kali martial arts swindon

The supplements that actually benefit martial artists

The supplements that actually benefit martial artists

Many serious martial artists go through a phase of taking tons of supplements in hopes of boosting their game, taking at least 50 pills and tablets each day, including thrice-daily multivitamins… Selenium… Reishi extract… Chromium picolinate…Turmeric extract… Branched chain amino acids… Phosphatidyl serine… Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  The list goes on however the only real effect of these supplements is to make your urine very expensive they will not improve strength, energy levels or recovery times.

kali martial arts swindon

Why do so many people take so many different kinds of supplements?  Here’s a few reasons:

1 – Wishful Thinking/laziness. It would be far easier if you could just pop a few pills every day instead of doing the hard work to maintain a healthy diet, putting in time training, lifting weights and doing cardio,

 2 – Advertising. Many Bodybuilding magazines and fitness websites exist in order to sell supplements as their money comes from selling advertising rather than subscriptions.

 3 – The Placebo Effect. Basically a placebo is a drug (or a supplement) that works just because you think it’s going to work, not because of anything about the drug itself.

Scientific American summed it up by saying “belief is powerful medicine, even if the treatment itself is a sham.”

And every study that has ever looked for a placebo effect has found one…

Every legitimate clinical trial of a drug or supplement must have a placebo group to show that the drug performs better than a placebo.

The placebo effect is huge when it comes to sports supplements.  For example, there’s nothing more convincing than a friend who swears that a certain new product is ‘great’ and urges you to try it!

4 – Faulty Research.  The wild claims made by the supplement companies are usually backed up by so-called ‘research.’  But when you look at it more closely, this research is usually a just a single study (or a cherry-picked selection of studies which all back up the claims being made).

But a single study proves nothing!  And what’s even worse is that these studies are often small, poorly designed and improperly controlled experiments that nobody else has ever managed to duplicate (proper scientific practice require the results of experiments to be able to be duplicated by others before the results are confirmed).

In many cases the people who did the study also own the company making the supplement…

That’s why in science nothing is ever proven until many different and unbiased researchers have found the same result.

So, are there any good supplements you should be taking?

In order of importance, the ‘supplements’ that have real science behind them are the following:

1. Colourful fruits and vegetables (e.g. dark berries, dark leafy greens, beets, red grapefruit, etc.), these will provide important vitamins and minerals. And just for the record, potatoes and rice don’t count as vegetables.

2. Protein from varied sources (baseline 0.75 g protein/lb body weight day for average people; 1 g/lb per day for athletes, that means if you’re an actively training 200 lb grappler then you should be consuming about 200 grams of protein every day). This is important for the body’s repair and recovery after hard training

3. Fish oil. (Recent research suggests as much as 5-15 g daily) this helps to reduce inflammation, increase bone density and also control metabolism/fat burning. Tuna and salmon are a great source of fish oils. Fish oil capsules can be used to increase your intake but choose high quality capsules to avoid mercury contamination

4. Vitamin D (2000-4000 IU daily in the winter). This helps with bone formation/density. Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunlight so your intake should depend on the climate. Those with light skin are more easily able to produce vitamin D in low light conditions so less supplementation is required. Be careful not to exceed the daily dose of vitamin D because it is possible to poison yourself.

5. Creatine for athletes doing strength/power work (2g/day for a month). Creatine is found naturally in beef but is supplemented in powder form (avoid the liquid creatine supplements as the active ingredient breaks down in the liquid form) Always cycle creatine supplementation taking it for 1 month then stopping for a time. Creatine is good for increasing muscle mass and strength when weightlifting because it increases available ATP in the muscles allowing for more intense exercise. Fighters looking to compete at a certain weight class should avoid creatine as it increases water retention.

6. Caffeine in SMALL doses (50-100 mg, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup coffee), 1 hour before training. Caffeine is a stimulant and can reduce fatigue and increase power. Keep in mind that constant use of caffeine reduces its effectiveness.

And the big one, that trumps pretty much all others: SLEEP. This is important for recovery and hormone balance, try to get 8 hours sleep every night.

Kids Martial Arts: Magic Bullet?

Kids Martial Arts: Magic Bullet?

