Anxious Black Belt

I’m very excited about publishing my book on the subjects of Karate and Anxiety. Below you can find an excerpt from the book. Please let me know what you think.

try.pngI started writing this book as a therapeutic exercise, to find out more about why I was suffering from a fear of the smallest things and to ensure that I not make the same mistakes with raising my own children as my father did with me when I was young. After talking about the idea of writing down my experiences with a few friends, they convinced me that I should write my story down in this book.

I’m not a writer, so forgive me for my lack of beautiful descriptions and poetic sentence. This book is about my fight with anxiety, how martial arts helped me to combat my fears and how it has taught me to become a stronger and more caring person.

It was a tough road. All of these experiences have led me to set up my own company, LB Posture Training, where I try to help other people improve their health and mental wellbeing and part of this business is Karate.

Karate can be used to help people who suffer from mental health issues, loneliness, and isolation. We provide group classes for adults from 18 years old, with our oldest student currently being 87 years young.

I hope that this book will help others to understand how difficult it is to live with anxiety, especially as I have only recently learnt that this is the condition that I have been suffering with.

I would like to show the art of Karate in a different light, not just a mere fighting system, but as a tool for improving one’s quality of life.

Karate has saved my life, and I am grateful for that. That is why I have decided to use it to help people around the world.

“Strong and Caring people are the pillars of society, and Karate helps to cultivate them.” Les Bubka 

For as long as I can remember I have had an overwhelming feeling of fear. I never imagined that this was something that I could change or erase, however I began to learn more about these feelings when I started to teach Karate for the charity, The Welcome Project. Here I met people who suffered from anxiety and other mental health issues.

It has become important to me to describe the ways in which I deal with these feelings. They stem from my childhood and have continued with me through adulthood. They have been with me on my journey to gaining a black belt in Karate and to becoming a person who is fortunate to teach all over the world, using Karate as a way of helping others.

In my opinion, the root of my anxiety can be found in the relationship I had with my father. He was a strict man who never showed signs of love to me or my brother and from whom words such as “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” were never spoken. Everything we did was scrutinised, never good enough or done incorrectly. This behaviour of my father turned the simplest tasks into unpleasant experiences, full of the fear of failure.

I have this clear memory of my mum sending me to a shop to buy some fruits. At that time in Poland it was not so easy to get fruits and other groceries as the communist regime had just fallen and democracy started to settle in.

I distinctly remember my mum telling me to go and get bananas, potatoes, and other groceries for the family. My memory of that event is that feeling of fear of asking people over the counter to buy a few simple Items. I felt paralysed. Luckily I found that a friend of mine was in the same queue and so I managed to convince him to ask a salesperson for my shopping. This type of fear of communicating with strangers has accompanied me to this day, but over the years I have developed coping strategies to deal with it. Now when I recognise this feeling creeping in I can reduce its impact on me via meditation and reasoning.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try, fear never leaves me. It is always lingering in the bottom of my gut making me worry that something bad is going to happen. I hope that my story will go some way to describe what people are experiencing when suffering from anxiety every day.

If you enjoyed this chapter and are interested in reading more, the book can be purchased from Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

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Les Bubka

Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

Adapting Karate

Big part of my karate is teaching, I teach many different people. Some of them have disabilities, autism or  not so young. In order to provide a quality sessions i have to adapt program to specific needs. Through the years of working with different charities I have developed my own specific way of modifying Karate. I’m happy that there is more recognition for my work and there is an interest in seminars with me.

For those who asked me about teaching more about Taiso project,  I have planned for next year few seminars on the subject. Please have look below on sample clip of how I modify Kata . In this case both ladies have problems with balance making Seienchin Kata very difficult to perform standing.

Kind regards

Les

Taiso through Pam’s eyes

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 Taiso Group 

Guest article from one of my friends and “trainee” as she calls herself. I wish I could be as articulate as Pam.

Watching a Taiso class you could be thinking that it’s just a group of people waving their arms about with the occasional punch and kick thrown in; but it’s much more than that. It is a discipline, based on Karate that combines gentle exercise with  better posture, mobility and balance. The consensus of opinion is that learning something new, especially when we get older, helps to keep the brain active. This can be anything, from learning a language or playing the piano, but with Taiso you get a bit of exercise as well.

Each set of movements – or a form as it is called – is carried out in order with a little leeway for artistic interpretation. If the person who is learning has limited mobility, they can still take part; perhaps by sitting and just doing the arm movements. You just complete the sections that you are able to.

Once a form has been learnt, a breathing pattern is introduced to co-inside with the movements. Inhaling (expanding the abdomen instead of the chest) and then exhaling for longer than the inhale, helps to clear the stale air at the bottom of the lungs. This will increase the oxygen in your brain and other organs.

Once this has been mastered, another facet is added. Upon inhaling, introduce a slight stretch upwards and outwards and on exhaling, a gentle relax and slight bending of the knees. This may seem like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time but with practice it should come. After that, you can add tensing the muscles when you stretch. An arm movement, for example, that seems as if you are pushing out against something solid is enhanced and the muscles tightened. As the arm is withdrawn, the muscles are relaxed. A form can be executed slowly for relaxation or speeded up for a bit of a work out.

You will not get bored either as there are a total of eighteen forms to perfect.

If you like Pam’s writing, please click like and I will ask her to write more…

Kind regards,

Les.

