5 Animals Conditioning

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I’d like to share some of my training tips. Here’s an exercise/game/race that I came up with to help strengthen the body and help with wushu training. I have the kids do it in kids class and the adults seem to like it too. Not only does it help improve basics but also contains some upper body workout as wushu sometimes tends to be very lower body oriented.

The 5 Animals:

  1. Seal Crawl. The Seal Crawl is the only exercise that needs any kind of special equipment. It is designed to use the upper body. All we need is a kicking shield which we put on the floor smooth side down. We lay our shins on it and make the legs limp like dead weight and use our upper body to move across the floor. If a kicking shield is not available, we can substitute this exercise with the bear crawl which is basically running on all fours.
  2. Frog Jumps. Frog jumps are pretty common in wushu training. If you go to China, you will see that the professional teams do these to improve their jumps. Key here is to go all the way down and jump as far as possible. This is a lower body workout which gives our upper body a quick break before the next exercise.
  3. Crab Walks. Crab walks develops speed and the upper body. It’s easier if we fall into the next step instead of lumbering slowly. Again, we alternate between upper body exercises and lower body.
  4. Duck Walks. Duck walks are another set of exercises that develop the legs. We can have the arms behind the back but I prefer to have them help make the move more balanced and more natural. Make sure that the buttocks are low to the ground.
  5. Spiderman Crawl. Ok, technically this is not an animal style. It’s a superhero mimicking an insect but it’s still a great exercise and very challenging. Crawl as if you were Spiderman crawling up a wall. The torso and hips must be low to the ground. Elbows and knees must not touch the ground. That is the challenging part and will really work the upper body and core strength.
    1. The way I usually do this is to make it a game between 2 teams. Wushu class is usually divided into 2 rows anyways so each team is a row. It’s a relay race where everyone has to do each exercise and when the first person in a row is up again, they go to the next exercise. Before each race the teams agree to a “punishment” for the losing team. Usually it’s monkey jacks or push ups. I also try to level the playing field by pairing up people that are close in skill level or body ability. This also makes it more exciting.

      I’m always looking to improve these conditioning exercises so any more “animals” tips are welcome.

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5 Questions with a Professional Rugby Athlete

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Some of you readers of my blog are fitness buffs so this one’s for you. My friend Scott “Beaver” Jones of the Chicago Lions happily agreed to do 5 Questions for my blog.

Tells us a bit about your background and how you came to be a professional rugby player
I was an All American my last two years at University of Tennessee and then decided to move to New Zealand after graduation to gain more rugby exposure. I returned to the states after 4 months and moved to Chicago where I was recruited to play for the Chicago Lions, one of the most prestigious clubs in the US, with aspirations of making the USA National Rugby Team. Mission Accomplished in 2004 when I was invited to tour with the US Eagles to play against Ireland and Italy.

Is the life of a professional athlete all it’s cracked up to be? What are some of the perks? What’s are some of the drawbacks?
Is it all what its cracked up to be? Absolutely, the pride that you have singing your national anthem in front of screaming fans is one of the best moments ever. Its also fun signing autographs for young fans even if they have no idea how worthless my autograph actually is, but it is nice putting smiles on their faces in that moment.

Perks? Of course the obvious is the travel and the tons of sports gear. In addition to that there are police escorts and it really is something to remember. One time in Dublin, the traffic stopped and the people on the streets were all curious of who was in the police escorted charter bus, pretty cool. We also got to eat dinner with US Ambassador to Ireland.

Drawbacks? Travel to all of these places is amazing but there is little time to enjoy because it is all business with practice twice a day and little freedom with tape reviews in between sessions.

Could you describe to us your training regimen. How often do you train? How long do you train? And what do you do (training wise)? Also tell us a bit about your diet.
Training and Eating heading into World Cup Trials? Everything was intense. We sent all of our workouts via heart rate monitors and all food intake into Boulder CO headquarters. I would train 5-6 days a week and the majority was once in the morning consisting of cardio, abs, core, balance and once in the evening consisting of speed, strength and power. As far as the food, i would eat a lot. Generally start off the morning workout with a protein shake and then have fruit and veggies along with protein bars prior to a healthy sandwich and veggies for lunch. I would have another snack(protein bar, peanut butter sand) before evening workout and then protein and or pasta for dinner. I cut out alcohol, junk food(as much as possible) and caffeine. I consistently drank water or gatorade throughout the day.

Could you give us some tips for us non-professional athletes to stay in shape?
Stay in shape tips for non professionals? Ideally get get in some physical activity at least once a day but knowing that can be hard I would go for walks, jog, gym(15 min cardio doing intervals of 30 sec on pushing yourself and 1 min off regular pace then go to weights but make sure you alternate with weights and get your heart rate up with star jumps or clap push ups or up downs(you will be surprised how hard it is when you have to get on the ground and then back up 5 times in a row.) situps, etc… Stay hydrated and stay away from fast foods another thing I failed to mention I gave up during training. Always eat all three meals a day and try to supplement with snacks in between about every couple hours.