Here’s the thing:
Our kids martial arts program works
wonders for a LOT of kids.
It helps them behave better… do
better in school… make better
friends… get exercise… learn
self-defense… and more.
But is it a “magic bullet”?
No way. Nothing is!
First off: it’s not for every kid.
Second off: kids are with us for
only a few hours a week.
We can’t control what happens in
the hundreds hours they’re not with
But I can tell you this much… If
it’s right for your kid, it can
really seem like a magic bullet.
Parents–and teachers–are often
blown away by the changes they see
in children after even a week or
two of our classes.
Eye contact improves. Listening
skills and attention span improves.
Confidence rises.
And of course, the kids are having
a TON of fun and getting great
exercise too.
Think it might be a good fit for
your kids?

Would you like your kids to read more?‏

Would you like your kids to read more?‏

Here’s how:
It’s very, very simple advice
though. I hope you won’t discard it
just because it’s so obvious 😉
Here it is:
Get the right books in their hands.
That’s it. That’s how you get your
reluctant reader to read more.
Maybe you need to take a trip to
the comic book store to let them
pick out some comics. Maybe it’s
time to give them free reign at the
book store.
The point is… Let THEM pick out
what they want to read.
And if you’re concerned about comic
books not being educational or
enriching… just think about how
many kids out there idolize Batman
and Superman and more. And think
about what these heroes represent:
– Loyalty
– Doing the right thing
– Persisting when things get tough
And that’s just the tip of the
iceberg. Pretty good role models
for your kids, right?

Self-defence the HARD principle

Self-defence the HARD principle

The HARD principle is a simple set of guidelines to follow in a confrontation that Increase chance of success in a self-defence situation as well as avoiding legal issues. These guidelines are designed to be simplistic as they must function in high pressure situations. The HARD principles will work with the self defense and combatives techniques learnt in the Total Martial Arts Swindon basic program.


The hands a placed in a nonviolent and non-aggressive position that still creates a barrier between you and the aggressor and allows you to attempt verbal de-escalation of the situation or to execute a pre-emptive strike or defensive techniques if necessary. This is also known as a ‘fence’ position. Remember body language is even more important element than words in communication.


Use your voice and ask the aggressor a question such as “what do you want” or “why are you doing this?” This will make it clear to any by standers or witnesses that you have taken verbal measures to prevent a physical altercation. Additionally asking a question acts as a thought interrupt which can distract an aggressor momentarily allowing for a pre-emptive strike.


This step involves moving to a more advantageous position such as near an exit or behind a barrier of some kind. Or it can mean taking a step backwards so that the aggressor must close the distance if they wish to escalate the situation to a physical altercation.


This is the time to reassess the situation and they decide how to act. If you have taken to previous steps and the aggressor is still presenting a threat then the choice is simple fight or flight.

Fitness=Happiness for Kids.‏

Fitness=Happiness for Kids.‏

Some quick facts…
More and more studies are emerging
that show a direct link between
exercise & happiness in kids.
Are your kids getting enough
With all of the activities and
games these days that require no
movement at all (video games, smart
phones, etc.)…
It’s never been more critical to
insure that your child is getting the
exercise that he or she needs.
Don’t let them sit out at PE!
Encourage them to run and play
during recess.
And try to work exercise into their
lives outside of school too.
If you’re having trouble with this…
Martial arts is an amazing way for
kids to get the exercise they need.
It also helps kids with
concentration, social skills,
respect & discipline.
Plus, it’s a TON of fun 😉
See if it’s the right fit for your
Kids love the challenge, fun and
excitement. Parents love the
health, behavior and character
development. It’s a win-win for
both of you 😉
Hope to see you soon,

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 5: Don’t Fail

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 5: Don’t Fail

This is the final article of the series and it will cover an oft overlooked part of every program: How not to fail.

The overwhelming majority of self-directed training and nutrition programs
fail. You may be one of the many who have tried something and failed before.
If not, you almost certainly know someone who has.

Yet people ALSO get in shape successfully all the time! They’re losing fat, building muscle, and living stronger, more confident lives. What are they doing differently?

