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Being a proponent of taking a clod shower in the mornings, people have asked me why? Good question! Why do I do it? It’s not like it’s something that I look forward to every morning , nor is it actually pleasant feeling! It’s the benefits I receive from it, that makes me continue to do it. Think of pure cod liver oil. It tastes like crap, but there are many health benefits from it.

There are many cultures that have been using cold water, either in the form of pouring cold water over themselves, jumping into cold water(lakes or rivers), standing under cold waterfalls, or the modern version of cold showers. Depending on the culture, it is viewed as either spiritual or therapeutic. Presently, we see the therapeutic values of it.

Japanese cold water meditation

So what are the therapeutic benefits of cold water dousing?

  • It wakes you up! Need caffeine to get you awake in the morning? Take a cold shower, and you’ll be ready for the day!! I call it a caffeine jolt on roids.
  • Improves circulation. I feel the benefits of this especially right after I finish my cold shower, while wiping myself down with a towel. I wipe myself in a more “aggressive” manner to really get the blood flowing. I see my skin turning more red, and feel myself actually getting warmer.
  • Improves immunity. Since our bodies are getting better circulation, this helps the body move blood around , therefore aiding one’s body against infections. This increase of circulation may also help in the recovery on injuries. The main word I use here is aid…not cure. Some people might claim that, but I have no background to back this claim up.
  • Helps metabolism. Being subjected to cold, the body has to work harder to maintain a stable temperature. This then speeds up ones burning of body fat. Of course, this is a short term effect, so a cold shower isn’t the absolute answer to losing weight.
  • Good for your skin. Cold water helps retain the natural oils in your skin(and hair) and doesn’t dry out the skin like a hot shower. Therefore, your skin remains for hydrated.

Before explaining on how to start on tips on taking cold showers or dousing, cold water dousing might not be for everyone. The majority of people who don’t want to take a cold shower just dread the thought of it..I can’t blame them. Like I mentioned, it’s not something I truly enjoy. People with weaker immune systems and those with serious heart conditions, should exercise caution when taking cold showers. This is because the sudden changes to body temperature and heart rate may overwhelm the body. If a person is not sure if a cold shower could benefit them, they should ask their doctor.

As with many other things, starting of slowly is the best advise. Before jumping into a cold shower in the morning, getting a massive shock and swear to never do it again, start off with small steps. Do each step for a couple of weeks before going on to the next.

  • The first step would be to fill one’s bathtub with cold water, just stand in the cold water for a 1-2 minutes.
  • The second step would be to wet a hand towel in cold water, and wipe one’s body with it.
  • The third step , or sometimes it’s the final step for some people, is to douse oneself with cold water, using a small bucket. This is the “traditional” method of water dousing, before the days of showers. The nice part of this method is that one can mentally prepare for the cold water. Using breathing helps too. Breath in, then out when you pour the cold water onto oneself. Do this several times. In a shower, one can’t use this “psyching” up between douses, because the water flow is constant.
  • The final step is to take the cold shower. Having gone thru all these steps, it shouldn’t be a big shock to one’s system. As in the 3rd step, mentally prep oneself before starting the cold shower. Myself, I prefer to be standing in the bathtub before turning on the water, rather than letting the shower run, then stepping into the shower. Some people say that they take a cold shower, then run hot water afterwards. Unfortunately, that is not a true cold shower. Stay in the cold water, then afterwards, vigorously wipe oneself with a towel. You will start feeling the body heat up.
  • A final bonus step is taking a cold water bath. Fill the bath with cold water with ice. Lay in the bath for several minutes. This is a nice one for myself, especially on hot summer days!

Starting in the wintertime might not be the best for some people, because the water temperature will be much colder. Also, as with exercising, try to keep it constant thru out the year, so one will not have to restart from the beginning.



  1. Deep fried foods

  2. Sweats/ sugar

  3. Highly processed foods

  4. Fruit juices

  5. Soy milk

  6. Processed meats

  7. Sodas

  8. White flour

  9. High gas foods

  10. Processed oils

  1. Deep Fried Foods

We all love deep fried foods, so do I, but they can be a disaster to one’s health. If eaten often, they can cause obesity, increase heart diseases and diabetes. Many are fried in unhealthy oils, which will be explained in the unhealthy processed oils. They are high in calories. They can have high doses of trans fats. Each time an oil is re-used for frying, its trans fat content increases. However, it’s important to distinguish between these artificial trans fats and trans fats that occur naturally in foods like meat and dairy products. Fried foods may contain acrylamide, which is a toxic substance that can form in foods during high-temperature cooking.

