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Monday, October 25, 2010

Reprinted article from Black Belt magazine w/ Frank Shamrock

I have been reading through some of my older writings of the past decade and wanted to post this one I did with my friend, Frank Shamrock.  We worked together in the IFL but this article was our first project we collaborated on a couple years earlier.  The article appeared in Black Belt magazine in 2004 and is about the healing benefits of yoga, particularly when used by a professional athlete.
 


Stretching techniques, warm-up exercises, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy all are part of the holistic training that the traditional martial arts celebrate and all have a place within athletic martial arts.  Everything from mentally preparing beforehand for a fight to the healing process the body is sure to need after practice or competition, therapeutic training is vital to the physical wellness of a martial artist. By applying these established techniques and training philosophies, grapplers will have a more comprehensive understanding of themselves.  This elevated level of knowledge is invaluable to the modern combative sportsman, where competition has become fierce and where the slightest bit of new information can make the difference between a win and a loss. 

Mixed martial arts legend, Frank Shamrock has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to learning new training techniques, so it is no surprise that he is once again leading the way for mixed martial artists in this new, yet ancient process of developing the mind and spirit along with the body.  Shamrock has made it a main concern to incorporate holistic training into his routine.  Shamrock himself is the creator of a full combat fighting discipline aptly named, Shamrock Submission Fighting, so he is constantly exploring new and innovative techniques that will influence his fighting style and keep his fighting system relevant and practical.

Early in his career, Shamrock saw the importance of self-meditation, visualization, stretching and the usefulness of massage therapy.  Shamrock personally witnessed the mental anguish that fighters went through in preparing for fights and recognized the need for something to combat that type of psychological hurdle when he was getting ready for a fight.  It was these eye opening experiences that Shamrock found value and developed a holistic approach that led him to do extensive research, through trial and error, and his own ideas about the subject, that would help him deal with the day to day strains of being a professional fighter. 

This far-reaching investigation led Shamrock to Jeremy Corbell.  Corbell’s Warrior Yoga has become a mandatory instruction tool for Shamrock.  Jeremy Corbell is the leader in this new refined training regiment and looks to reshape the landscape of the martial arts and the grappling athlete.  Corbell, a renowned healing martial artist is the founder and president of the Quantum Jujitsu Foundation which teaches Warrior Yoga.  Warrior Yoga at its essence is a physical therapy that focuses equally on the balance, strength and flexibility of its practitioners.  But once you begin Warrior Yoga, you realize that it is anything but simple.  It is a complex application of self improvement that stresses the training of the body, mind and soul. Warrior Yoga is the prototypical style of wellness training that is essential for the modern day martial arts athlete. 

As one of the foremost experts of the healing arts and holistic aspects of the martial way, Corbell has also embraced the importance of athletic training that Shamrock is an expert in and added it to his regimen.  Shamrock’s teachings have allowed Corbell to test the quality and validity of his own techniques on a daily basis.  In doing so, the added athletic approach has advanced the development and evolution of Corbell’s own healing teachings.  Corbell’s own methods are now stronger than ever because of his willingness to expand his training.  The collaboration of holistic training, combined with athletic training has provided Corbell and Shamrock the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of martial arts in the 21st Century.

Through this friendship, Shamrock has been able to more thoroughly appreciate and understand the value of the healing arts.  It is this knowledge of therapeutic training that has made Shamrock stronger at his forte, mixed martial arts.  Shamrock’s recuperation power is much stronger because of holistic exercising, and because of his ability to directly target muscles that are susceptible to injury.  Because of preventative training, Shamrock has been able to keep his muscles, joints, and ligaments fresh. 

What differentiates Warrior Yoga from anything else on the market is the fact that it was specifically created for the martial arts athlete.  In the world of grappling, because it is a submission based discipline, participants are constantly and continually putting unnatural stress on muscles, joints, ligaments and cartilage.  It is necessary for serious athletes in the submission wrestling community to find a program that will strengthen and rehab these important body parts.  Warrior Yoga directly meets these concerns and provides answers to the common questions that grapplers continually ask.

Warrior Yoga stretches not only the muscles, but also balances the stresses within the joints.  Most sports injuries are caused by imbalances.  As a grappler, it is very important that your joints remain well lubricated, because when they are not, it will begin to limit your mobility and you will become more susceptible to injuries.  Developing a Warrior Yoga practice helps to correct and balance the roles that the joints, ligaments cartilage and tendons play together, in providing the support that the body needs to function at a high level of athletic ability.  Warrior Yoga poses are designed to free all of the body’s different joints, opening them up to relieve pressure on the protective cartilage and restore correct alignment of the bones.  Many times during competition fatigue sets in at a very rapid and uncharacteristic rate.  This is caused by build up of lactic acid within the muscles.  The body basically shuts down and becomes unresponsive.  Once the body succumbs to lactic acid build up, an athlete is vulnerable. Warrior Yoga helps to relieve this stress on the body before it happens by emphasizing stretching and Yoga poses which helps release lactic acid from the muscle cells, making for easier muscular contraction and allowing you to compete at your highest level.  By keeping muscles, joints, ligaments, cartilage and tendons healthy, you can better prevent injury, rehab prior imbalances and bring yourself to your fullest athletic potential.