There are two vital aspects to successfully following a fat loss program and achieving long lasting results:

  1. Accountability
  2. Gradual change


One thing successful people do is to find help. They find an experienced instructor who has helped others, and they do what that instructor tells them. Or they find a friend who has lost fat and copy their methods.

They do something to find a human relationship with someone who knows what to do and has obviously done it. And then they do it also. Mentorship and support are absolutely essential to fat loss. Those who have it, succeed.  Those who don’t, fail. Simply put: to ensure success find someone to teach you.

The human brain is made to analyse things, which is useful. However it’s easy to get lost in endless analysis which leads to inaction.  A great instructor, on the other hand, has already done the research and has practical experience thus can simplify things to the point where you feel confident skipping the analysis.  And actually start doing.

An additional aspect to accountability is motivation. The majority of people are incapable of effective self-motivation especially in the long term. You are more likely to do what’s necessary for fat loss and muscle gain if you promise your instructor or friend that you will do it then report back to them on your success or failure in the future.

Gradual change

We have all heard the saying ‘Rome was not built in a day’ meaning that it takes a long time to create something great and lasting (Rome is referred to as the eternal city). This logic ought to be applied to any effective fat loss and muscle gain program. Self-directed fat loss programs fail the majority of the time. This is often due to people trying to learn and do too much at once.

At Total martial arts Swindon our students achieve an amazingly high success rate.

This is because we know how lasting change really occurs. Successful, lasting change only happens by introducing new habits or behaviours gradually – and only when a student is fully confident they can do them. We introduce new behaviours and habits 1 at a time. Then once the student has shown that they can follow the new behaviour consistently for 2 weeks we introduce another and so on.

Below you will find a list of proven habits and behaviours for fat loss. Read through the entire list and find one habit that you are confident you will be able to follow for the next 2 weeks. Select the one that seems easiest for you and get started right now.

1. Exercise for 30 minutes per day

2. Take fish oil and a multivitamin at breakfast every day

3. Drink at least 8 cups of water every day

4. Eat at least 4 handful sized servings of vegetables every day

5. Sleep at least 8 hours (including naps and night-time sleep)

6. During each meal, stop eating when 80% full

7. Twice during the work day, get up and do 5 minutes of muscle stretching

8. Eat 4 – 5 meals per day

9. Eat lean protein with each meal

10. Replace grains with greens during each meal

Once you have been successful in doing your chosen habit consistently for 2 weeks add another one and do that also for the next two weeks. Keep building it up gradually.

Once again we will emphasise. You cannot do it all at once, every day. But the good news is you don’t have to!

You can make fat loss complex – and most likely fail.  Or you can make it simple by applying the strategies covered in this course, and see amazing success.

Martial Arts Training is not 'just fighting'

Martial Arts Training is not ‘just fighting’

At Total Martial Arts academy in Swindon we talk about developing our junior students holistically or developing the ‘whole person’ rather than ‘teaching people how to fight.’ This article will look a little deeper into What this means.

Some schools say that the sole purpose of training in the Martial Arts is to learn to fight and the rest is just ‘fluff’ and extraneous, but is a ‘fighter’ a Martial Artist?

The majority of our students wanting to learn Martial Arts don’t come to the Martial Arts to learn to fight, 99% of the phone calls we take are from parents who want their children to be confident, fit  and to be able to defend themselves.  These goals reinforce each other. What’s most likely to kill you?  It’s not the street mugger or bully, your own health is most likely to bring you to an early demise, therefore the first rule of self-defence is – look after your health!

If you work on your posture, breathing and mental condition and then exercise sensibly you are likely to stave off the biggest threat to your existence.

To then prevent a lot of trouble in your life you need to work on your ‘emotional intelligence’.

What is ‘emotional intelligence’?  An emotionally intelligent person has well developed interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, the level of emotional intelligence is an indicator as to how well someone will do in life, they will understand and manage their emotions, be friendly and outgoing, self confident and self motivated, value relationships, be a good team player, listen well, lead others, like to work and learn in groups and set and work towards targets.

Any good Martial Arts Instructor will teach all these aspects and personify the qualities.  Think about how much trouble one could avoid by using these skills.  Controlling fear and anger, being able to show confidence and deal with other people’s problems in a friendly and natural way are the qualities that can stop violence in its tracks.

