Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


Mind-Body Workout #8: Building Strength, Speed, and Health in the Arms

Great to have you back again, mind-body students. This week, we have a new installment in a series that has become a blog favorite: the mind-body workouts!

On the agenda for today: a total workout for the arms, which includes work on your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and more! The workout is divided up into three sections: strength-building, speed work, and relaxing. Let's jump right in.

Mind-Body Workout #8: Building Strength, Speed, and Health in the Arms

Part 1: Strengthening

Wall Push-ups with Fire-Breath: This exercise gets the blood-flowing into the arms and chest. Remember to do both kinds of sets, elbows-in, and elbows-out. These work the biceps and chest, and the triceps and deltoids respectively. If you find that this exercise is too easy for you, you can always take a small step back from the wall and move your hands lower. Add in fire breath to engage and calm the mind!

Panther Walk: This is a more intense pushing exercise that will truly build strength in your arms as you launch your body off the ground with each repetition. To really mix it up, do a set of 10 or so going forward, backward, left, and right. (You can always start with five each way instead, if 10 is too difficult.)

Part 2: Speed

The Washing Machine: If you do this technique slowly, it is a nice relaxing move. However, you can speed the move up to practice quick, precise movements with the arms. As you increase the speed, you want to bring the circles closer to your body and make them tighter. This technique is particularly relevant for developing effective blocking movements in martial arts.

Saber: This speed move is another technique that doubles as a relaxing technique depending on how slowly or quickly you do it. The first rule is to keep the stick as straight as possible all throughout the movement. You can watch yourself perform it straight ahead in the mirror to see if the stick is flaring to one side or the other. The motion should require less and less arm movement as you become more coordinated and proficient with it. As that happens, focus more of your energy on breathing deep. Remember: swift, precise arm movement.

Part 3: Relaxation

Iron on the Wall with Fire Breath: This is a classic exercise here on the blog. You can't believe how much of a difference simply letting go of the tension in the shoulders and neck can make. Not just for arm health, but for total body and mind health! You want the muscles between the neck and shoulders (the trapezius muscle) to become soft and moldable, kind of like clay. For most people, they start like rock. Hold the stretch for 2-3 minutes, working up to that if you can't hold it that long at first.

Reduce Inflammation: Working your arms hard can cause issues in the complex joints. The biggest cause of this harm is intense stress on the joints (like doing a heavy arm strengthening workout) followed by very little motion and range of motion use. To avoid having this happen while you are developing arm strength and speed, you should do this gentle exercise for a few minutes with both arms. There are two basic motions: vertical, and horizontal. Do both to help heal any minor strain or damage the joints naturally experience as you work them out.

And that's it! Happy Stretching!

Panther Walk for Upper Body Development

This week we are going to show you an exercise that you can do if the wall push-ups are too easy or slow for you. Many younger readers, athletes, and martial artists will be interested in maintaining and improving their "fast-twitch" muscle fibers, which will allow them to move quickly and precisely. If that is your goal, then the panther walk is the upper body exercise for you.

Essentially, the panther walk is a push-up, but when you push up off the ground, you want to push with your hands and feet so that you hop up off the ground completely. This is how you move forward, backward, or sideways while doing the exercise. You will probably bend a little at the hips to help you with the hop, because you'll be activating your abdominal muscles too. This is fine, but try to keep your body as straight as possible throughout the exercise.

Of course, this exercise also has all the strength benefits of the wall push-ups, and develops bone density as well. However, if you are only trying to increase bone density and maintain a basic level of strength, then the wall push-ups that I review in the video are probably a better choice for you.

Happy Stretching!

The Windmill Challenge

There are a lot of very strange challenges out there on the internet. This one isn't very strange, but it is very challenging. The Windmill Challenge is about health, flexibility, and martial arts performance.

Do NOT attempt this challenge unless you are sure of your stability and hip flexibility already. This can be used to improve hip flexibility and speed, but it requires a good amount of skill to even begin, so please use caution.

The challenge is to be able to do ten full circles without touching the ground with your swinging leg, and then repeat using the other leg.

Think you are up for the Windmill Challenge? Be safe, and if you can, give it a try.