Taiso through Pam’s eyes


 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 As the arm is withdrawn, the muscles are relaxed.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,



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.


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.


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.

Posture Modulates Action Perception

Have you ever wondered if your posture influences your actions?


Picture from http://www.sri.com

Marius Zimmermann, Ivan Toni, and Floris P. de Lange did, and published a paper on the subject of “Body Posture Modulates Action Perception” on 3rd of April 2013.  It is a fascinating read on the effects that our posture has on our brain and our ability to take action.

“Recent studies have highlighted cognitive and neural similarities between planning and perceiving actions. Given that action planning involves a simulation of potential action plans that depends on the actor’s body posture, we reasoned that perceiving actions may also be influenced by one’s body posture. Here, we test whether and how this influence occurs by measuring behavioral and cerebral (fMRI) responses in human participants predicting goals of observed actions, while manipulating postural congruency between their own body posture and postures of the observed agents. Behaviorally, predicting action goals is facilitated when the body posture of the observer matches the posture achieved by the observed agent at the end of his action (action’s goal posture). Cerebrally, this perceptual postural congruency effect modulates activity in a portion of the left intraparietal sulcus that has previously been shown to be involved in updating neural representations of one’s own limb posture during action planning. This intraparietal area showed stronger responses when the goal posture of the observed action did not match the current body posture of the observer. These results add two novel elements to the notion that perceiving actions relies on the same predictive mechanism as planning actions. First, the predictions implemented by this mechanism are based on the current physical configuration of the body. Second, during both action planning and action observation, these predictions pertain to the goal state of the action.”

The full paper is available at the link below.

Body Posture Modulates Action Perception

It’s not WHAT you eat, but WHEN you eat…

Wouldn’t it be great to shed some kgs without cutting out our favourite meals?


There are studies that show that this is possible.  It all started with tests on mice where scientists discovered that moving their meals closer together during the day and lengthening fasting periods overnight caused a drop in sugar and cholesterol levels, making them healthier and leading to weight loss.  In this study the mice under test ate exactly the same meals as the control mice (see study abstract below).


Following this, a study was conducted by the University of Surrey to test the same principle on 16 human volunteers, as shown in the BBC TV programme, ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’.  All of the volunteers initially had their blood fat, blood sugar and body fat measured following 12 hours of fasting.  The volunteers were then separated into two groups and the test conducted over 10 weeks.  The first group was the control group and could eat as per their normal routine.  The second group was asked to shift their breakfast to be 90 minutes later and their dinner to be 90 minutes earlier and to exclude all drinks and snacks after their evening meal.  As a result of these changes the second group had 3 more hours of fasting per night.  All of the participants had to keep a food diary to make sure that they had been eating similar amounts of food as normal.

At the end of the 10 week period both groups repeated the measurements that were taken at the start of the test.

The study demonstrated significant changes that were very similar to the tests on mice.  The group that had the longer fasting period showed a change in their levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, but no change in blood fat.  This group was shown to have lost body fat as a result of the experiment.


Consequently, this study has confirmed that the time that we eat DOES matter.  Eating late dinners is likely to result in weight gain and longer periods of fasting will improve the chances of losing some kgs.  Combining this knowledge with exercise and a healthy diet could produce incredible results.

For more information about this study please see the link below.


Seminar Review

Last weekend our club hosted an International Budo Seminar where we had various martial arts instructors demonstrating and teaching their arts. Personally for me this event was a great success, especially as I was initially worried that we would have only limited attendance. In the end we had over 30 people turn up and I hope that they all had a great time. Below you can find a short review that was written by one of the participants, followed by a few pictures.  Enjoy 🙂

Group photo

Group photo

“Martial Arts Seminar August 2014

This August I had the opportunity to attend a martial arts seminar in Guildford with instructors from the UK and mainland Europe who are high level teachers in various disciplines.

For me it is always interesting to train with new instructors and in styles that differ from those that that I regularly practice. There are opportunities to learn new ideas and variations of existing techniques; a chance to expand horizons.