  1. Sweets

Sugar found in sodas, chocolate bars, pastries, cakes etc. are addictive. Many people have a “sugar-tooth” and can’t keep away from it. Too much processed sugars can lead to many health issues, such as tooth decay, diabetes, cancer, weight increase, and even may cause depression. I think the worst culprit are sodas. Because they are in liquid form, one doesn’t feel that they are full, so people chug down sodas like there is no tomorrow.

    1. Highly processed foods

All packaged foods, same as frozen meals, are not ‘real foods’. These foods are high in sugars, to make them taste good, and addictive. They contain some many artificial ingredients, that one needs a chemistry degree to decipher it! Some of these products contain ingredients that produce a hyper-satisfying feeling form eating them. This can cause a food addiction issue. They are loaded with refined, “simple” carbohydrates. These lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels and cause negative health effects. Finally , many of these products are high in unhealthy fats, such as trans fats.

      1. Fruit juices

Working at an elementary school, I see many children’s lunches & snacks packed with fruit juices. Parents are thinking they are doing good by giving the kids a healthy drink. Actually,it isn’t as healthy as one would think. Fruit juices are packed with sugar. They have practically the same amount of calories and sugar content as a sugary soft drink. We think these juices contain antioxidants and vitamins, they lack any fibre at all. One’s better off eating the whole fruit itself, as it will contain fibre, and will make you feel full.

5) Soy milk

Now this one will guarantee to cause a debate. Soy in general is not being viewed as bad. I myself do eat certain soy products, such as tofu, and natto( Japanese fermented soybeans). Soy contains a hormone-like substance called phytoestrogens. As the name indicates, these plant hormones, in a large amounts, might lower libido in men, spur the growth of some types of breast tumours in women, and possibly increase the risk of certain autoimmune disorders like lupus. Soy milk being a liquid, people would ingest more, there is a higher possibility that one’s intake of these phytoestrogens would be high.

      1. Processed meats

Processed meats includes products such as bacon, deli meats, and sausages. It is not so much the problem of nitrates in them, as there are nitrates in certain vegetable, such as beets, that actually have good health benefits, but rather when the processed meats are cooked at a high heat. This high heat can produce nitrosamines which are potentially carcinogenic. As for deli meats, they may contain other products and be high in fats. Best bet is to read the labels, and cut down on consumption of processed meats.

  1. Sodas

A big one to look out for . Regular or diet sodas, in my mind, are all the same. Diet sodas can still cause health problems. Because it is a liquid, people can drink liters of soda, and not feel full. Although we think diet sodas are better, they are not. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, is how the human body stores sugar. When the taste of artificial sweeteners in a soda, hits your brain, it automatically sends a signal to your pancreas to begin producing insulin. Insulin is what tells our cells to either use sugar as food or store it as fat–without it, our bodies can’t process the sugar that lands in our bloodstreams. When your pancreas produces insulin to deal with anticipated sugar, but then no sugar arrives, it confuses your body and disrupts its metabolic process. This may explain why several studies have shown a link between regularly drinking diet soda and metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms that includes larger waist circumference, higher blood pressure, and higher blood sugar.

8) White flour

White flour products are mostly empty of any nutritional value. That is why bread companies have to add nutrients to them to make them more appealing to the consumer. Not only do they have no nutritional value, but they are converted to sugar by your body just as fast as sweet products. Eating foods made with white or refined flour is a sure-fire way to add some inches to ones waist.

  1. High gas foods

There are certain foods that may cause excess bloating, gas, diarrhea or even stomach pains. Such foods consist of wheat, legumes, certain dairy products, certain vegetables (such as cabbage and broccoli), can give these problems. Not everyone may have issues with this foods, but some might. The best is to experiment with these food intolerance. Introduce some of these foods to ones diet, if one gets a negative reaction, then eliminate them, completely if possible.

10) Processed oils

There are several oils out there some better than others, and some promoted as good, but aren’t that great at all. Best for cooking is extra virgin oil, and butter (yes, butter). Two products that are not highly processed. Margarine is out of the question, it is a simple chemical experiment trying to replicate butter in a healthy way, which it is not.

Vegetable oils and even canola oil are highly processed oils. I’m not going into the details, but look into the processing method of these oils and you’ll think twice!


Having travelled to several countries, mainly Asia and Eastern Europe, I have seen, heard and even been thru some precarious incidences. Thus I have made an amalgamation of certain things one should prepare before and be aware of during ones travels.

