28 Mar 2007

Image courtesy:Karolinska Institutet


A new scientific study has shown that kickboxing damages the brain. The researchers have found that repeated head trauma by competitive amateur kickboxers affects a specific part of the brain known as the pituitary. This part of the brain is tiny and sits at the base of the brain. But it has a range of very important functions, mostly to do with hormone control. The scientists found that a lot of kickboxers suffered from hypopituitarism – meaning they were deficient in one or more bodily hormones. A BBC report includes a statement from the WKA (World Kickboxing Association): I have never heard of any such damage.

The Meerkat view: Getting hit in the head or face lots, week in week out, hurts (and I definitely know from painful memories of my kickboxing days) and I’m not surprised that it causes brain damage (although the paper did not look into permanency of the damage). Medical and scientific study of getting hit in the head obviously increases the public knowledge about such activities, but I have a slightly sneaking suspicion that the scientists chose a particularly easy target guaranteed to make headlines and coincidentally boost their careers and peer esteem. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-science and public understanding. But it’s kind of like studying the effects of cars on roads and saying: yep, cars kill in very messy ways, just thought you should know, I’ll go and collect my Nobel now.

Kickboxing Damages the Brain

Image courtesy:Karolinska Institutet A new scientific study has shown that kickboxing damages the brain . The researchers have found that...

24 Mar 2007



Just got back from the MMA event at the Porchester Center in Bayswater. This is the first event hosted by the Fight First Team and it was not without its hitches. The omens were not good when, two days before, I heard that all the RGDA-UK fighters, including Sami 'The Hun' Berik had pulled out due to injury and an objection from the organisers of Cage Rage Contenders. The argument being that the Fight First Promotion was 'No rules' and Cage Rage do not want their fighters being associated with events that could lead to adverse publicity.


On the actual night, half the remaining fighters either did not show up or pulled out at the last minute, leaving a frantic search for replacement fighters. One poor chap had about five minutes notice before he volunteered to take someone's place. Unfortunately for him, it was against a much bigger guy.
The whole event was therefore a bit of a downer. The interminable wait between each fight was only marginally made more bearable by the capoiera and samba dancing entertainment. But the final showpiece fight of the night ended up being a lightweight boxing match which was more of a scrap than anything you see on TV.
To cap off my night, my photos of the event turned out really crap. My lens was simply not fast enough and I couldn't get a set-up to work well in the poor light and fast action. If you really want to see my crap efforts, click here.
Let's hope the next Fight First promotion is more successful.

Fight First - Porchester Centre, 23rd March 2007

Just got back from the MMA event at the Porchester Center in Bayswater. This is the first event hosted by the Fight First Team and it was ...

19 Mar 2007

The Meerkat finally got away from the house on Friday to attend BJJ at the new location of the Clapton KO Muay Thai gym. This place is great. Huge floorspace. Wall to wall (soft!) matting, proper changing rooms and showers that don’t block up and decent lighting. It reminds me of Paragon kickboxing gym, but probably better cos Paragon have those annoying pillars in the middle of the room. And with it being only a few minutes drive away from the Meerkat den, I’ll be sure to enjoy training – at least until new baby Meerkat is born.

Sunday’s JJ kyu grading were the busiest I have ever seen. 105 students were present, including a massive 40 going for orange belt. Clearly these were the product of a drive to up the membership and some New Year resolutions taking effect.

Been reading snatches of the book ‘Waking Dragons’
By Goran Powell. It’s a sort of autobiography of this chap who follows different karate styles, leading up to his peak achievement – the 30 man kumite. I haven’t read the final bit yet but his stories about his time with the kyokushinkai mob brought back some harrowing memories of my own time training under this style. The endless knuckle pushups, the squats (oh God the squats), the situps – all done with metronome counting in bad Japanese. The repetition of drills. The unapproachable senseis. I had cold sweats reading about it again.
One thing the author describes that hit home, was his meeting with a Gojo Ryu intructor who would always explain the applications to techniques hidden in the kata – in all the many years of karate training – nothing before had ever been explained in depth. It was a revelation. The same thing happened to me. Four years of hard karate training and all those endless kata. Not one single damned movement was ever explained to me. Once I took up JJ (and I include BJJ too), where the culture is to explain everything in detail (sometimes too much for the brain to handle in one go!), it all made sense. The myth was shattered. As far as I was concerned, if an instructor could not or would not explain why something was being done, either he did not know, or he did not want you to know. In either case, my time should not be wasted on said person/style. I mean you wouldn’t learn to drive a car or fly a plane with the complete lack of explanation that some instructors offer.
I also experienced this with equally non-communicative instructors when I tried tai chi and aikido, but since my time there was short, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

reawakening Dragons

The Meerkat finally got away from the house on Friday to attend BJJ at the new location of the Clapton KO Muay Thai gym. This place is great...

