Month: February 2013

Come on Get a Grip

Following on from my shoulder ops I have lost a lot of muscle mass and physical strength with a few months of absolutely no mat time or upper body training.  Other than my physiotherapy work.  Never was I so happy to see a medicine ball or a theraband.  But now after the 15 months these combined two operations have taken, I have to seriously start having to build myself back up.

Besides a standard hypertrophy routine to build up overall muscular and tendon strength. I am also going to work on my grip strength.  I have a couple of funky little items to help me with this.  My first is a pair of Scramble Grip Trainers and the other is a pair of Fat Gripz modelled by Squeeky. You can see what they look like below.

I have to say having used these guys already inbetween ops, I know they can hit the spot. The Fat Gripz go around a standard olympic bar and it makes you feel like you are lifting a bar as thick as a coke can.  You really have to reduce weight when you start with anything like deadlifts using these.  Obviously as you would expect Squeeky has trouble getting his hands around these and this is where the Scramble Grip Trainers come in.  These are more sport specific and allow you to create the sleeve and collar style grips you use when rolling in a gym specific situation, so you can build up tendon and ligament strength in a controlled way.


In combination/rotation I feel they are great and really work well.  I do have to say though that I get some funny looks in my local Globo Gym when I start using this stuff.  But I don’t really care about that, I’m more bothered about the transferable benefits to the mat.

Also just because I like the video, I have included this You Tube clip of The Raspberry Ape doing a “destruction test” with the Scramble Grip Trainers. I think this shows these things will be lasting me a while if this is anything to go by. I have to admit I was nervous using them for kettlebell swings to start with, but these things can hold some serious weight and are really well made.  So as soon as I get the ok from my physio I’ll be back on these.  I can’t wait.



Shoulder 2.0 – The Right One

So I’m preparing this post in advance, as I am due to have shoulder surgery on Thursday. Yes Valentines Day! Mrs Munki is very understanding. This is the second operation I’ll have had and I am hoping they will be able to do all of the repair work in one go. This will help with my “raging arthritis” as I have bone shards “the size of marbles” as my doctor put it floating around in there. So getting rid of them will stop them grinding around and preserve the remaining cartilage in there. I also have to have my capsular repaired. Yes is all sounder like fun, but I am really looking forward to this. The effect of the surgery on my other shoulder has be great.

So as I am anticipating my right shoulder to be in a sling like last time, I’m going to write this in two parts. This bit now and the second bit with one hand after the event. I have a lot of studying lined up for whilst I am off training. I have been planning my studying, in line with my previous meta learning process and focusing on specific aspects.

I’m currently sat in the waiting room. I’ve had all the checks and the informed consent chat and a big arrow drawn on my arm to make sure they get the right one. It sounds like I’m getting the same done as on the other shoulder. But the doctor has said my shoulder is a mess and my arthritis is bad. But I may be an old Munki but I’m a positive Munki and no arthritis is going to stop me. Get the op done, the shoulder repaired and I’m away.

The arrow so they got the right arm

So this is part three the left handed one armed bit.  I’ve had the op done and it all went well. They allowed me home the same day but with a lot of pain meds. This is the operation I had done.

Check out the stack of pain meds below!

Check out this lot

I‘m really impressed with how much they gave me, I even got liquid morphine!  They were really expecting me to be in a lot of pain but surprisingly enough I’ve been fine.  Very little pain overall I think they must have taken a different approach to last time. Based on all the scans they took. Now its just a case of sitting around and healing for 8 weeks.  Well not just sitting around, I’ve given myself the first week to sort my sleep out (yeah thats not too great at the moment), then I’m gonna hit the studying.  I’ll still be able to get the rest in, in between books and videos.

One other thing I’m doing at the moment is a supplement regime to help with the recovery.  I had started some aspects to reduce inflammation prior to the op.  But I’m going to go into this in more detail in another post. Now this is done I’m really looking forward to get my training moving.

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Strong feet are happy hooking feet.

I recently bought a pair of Mizuno Be training shoes.  You are meant to wear them when you are not running to strengthen your feet for when you are running.  The principle being that the insole ends near the toe like an ancient japanese sandal, which means your toes grip over the end, strengthening the muscles in your feet as you walk, train at the gym etc.  Don’t believe me? Here’s the video from Mizuno to explain the principle.

So it all seemed reasonably scientific to me and there were a number of independent personal reviews that rated them as actually working.  So I invested in a pair, as I thought stronger feet would improve my hooks and overall control. As an Old Munki I need all the help I can get. So I have the shoes now for a couple of months and I have worn them to walk to work in and to train in at the gym.  So pretty regularly everyday.