  1. Before going to your destination, do some research on the area. Find out if there are any risks in that area, be it crime, diseases, sanitation, weather or potential environmental calamities. If there are potentially high probability of being exposed to these risks, then one should consider the worthiness of travelling there. This decision is based on one’s situation: travelling alone,gender, age,health, martial arts training, and one’s mental toughness.

    APTOPIX Severe Weather Arkansas

    Calamities can strike anywhere


  2. Situational awareness. This is a fancy term for being aware of your present environment. Mindfulness is another term that can be used. But, nowadays, I find the term mindfulness has been butchered up by the self-help community, that people forget what the term really meant to be. The main thing is to be “awake”, and not staring down at one’s cellphone, or walking around with earphones blasting music. Even if one is in a conversation, still be aware of our surroundings. I don’t mean being paranoid, but just be conscious of one’s milieu.


    No need to be paranoid!

  3. Scan your room. When I first enter my room, either in a guest house or hotel, I always check it out. I’ll examine the whole place, the washroom…yes, even under the bed. This is just to make sure there are no surprises. Check the locks on the doors to make sure they work properly.

  4. Keep important items(passport, wallet etc) with you always. Unless the place you are staying has a reliable safe, keep the items on you. Having a fake wallet can be useful to have too, just hope you don’t get mugged twice the same day!!

  5. Have an actual paper map. Having GPS on your smartphone is very convenient, but if it breaks, gets stolen or have no access to WiFi or no more data, having that real map will come in handy.

  6. Avoid scams. I fell for one , once. Once was enough. Do your research on certain scams that happen in the location of your vacation. Even if not on a list, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about something, trust your gut instincts, and walk away.

  7. Have a backup plan. Should something arises that inhibits your travel plans, have a second plan. This could be simply from something being closed, or worse, such as civil unrest. In the latter case, that would mean to have some sort of plan of getting out safe.

  8. Have important contact’s information always available. Should an incident happen, be it a crime, accident, major injury or a natural disaster, one should get in touch with the proper contact without any research needed. Inform a next of kin or friend about your exact location. This way they can rapidly assist you in case of difficulty by contacting the government or wire money. Making known to your embassy/consulate that you are travelling in that country is a good option too. Although I never did contact the government on my travel location, looking back on some of the precarious countries of been too, it might have been a good idea!

  9. Learn some of the basics of the local language, with keywords in case of an emergency. Having an attempt to learn of some of the language, you might get more respect form the locals, rather than “How come no one speaks English here?!?”, which I’ve people say and not get a very nice feedback from the locals!

  10. Don’t make yourself an easy target, looking like a tourist. No gaudy/expensive clothing, jewellery, or electronic devices. Don’t stand out.


    Don’t dress like him….

  1. Check with your financial institute if it is a good idea to let them know where you are. Some have a travelling notification systems in place to reduce the rick of fraud.

  2. Make yourself aware of the local laws and customs. Never assume that you will be given special treatment because you’re a foreigner…quite the contrary many times.

Hope these tips may help you out. Most important your travels is have fun and enjoy it! Travelling to different countries is one of the best way to learn about this world and respect others. I learned more about myself and this fantastic planet more than all my years in school!


I’ve been teaching martial arts, specifically Combat Sambo, Submission Wrestling and Kickboxing for over 18 years. Looking at it now, it’s been a long time.

Someone asked me once: “Over the years of teaching, has there been a change in the people that train in your dojo?” Ever since MMA has become more mainstream and gained popularity, I have seen some increase in people who come in and have interest in competing. Some have absolutely no clue on the hardships of becoming a pro fighter. They think it’s as easy as playing a video game. There are those that have showed interest and have actually competed. Some of those even thinking of the big day. Those who do end up competing, either lose interest in it (but continue to train), will want to continue to compete, and those who wanted to taste going pro decide in the end it’s not for them. I still highly praise these students as they got their feet wet and have gone the mile. Unlike those who just talk all the time but don’t pursue.


I would say that the vast majority that come train with me are looking simply for self-defense and getting in better shape. They have little or no interest in competing. Due to this, I do push those who want to compete a bit harder and give extra advice, but I do not want to turn my dojo into a 100% competitive atmosphere, as it will turn away the vast majority of the present and potential students. This of course does not mean I do not train them hard!

I do encourage students to try a competition at least once, especially grappling (as it is the least dangerous of the competitions that I have competed in) to experience a ‘real’ fighting situation, without having to really fight, and there are refs to look over the competitors. Much safer than a real street fight!


Real street fighting ain’t fun!