This seminar did not disappoint. Not only did we get a chance to experience new possibilities but there was also a real sense of camaraderie. Instructors from different styles and countries coming together with open minds and students (mostly) enjoying learning. I certainly hope that we can experience more seminars of this calibre in the future.”

By Robin K.

not so serious photo

not so serious photo

1 (3) 1 (5) 1 (8) 1 (29) 1 (41) 1 (45) 1 (53) 1 (60) 1 (65) 1 (67) 1 (74) 1 (95) 1 (109)

Pub after seminar

DSC_4191 DSC_4197 DSC_4201 DSC_4204

Thank you for your time 🙂

The Outsiders

picture from patheos.com

picture from patheos.com

Throughout my martial arts journey, I have been lucky enough to meet some extraordinary people, excellent teachers and great friends. Most of them have one thing in common – they are what I call “outsiders”. I will skip mentioning their names as I am sure most of the people who know me will know who I am writing about.

An outsider is a person in martial arts who does not belong to a big organisation, usually by choice. The reason for this is simple; the outsider does not want to have to deal with the politics inherent in a large organisation. In some cases the outsider is driven away from an organisation as he stands up for what he thinks, which sometimes results in a conflict with the leader(s) of an organisation.  This non-compliant behaviour can lead to them being side lined.

I have had the honour to meet many outsiders over the years and I can say that these are the people who have influenced my martial arts the most.

Although outsiders are by definition on the fringes of martial arts that does not stop people in a large organisation from exploiting their knowledge, but in my experience it is often the case that the outsider does not get any credit.  For example a few years ago a group in Poland were accepted into one of the biggest Karate organisations in the world.  This group were advertising themselves as experts in kata bunkai (applications).  However, what was not mentioned was that their top instructors had asked an outsider to teach them about kata and their applications as they were worried about being able to pass their grading in front of a highly ranked Japanese teacher.  After these instructors passed their gradings their ties with the outsider were immediately cut without so much as a thank you or recognition that he had prepared them for their gradings.  This example of where an outsider is essentially used when convenient is not an isolated case and I believe this is because outsiders tend to be devoted to their art and are therefore happy to help wherever they can, without looking for fortune or fame.  I also believe that this situation is not unique to martial arts, but occurs in other sports as well.

For years I have been observing these behaviours and have tried to avoid them with reasonable success.  I have sometimes found myself being dragged into political games, but fortunately for me it did not take too long to notice the situation and act.  Having left these games I have become an outsider myself and I have to say that I am very happy to be in this position as it gives me the flexibility to cooperate with whoever I want, regardless of their affiliations.  I no longer have to comply with nonsensical rules or pay for membership and other fees to make the businessmen happy.  Although it would not be fair to say that being an outsider means that I am completely free from problems.  As larger organisations tend to turn into money making machines they become very introverted and do not want to cooperate with anyone else.  Hopefully this will change in time.  To try and encourage better interaction between organisations our small group of outsiders get together regularly at seminars and deliberately make them open to all that are interested.  At these events we can meet and train with other teachers and hopefully meet likeminded people. 

In a bizarre way most outsiders are naturally attracted to other outsiders, in this way I have made friends around the globe and across the sports and arts, gaining opportunities to train with great people.  Those outsider teachers that I know and cooperate with often do not have to force people to respect them as by their actions they earn respect.  I have seen this pattern repeating in multiple systems such as Karate, Ju jitsu, Kung Fu, Kempo, Aikido and Wrestling.

I have decided to write these few words as for nearly 20 years in martial arts I have seen these situations occurring over and over again causing stress to students and teachers, but not many people seem to express their opinions on this topic.  So, there you go, here is my small opinion. I should add that my opinion about organisations is based on my personal experience and does not apply to all of the associations and groups out there.

This might be controversial to some people who I know but all of us know what we carry inside, maybe some people who will read this will find their inner outsider J

I hope that I will have a chance to meet more outsiders on seminars!

Thanks for reading!