Month: February 2014

The start of my journey in hand balancing…..

Over the last few weeks I have been reading how people are now setting goals for themselves.  One blog I read Skirt on a Mat, made a good point goals are not resolutions.  As we all know resolutions are normally broken by now.   So now I am a few weeks into it I thought I would tell you about one of my goals.

I have written previously about how I also do yoga to help me physically and with my jiu jitsu.  A number of the postures I am practising at the moment require me to do some hand balancing, like the one below.


I found this surprisingly hard to begin with but as with everything it has gotten easier with practise.  So this made me think, (Mrs Munki never likes it when I do that) when I am rolling with Adam one of my coaches, he seems to almost balance when he changes from one side of the body to the other.  This is a little confusing when he does it and it is something I would like to be able to do.

This was definitely going to be a challenge for this Old Munki as I couldn’t straighten my arms out directly above my head, due to shoulder mobility.  I also have a bit of a “fear” issue as I do tent to be a little overly protective of my shoulders and I had to admit to myself this was an additional reason.

I have been working on my above the head movement since my operation and I have been using a double handled medicine ball to help extend my shoulder flexibility in this area.  I am pleased with the progress and I felt good about going the next step.

My cartwheels are particularly bad due to lack of confidence in a lot of areas, I was aware this was going to impact me on this.  But that’s never stopped me.  I thought I would be better starting the process gaining some confidence.  For this I decided to start with a handstand against a wall obviously.  I did a lot of research on line about how to do a handstand and I eventually found this video.

What I like about this method is I can do this safely and adjust a little bit at a time and it will strengthen my shoulders at the same time.  I decided to do my practise as part of my mobility work in the mornings.  I only intended to spend a minute or two doing this, so it seemed like the appropriate time.

I have now been doing it for a few weeks and from a very nervous start, I am now starting to feel more confident and I am working my hands closer to the wall.  I don’t think I will ever achieve a straight handstand, as the surgery I have had on my shoulders is preventing me from getting my arms straight above my head.  However I am taking any improvement as a little win.  Every day I practise this I class it as a win as it makes me a little more confident in this position, as honestly I would not even have attempted this 12 months ago.

I do have the next step in mind for when I feel comfortable in this position.  I happened to come across it whilst doing my research.  This exercise will have more relevance to the jiu jitsu aspect that kicked all of this off, than a straight hand stand.  This is called a pyramid and can be seen in the below video at about 58 seconds in.

It does not look like a hard exercise, but when I tried this initially I couldn’t do it at all. I was either shuffling across the floor or just jumping.  It was a good job Mrs Munki did not catch me doing it otherwise it would be on You Tube.

I know these little things I keep trying aren’t amazing feats of achievement.  But for me they are a challenge and it is good to have a challenge no matter how big or small it is.  It takes you outside of your comfort zone and stops you becoming comfortable and the improvement affects all areas of your life not just specifically BJJ.  BJJ may be a motivating factor, but the mental and physical improvements achieving these little challenges ripple out across my life.  Plus for us Old Munki’s it is a must or we just seize up.

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Protein powders, what are the differences?

Protein supplements always get a lot of publicity, as there are many different suppliers looking to sell you 100s of different types of protein powder. As an Old Munki protein is one of the main supplements I use and I’m sure most active athletes will use too.  It can help promote a healthy weight and can help muscles recover after a good workout, which is important for me, to maintain my lean muscle mass.  But when it comes to supplementation, which type of protein is best? I am hoping the following explanations will help you navigate the sea of different protein supplements out there.

So why is protein important?

Protein is a macronutrient found in many different foods meats, dairy products, nuts, and beans, to name a few. It’s comprised of amino acids, which are the building blocks of lean muscle tissue amongst other things. Obviously it is better to get our protein from natural food sources, protein supplements can make it easier to get those aminos on-the-go. But something you need to remember is that not all protein supplements are created equal and that is what I am going to look at, the positives and negatives of the different protein supplements.

Two of the terms you will come across in the descriptions  of different Protein supplements is Concentrate and Isolate. I think a quick explanation of these terms will help. So protein powder is derived from various natural food sources and it is “concentrated” by removing the non-protein parts. The result: a powder that’s 70-85 percent pure protein (with the remain 15-30 percent consisting mostly of carbohydrates and fat). Taking the concentration process a step further, “isolation” removes a much higher percentage of non-protein content. The additional processing yields a premium protein that is up to 95 percent pure. So the two terms will give you an indication of the percentage of pure protein your supplement will provide.

Comparison Time

Whey Protein

As I already said this is the most popular protein supplement on the market today.

The positives to whey protein is that it has been shown to promote lean muscle growth and fat loss, as well as support cardiovascular health and a healthy metabolism. Whey is quickly absorbed by the body, this makes it very useful for post-workout recovery.

There are some negatives with whey too. The sugar found in milk known as lactose, is a common allergen, you may have heard the term lactose intolerant before. This intolerance can make whey indigestible for some. There are many flavoured versions of whey protein, but it may be worth checking what what the flavourings consist of, as you don’t want to be consuming stealth processed carbohydrates or some less-than-desirable artificial sweeteners and chemicals.

Casein Protein

Casein is another type of protein powder that comes from cow juice. Casein is produced using a separation process applied to liquid milk that can concentrate or isolate the milk protein from the carbs and fats.

The positives of Casein protein powder are similar to the benefits of whey protein, but with a slower release rate. Because casein digests over a long period of time, research has found it’s the best type of protein to have before bed, which will help with your night time recovery.