There are two main types of injuries that an athlete can receive:  unpreventable and preventable. Sometimes injuries just happen, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.  But there are other times, when injuries are not only avoidable but needless. 
When the human body is physically injured, many times it is a sign from inside that something within the structure is out of balance.  Whether it is a pulled back muscle, a swollen joint or a damaged ligament, the body is a network of interconnected and unified parts.  When one of those parts is debilitated, it traumatizes the whole system.  That is why rehabilitation is so important.  The progressive form of controlled movements structured to heal and rejuvenate the body is something Warrior Yoga provides to its practitioners.  Through the natural movements and techniques of Warrior Yoga the body reaps the benefits of the laws of our physical nature. 

Along with rehabilitations and healing, Warrior Yoga is also a form of preventative training.  Prehabilitation is fast becoming the method of choice among trainers and physical therapists.  It involves strength and conditioning exercises for individual muscles and regions of the body that help to reduce the risk of injury, before an injury even occurs.  Warrior Yoga is tailor-made for prehabilitation or preventative training.  A flexible and pliable body remedies a multitude of injuries, or potential injuries.  With supple muscles and joints you can avoid some of the more common injuries a grappling athlete experiences such as tissue damage, strained ligaments and muscle inflammation. 

Warrior Yoga is always evolving, forever transitioning to account for new and fresh ideas.  This unique method of exercise captures the core theories and principles of traditional martial arts, but represents them in a modern form for today’s grappler.  With world-class athletes putting their bodies through grueling physical demands Warrior Yoga is now more important than ever.  Any serious athletic competitor will tell you that in order to be successful in sports you need to have a training regiment that takes into account injuries.  Because martial arts can be a high impact activity, especially when it comes to the sports that are variations on different grappling techniques, such as jiu jitsu, judo, wrestling and sambo, Warrior Yoga, gives an athlete the balance that he or she will need to combat and even avoid training injuries.

Warrior Yoga does not only combat the physical struggles that an athletic marital artist is sure to face, Warrior Yoga is also a counter-balance to the mental weaknesses that show themselves from time to time.  The physical, mental and spiritual stress that fighters often find themselves up against, can be a debilitating obstacle.  Warrior Yoga takes into account what is required for an athlete in preparation for a match and gives the competitor the solutions necessary to resolve any psychological hurdles that arise.   By integrating breathing techniques, visualization and movement through a five breath system, the athlete is able to internally compose himself.  These breath exercises were created to relieve stress, and give the practitioner an inner sense of peace.

  On occasion the stress and mental pressure of a match is enough to overload the psyche of a competitor and consequently a freak injury can occur.  The ego of an athlete is challenged as much in competition as are his physical skills.  The training of the mind and spirit can not be devalued.  It is the awareness and understanding of these two vital components that makes Warrior Yoga distinctive.  Sometimes the grappler is put into a scenario in which getting “pumped up” leads to muscular tension, emotional fatigue and fear.  By depleting the body of the necessary energy needed to compete in a BJJ or MMA match, for example, the combatant is setting himself up for defeat.  The importance of a coping mechanism to relieve physical and psychological pressure is crucial to the welfare of an athlete in competition.  As any practitioner knows, the closing hours leading up to competition can be some of the most intense and trying times that an athlete faces. 

Frequently it is the final stages leading up to the match and how the competitors deal with those phases that determines who will be the winner and loser.  There are many instances where the outcome of the contest is already determined during the pre-fight introductions and/or stare downs.  It is almost an injustice how an athlete can train for hours and hours a day, for months on end, and yet have that training go out the window, just because the combatant was not able to properly manage his emotions in the final moments leading up to his match. This strain and anxiety in the most crucial of times is thwarted by the teachings of Warrior Yoga.

            The symbiotic relationship between athletic training and holistic training within the martial arts has been a part of the martial way since the beginning.  They work hand in hand.  If a martial artist is going to compete in a physically vigorous competition, that martial artist is going to need to keep his body supple and strong in the weeks leading up to the contest as well as having a method to heal the body and mind after the competition is over.  This balance of having the body, mind and spirit working as one, will help the martial artist of today not only in athletic challenges, but more importantly in everyday life. 

Warrior Yoga, an assimilation of both physical and psychological instruction is the balance that every serious martial artist needs to complement his or her athletic training.  Warrior Yoga can combat injuries by educating its practitioners on different holistic healing strategies, the art also emphasizes rehabilitation and prevention of injuries such as cartilage tears, muscle pain, inflammation of the joints and ligament damage.   By teaching its practitioners how to mentally cope with the stress, pain and mental anguish they are sure to experience sometime throughout their career Warrior Yoga gives the modern day martial artist the balance that is crucial to be successful in these ultra-competitive times.

This joint venture of information between Shamrock and Corbell is now available for public consumption, in the form of a two-disc DVD set.  This dynamic offer has something special for every student of the martial arts.  On the athletic side, Shamrock offers specific teachings, combined with detailed training techniques, in the sport of Submission Fighting.  But that is not all.  Corbell offers the consumer a unique look inside his holistic approach to the martial arts.  By including an entire Warrior Yoga workout into this phenomenal instructional DVD set, fans of traditional martial arts, as well as martial athletes, will have an important teaching tool that will help them achieve a new level of knowledge and understanding in training, and even more importantly, their day to day lives.  Because of both men’s input, this DVD set has a scope and depth to it that no other training/instructional DVD can claim.  It is the first of its kind, and something that martial arts enthusiasts, in all walks of life, can profit from. To purchase this innovative double DVD set, please go to www.frankshamrock.org or www.warrioryoga.org.