Archive for How to

5 Ways to Choose the Right Gym

Posted in Martial Arts, Miscellaneous, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2015 by Combative Corner

The tree has been taken down, the decorations have been packed away, the presents have been exchanged, and the last Gingerbread man has been eaten. Yes, the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, and after all the holiday parties and eating at 14 different relatives houses, its time to get back in shape for the new year. New Year’s is by far the busiest season in the Wellness and Martial Arts industries. Everyone is ready to change their ways and get in shape, but before you make those changes you have a choice to make, which gym is the best ?

Eight Points GymFirst of all that question can be answered in a few different ways depended on what your goals are. For instance, if you want to become the next great Muay Thai Champion or fight in the UFC you might not want to sign up at the local YMCA and expect to go places, but no matter what your goals are (get in shape, learn self defense, or become a fighting champion) there should be some basic things that all good gyms who want to see you succeed have in common. Choosing the right gym and trainer is the MOST important step a person can make to actually reaching their goals and making LASTING changes that go from whimsical new years resolution to concrete lifestyle change. Below are 5 simple things to look for when shopping around for a gym. It doesn’t matter what kind of gym (Fitness, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitusu, Gymnastics, ect), these 5 simple things should be present.

1 Good Gyms and Trainers have Nothing to Prove: *I see this one all the time in the “MMA” gyms. Some guy with 2 amateur fights and a closet full of “skull” T shirts opens a “gym” out of a store front or someones basement. He has no real experience to speak of, so when new members come to class he goes hard on them to try and prove (to himself and to the prospective member) that he knows what he’s doing. It can also occur in the fitness industry. The so called “personal trainer” you hired who just got their PT certificate in the mail after taking a 4 hour class, doesn’t really understand how the human body works or how to invoke real change so he just screams “One More” or pushes you way past your limit to prove to you that his work outs are hard and he knows what he’s doing. This is an extremely dangerous situation and a HUGE red flag. If you are at a gym with this problem you are basically risking your health every time you come to class. A good trainer and gym who are well educated in their craft should have NOTHING at all to prove and their focus should be on building members up not on using members as dummies, showing off how much they know.

2 Good Gyms and Trainers have a Clear, Repeatable “Roadmap” to Success: *When going on any trip you need clear and precise directions on actually how to get there. When you get in your car to go somewhere that you aren’t quite sure of, you plug in your GPS and it guides you and gives you the road map for the destination. Gyms are no different. When you walk into the gym and sit down with the trainers they should be able to lay out a road map detailing how they will help you get from the starting point to reaching your goal. They should have a repeatable process that they have done with clients and members in the past to help reach goals. If you go into a gym and some guy is teaching head kicks one day to complete beginners, then showing those same beginners crazy 8 punch combos the next day, that is a red flag and you should probably look else where. You definitely should be able to see a system in place to build people up from complete beginner to advanced practitioner.

3 Good Gyms and Trainers Actually Charge People: * This is a no brainer. A real business that is good at what they do charges for its services.

4 Good Gyms and Trainers have a Credible Resume: * The person or gym training you should know what they are talking about and have a credible resume you can actually fact check. In this high tech age of Smart Phones, Ipads, and Google, its easy to type in the name of a potential gym or trainer into the search bar to see if claims they make on their website actually exist. If a guy says he is a 15-0 Kickboxer who has fought in the UFC 3 times, then when googling his name nothing comes up but old pics of him and his Frat brother “Leon” hanging out on the beach during spring break, chances are he’s lying. Always do the research so you know exactly what you are paying for.

5 Good Gyms and Trainers Believe in You: * Making changes is hard, reaching goals is difficult. There are times when you will want to give up, times when you will wonder if its worth it. In those times, you need a support system, someone who believes in you and believes you can reach the goals set before you, even when you don’t believe it yourself. A good coach and good gym family will have a positive uplifting atmosphere that inspires people to be their best and reach for their goals. If you are always surrounded by negative energy or an overbearing trainer that always points out what you doing wrong but never tells you when your doing something right, its not going to be to long before you give up on your dreams of ever getting in shape or learning something new. When you choose a gym your choosing a partner to come alongside and invest in your life to help you make lifelong positive changes, so make sure you choose a gym that wants to see you succeed and believes in you instead of just looking at you as a paycheck.




Make Your Own Quarterstaff

Posted in Miscellaneous, Training, Training Equipment, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by chencenter

QuarterstaffIntroducing the newest weapon to my armory, the English Quarterstaff.  I don’t know how this fine weapon eluded me for so many years, but thanks to a fencing student of mine, I’ve found a new training tool.  Pictured here, in the lovely arms of my wife Jenny, is the might beast itself… a weapon constructed for no more than $12 USD.

Before I proceed, Jenny wants me to apologize for the mess in the background.  But you, my friends know – how could I possibly have the chance to fold clothes AND construct a weapon of such beauty?  The answer had to be, “The staff comes first.”

For those that aren’t familiar, wikipedia defines the Quarter staff as such:

A quarterstaff (plural quarterstaves), also short staff or simply staff is a traditional European pole weapon and a technique of stick fighting, especially as in use in England during the Early Modern period.

The term is generally accepted to refer to a shaft of hardwood from 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 m) long, sometimes with a metal tip, ferrule, or spike at one or both ends. The term “short staff” compares this to the “long staff” based on the pike with a length in excess of 11 to 12 feet (3.4 to 3.7 m).


quarterstaffIt started with a trip to Lowes Home Improvement, where I picked up an 8′ dowel rod 1 and 1/4th inches thick (made of poplar).  The price of this was only $7.50.  My next trip was over the the Dollar General, whereby I purchased one double-pack of household sponges and one black oven mitt.  As you might be able to work out yourself, this turn out to be $2.12.  My final stop was Michael’s, just next door in the ol’ shopping center.  Michael’s is a craft store and one in which I was only after one particular item – twine rope ($2.43).

When you get home and lay out all your supplies, the simplicity of the task is likely to smack you right in the face.

A few optional items that I used (that you may want to use yourself) were duct tape, a rubber chair end (1 & 1/4inch) and a walnut-color wood stain [again, going for more of an “antique-y” look].

  • After staining the wood and allowing it to dry, I taped the sponges to the end of the staff.  This gave it a soft, round, end, with quite a bit of cushion to it.
  • Then I positioned the black, oven mitt to the end (pushing the thumb inside-out) and tightly taping the lower half of the mitt to the staff.
  • Since the tape is rather “modern” and unattractive to look at, I meticulously wrapped the twine rope around the lower portion of the mitt.  This was a time-consuming process (approx. 45min – 1 hour) and obviously could be omitted if one wished.
  • Lastly, I applied a rubber chair end/stopper to the end of the staff.  I figured that if the staff was ever to be dropped or handled roughly, this would minimize splitting and damaging of the staff’s aesthetic.


Needless-to-say, this quick and inexpensive project produced a superb training tool.  After only one hour of practice, my arms were killing me.  I’d be surprised to find a martial art weapon that works the arms and core like pole weapon training.

Good luck in the construction of your own! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments below.





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