Stepping into the realm of MMA competition, this starts to become more serious, especially if one decides to go pro. Going pro is not a walk in the park. The fight money, until the big time, is not usually enough to sustain oneself, and the potential for injuries, both physical and mental are high. As I have started competing less myself and concentrating on my students more, I sometimes ask: “Why in the hell would someone wanna go pro in MMA? The potential damages…it doesn’t make sense!!” But then I think back to my experience fighting in the Combat Sambo Worlds (basically MMA with a jacket on), I remember the extreme high I got from competing, and wanted more. The rush. When I talk about that feeling of elation to people who don’t appreciate combat sports competitions, they look at me like I’m some axe murder! So I change subjects. Quickly.


The psycho Axe Murder!


Teaching is not an easy thing to do, as many people think it is. There are up and downs in teaching. Not many people are able to become good instructors, especially for a long time.

Starting with the downside of teaching, one has to be able to deal with all sorts of people. The bad side of dealing with so many types of characteristics, dealing with negative people. If one does not know who to deal with these people, they can suck all our energy and end up mentally scarring you and could lead to the destruction of one’s school. Sometimes I have no choice but to make these people “leave” my dojo, as other good students may quit because of them.

Instructors are people that are suppose to give inspiration to their students to make them succeed. The big dilemma is, where does the instructor get their own inspirations? We constantly give, but without any positive outside intake, the instructor will be in a deficit and will lack the ability to give good inspirations to one’s students. I have gone thru this and to seek outside inspirations for myself. This will usually come in the form of reading certain books, listening to speakers and personally talking to people who give me an inspirational upbeat.

Even though I am an instructor, I have to keep a mind set of being a student too, looking for new and perhaps improved techniques and to me most important, teaching methods. Those instructors that assume to “know” all are actually fooling themselves. Better to be honest and say:”I don’t know” and research into it. That does not mean one is compelled to master this technique or training method, unless they feel it is advantageous.


The know it all teacher


The one real element that picks me up and see why I continue teaching and pass on my knowledge, is when I see success in my students. Not only when they start perfecting techniques, get into shape and perform well in sparring or competition, but also when they tell me that them being under my tutelage, their life has become more satisfying. More confidence in themselves, better interaction with others, and a more wholesome lifestyle. This uplifts me and gives me a purpose to continue teaching. I tell myself: “This is why I am here.”




We have heard over the years of pro MMA fighters accused of using or being caught using PEDs.

As with all sports that start having higher and higher pay incomes, the usage of performance enhancing drugs (PED) become increasingly common. In MMA they have become more and more predominant, and some pro fighters have failed in the testing of these drugs.

Using these drugs are to give an edge over your opponent, but can come with several health risks. Some are willing to gamble with these risks to get to the top.

I will be looking at  most commonly seen PEDs. These are:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Androstenedione
  • Human growth hormone
  • Erythropoeietin
  • Diuretics
  • Stimulants


Anabolic steroids


The main use for anabolic-androgen steroids, or roids is to increase ones muscle mass and strength. Testosterone is the main anabolic steroid hormone produced by one’s own body.

Testosterone has two main effects on one’s body:

  • The anabolic effect : promoting muscle building;
  • The androgenic effect: creating male traits, such as facial hair and a deeper voice.

A more alluring part of steroids for fighters is that they may aid them in recovering from a grueling workout more quickly by reducing the muscle damage that occurs during the training. This permits fighters to train harder and more frequently without overtraining, a real big benefit in the sport of MMA.

Anabolic steroids have recognized medical uses, but improving athletic performance is not considered one of them. Athletes frequently use anabolic steroids that are synthetic modifications of testosterone. They are illegally manufactured to be virtually undetectable by present drug testing. Considering that these drugs are made explicitly for athletes, with no medical use, this poses further health risks as they are not liable to any government safety standards, potentially being impure or mislabeled.

Several athletes take steroids at much higher doses than what is usually prescribed for medical reasons. Due to the fact that there is no real official research on the effects of high dosages of steroids, most of what is known about high dosage effects comes from observing actual users.

Physical side effects may arise with the use of anabolic steroids.

In men, these may arise:

  • Gynecomastia (enlarging breast) aka bitch tits(!)
  • Balding
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Infertility ( good thing for some!)
  • Prostate gland enlargement

In women, these may arise:

  • A deeper voice
  • An enlarged clitoris(!)
  • Increased body hair(!)
  • Balding
  • Infrequent or absent periods

Both men and women steroid users may develop:

  • Serious acne
  • Increased possibility of tendinitis and tendon ruptures
  • Liver disease
  • Increase in LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol)
  • Decrease in HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart and circulatory complications
  • Increase in aggressive behavior
  • Psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression)
  • Drug dependency
  • Infections or contractible diseases like HIV or hepatitis thru steroids being injected
  • Teenagers may experience inhibited growth and development




Human growth hormone (HGH)


Human growth hormone, also known as gonadotropin, is a hormone that has an anabolic effect. Athletes take it to enhance muscle mass and performance. Nonetheless, there is no irrefutable evidence that HGH improve one’s athletic performance.