Because casein is a by-product of milk, it has the same potential allergenic issue like whey. It’s best to use as a post-workout supplement because it’s absorbed so slowly. After exercise the body needs a quick hit of nutrients to replenish and rebuild, which is why whey or a combination of the two, is probably better for this purpose. Casein also tends to be more expensive than whey and can contains artificial ingredients to help make it more palatable.

Egg Protein

Egg protein as the name suggests comes from eggs! It is a complete protein made by separating out the yolks and dehydrating the egg whites into a powder.

The positives of egg protein are that aside from just protein, egg protein powders are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help support a healthy diet.  It is also easily digestible like whey protein, so is good for a post work out recovery drink.

The negatives are once again the allergy issues.  Allergies to eggs are common, similar to milk (lactose) allergies. Egg protein can also be one of the most expensive protein supplements available.

Soy Protein

Soy beans are one of the few plant protein sources that offer all of the essential amino acids. The protein can be either concentrated or isolated after the soy beans have been hulled and dried into soy flour.

The positives of protein from the soy bean are that it may help improve the body’s immune function and promote bone health. Soy may also help prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

On the negative side soy has come under heavy scrutiny because it is often genetically modified in an effort to produce greater crop yields. Some research has also singled out soy due to its effects on hormone levels. Many foods are already full of soy due to its extremely low-cost protein. This has led some to question whether adding even more dietary soy (via protein supplements) is a wise choice, especially for men.

Rice Protein

Although mainly thought of as a carbohydrate only, brown rice is becoming a standard source for vegetarian protein powder.

For the positives brown rice protein is considered a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin B, and fiber. It’s also hypoallergenic, meaning it’s easily digestible with virtually no chance of an allergic reaction and therefore almost entirely used by the body.

The negative of rice protein is that unlike soy as a plant-based option it’s deficient in some amino acids and therefore should not comprise your main source of dietary protein.

Hemp Protein

Hemp protein is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant that’s gained popularity in recent years. It has nothing to do with

There are a number of positives for hemp protein. Hemp has been shown to improve metabolism, brain function, and circulation. With a similar profile to egg, it contains all the essential amino acids making hemp protein the most complete source of protein in the plant kingdom. The vegan-friendly supplement is also extremely hypoallergenic, high in fibre which makes it excellent for digestion. Also it is free from estrogen mimickers so it does not present the same hormone issues as soya.

The negative to hemp is that similar to egg it is an expensive protein powder. Since hemp is only harvested in mass quantities in select countries due to its association with cannabis, it is often the most expensive protein powder available.

Pea Protein

Pea protein comes from the yellow split pea,  making it a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans alike.

The positives of pea protein are those of the other plant-based proteins and the body is able to process the vast majority of each serving. Due to it being highly satiating protein it can help promote weight loss.

The negative is that despite pea protein often being considered a complete protein because it can contain the spectrum of essential amino acids, it remains deficient in certain amino acids and should not be used as a primary source of dietary protein.

These are the basic protein groups.  Some suppliers will mix them and flavour them to different degrees, but when it comes to protein powders there really is something for everyone. It is also worth noting that the amount of protein required by the body depends on a person’s activity level, physical size, and gender. Testing various sources and quantities of protein can help determine a mix that works best.

I personally mix up both hemp and whey proteins because of their differences.  I tend to use hemp in my pre training shake and whey as part of my recovery drink as it absorbs quicker.

Also protein powders can be used for more things than just shakes, there is a big thing now for protein baking.  Substituting flour for protein powder.  The baking side of it is a post I’ll leave to Mrs Munki as she makes awesome pancakes amongst other things with it.

I hope this clarifies some issues for you, as it was just a very basic run through.  But just remember protein powder is a food supplement and should not replace whole foods entirely.

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JT Torres in Manchester

I had the good fortune on Sunday to be able to attend a seminar by ATOS black belt JT Torres and Factory BJJ.  Additionally Mrs Munki was also able to attend, which makes life a lot easier.

The numbers at the seminar were limited by the host Factory BJJ to ensure safety for everyone participating.  I feel this also made for a better learning environment for those attending.  I have to say I really appreciated the smaller numbers.  It was really easy to get a good view of all techniques that were being shown and also to get JT’s attention to help you out when we were drilling.

JT was working on guard passing.  This was a great subject from someone is so good at their passing game.  He did say what he was going to show us was quite simple, but that’s because in a fight the simple stuff works the best.  I had to agree with that.

He mainly taught techniques from a couple of positions, but built on each one to give you a number of alternatives.  This really works for me as an Old Munki to take techniques on board, so I was pleased with this.  There was a lot of content, but not too much  for this Old Munki to take on board.  The good thing was that the techniques did fit in well with with some of the stuff I have been learning in class and the bonus was a way to deal with the lasso/spider guard, which is something I have had difficulty with when sparring.

Mrs Munki also appreciated the way he could break the techniques down so that as a new white belt she could understand them.  Plus he was really helpful in walking us through the techniques, whilst we drilling when we got stuck.  Mrs Munki really appreciated this and shows the quality of JT’s coaching.

We also had an opportunity for Q&A with JT and everyone asked some really good questions, about techniques, competing and mindset.  The answers JT gave were really interesting, if not painful for Adam Adshead when JT showed a little tweak to the body triangle, to make it even more “fun”.  I did like JT’s answer regarding competition mindset and how he deals with waiting between fights.

At the end of teaching JT took time with a number of people to roll. Mrs Munki was keen to do this and she did manage to get to roll with him.  For JT you could tell this was more of a flow roll, but Mrs Munki really enjoyed the experience, his control and the compliment about her strong fundamentals.

I have to say it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and I have to say thank you to Adam at Factory BJJ for organising it and to JT for such an enjoyable seminar.

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