Friday, February 29, 2008

Gray Cook & the Functional Movement Screen technologies

In case, I haven't already given you that impression, Gray Cook is a freakin' genius.

In my medical education, only Pavel Tsatsouline himself has impressed me to the same degree as Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS. I've been fortunate to study with some of the most sizzling brains in my field, but when you talk to Gray Cook, you realize he's on a totally different level.

Here are the circumstances under which I had the chance to meet him. Pavel called me and asked if I'd like to meet with him and Gray to see Gray's Functional Movement Screen. As part of my medical training and clinical practice, I'd seen or done the standard orthopedics & neurological tests that are part & parcel of western medicine. I'd also seen plenty of stuff like Applied Kinesiology's muscle testing. So I thought I wasn't going into this completely blind.

Pavel & I got to the David Beckham Soccer Academy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, where we met up with Gray. He took us through his Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which looked deceptively simple but soon proved itself to be incredibly brilliant. I approached it at first with the same thick "show me something I don't already know" skepticism that I approached Pavel & his Russian kettlebell training methods.

The 7 movement screens are not rocket science when it comes to executing them, but they show where movement dysfunctions and improper patterning and compensation have occurred. A lot of what I was having to do in my clinic instinctively by watching people move and doing different exercises, Gray had reduced to an almost mathematical simplicity. The same conclusions I had come up with through experience and study, he'd come up with, but in a better, far more complete fashion. His FMS made patient diagnosis easier, more efficient, and most importantly... more complete!

And what made it all that & a bag of chips for me was Gray's COMPREHENSIVE knowledge of how to fix the problem once he'd identified it. Pain elicited in any step of the screen requires the screener to refer out for medical intervention (assuming they're not a physician already), and the screens helped me to see where the lynchpins of pain & dysfunction lied in my patients. Instead of chasing one pain after another around the body as the layers of dysfunction are peeled back, the FMS helps orthopedic medical professionals & pain specialists focus in closer to the source of the pain. Combined with the structural manual medicine of Tui-Na and the corrective exercises inherent in Hard Style Russian kettlebell training, the FMS is a crucial gem of knowledge for anyone working in the fields of fitness, athletics, movement sciences, medicine (pain management, orthopedics, physical therapy), or fire/police/military.

His works are at the TOP of my current "to study" list. 'Nuff said! Get some by clicking on the FMS banner above.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When "Later" becomes "Never"

It's amazing how time flies.

Not all that long ago, I can clearly remember my son's birth, him learning to crawl, him learning to walk, him learning his first words... and the first time he showed interest in a kettlebell. :-)

Today is Squealie's 2nd birthday.

And I can't help but reflect on how many times I thought that little milestones passed me by, and that leads me to think back on my dear friend Rannoch Donald RKC's words... "Later has a way of quickly becoming never."

Funny how that works for all aspects of our life, ain't it?

It's all too easy for us to procrastinate and put things off until a more convenient time, a time when we're more rested, a time when we feel more motivated, a time when traffic's not so bad, a time when money's not as tight, a time when it's not so hot or not so chilly, a time when gas prices are a little lower. There's no shortage of excuses that we can use.

The bottom line is that we've got ONE life that's subject to the inexorable march of time. And just like Rannoch said, "later" does have an unsettling way of becoming "never". In other words, "I'll do this later" often becomes "I never did that" regrettably.

The list of things I want/need to do are formidable. Improve my own kettlebell & Naked Warrior (bodyweight training methods) strength, study more of Gray Cook's Functional Movement Screen technologies and travel to his FMS seminars & cert (which I'll write more on in my next post), improve/review/refine my own combative martial arts skills with just the systems I'm already familiar with (nevermind the new stuff out there that I haven't been exposed to yet.... so yeah, I'll blog on this topic of martial arts styles & training in the near future before I roll out to Scotland), and certainly spend more time with my family (as my wife & son spend most of their week an hour away - without traffic - because of my wife's medical residency program).

It's funny that nowhere in that list was "make more money", isn't it?

I've been fortunate enough to love what I'm interested in enough to be able to make a good living through my participation in those fields. I've had the best of the best when it comes to my teachers and mentors. And perhaps most importantly, I got a quote from someone I respect greatly to help distill many of life's decisions down to a crystal clear lens.

One of my big brothers, Chiefmaster Taejoon Lee, the son of Dr. Joo Bang Lee, the founder of Hwa Rang Do, told me that his father once gave him very simple advice when it came to making a living: "Let the money chase the man, not the man chase the money."

When I started to implement that motto in my decision making process, I found out that I had a lot more time to do what I loved and a lot more energy & resources to do those things with. If you live your life in a way such that you are passionate about what you do, you exude the energy to not only do your own work, but also motivate others to do it too. Money follows you. And perhaps most importantly, you find a real balance between having to say "later" and "now"!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Letting go of preconceived notions - Part 2

Through most of my life, I've hated politics with a passion. And nothing reminds me more of why I normally hate discussing this sort of stuff more than what I've been seeing on the news lately. And the issue that caused me to sound off about this is how some people are amazingly good at making a scandal out of nothing but their own prejudice.