The side effects of using HGH are potential:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fluid retention
  • Vision problems
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Harmed glucose regulation
  • Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)



Erythropoietin _EPO_ Powder_ InjectionErythro_1

Erythropoietin is a type of hormone used to treat anemia in those suffering severe kidney disease. What this hormone does it helps increase the creation of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This then causes a reaction in improved flow of oxygen to the muscles. The synthetic version of erythropoietin is Epoetin, commonly used to boost the endurance of athletes.

Improper use of this drug can boost the risk of thrombotic (blood clotting) circumstances, such as stroke, heart attack and pulmonary embolism (artery blockage in the lungs).




Diuretics are drugs that shift one’s body’s natural balance of fluids and electrolytes (salts) and can potentially lead to dehydration. For MMA fighters they are used to help in competing in a lower weight division, by decreasing one’s water weight. Diuretics may aid to pass drug tests by diluting (“masking”) one’s urine.



These drugs have quite detrimental side effects:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Low potassium levels
  • Rash
  • Gout
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Coordination and balance deficiency
  • Death (!!)




Stimulant drugs are used by athletes to enhance endurance, reduce fatigue, suppress appetite, increase alertness and raise aggressiveness.

The most common stimulant drugs are caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (found in cold medicines) and amphetamine.

The easily accessible energy drinks usually contain high amounts of caffeine and other stimulants (e.g. guarana, taurine). More dangerous and highly addictive drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are stimulants and have been used by athletes.

Like all drugs, there are side effects:

  • Nervousness and irritability that may decrease concentration skills
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Heatstroke
  • Tolerance, making athletes needing higher dosages to get the effect.
  • Addiction

More serious side effects are:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Fast weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Mild hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hallucinations
  • Stroke
  • Heart attacks


Most MMA events test for these drugs. Having lived in Japan , it was common knowledge that the Japanese MMA events, even now, do not test for these substances. Cost would be a reason, but the mentality is that it’s the fighters choice to take these drugs, knowing fully the health risks associated with them. This being said, these types of drugs are not as easy to purchase as in other parts of the world. Several Japanese fighters I know myself are not even big consumers of athletic supplements either.


Many people look at the short-term benefits of these drugs. This is especially in athletes who are looking for the win, and become the champion. The long-term health risks of these drugs should be thought out carefully. One may become champion, but in the end suffer bad health, causing suffering to oneself and those around you, and even death, the ultimate suffering.




There have been reported deaths of athletes dying from extreme weight cutting in MMA recently. Not just deaths, but also athletes in dire condition at the weight-ins.

This has happened in other combat sports, even at the amateur level. Wrestling(real wrestling folks), has been a major victim of this, with even reported deaths of young athletes that died from weight cutting regimes.

What  is weight cutting? It is using different methods for a competitor to drop to a lower weight class. The athlete would go down to a lower weight class, then hopefully gaining the weight back  in hours before their match to gain a size advantage. The theory is that the more weight a fighter dropped dehydration , the more they could regain after weighing in and hold a size advantage over his opponent. An athlete that has more muscle has an advantage over those that are not willing to cut the extra water weight. But, athletes and coaches never considered the process a health risk.

Sometimes the effort to qualify for the weight class could be often be more challenging than the actual competition itself! I’ve seen myself fighters spend more time worrying about their weight rather than the technical training.

The methods of weight cutting include hours of spent on exercise bikes, in saunas and plastic suits; taking laxatives, diuretic, even induced vomiting and repeated spitting to force any trace liquids from the body. Some weird techniques include that an athlete would stand on his head to redistribute the weight in his body and shave a few ounces/grams at the scale(!).

This cutting phase would cause muscle cramps, insomnia, irritability and feelings of illness.

These weight-ins are done the day before, so athletes tried to drop as much weight as possible to make weight. Athletes have been too exhausted or cramped to move on their own, they had to be carried or helped to the scales. Recent videos of this on some pro-MMA events have surfaced. But this has been going on, even at the amateur level for years.

One of my former Muay Thai teammates(in the early 90s) cut  too much weight to put himself into a lower weigh class. The weigh-in was the same day as the event, so he had little time to recover his strength. When he entered into the ring, he looked feeble.  I told the other teammates watching :”Man, he’s gonna lose.”  They all looked at me in disbelief on why I would say such a thing. I replied:”Geez, he barely made it thru the ropes!!”