12 Mar 2007

A very contrasting martial arts weekend for Meerkat as I attended a Pressure and Nerve points seminar on the Sunday afternoon, then whizzed over to the Hackney Empire afterwards to watch the 10K submission grappling tournament.

The P&N points seminar was ok. I am not a 100percent believer of this kind of stuff. If you hit a bony part of your body real hard, of course it hurts. Plus all the talk of meridian lines and energy flow is against my scientific education. I think the sensei in charge was also aware of not going too OTT with the talk of energy flows and was keen to emphasise more on the applications and context. For example, a strike to a nerve point on the top of the forearm elicits a buckling of the knees. If you try this in isolation, it may work, it more than probably doesn’t. But add it to a syllabus technique such as defence to a strangle, and suddenly, it makes better sense. There were more syllabus examples with added emphasis on N&P points, which I quite liked. Rapping the top of your uke’s hands with your knuckles, a wince-inducing favourite. Overall, an interesting diversion from syllabus ju-jitsu and worth knowing about, but it didn’t convert me into a full believer of energy flows and meridian lines.



On the other side of the MA planet, the Hackney Empire was an inspired choice of venue for the big 10K Grappling Challenge. 32 elite fighters pitted against each other, only one winner. From where I sat, I had a great view of the event and the big screen showed close-ups and repeats in case you missed something. To my left sat a vocal Mike Bispring (UFC), to my right, sat World BJJ Champion Roger Gracie, yes, the audience was certainly a who’s who of the MMA and BJJ fight world.
The competitors came from all over the world – a sprinkling of UK competitors, the USA had a few, South Africa showed up in good numbers as of course, did the Brazilians. Interestingly, most of the Brazilian v Brazilian contests were kinda chess-like stalemates. They obviously knew all the tricks and were both waiting for mistakes that never happened. But there was quite a few great technical fights, one amazingly flash bout and some, not so good draws. The best two fighters IMHO were 6 times Pan American BJJ legend Braulio Estima and No1 ranked American, Rafael Lovato Jnr. They wowed the audience with their superb display of grappling skills. And then there was Jeff Monson. A leviathon of a man who ploughed his way through each contestant like a bulldozer on high octane fuel. The size of his huge arms are an enduring image that stay burned on my retinas. Of course it was fated that Braulio and Monson should meet in the final. Monson executed a single, superbly timed takedown. Braulio, the magician that he is, could not do anything once the 'Snowman' got his claws in. Time up and Braulio was visibly upset at the defeat. Monson huffed and puffed, arm raised, but was humble in victory.
The first 10K Grappling tournament was a great night and an inspiration to all us students and fans of the fight game.

No Pressure

A very contrasting martial arts weekend for Meerkat as I attended a Pressure and Nerve points seminar on the Sunday afternoon, then whizzed ...

8 Mar 2007

Meerkat World is more like a waiting-world at the moment. I’m waiting for the Cobrama website to be finished. I’m waiting for news of where exactly my BJJ club will be relocated to. I’m waiting for my press pass to arrive for the UK versus France MMA fight. I’m waiting for October, when crossed fingers, our second baby-Meerkat will be born.

At last Monday’s BJJ class, I managed to work my first ever ‘clock choke’ during sparring. My uke, having turtled up, neglected to defend his collars, so in I went for this most awesome of gi submissions. It is basically a classical samurai collar choke. In trad JJ, we learn this by sitting behing uke and reaching over his shoulders to grab the collar wings. One hand pulls across the carotid, the other hand pulls the lapel downwards. Imagine this but on an uke who is curled into a ball on the floor. The submission works properly by keeping the pressure on his shoulder with your hips. The ‘clock’ part of it is the scissor-like movement of tori’s legs in the final part of this move.

A Clockwork Blue Belt

Meerkat World is more like a waiting-world at the moment. I’m waiting for the Cobrama website to be finished. I’m waiting for news of where ...

1 Mar 2007


Guys and girls, hope you’ve had your Hep B jabs cos a recent scientific study reports that it is possible to catch the very nasty Hep B virus from the sweat off your training partners. A Turkish study investigated the viral transmission via sweat in Olympic wrestling practitioners and found that several had high levels of the virus in their sweat. It was possible to catch the disease through this method – although the authors agree that you are more likely to catch it from contaminated blood.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6404329.stm
A single drop of blood can contain millions of Hep B viruses. It causes severe liver problems and even death. A vaccine protects against this. This is not to be confused with the Hep C virus, which made the news recently due to the admission of Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick. Hep C is incurable and there is no vaccine.

Hepatitis B warning for contact sports

Guys and girls, hope you’ve had your Hep B jabs cos a recent scientific study reports that it is possible to catch the very nasty Hep B vir...

 

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