus have more opportunities to finally succeed.

The amount of skill you have at a given topic takes you about 20% of the way to success. The rest consists of your mental capacity, your drive to succeed.

12 April 2016

Kill the BMI fairy

For as long as I can remember, I've heard countless people claim they want to shed the kilos so they can reach their ideal weight as prescribed by the body mass index. This calculation is garbage, offers zero benefit and in certain situations can be dangerous to your health.

Before I get into the specifics I want to highlight some examples. Most of you know Connor McGregor and would agree he is quite shredded with minimal fat. At 1.75m, 77kg and 27 years old his BMI is 25 which according to this scale is overweight.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has maintained a fairly constant weight throughout most of his career, somewhere between 107kg and 120kg. At 1.88m he has a BMI of 32, making him obese under this

Chris Pratt AKA StarLord (1.88m, 101kg, 36 years) has a BMI of 28 which is considered overweight and quite close to obese. The list can go on all day but just from the above you can see how BMI is pointless for figuring out your "ideal weight".

5 April 2016

Identify and utilise your weaknesses

Everyone has the desire to become more. Some people dream of fortune or fame, others want a sporting career, a healthy body, love, happiness and every other ideal state in existence. Where they usually fail is in the mental conditioning required to achieve their dreams.

The majority of people are lazy, myself included. If I can find an easier way to do something I will. I have procrastinated with the best and talked my way out of doing something I didn't want to. I'm sure you have done similar in your life. That doesn't mean you won't achieve anything.

What will prevent you from your goals, desires and dreams is failing to train your mental capabilities. One of the first and arguably most important skills to tackle this is the ability to discern your weakness and turn it into something positive.

Many of you would have heard something like this before. I've heard it many times and it always annoyed me for the simple fact that those spouting it couldn't explain how, or used it as a line to sell you something. I refuse to be clumped into either set, and thus will share my weaknesses and how I use them for my goals or as motivation.

1 April 2016

Improving your Sleep - Part Three - Evaluation

We are at the end of the sleep information but the beginning of your journey to improve it. Go back over part one and part two of this topic regularly to remind you of the process.

This article will cover what to record in your tracking journal so you can evaluate where you are and how you're improving. I'll break this into sections to make it easier to understand. Remember your goal in all of this is to improve your sleep quality and sleep less. The first part to tackle is getting quality sleep. If we simply reduce our time sleeping without improving the quality, we will be drowsy and may cause car accidents, increase the likelihood of getting sick and have no energy for our favourite activities such as BJJ.

Improving your Sleep - Part Two - Optimisation

Welcome back. In part one, I went over the biological mechanics of sleep and the systems that we need to optimise. For part two I'll explore how we can achieve that and fight the pressures of modern life that strain to destroy a deep and recuperating sleep.

We are missing something here however. Starting this process without a clear goal will make things much harder. Taking advice from my goal setting article, I'll specify my Big Picture Goal now and work in the short term and action goals later in this article.

In this case I have three parts to my big picture goal:
  1. Increase my daily energy levels
  2. Ensure the amount of time I sleep is optimal
  3. Improve my sleep quality

Improving your Sleep - Part One - Understanding the mechanics

Like most people in this age I have struggled with getting a good night sleep. As a kid I always wanted to stay up later, thinking I was missing out on something cool by going to bed early. I would lay awake in bed for hours trying to sleep.

As a teenager I'd sleep in until 1pm on the weekends, usually with a headache, backache and with a bad case of the grumps. Half my weekend was lost to poor slumber and I was never rested.

As an adult I continued with poor sleep, still took hours to fall asleep due in part to my racing mind thinking about everything, and the habit formed over decades.

That was until I decided I'd had enough and began researching the science of sleep and how to improve its quality. This is what I discovered from experts in the field and my own trial and error.

21 March 2016

What about the winners?

Over the last few months we have seen a few upset victories in the MMA field. Two immediately spring to mind: Ronda Rousey v Holly Holm; and Connor McGreggor v Nate Diaz.

Regardless of how each bout went, the news coverage and comment fields across the Internet focussed on one thing: the person that lost. For Holly Holm's victory all I saw for the next two weeks was coverage of Ronda. She was the one making appearances on TV and giving interviews. Yes she is a media darling and has done a lot to promote women's fights in the UFC. But where is the love for Holly?

18 March 2016

Preparing for a competition - Comp Day and After

Comp day has finally arrived and you are at the venue. Your last few month's preparation has all been for today. You can click here for part 1 and part 2 if you want to review the knowledge.
You have your fight schedule and should have at least an hour to prepare. This time, and the time you spend between matches, is critical to success. You have to ready your mind and body for the task at hand.

