Making Plyometrics Specific in Martial Art Training |

One of the most misunderstood variables of strength training is specifics. To really make an exercise specific to a skill, standard off the shelf exercises just won’t cut it. For example, when training to improve punching power often instructors will suggest improving arm strength and to make it more specific to the punch in question will recommend using a dumbell over a barbell. While not universal this approach is common.The application of plyometric exercises to the martial arts is an area where some careful thought should be applied to get the best out of your training time. It would be all too easy to take well established protocols and use these, particularly those that appear to have similar movements to strikes or kicks.A plyometric contraction involves eccentric loading followed by concentric contraction. Also known as the stretch-shortening cycle, this involves a muscle being stretched under tension before it contracts. If the time frame for this cycle is kept as short as possible the more explosive the contraction will be.One excellent drill involves rapidly repeating a striking action thereby exploiting this phenomenon. This repetition has the advantage of increasing the neural drive with a resultant increase in force being the outcome. The full drill involves following the rapid repetition is with a full power performance of the strike being repeated.In order to produce rapid striking actions often only the latter section of the action is involved. Trying to rapidly repeat a long or big technique is problematic as by definition it takes a long time to perform. So when executing a round kick, using this method, it looks more like a thai boxing kick than a karate roundhouse from a long stance. The earlier section of the movement can be trained separately.This approach to including plyometric style training in martial arts is far more specific to the explosive movements required than standard plyometric exercises such as bounding or box jumps or even clapping push ups. These exercises provide the correct contraction type which is an improvement on regular squats or press ups.Another important consideration is the state of the muscle as it is stretched. It is not slack, it is stretched under tension. One useful analogy is of a double stretched elastic band with the slack removed. That is the band is stretched and taut rather than slack before it is stretched at both ends! Meaning the front and back of the band is streched.This double stretch, under tension, applied to plyometric training will dramatically improve the force applied from whatever strike is trained in this way. This is a huge improvement on simply performing standard but non-specific exercises from a book on plyometrics, which is probably aimed at track and field athletes.

Seven Tips on What to Look For in a Great Art Teacher |

Art is something that moves you, it can inspire, uplift and get your creative juices flowing.Choosing an Art Teacher to develop your passion can be like a dance in a darkened room, so here are seven tips on what to look for:1. A passion for art – without it, lessons can be dullYou know the feeling from school, you’re in a subject that is not your favorite, but you have to be there. If you catch a little shut-eye you hope the teacher won’t notice. If you are choosing an Art Teacher, you’re probably handing over some of your hard earned money for their expertise. Pick someone who shines through by enlightening and energizing your learning.2. Great communication skillsNot everyone can be a great communicator, but a great art tutor can get their practised knowledge from their mind and body into the fascinated student.3. Practical ability to demonstrate techniquesIt’s all very well knowing how to perform certain techniques such as pastels or gauche but if a practical demonstration isn’t possible, you won’t get the most from your lessons.4. Inspiring and encouraging comments, even if the student refuses to see their own talentCriticism can be tough, especially when it involves creative work. A great Art Teacher will certainly comment on the work you perform in class, but will give you feedback and suggestions rather than just a judgment. The teachers that get this balance right are genuine educators – drawing out the best from their students.5. Options for what to do with the artwork once it is created (display, reprint, license or selling)It’s a sad fact that most qualified artists work outside of their area of expertise, but this is mostly down to a missing skillset. Once you have created your work, your family and friends can easily enjoy it and are probably proud to have an artist in residence, but how does this help you in the future?The great Art Teacher will have options for you after you have completed your works if you decide to commercialize them, after all, it brings your work to a wider audience.6. Recognition of when the student has learned all that teacher can teach and suggest where and how to learn more.No-one can know everything, but the truly great teachers know when the best option for a student is to allow them to move to a different art teacher. If your passion is for sculpture and your present teacher insists on teaching you charcoal life-drawings, it might be that they don’t know enough about sculpture.The best Art Teacher will recognize your abilities are best developed elsewhere and will help you find a suitable expert in your area passion – and they will be happy in the knowledge that you have grown.7. Bundle it all up with a light determined touch that show perseverance and commitment with a resilience to criticismA great deal of art is repetitive technique, but the reason it is art, is that we all see things differently. You won’t cry over shaving a point on your pencil for the thousandth time to create a new work on a blank canvas.

The Arts Have the Power to Transform Whole Communities |

This is evident in how well designed programs in the arts have boosted academic achievement and nurtured the development of well-rounded students and the community within. Playwright, Wendy Wasserstein stated “The arts reflect profoundly the most democratic credo, the belief in an individual vision or voice… The arts’ belief in potential gives each of us — both audience and creator — pride in our society’s ability to nurture individuals.”The commonality that statement brings is the value and belief that the Arts are important to us, to our lives and to our community. The Arts inspire creativity in each of us individually; however, they breathe life into our communities. What we know to be true, throughout history, is that the Arts — all of them, evolve and reinforce beliefs and values in all societies. The Arts draw out from each of us the creativity from within to explore the possibilities as a whole. The Arts challenge, inspire, and change people because audiences are encouraged to answer questions about life, the world and the legacies they are creating.The role of the heart of an Arts Center should be to create transformational art education opportunities for students of all ages in the community. An Arts Centers purpose is to capture the essence of the community, through multi-media experiences that communicate, educate and transcend ethnic cultures. The Arts Center should openly teach us that we are inherent sources of innovation and that we can dramatically contribute to a community just by discovering what we create best-and then doing it! It does not have to be great theatre, dance, or a masterful painting-a child exposed to the Arts learns skills in creativity and self-expression that might just lead him/her to develop a new vaccine or a ground-breaking world policy that leads to a more peaceful planet. The Arts are not superfluous to society; they are an underestimated force that is moving it forward, therefore the Arts Center needs to become the core of that force within the community. When one visits an Arts Center either for an art exhibit or for a performance they should feel awake, alive, and lucky to be there.One should also look at how our community values its partnerships in the Arts. The value of the Arts to the community is a very personal statement. It means something different to each of us. For me it means working together to leverage limited resources, broaden inclusion, increase accessibility, and provide opportunities for everyone at a collaboration level in making a difference for all involved. The value comes by showing empowerment and enriching the lives of those that are served and by strengthening the community in which we live. Another value in partnerships is that they foster and create sustainable relationships within the broader community. A Community partnership approach sparks networks that allow participants to better realize common goals. These connections form pathways for knowing and sharing social, cultural, and material capital through community building that supports personal, social and institutional change.Former President John F. Kennedy stated, “I see little of more importance to the future of our country and of civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his/her vision wherever it takes him/her.”