For more information on the USA Rugby Team and the Chicago Lions, go to:

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Wushu Diaries

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Every six months or so I usually tape myself to see how I am doing. It helps me see where I need work and clearly see my mistakes. Lately though I’ve been super busy and haven’t had nearly as much time to train as I’d like. As a result, I’ve lost my 720 jump inside crescent kick. My outside 720 has held up pretty well, but I can’t say the same about my butterfly twist. I’ve also put on 7 more pounds – ugh. In an effort to get back into training and into shape, I’ve decided to tape myself even more often and upload the videos for all to see. This way I shame myself into training harder. We’ll see if this works.

Analysis of my jumpkicks:

  • I lose my balance on my double aerial
  • My second jump inside crescent of my double jump inside is not as crisp as the first one and the rotation is not complete
  • My 720 jump inside crescent is a 630
  • I lose my balance on my butterfly kicks
  • My butterfly twist is crooked. It’s been crooked for a while.
  • 540 standing jump outside is OK. I need to work on getting extra rotation for 720s.

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How To Stay Motivated for Sports, Training, and Fitness

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When you’re engaged in a sport or a fitness activity for a long period of time, it is very easy to get demotivated. This is especially true if you’ve hit a plateau and feel like you’re not making any progress. I’ve been doing wushu for almost 10 years now, and I’ve gone through many periods where I know I definitely lost the fire that usually have. People who engage in other sports or fitness activities ask how I get over this so I thought I’d share.

  1. Train with people who are better than you.

    This is a really good motivator because it gets your competitive instinct going. It forces you to step your game up so that you don’t lose face. When I was in China training with kids on the professional wushu teams, not only was I awestruck by their level, but I also wanted to show them that this “lazy Westerner” can hang with the best of them. Of course my skill level could not compare to theirs, but just by being surrounded by great athletes made me want it that much more. There is a converse of this: don’t train with sucky people or people who always grumble or whine. This just gets you down. People who are always complaining of their injury or make excuses are also demotivators.

  2. Don’t make it a choice.

    During the peak of my training, I used to practice 7 days a week, 3 hours a day. I kept that pretty consistently for a good year. How does one mentally make that decision to do that? You don’t. If you get home from your 8 hours of work, sit down on your couch and ask yourself whether you should or should not go to train, I bet you probably won’t get off your butt for a significant portion of time. You can’t think about it. You just go. You have to think of it as something you do, much like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. It just becomes another regular thing you do in the day.

  3. Hear the naysayers.

    Whenever you engage in any activity, just as there will always be people who support you, there will surely be people who put you down. These people for whatever reason find it easier to try to take someone down rather than pulling themselves up. They’ll tell you that you can’t do it or that it’s not worth it or that you’ll never amount to anything. I say hear them, but don’t listen to them. For me, hearing this kind of stuff just makes me want to work that much harder to make them eat their words or prove them wrong. However, don’t listen to these people and don’t let their words sink in and actually discourage you from doing what you love and are passionate about.

  4. Study it.

    In order to get better at your sport or training, practice alone is not enough. As part of your training, you should be studying it. When I was a hardcore wushu nut, I probably watched as much video footage of professional wushu athletes as much as I trained. I found this to be really motivating. Not only that, but by studying it, you will get a deeper understanding of your sport allowing you to get you through your plateau. With the advent of Youtube, you don’t even need to go far to find footage of whatever it is you train in.

  5. Change your surroundings.

    This advice applies especially to bikers and runners. If you jog or ride the same trail or path over and over and over, of course you are going to get bored out of your mind that you could probably do it on autopilot. The same goes when you train in the same wushu hall. Changing your surrounds usually implies a change of people around you as well. Different people may be able to offer different advice and perspective on your training.

  6. Try complimentary skills and activities.

    If you get bored with your training, you may be able to find a different sport or exercise that still works you out in a similar way. Or you might find another training regimen that augments the skills or requisite strength that you need to build for your sport. When I first got back from training in China where I trained twice a day everyday, I was very burnt out. I found that gymnastics offered me exercises to build body ability, body awareness and flexibility much like my wushu training. Even taking that once a week in the middle of the week, added enough variety to get me through my demotivated times. The gymnastics also came in handy as it helped me add some “flash” and “flare” to my routines as well as proving extremely useful for when I did my motion capture roles for the Mortal Kombat video games.

  7. Train under pressure.

    If you train without a clear and specific goal in mind, it’s really easy to lose your enthusiasm after a long period of time. By signing up for a race or a competition, you force yourself to commit to a certain level of performance, but this time, you put yourself out there. I for one will not compete unless I know I will do my absolute best. Putting your reputation on the line is one heck of a motivator.

I hope this post has motivated you to get back into whatever you were into. Also, I would very much appreciate what other tips other people have in staying motivated.

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