You can't treat competition with the same regard as rolling at the gym. When you roll with team mates you know how they respond to your techniques, you have had plenty of exposure to their A-game and know which techniques you can utilise for advantage. This is missing from competition, thus removing a safety net.

11 March 2016

Preparing for a competition - The Lead Up Week

Here we are two weeks from your competition. Things are slowing down after the last few month's efforts. For a refresher of the lead up period click here.

During this time it's too late to learn a new technique you can rely on at the competition. All your training should focus on solidifying your existing skills. You may need a refresher on some escapes or takedowns but these should already be in your repertoire. The last two weeks are for refinement, healing any injuries and mentally preparing for combat.

Preparing for a competition - The Build Up

I have had a lot of success in BJJ competition. I generally come away with a medal in any comp I enter which is in large part due to my coach John Campbell, and how I prepare myself.

I have known a lot of people that don't do any preparation for a comp. They train as they always have at classes and don't speak to their coaches about filling the holes in their game. They don't orient their diet to cater to the high demands of competition. They don't improve strength, cardio or flexibility and they rock up to the competition with no game plan. These people don't have much success and they usually don't review the fight to determine why they performed the way they did ie lost.

8 March 2016

Living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion

This condition is something I don't advertise that much because it takes a while to explain. Other than a slightly bloodshot eye there are no external indicators of when it occurs. The effects however are quite potent and it can prevent me from training effectively.

Recurrent Corneal Erosion (RCE) in its simplest explanation is the result of dry eyes. Basically, while sleeping part of the eye sticks to the eyelid because the lubrication is ineffective or absent. So when the eyes move, such as opening in the morning or when dreaming ie REM sleep, a small part of the protective surface wrenches away. The result is instant sharp pain, the sensation of having a sharp object stuck in the eye and copious amounts of tears as the body tries to flush the problem away. Not everyone with dry eyes will experience this, there are a few indicators that factor into it, the majority is that your eye is lacking something. My cornea are oval instead of round (astigmatism) which may contribute. Its the reason I need glasses. So let's discuss a typical day when this occurs.

5 March 2016

Product Review - Ankle Support

Ankle sleeve
This is not the brace you are looking for 
I've been having some ankle issues for a while and I've started trying a few different supports to help out. The common ones which are glorified socks with the toes and heel cut out are slightly more useful than simply ignoring the pain. While these supports, a term I use loosely, are good for maintaining hooks and grip during hard training sessions full of sweat, they simply don't offer enough protection.

To begin it isn't recommended to wear a brace at all times for injury prevention. There isn't a brace made that can prevent ankle injuries especially if you roll your ankle. The brace is ideal for a few weeks when you return to training after an injury. Proper rehab will get you your best results, and the brace supports your injury so you can build up your training without hurting yourself further.

3 March 2016

Dealing with Illness

Injury is one thing that keeps you on the sidelines, but you are still able to attend classes and maintain training focus. Check out here for advice on what to do during injured periods.

Illness however is another beast entirely. It doesn't matter what you are ill with for my purposes here. You may have a cold or flu, have stomach cramps or one of the multitude of conditions that are either contagious or keep you laid up in bed. Either way you can't attend the gym and that is where some issues can arise.

Clearly you should be taking care of yourself and doing as the doctor orders as the first priority, but once you are well enough to focus but not well enough to train you have a few options to keep your mind in the game.

2 March 2016

Diving Deeper into Motivation

So in my previous post (click here for a refresher) I covered an overview of motivation and a few general things to remember. This post will guide you through some strategies to identify dips in motivation and how to restore it.

This information has been obtained via my own trial and error over my life's successes and failures, as well as from motivation courses I've attended. This isn't just motivational platitudes but things that have worked for me. It may not work for you in the same way but should at least guide you in the right direction.

1 March 2016

Subtract from Diet Month - March

Last month's success with removing caffeine and soft drinks from my diet work out so well that I figured I'd continue the process. To read all about that journey click here.

This month I figure I'd tackle the issue of snacks. Generally my main meals are well established and have the right balance of good food and some guilty pleasures. But snacks are a problem. I usually have a couple of yoghurt tubs as a morning snack but at night I grab whatever is in the pantry. This often includes all manner of snacks from the confectionery isle or packets of chips.

29 February 2016

Stretching and Warm Up Overview

There are already countless websites with thousands of tutorials on stretching techniques and what is considered best by the author. It is difficult to determine if these are general and possibly wrong concepts that are passed down from instructors over decades, or are from people that study human movement scientifically and give the best medical advice.