The most extreme result of this weight cutting has been death. Recently there has been a pro MMA fighter that died from his weight cut. Myself, I knew that this was not the first time this has happened in a combat sport weight cutting. In 1997, there were 3 NCAA wrestlers that died within a 5 week period. These deaths caused a major wake up for the NCAA.

How did these deaths happen? The extreme loss of fluid from the bloodstream weakens the cardiovascular functions and reduces endurance. If the water is not restored, blood flow to the skin and muscles will start to shut down to preserve the remaining fluid. Without he ability to sweat, the body begins to overheat. With no oxygen , the muscle start to perish. This can trigger a potential life-threatening condition called Rhabdomyolysis, in which the staved muscle fibers break down and flood the bloodstream with proteins, clogging up the kidneys, causing kidney failure and stressing the electrical processes that support the heart , resulting in cardiorespiratory failure.

Weight cutting seems to be part of the sport, a kind of rite of passage for its participants. I myself have gone thru these weight cutting cycles, but never to the extremes that some others put themselves thru. I was fortunate to have had excellent and compassionate coaches(apart from the Muay Thai trainer) who never pushed or forced us to cut weight so drastically. Cutting some weight is fine, but where it puts one’s life in danger, I don’t think so.

Having had such terrible travesties that happened in the NCAA, they cleaned up their act by banning plastic sauna suits and saunas themselves in training areas. Increasing the amount of weight classes, and weigh-ins are made the day of the competitions rather than the day before. This eliminates the time necessary to recover from excessive weight cutting.

Criticizing the practice of weight cutting, something so intertwined with combat sports’ “proud” tradition, is like criticizing the sport itself.

Majority of amateur MMA or grappling competitions have the weigh-ins the day of. I think it is the smart way to go. Doing it the day before, tempt athletes to cut more weight. I believe a big key player responsible to over see the athletes weight cutting are  the coaches. A competent coach should track their fighters’ weight and body fat percentage (if possible) throughout the year, to make sure the athlete does not drop weight to quickly and stays closer to their fighting weight yearly.

By a fighter being close to their fighting weight, it will be an easier, and less grueling task to make the fight weight. The fighter can concentrate on technical and strategical training, rather than being possessed on how much they weight. Furthermore, one would be able to keep more muscle mass and stay stronger with this method. Doing drastic weight cutting, one starts to lose muscle too.

Extreme weight cutting makes it less attractive for young athletes to join those combat sports that still practice it. After the NCAA introduced the new rules on weight cutting, there was an increase of participants in wrestling. One has to remember that even if an athlete survives there are potential long-term effects on the body. These effects can range from damages to the metabolic system, brain, kidney and vision problems. Is it worth it to go to those extremes?


During my stay in Japan, I had the grand opportunity to teach a Combat Sambo seminar at my friend, Katsuomi Inagaki’s dojo: Pancrase Osaka.


Ps Lab Osaka

The seminar covered knife defense. Due to the fact that it was not a very long (less than 2 hrs), I was not able to teach several techniques, rather a few, but cover them in depth.We were using small plastic water bottles as the knives, because there weren’t any training knives available.


As always, I cover the basic strategies for knife defense. Such as, due the most to make sure that one doesn’t have to go bare-handed vs. a knife wielding opponent. The concept of running away is great, but in certain situations, running is not a first or realistic option. Analyzing your environment quickly is vital. Before employing barehanded techniques, use anything around you as a blockade (eg.table), shield (eg.bag/briefcase), or as a weapon (eg.chair). Should an escape route become available, use it!

There is also a misconception that a knife wielding person just wants your money. There are violent knife attacks that can happen out of the blue. Also, even if you do give them your money, the assailant might still attack you!

In the situation where we are stuck defending barehanded, one’s stance should be very tight, arms close-in, like you’re stuck in the ring corner. Having your hands out too far can get one’s hands/fingers cut up.

I explained that there are 5 general defense zones: straight, high-right side,low-right side,high-left side and low left side. These zones deal with which area the knife is coming from, rather than the issue of it being a slashing or stabbing attack and what knife grip is used in the attack.

The main objective is when engaged in a knife defense situation, is to be constantly aware of where the knife is and to disarm the assailant when able to. Simply striking an opponent can help in making distraction, but doesn’t mean you’ll disarm the opponent. Depending on the situation, disarming the knife would be the best option, in my opinion.