OMOIYARI – Philosophy

“Strong and caring people are the pillars of society and Karate helps cultivate them.” Les Bubka

Omoiyari is one of the Japanese expressions that is very difficult to explain to a non-Japanese person. Some say it is thoughtfulness or as Sugiyama Lebra defines Omoiyari “the ability and willingness to feel what others are feeling, to vicariously experience the pleasure or pain that they are undergoing and to help them satisfy their wishes… without being told verbally” [1]. For me personally it means simply caring for others and myself.

This type of caring is sincere and not motivated by reward, we care for others without seeking compliments or gratitude. If we help others expecting an acknowledgment with a ‘thank you’ we are not having omoiyari and we do this for pure purpose of building our ego.

That is why I encourage my students to be helpful to anyone in the dojo as we are like a family where all support each other, but this care is not limited to dojo: we need to care about and help people everywhere.

I often see, especially in big dojos, students training in isolation not willing to interact or share their knowledge and experience with anyone.  We all need to train hard but some Karate adepts coming to a dojo with the attitude of “I’m here to train, to be better myself and I’m focusing on myself”.

This is not the right attitude, this type of training is creating strong egocentric people who in life are so busy focusing on themselves that they ignore all others who might be in need. What we need in society is more empathetic people who can help others.  Through Karate training with omoiyari in mind we can achieve this.

[1] More about the Omoiyari concept

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Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

8.5 million people suffer painful joints

As a Personal Trainer (PT) and therapist I work mostly with clients who have some kind of injury. Talking with other PTs I have noticed that they have a growing number of clients who are training with an injury.

photo-11-09-2016-12-35-47 Clients who have seen a GP and have been sent away with pain killers decide to work through the injury. As pain killers are great at reducing pain they can make clients forget about an injury, which might lead to their condition worsening as they train. In the United Kingdom around 8.5 million people suffer painful joints*. During a year Accident and Emergency treat 380,000 sports injuries and 30% of GP appointments relate to musculoskeletal problems*. As the NHS is lacking the budget, staff and resources to cope with these problems, the responsibility for helping clients with injuries is often transferred on to PTs.

PTs can create bespoke programmes to help with injury recovery and prevention. PT’s have tools to improve balance, strength, mobility and the neuromuscular system.  With correct forms of action a PTs can help clients regain mobility of the joints. If our body is lacking in a range of motion it starts compensating and overloading tissues. A good example of this is lower back pain triggered by a limited range of motion in the hip.

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My clients mostly work with functional movements through the use of plyometric exercises and kettlebells. We can classify movement patterns as:

  • Lifting
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Squatting
  • Rotating
  • Walking

Restoring mobility, agility, strength and balance in those patterns brings relief and reduction of pain.

A fully mobile, strong and agile body deals better with daily stresses, works more efficiently and is more resistant to injury, just like well-oiled and maintained machinery.

 

 

*Data taken from

Register of Exercise Professionals journal.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.

Autism and Martial arts

Can martial arts help used as physical therapy for those with Autism?

httpwww.patheos.com

picture from patheos.com

Dr. E. Paul Zehr in his article writes about the study supporting martial arts training as a great tool to improve communications.

“Training in traditional martial arts requires physical and mental focus. As contrasted with martial arts that that focus exclusively on competition and fighting, traditional here  means those practices emphasizing overall skill and character development with movement patterning. Such training is essentially a holistic synergy of mind-body coordination. Habitual practice in martial arts, particularly when structured patterns of attack and defence are repeated, can serve as an excellent tool for physical and mental training.”

full article Martial Arts Training Can Help Autism

Is Sitting Harmful to Your Health?

Modern lifestyle has forced us into spending much of the time in a sitting position. Most of us sit a lot through the day. We sit to eat breakfast, travelling to and from work sitting in a car or train/bus, resting on the chair while working. After we have finished our day giving the best at work we come back and have a deserved rest in comfortable couch in front of the TV or relaxing with a computer.

All of this is accumulating to about 15hr of sitting. This is an awful lot and it definitely is not good for our health. But what is actually happening when we are sitting for long time and why this is bad for us?

  • Lack of stability provided by our hips position via glutes and torque from lower limbs while we stand, is creating an unstable base for the spine when sitting, and results in two possibilities while sitting. Flexion (hunching over) or extension (leaning forward) position in the search for stability.
  • Due to the lack of stability our body is starting to compensate in an attempt to keep our torso upright, tightening one of the quadriceps head (rectus femoris) in the effort to bring the pelvis forward and it becomes isometrically loaded and results with time in shortening that muscle,
  • Next muscles to help with the compensation are the hip flexors (Iliacus and psoas) which are running from the front of our spine to the pelvis and pelvis to thigh bone, tensing and shortening in order to support the stability of the spine.

This shortening of the muscles will reduce our mobility in the hips not allowing us to stand up properly and resulting in further compensations by the extending lower back which might cause back pain.

Reducing our time spent in a chair is a great way to help preventing this process, so we should move around and stretch every 30 minutes, also the way we sit can reduce the stress on these muscles. We can learn how to sit more efficiently from people who meditate in the lotus position on the floor, as this set up is creating far more stability for our spine than the European way of using a chair.

  • By taking the lotus position we are we are providing more stability to our pelvis through activating the hip capsule in the end range of flexion and rotation of thigh bones,
  • Rotating our hands palms up (supine) we are creating stable position for our shoulders providing a neutral positioning for our head.
  • This set up is providing support through the pelvis and lumbar region.

It is not always possible to sit cross legged at work or when traveling to and from, but we can use this position relaxing at home after work, helping our body to get out of the shortening pattern. This is not the solution to the modern day office worker problems. The best way is to keep moving as we are not designed to sit for so long.

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About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.