It also means that someone with these skills can develop good training relationships, learn faster and get on much better professionally at work.

The author of ‘Maximum Achievement’ Brian Tracey said:

“Today, the greatest single source of wealth is between your ears.  Today wealth is contained in brainpower not brutepower.”

The learning parts of the brain are the Neo-Cortex where higher order thinking and problem solving take place and the Limbic System where our emotions and long term memory function – we remember best when we use our emotions in learning.

Under stress we revert to the Reptilian Brain which blocks the Neo –Cortex and Limbic System from thinking and remembering as we are in primitive ‘survival mode’ so learning is slowed down or prevented.  This is when we go into a stressed ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode, losing our temper or panicking.  It doesn’t shut down the right hand side or ‘intuitive’ part of the brain so we are still able to react appropriately to dangerous situations and control our emotions.  Think of when you are driving and how you intuitively read the road and situations that may occur and react instantaneously without going into panic.

The learning process is also enhanced if proper, permanent learning pathways are used, connecting the information to something that is relevant to the student in a way that excites or stimulates their imagination and emotions in a positive manner, challenging their thinking and making them want to find out more.

Stress should be applied gradually in such a way that the student learns how to deal with it in a positive structured way, using established knowledge, intuition and confidence.

People learn in different ways and the Instructor needs to be able to present the information in a way that they can process.  Some respond to visual stimulation, in the form of demonstration, pictures, diagrams and so on, some to auditory, hearing explanations, moving with rhythm, cadence, chanting and sound and some kinaesthetically by practical application, touching, doing and moving.

As a coach, we need to use all three learning styles, but some prefer to learn in one or two of these ways.  A good teacher is aware of this and is careful to present the knowledge across all three spectrums.

This is why lesson planning is so important, if the students are aware of what the content and outcome of the lesson is supposed to be, how the knowledge is being given to them, how they are going to process it, how it is going to be practiced, verified and validated, how they will have the opportunity to challenge it and give and get feedback, then they are on track to progress in self development and emotional intelligence.  This will give them the overall ability to develop physically and mentally and defend themselves against anything that might influence them in a negative fashion.

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 4: Which Supplements to take, if any

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 4: Which Supplements to take, if any

In the previous articles of this series we covered nutritional principles and exercise for fat loss and muscle gain. This article will explain which supplements to take and which to avoid.

A quick internet search will show the vast array of nutritional supplements for sale. At Total martial arts we often get asked the question “which supplements should I be taking?” The answer is very few, while we know that certain supplements can be useful, people overestimate their importance and are confused about the subject.

With this article we will make things very simple for you and tell you what supplements we recommend (there’s not many).

One legitimate approach is to simply take nothing.  Keep in mind you don’t need supplements.  Ultimately they’re supposed to supplement other things, like the food you eat and the physical activity you do. Many of our students have got into shape over the years taking nothing at all.  So that’s where we start at TMA. Taking no supplements at all is okay.

There are a few supplements that have a great deal of legitimate research behind them performed by unbiased academics and published in peer reviewed journals. This research is publicly available and anyone with an internet connection can view it. Of course, to read it, one must wade through  scientific jargon, but it can be done. Our instructor staff analyse legitimate research and we turn that into a few, simple recommendations for our students. So, the two strategies that make sense are:

1) to avoid supplements altogether, or

2) to examine legitimate research and use that to decide.

Now, we shall examine the second option.

In all the research we have looked at, there is really just a single supplement we wholeheartedly recommend and 3 others that come with a caveat/are a matter of convenience.

  • Fish Oil: This is the only supplement we wholeheartedly recommend as it is the best source of the Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There is a great deal of research proving fish oil works for fat loss, increases metabolic rate, decreases inflammation, improves cardiovascular health and is important for nervous system function and brain development. We recommend the liquid rather than the pill form as liquid fish oil tends to be higher purity and it’s easier to take the necessary amount in a liquid form. This is the brand we recommend: Carlson The Very Finest Fish Oil Liquid Omega-3 Lemon, 500ml. Take 1.5-2 teaspoons per day with meals.