We covered simple disarming techniques when the opponent was in a controlled position. All the defense, takedowns, disarming techniques  that I teach are very similar to basic grappling techniques, so one doesn’t forget them easily should one do grappling arts. For example, a knife disarming technique resembles a heel hook technique.


After going over the techniques I made them try out in a “sparring” drill. Basically using 30% force to try and defend against a knife attack. Just like basic combat sparring, this will help people grasp the concept of the techniques in a more realistic manner, with pressure and stress, rather than plainly go over the moves without any resistance. Because it is simulating a knife attack, stress levels can rise, so a supervised training is highly recommend!

We ended up with a Q&A session. I explained that most knife attacks are to the body, as it is a larger target, just like gun attacks, that’s why there are body vest for protection.

I was very impressed with the number of participants from the Ps Lab Osaka gym. There were even three pro-fighters whom participated. They were very open-minded about the techniques, because many don’t do this type of training in a MMA gym.


Great times!!

Hopefully I’ll be invited back to teach another seminar on another topic!




I will be giving a Combat Sambo seminar June 20 at the P’sLab in Osaka, Japan.

Will be covering knife defense techniques.

For more info:




Katsuomi Inagaki was with Pancrase from the start.He participated in Pancrase’s first event in 1993. He is owner and head instructor of Inagaki-gumi P’s Lab Osaka.

This past summer, during my stay in Japan, I had the opportunity to meet up with Inagaki-san. I’ve been to the P’s Lab Osaka twice in the past two years. I consider him a great coach and a personal friend of mine. During that meeting I interviewed him.

When did you start training martial arts? What martial art did  you start with?  

I started martial arts at the age of 12 years old. I started with learning Judo.

What motivated you to begin training?

While I was in primary school, watching pro-wrestling, boxing ,and other martial arts on TV, I got interested fighting sports. At my middle school, I entered the Judo club.

When and why did you think of becoming a pro fighter?

When I was 15,at my school’s career consulting, I was asked what kind work would you like to do in the future, I replied I wanted to be a pro-wrestler, I want to work in pro-wrestling.

What was the experience of your first pro fight?

I felt a strong blood-thirsty feeling from my opponent ,I thought it was kill or be killed.

In Mixed Martial Arts, one could get injured whilst potential deadly attacks are allowed. There is always a probability that one could kill or one could be killed.
I believed that I had to be prepared to fight with those possibilities.

What were your good experiences with Pancrase? Do you believe there are some things that could improve?

Despite the general common knowledge everyone had about Pro Wrestling, in order to make an ideal Pro Wrestling , both Suzuki-san and Funaki-san, using their youth, knowledge and energy launched Pancrase, causing a boom. In order to launch Pancrase, we conducted as a group of people with passion and talent and shared both joys and sorrows.
I truly believe it was a good experience.

From bare hands to gloves, from ring to cage, established a ranking system etc… Pancrase is always improving to get better. So personally I don’t believe there are things that need improvements.

When and why did you finish your pro career?

By objectively looking at my body’s  condition (both elbows operated on, a ruptured Achilles tendon etc..) and my sense of fighting, I didn’t think I would become champion. So in 2003 I retired.

When you were a pro fighter, and now seeing pro-fighters from the outside, have you personally noticed a mental change in certain points or doubts?

In my pro days, rather than looking at the minus points of an unstable and dangerous occupation, I was more fulfilled that I was making a living in a job I liked.

Now that I am beside my pro-fighters, I again feel the difficulty of living off job that one loves, such as pro-fighting. The pay is unstable, serious injuries happen, there is a possibility of death, it is not a job that will last a lifetime.

Besides the aspect of the income, and   the point of being worried and concerned, for those fighters with family I believe it is a very harsh job.

Furthermore, while I’m watching my fighters compete, rather than the win or loss, I started to want them coming back safe. In martial arts there is potential for injuries and attacks that could kill are allowed. One could get a serious injury, one could even die, is this type of dangerous competition necessary? I’ve become to start thinking of these things.

What are your challenges as an instructor?

Myself I can only teach techniques that I have used but cannot teach techniques that I haven’t used. While there are new techniques that come out, I don’t have enough knowledge to teach my active students. In order to deeply teach a technique, one must refine it thru sparring or competitions. I leave the pursuit of new skills up to my active athletes. Things such as creating an environment where good practice can be done, preparing for a competition, proper attitude during practice, general way of thinking etc, I pass down what I personally felt thru my own experiences. In my experience so far, what are challenges are things that I can only do myself and to find things that are needed.

If a student wanted to go pro, what kind of advice would you give him?