Getting straight to the point, I'm very disappointed in the kind of small-mindedness that seems to be popping up on the web when it comes to the picture of Sen. Barack Obama in the traditional African garb of his father's people. I'm amazed at how many idiots are using that as a rallying cry to take offense and call him a Muslim secret agent and things like that. I'm amazed at how many times the picture of him was circulated with his hand by his side when the other candidates were supposedly pledging allegiance to the flag. I'm amazed at the kind of closedminded presumptuousness that a supposedly openminded and free country like the USA is showing in many of its people during times like this.

Let's face facts...

As a US senator, Barack Obama has to pledge allegiance to our flag, and I'm sure there are no shortage of people (including his peers in the Congress) who have seen him put his hand over his heart to say the pledge, as was written in a recent news article. Whether it was an issue of simply the timing, or a photoshopped alteration, let's not twist things out of context just to make a point.

As an African-American whose father was an African-born immigrant, what shame is there in Sen. Obama visiting his father's people and showing respect for them by donning their traditional garb? People accuse him of selling out on America by doing that, so let me turn the issue around and ask them if they've ever donned a karate uniform gi, a chef's hat, dressed up as a pilgrim, or worn a piece of clothing with non-English script on it.

Again, people are being a little too good at letting their prejudices rule their behaviors......

- The last two Popes have prayed in mosques, and plenty of martial arts instructors wear Indonesian pentjak silat uniforms. Does that make them Muslim?
- Plenty of steak-and-potatoes-eating Americans have dressed in kung-fu uniforms while studying Wing Chun gung-fu or wear shorts that have Thai script or blessings embroidered on them while training in Thai boxing. Does that make them Buddhists?
- So many Americans (from the average Joe to the US Secret Service Agents) are using Russian kettlebell training methods. Are they Communists?

See, once that sort of thought process is turned around on you, it's easy to say, "Oh, but that's different!" No, it isn't.

Whether it's directed towards you or towards someone you don't particularly like, it's still stupidity, still smallmindedness, still prejudicial, still a breeding ground for distrust and fear, still potentially grounds for violence.

In my old Yahoo blog, I wrote a post about the responsibility of being Asian American, or in my case, Chinese-American. Regardless of our ethnic origin, as Americans in the modern era, we have a unique responsibility to take whatever has been handed down to us as a cultural heritage and look at it with a discerning eye.

We live in the information age - cable TV, the internet, Youtube, whatever. There's no shortage of knowledge around us. And access to knowledge means that we have a responsibility to research the truth of a matter before spouting off condemnations about people or issues. We also have the unique responsibility as modern Americans to use our discerning eyes and intelligent minds to see where our weaknesses and prejudices hinder our growth, and then shore up those weak and ugly parts of ourselves with the best information that we have available to us.

And for those of you who are reading this blog from overseas, what I've written here can apply to you too. There is no monopoly on either ignorance or common sense.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Letting go of preconceived notions

I recently had the pleasure of finally being on Team Rif as an assitant RKC at the San Jose Russian Kettlebell Challenge. At the very first RKC I went to, Mark Reifkind was serving as a Team Leader. Now a Senior RKC, Rif also presents a very valuable section at the Level 2 RKC on "Restoring Lost Physical Function".

I can remember when I walked into the Level 2 RKC, saw the foam rollers, and promptly rolled my eyes. I'd tried them a little before and didn't think they were anything special. The experiences I'd had with them before felt like "a lot of nothing". Then again, I wasn't really taught how to use them by someone with Rif's level of firsthand experience in terms of dealing with serious injuries and recovering from them.

Instead of merely lying down on the roller and rolling it along the length of your spine, Rif had a plethora of wickedly painful foam roller-based myofascial release techniques that blew my mind. They helped restore my shoulders, aiding in the recovery of my rotator cuffs, and released some wicked tension in my hips and legs, which was contributing to some lower back issues. Rif's presentation won me over to the foam roller, and it's now a regular part of my own training and maintenance routine. I also use it as part of the maintenance program for some of my patients in my orthopedics clinic.

Now I hate to admit this, but if the "foam roller" part of the RKC II course was optional and if someone other than Rif was presenting it, I might have been so arrogant as to skip it, based on my previous experience with the roller. That's a frightening thought since I've obviously gained so much from the use of it following Rif's presentation.

As forward-thinking individuals who are geared towards progress, growth, and evolution, we need to remind ourselves to let go of our preconceived notions in order to let those powerful processes occur. And if you haven't experienced the foam roller firsthand, click on the pic above and get a 3' long 6" round roller to begin feeling how that simple tool can unlock some of your longstanding restrictions! Most importantly, if you're an RKC reading this and you haven't gotten to the Level 2 RKC, what the hell are you waiting for?!?!?!?!?