My pair of Mizuno Be

So now the question have they worked?  The honest answer is no.  But I am putting a caveat in on that.  As the problem is that I have be doing a lot of minimalist running for quite some time now and I am not sure if my feet were too strong to benefit from the use of the shoes.  Obviously I can’t weaken or detrain my feet and then try again, so I am not sure if it was just me and the physical position I was starting from. Maybe for someone who has done no training in this area at all, they may be beneficial. They are comfortable and are great to lift in at the gym, I don’t get as many funny looks as I did when I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (or Munki Feet as Mrs Munki calls them).  Just incase you don’t know what Vibram Five Fingers look like here is a picture of mine. Yeah I guess you can tell why I got funny looks in my local Globo Gym in these.  Personally I think they are quite cool looking

My Vibrams (Munki Feet)

As far as the Mizuno Be are concerned for the manufacturers purpose I don’t think they actually work. I have to say I don’t really subscribe to the strengthening attributes provided by the insoles.  Overall I would not recommend them for this purpose.  The good thing is that the Mizuno shoes are nice and “normal” looking.  As far as gym shoes go they are great and they are nice and lightweight too.  I will continue to wear them to work, as the are more comfortable than hard office shoes.  But I will not be replacing them.

So far unfortunately I have not been able to find anything to beat my VFF (that looks like normal trainers).  However if you don’t want to invest the money in any training shoes, but are interested in strengthening your foot muscles,(yes your feet actually have muscles in them), walking around in bare feet at home as much as possible will help.  Or some exercises like the ones below are useful and can help not only with your hook control, but also with the minimalist running if you decide to take that that up.  It really is surprising the difference it makes to your foot strength.  I guess the concept of strengthening your foot muscles does not really spring to most peoples mind, like the bigger skeletal muscles.  But I would definitely recommend it, just make sure you take your time with it, as you don’t want to strain your muscles or tendons, patience is the key on this for both Old and Young Munki’s.

If you have any question about the Mizuno’s or the VFF please feel free to ask.

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Is it really a case of Mind over Muscle?



The Central Governor Theory, it does sound like a bad gangster movie, but it is actually a theory or model produced by the Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town Tim Noakes   about how your brain actually protects you during exercise.  The brain uses the symptoms of fatigue as key regulators to insure that the exercise you are slogging yourself to death with, is completed before you do yourself any harm .  To do this your brain makes you feel like you can’t go on (been there), but actually you still have reserves in the tank, yes really.  Its not a totally new theory the basis of it was created in 1891 by an Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso, Professor of Physiology at the University of Turin.

Bringing it back to the twenty first century, more recent studies done by the likes of Noakes and others, have shown besides the physical things like lack of oxygen and lactate build up, when we “feel the burn”. It is actually our brain that kicks in first before the physical aspects stop our muscles.  It is actually suggested that a key component of the Central Governor Model is that fatigue is not a physical event but rather an emotion one, that is used by the brain to regulate the exercise performance.  So in real terms in competition or sparring according to this model, the winning athlete is the one whose “illusionary symptoms” of fatigue interfere the least with the actual performance. So its actually all in the mind, however when I’m trying to control some giant, the pain in my muscles really does feel real! There is a lot of other science stuff behind this and other theories/models between the 1800s to the 21st Century, that show how things have progressed to the latest model.  If you are interested in the geeky science stuff like I am, I have put a link in at the bottom to a really good article, that is really in depth and explains all of the theories.

Applying the Central Governor Model kind of explains the training methods that Enson Inoue goes into in his interview on Open Mat Radio.  He states that in his training he would on a regular basis, push himself beyond exhaustion and beyonds his conscious limits.  He calls it “training with the will to die”.  Obviously this ability must be in his head as well as in his body, as he goes beyond what he believes his body can achieve.

So it really is a case of the brain being the central controller of all that happens in your body.  The physical things that happen to if left unregulated could cause potentially really bad things to happen.  That is why your brain stops you before you get there, which is obviously a really good thing as it keeps us safe and more importantly alive.  No one wants their muscles to train to true failure.  So when you’re training and your parter or in my case my instructor shouts out.. “keep going it doesn’t really hurt!” actually it doesn’t, it might not feel like it at the time though.  But you can actually over come this and go on if you really want to.  It is all about your psychology and strength of mind over the strength of your muscles.

The final words on this go to Tim Noakes the scientist that came up with the modern theory and he says, ” I always say that the difference between the best athletes and the less good or the winner and even the second place, you won’t find that in biology.  You’ll find that in the brain and the way the brain functions.”

Open Mat Radio Podcast Enson Inoue

Fatigue is a brain derived emotion – Article (WARNING  SCIENCEY)


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