  • Protein powder: This is not necessary as it’s preferable to get your protein from whole foods like lean meats, fish, eggs and vegetarian sources.  But since some people don’t always have time to make proper food they find themselves eating too little high quality protein. That’s why adding some protein powder can be helpful. This is the brand we recommend: MyProtein Impact Whey Protein unflavoured. Take a maximum of 4 scoops (80g) per day. Some people have trouble digesting milk derived protein powder so can try a plant based alternative instead such as hemp protein.
  • Multivitamins.  Once again this is not necessary for most people but a multivitamin can be used as a temporary solution for those who are not getting adequate vitamins and minerals in the diet. We recommend a multivitamin as a temporary measure for fighters who are cutting weight and for people making the gradual transition from a very unhealthy diet to a healthy diet.
  • Greens supplements. If you get enough vegetables, a greens supplement is unnecessary.  Some people simply don’t eat enough vegetables, and are missing out on the micronutrients they contain — many of which help you lose fat either directly or indirectly. And a greens supplement can help here.

A lot of thought and a lot of research has gone into these recommendations – these supplements are what we use and they’re also what we encourage our students to use. Nothing more.

In the fifth and final part of this series of articles we will cover why most people fail at fat loss, and how not to be one of them.

Help your Child Perform Under Pressure

Help your Child Perform Under Pressure

At Total Martial Arts Swindon we know one of the primary methods for learning a martial art is repetition. Although our job as coaches is to make classes varied and interesting for the students by disguising the repetition, it is important that we constantly repeat particular actions, movements and sequences over and over again. Research has shown that it takes between 300-500 repetitions to learn a new skill.

We have all heard the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’, but if we can already perform a movement why do we have to continue to go back and keep practicing the same things?


Performance Choking: an unexplained sudden drop in performance for no physical reason.

It is necessary to perform under pressure in many areas of life and sometimes that pressure can adversely effect on our skill level. For example, you may find that although you know you can perform a technique well, when asked to demonstrate in front of a group of people it can go wrong or we forget things. This is known as ‘choking’, it is brought on through the stress of performing under pressure.

How are these 2 problems related? It’s all to do with the way we learn. To be the best we can be as martial artists, we need our movements to be instinctive. This will ensure that that we can perform to the very best of our ability, even when under pressure – whether that pressure comes from a crowd of spectators or the threat of an attacker.   The key is to understand the learning process. When a junior martial arts student is able to master performing under pressure this will have great benefits in their whole life; achieving results in tests at school and in the workplace later in life.


There are 2 stages of learning, these are known as Explicit and Implicit.

Explicit learning is the first stage of skill or knowledge acquisition. It relates to how your mind processes new information when learning a task. You receive information and process it into the required action. This action is governed by a part of the brain known as the Prefrontal cortex. At this stage you need to focus and concentrate, putting a lot of thought into your actions (this is called conscious competence). As you practice and develop through repetition the movement becomes automatic, this is the Implicit (second stage) of learning. The control for the action moves to another part of the brain called the Basal Ganglia. This part of the brain is responsible for habits which require no conscious thought (known as unconscious competence) and is a bit like working on auto-pilot, for example blinking or chewing. If you repeat the skill enough, it will become instinctive and unconscious movement. You could be thinking about something entirely different and unrelated, or be surrounded by distractions yet still be able to perform the action perfectly.

So why does it go wrong? When you are under pressure to perform well you go into a state of heightened awareness which can make you think too much about what you are doing and so switch control back from the Basal Ganglia to the Prefrontal cortex within the brain. This is turn then puts you back into ‘learning’ mode making you have to think about each and every move you make which in turn can make you ‘choke’ your performance, make mistakes and make you feel like a complete beginner all over again.

So what can you do about it?

Practice, practice, practice

Preparation is very important to be able to perform actions whilst ignoring distraction. For the movements to become a solid unconscious ability you need to imagine the exact situation for the performance when you practice, similar to actors having dress rehearsals. For example, if you are going into competition, when you practice you need to picture in your head the surroundings you will be performing in, the way you will feel, the noise of the crowd etc etc. When practicing self defense skills you need to imagine that you are in a real situation where you need to defend yourself. Imagine all the things that could go wrong so you are prepared for any situation which could take you out of that unconscious competence. This way, if or when you find yourself in that situation you are much less likely to return to the initial learning process and be able to react better, faster and more confidently.

