Sunday, July 26, 2009


Baki, the Sportsman

To prepare for Yujiro's test, Baki hits the training field.  He starts off with some basic stretching.  Stretching is very important for increasing range of motion within the body and research shows that stretching after a workout decreases muscle soreness the following day.  Also, the best thing about stretching is that it requires little effort and can be done almost anywhere at any time.  

Types of Stretching

The types of stretching are passive and active. A passive stretch is one in which the muscles are relaxed and moved by something such as gravity, a partner, or body position.  One of the main passive stretches is called a "static stretch."  The portion of the body being stretched should feel a tension bordering on discomfort, but not be painful.  The stretch should be held for a period of 30 seconds to 2 minutes in order for it to be effective.  An active stretch, is a stretch in which the muscles of the body are contracting while the stretch is occurring, creating a more stable stretch. 
Another type of stretch is a dynamic stretch, which is classified as an active-passive stretch.  The muscles undergoing a dynamic stretch are partly flexed and are propelled using momentum through a muscles range of motion, but not any further, as to avoid injury.
After a quick stretch, Baki goes for a run.


Running is a great exercise for developing muscular endurance in the legs, cardio-respiratory endurance, and balance.  You can pick a distance you're comfortable with, or a time limit and just run the whole thing at a steady pace, or you can break it up into intervals of a walk-run, walk-run-sprint, or run-sprint.  If you're not training for a particular even such as a track meet or a marathon, it's best for your overall fitness if you mix it up a little with distance runs, sprints, hill sprints, or timed intervals.
Next, Baki moves onto one-armed pull-ups.


Pull-ups, whatever version, generally work the muscles of the back and the biceps.  To graduate to one-armed pull-ups it is important to take these steps:  First of all, always exercise with proper range of motion.  That means you have to go all the way down, to a full extension of the arms (where you hang just for a split second), and you come all the way up to where at least your chin comes over the bar.  After you are able to do 10-15 repetitions of a type of pull-up, it is time to move onto an assisted one-arm pull-up.  Essentially, one arm grasps the bar and the other holds onto the pulling arm for body stability.  When you are able to consistently get 7-10 repetitions in this fashion, you might just be ready to do a free one-arm pull-up, but you might find you have to wait until you're up to 10-15 of the assisted one arms.  Try to change it up.  In one workout you can do normal pull-ups and, in another, assisted and, in another, you can mix and match.  
Baki then moves onto fingertip push-ups.

Fingertip Push-ups

It goes without saying that you should be able to do a normal push-up before attempting a fingertip push-up, but I'll go ahead and put that out there.  It's probably in your best interest, if you've never done fingertip push-ups before, to try to do them on carpet or some type of mat, because it will hurt your fingers.  After you've built sufficient finger strength, you can then move onto hard flooring or cement.  Be patient, it may take some time.   After you feel fairly comfortable with fingertip push-ups.  This meaning, you can do 10-15 on a hard surface, you may feel like you want something a little harder.  If that's the case, just lift your pinky off the ground.  You'll be surprised just how much that little fella helps you out.  You may continue in the fashion until you are using just your thumb and index finger and then finally just your thumb (you may also try just your index finger, but this is something of aLONGTERM accomplishment).  If at any point during fingertip push-ups, you feel great pain-- STOP!  It should be moderately difficult, but it shouldn't feel like your fingers are about to break off.  
Finally, Baki moves on to some reflex training.

Reflex Training

Baki uses an old Chinese Kung Fu method of training, in which the practitioner stops a bird from breaking into flight by lowering his arm just as the bird goes to jump into the air.  Honestly, I'm not sure where you'd get a bird, or how you'd get good enough at this to even practice it, so I'm not going to speculate.  However, what we can take from this is that reflex training is a good thing.  
You may train your reflexes in a variety of ways.  For instance, you can have a partner stand a few feet away from you with a tennis ball.  As soon as he drops the tennis ball, your job is to catch it.  Also, you can have a partner run in front of you and you copy whatever he does.  If he jumps, you jump.  If he darts off at 90 degrees, do the same.  It can get complicated, but it's a good way to work your reflexes because it is putting your body under stress while you're having to react to something.  You can also watch TV and wait for a particular queue, such as a scene change or a word that begins with a particular letter and snap out a punch or kick in response to the queue. And, as always, sparring is a great way to work your reflexes as well. 

Yujiro shows up, in his typical bad timing, and interrupts Baki's training, mocking him for his methods.  He enrages Baki when he shows him he killed the Yasha Ape and tells him he has one month to get ready to fight.  It's a good time, I think, to go over what I like to call "Anime Time."  

"Anime Time"

In anime and manga, there are periods of time where a certain character reaches completely new levels of power and skill in a short amount of time.  Often, this level of power is in inverse proportion to the amount of time spent training and in direct proportion to the amount of danger or physical harm the character will be subjected to.  As a friend of mine once joked: "If you could find a way to train that lasted only 12 seconds, but would almost assuredly kill you and somehow found a way to survive, you'd be the strongest guy on earth." Unfortunately (or fortunately, I haven't decided), that is not the way it works in the real world.  In order to be good at anything, you have to practice.  In order to be strong, you have to train on a regular basis.  There is no short road to anything, no magic potion to make you a superhero (still looking, though!); if you train hard and put the hours in, while recuperating effectively, you will get stronger.
A second note on anime time: you can generally take a time that a character trains and expand it up to the next degree of time.  For instance, Baki is going to train for a month before he fights Yujiro, so that should probably be expanded to a year (if going by what I just said), 310 days (if multiplying days by 10), or 10 months (if multiplying months by 10).  Basically, if you're looking for results anywhere near what an anime character could expect to gain from training, it will probably take you about 10 times as long.
At last, Baki decides he needs to experience the horrors of the battlefield, just as his father did.

Military Combat

Military Combat is real combat+.  It's taking a situation where there are no rules and giving everybody weapons and the training to use them.  War is not pretty and it can make the softest man and break the hardest.  Next time, we'll go into it a little further.  

Until then, train hard!
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