12 February 2016

My weight loss journey - The Home Stretch

So here we are with the end zone in view. If you have just come to this or need a refresher, please click here for the start and here for the middle.

Last time I mentioned I dropped to under 100kg but it was short lived. Within two weeks of achieving my then ultimate goal I injured myself. It wasn't a bad injury but had me out for about 10 days. I had developed a pattern of eating that helped fuel my six days of training as well as lose weight. When the training stopped I didn't alter how much I ate.

10 February 2016

Tackling Motivation

Staying motivated in any extended activity can be a challenge. It is critical to have coaches and guides with great technical knowledge, as well as the ability to inspire and push you towards your full potential.

This doesn't only refer to sport, but to life. How many times have you tried something but failed to remain motivated? Maybe you quit because it was too hard, frustrating or you had too much pressure to succeed? Keeping motivation is difficult when we can no longer see a reason to enjoy an activity. Perhaps your success has pushed you into a higher level of competition and the intensity is no longer fun.

9 February 2016

My weight loss journey - The Middle

When I last left off, I had managed to lose enough weight to utilise the Wii Fit and was looking at getting back into Martial Arts. If you require a refresher please click here.

From past experience in Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Shorin Ryu Karate and medieval weapons fighting I knew what I was looking for in a new gym. I didn't want high impact as I had several back and knee issues. Thankfully I had a best friend that trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and we spent time on the carpeted floor or back yard having a wrestle and going through techniques. Side note, don't do BJJ on carpet, learn from my stupidity.

5 February 2016

Training After Surgery or Injury

While I am generally fit and healthy now (for my age at least) I spent a long time without exercise or diet of any kind other than soft drink and fast food. I spent decades with poor diet and it remains a struggle to eat right. (Click the Weight Loss Label for some strategies).

Through all this I created several issues for myself, two of which required surgery. The one that took me out of training the longest was when my stomach wall was rebuilt. Many of my muscular issues were the result of being extremely overweight. The fat got behind my muscles and pushed them out of the correct alignment. This caused them to not work correctly if at all. I had small stabilising muscles doing the work of large power muscles and vice versa. This caused countless injuries and trips to the physio even though the weight was dropped. Having the surgery saved a lot of trouble, but there were some issues I wish I could have planned for better and asked more questions about at the start.

How to set goals

Settings realistic and attainable goals is crucial in sports, weight loss and for most major projects in your life. But just having the goal is not enough. I can say I have a goal of having a best selling novel by the time I'm 40, but without a planned approach with measurable steps along the way it will just remain a dream.

Setting a goal is more of a process cycle. The steps flow into each other but never stop. The process restarts with your new status as the starting point for further improvement. The basic steps are:
  1. Decide what you want to achieve
  2. Plan how you will get to that point
  3. Work towards the goal
  4. Monitor and evaluate

4 February 2016

My weight loss journey - The Beginning

Since birth I have always been a large person. I am tall and broad shouldered, a combination that hides my weight well. As a kid I was a little overweight, but you couldn't tell by looking at me.
I was also inherently lazy and always looked for the simplest and easiest way to do something with the least amount of effort. That worked well for video games but not for being fit.

3 February 2016

Subtract from Diet Month - Feb

I figured February was a nice short month to test my resolve in subtracting things from my diet. This month I have decided to remove Coke related products.

I enjoy drinking Coke. Before my weight loss journey I could easily have consumed a 2 litre bottle a day. I still enjoy it, but understand it isn't exactly the best option for my health. So I came up with a few rules to stick to for all of February.

Advice for chronic lower back pain

Chronic back pain (SIJ) was my biggest, most painful and longest lasting issue. It is still a problem but a manageable one. From being so overweight (190cm with an almost matching weight of 175kg), I damaged myself with the abuse of food and no exercise for over a decade. While the weight is mostly gone now, the damage is done. I had constant pain in my back of about 5 out of 10, with 10 being the most pain I had ever experienced. (Until that point, the greatest pain was getting my testicle squashed between my thigh and a speeding cricket ball. Said cricket ball was struck for what would have been a boundary had I not intercepted it at full sprint without groin protection. There is a lesson here somewhere I think.)

AJ Watson Introduction

Eight years ago I was 175kg (385lbs) and ran out of breath tying my shoes. Today I am a three time Australian Jiu Jitsu champion, two time Pan Pacific Jiu Jitsu champion and hold an assortment of other titles and achievements in my chosen sport.

I am nearly 40 and have endured two major surgeries and countless injuries due in large part to the poor way I treated my body for the first 30 years of life. I work a standard 38 hour week and fit in time for training, family and entertainment.