Test yourself by training under pressure, if performing a kata or form try turning yourself to face a different direction than usual to see if the change in visual stimulus distracts your attention. You could try holding a conversation whilst performing or listening to music.

Make sure that when you train you always do your best. If you practice and repeat movements at a lower level than you are capable of, that is how you will perform under pressure. You will train yourself at an unconscious level to perform badly so make sure you always practice good quality techniques.

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 3: Exercise

Lose Fat and Build Muscle part 3: Exercise

In the previous two articles of this series we covered nutritional principles and what to eat for fat loss and muscle gain. This article will explain how to exercise for fat loss. If you want to reduce body fat, both diet and exercise are critical.

Much like with nutrition, so much is written about exercise that it can seem like you’re doomed to failure without the perfect program.  Once again this is just more nonsense we have grown sick of hearing.

Today we will cover the most important aspects of exercise so you can get started straight away.

When exercising to lose fat, there are two specific goals. The first is to burn calories. And the simplest way to do that? Aerobic exercise – like walking, jogging, running, or riding a bike.  But here’s the thing: if you only do aerobic exercise, you may also lose muscle mass. That’s a problem because it’ll lower your metabolism. So you will also need to do some exercise that develops muscle, to stay strong, look good, keep your metabolism high and burn fat faster.  And that means resistance exercise – like free weights, body weight training, or circuit training.

In the end, if you want to lose the most fat and look your best, you have to do some calorie-burning exercise and some muscle-preserving or building, exercise.

Having established the type of exercise required we will now tell you how much exercise you need to do. The answer is simple: 5 hours a week.

That’s what works with our students, and there’s strong research to support the recommendation, too. A study undertaken by the University of Wyoming looked at 1500 people who exercised regularly.  And the key result was: those who exercised at least 5 hours a week were happiest with their bodies. While those that exercised less did not get the results they wanted.

Now, some students come to us doing almost 5 hours per week already. So, if they’re close to the magic 5 hour number, we just get them to increase the volume and intensity a little, or perhaps change the kind of exercise they’re doing.

The majority of students however come to us doing a lot less. Frequently no exercise at all.  So, what do we do with them?

We don’t ask them to jump to 5 hours right away. Because, for most people, that’s too much too soon and they will not be able to keep it up. Instead, we gradually increase their exercise, asking them to do just a little more than they’re currently doing. Not only is that easier for them – it’s the right thing to do in the long term. The expectation that people can make massive, instant changes to their lives — and make them last — is the biggest reason people fail to lose fat and keep it off.

If you’re currently doing no exercise, just focus on moving a little more and exercising an hour or two each week.  And if you’re doing more exercise than that already, just gradually increase your volume until you reach five hours each week.  And make sure you’re doing both calorie burning exercise (like jogging) and muscle-preserving exercise (like training with free weights.)

At this point, I want to share with you the single most important thing you will ever learn about exercise for fat loss: it’s a concept called “Progressive Overload.”  In plain English, it means: consistently challenging yourself to do a little more, or a little better.

For example, let’s say yesterday you went for a 10 minute jog. Well, then today; go for 11 minutes.  If in your last workout you lifted 40 kilograms, then today; lift 41 kilograms.

That’s progressive overload. Every time you do physical activity, you write down what you did, and the next time, you do more, or do better, even in the smallest ways.  It’s a really powerful – and unbelievably easy – technique.

So let’s recap.  The simple keys to exercising for fat loss are:

  • get moving – do some exercise and do it right away
  • mix calorie burning exercise (like jogging) with muscle preserving exercise (like training with free weights)
  • work your way up to 5 hours of exercise per week
  • track what you do, and challenge yourself to do a little more, or a little better, each time

A great way to get all the exercise you need is to enrol in the Total Martial Arts Swindon basic program. This includes calorie burning exercise in Kickboxing, Jun fan and Krav Maga classes along with muscle developing exercise in the ‘combat conditioning’ fitness classes.

In the next article of this series we will cover a topic we get a great many questions on: nutritional supplements. We’ll talk about which ones should you take – or if you should take any at all.