Monday, February 18, 2008

We're going to SCOTLAND!!!

KBLA is off to make its mark on the shores of Scotland! That's right, folks... Scotland!

Scotland's one & only RKC, Rannoch Donald, has invited me to teach workshops with him in Edinburgh & Glasgow on March 15th & 16th, and I'm looking forward to this trip with GREAT anticipation. Check out his Kettlebells Scotland website for more information or to register!

Get in on it while you can, and if you're stuck somewhere other than the UK, tell your British/Scottish/Irish/European friends about the workshops. They'll get some of the finest training around with the ultimate fitness tool!


KBLA rocks the Russian Kettlebell Challenge

With 4 folks vying hard for ascension into the ranks of RKC-certified kettlebell instructors, KBLA was well represented.

Grace Chiplinsky, Dr. Jeff McCombs, and Sensei Gary Toppins are now fully RKC certified. Adam Chiplinsky, whom I wrote about in a prior blog post, came within a hairbreadth, passing all of his requirements aside from missing his snatch numbers by a mere 8 reps!

After conferring with his Team Leader, I will most likely be able to re-test him back here in L.A., and as soon as Adam makes his numbers, he too will be part of the RKC consortium that KBLA is.

Please join me in congratulating these 4 outstanding individuals!.... Then get your arses out to the beach on Sunday mornings at 0700 to feel what KBLA's finest can do for you!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

KBLA T-Shirt!!!

KBLA Shirt
Originally uploaded by MJCSifu
Finally, here's a pic snapped from my Samsung Blackjack camera-phone of Anton Summers, RKC, wearing the new KBLA logoed T-shirt. Anton says that he'll be wearing this shirt to his Dad's concerts in Tokyo & Hawaii (The Police). We'll have higher res photos up in the near future, but this should give you an idea of what we're sporting now!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Courage Corner

You never know what you're made of until you really put it on the line.

One of my students is a case in point with that sentence. Adam Chiplinsky, a computer animator, former Australian full-contact kung-fu competitor, and RKC candidate in the KBLA stable, recently suffered a serious injury to his skull and jaw. He's undergone at least a couple of corrective surgeries VERY recently and still struggles with difficulty breathing.

Today was his first real workout in months.

While Adam didn't exactly make his snatch test numbers due to a lack of endurance, his form was none too shabby. His legs were tired from a lack of training, but his effort was admirable... a solid 40 reps.

He's got bit to go before cleanly passing the RKC Snatch Test, but his spirit is all there. Instead of postponing his participation, he's going to San Jose as scheduled next week. He'll be training alongside his wife Grace, another RKC candidate.

Grace, by the way, like most of the KBLA women, did her snatch test numbers beautifully with just 1 hand. Like I told you, KBLA has the baddest (and hottest) chicks around. :-D

I have every faith that Adam will represent himself and KBLA with his utmost. He's gone from spitting out mouthfuls of blood and stitches to doing some serious snatching with minimal recovery time.

That's spirit. That's balls. That's KBLA.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Chinese New Year --- High Hopes & Hard Work

Even the kid's at work...

Chinese New Year is right around the corner. It'll be the Year of the Rat on February 7th, 2008..... my year.... my 36th year on Earth. By the Chinese-Korean reckoning, I'll be 37 in September.

The Chinese believe that when it's your year, it's going to go either really well, or really poorly. Instead of being preoccupied with the hype, I'm going to let go of all that. This year, and every day of it, should be treated like any other day from any other year.

I've got some seriously high hopes for this year... including major projects, lots of domestic & international travel, and hardcore training. God-willing, I'll be able to accomplish it all and come home to spend more time with my family... something that I've been missing greatly. Thank God that I'll at least be home for my son's 2nd birthday at the end of this month!

So much has already been accomplished in the past few months, too... promotion to RKC Team Leader, lots of writing off my plate, earning my BJJ blue belt, and plenty of groundwork laid for bigger, better things.

But there's NEVER a time to rest on your laurels..... NEVER.

While it's good to smell the roses once in a while, we have to stay driven to achieve, to succeed, to live. Complacency is the first step towards death, and I'm not ready to die just yet.

So while there is no shortage of hard work ahead of me (professional, physical, and psycho-spiritual), there are also high hopes that such work will pay dividends for myself and for others who are attached to each and every endeavor. As I've grown older, my hopes are less about myself and more geared towards how something I do can create positive repercussions for those who choose to be part of my group.

Perhaps that's just another example of Social Synergy at work. Better get back to work. The Kettlebells Los Angeles shirts are here & selling like MAD!

For those of you who've ordered one, I'll get them ready to mail out by Tuesday morning. For those of you who'd like one, I'll post a pic of them up here tomorrow!