The income is unstable, one might get a serious injury, or one might even die. However, dealing with pro-fighting seriously there is excitement, tension, gratitude, happiness, frustration, worries, finding solutions, various emotions, and the people involved , these thing will make life more colorful. One has to truly decide and prepare by oneself.

Compared to when you where pro, what is the current situation of MMA in Japan, and what has changed?

From the time I was a pro-fighter from the 1990s to early 2000s, the was a rise in interest and the number of people interested the results and content of the fighting sports increased. It was an era where the promotion of holding pro-fighting sports was on a rise. There was a high enthusiasm by those interested in seeing who was the top and what were the best fighting styles. Top fighters were able to get higher fight-money. There was a dream.
There are fewer people who are interested now, the scales of the venues have shrunk, and only a handful of fighters who live solely off their fight money.

Pancrase changed from ring to cage, what is your viewpoint on this?

There is no real advantage or disadvantage in the change due to the fight breaks due to fighters coming out of the ropes. Due to the fact the cage is suitable for mixed martial arts; I think it is a good change.

What is your favorite/best technique?

The Face Lock. I like the sense of securing the control of the direction of the face.





Sambo is an acronym for the Russian phrase “Self-Defence Without Weapons” (SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya).Doing the research to write about the history about Sambo was not an easy task.Going thru several different text, it seemed they all had different versions of dates and lack of information. Some dates did not make sense. Finally comparing these texts I was able to find some common grounds and questions I had.


The history of Sambo can go back before the Russian Revolution, back to the days of Imperial Russia. During Imperial Russia, there  was a Japanese Navy admiral, Hirose Takeo who was sent to Russia for studies while staying at the military attache in St. Petersburg. He was said to have taught at the Russian military officer school Judo/ self-defense.



Hirose Takeo

H.Takeo trained Judo at the Kodokan and earned his 4th Dan. During his era, while training at the Kodokan, there still was influence from the Tenjin Shiunyo Ryu  style of Japanese Ju-Jutsu, therefore practitioners also learned self-defense applications. Due to his high skills in Judo/Ju-Jutsu, it is assumed that he taught the Russian officers and effective self-defense system.H.Takeo returned to Japan in 1902. He later died in 1904 a national hero during the Russo-Japanese War(1904-1905).

There is an other obscure person not mentioned often in the history of Sambo. This person was Ivan Vladimirovich Lebedev. I. Lebedev trained mainly in French Wrestling(what they called Greco-Roman Wrestling back then) and weightlifting. He was one of the few experts those days in Russia.



Ivan Lebedev

He developed the police self-defense system based on French Wrestling ,Judo/Ju-Jutsu. In his manual “Self-Defense and arrest” (1915) he selected 50 techniques of various hold escapes, strikes, knife and revolver defenses and escorting and arresting techniques. His other combat manual was “French Wrestling”(1915), demonstrating Greco-Roman Wrestling techniques.

Thru out many Sambo historical documents, three people are named as founders of Sambo V.Oshchepkov, V.Spiridonov and A.Kharlampiev. Of the three V.Oshchepkov could be said as the real founder of Sambo.

Vasily   Oshchepkov was born in 1893  on the Sakhalin Island, which is located north of Japan. His parents died when he was 11 yrs old, and then was orphaned off. This was the period of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, and Japan occupied the southern part( and where he lived) of the Sakhalin Island.



Vasily Oshchepkov

When the Russo-Japanese War was over, Oshchepkov ,in 1908, was sent to Japan to attend the Russian Orthodox seminary mission located in Tokyo. While in Tokyo, he received training to become a interpreter and also trained Judo ta the Kodokan. In 1913, he earned his Nidan(2nd degree black belt). From 1918 to 1926 he was an agent gathering intelligence for the Red Army about Japan. He was first posted in Vladivosktok in 1918, then in 1921 Northern Sakhalin Island. From 1925-26 he was posted in Japan.

Upon return to Vladivostok in 1926, worked as an interpreter and Judo instructor. Along with the collaboration with a Boxing and Savate specialist P.Azanchevsky, Oshchepkov was able to add the punches of boxing and kicks of Savate into the self-defense system he was creating.

Oshchepkov began promoting his system of self-defense for the need of  hand-to-hand combat training for the Red Army. He started giving instruction thru out the sport clubs of Siberia and importantly in the Novosibirsk branch of the Dynamo sport society for  military students.

The military specialists were interested in his training methods, and in 1929 was transferred to Moscow to teach hand-to-hand combat to the CDKA(Sport Club of the Central House of the Red Army). In 1931, he took part in writing a manual for the Red Army implementing hand-to-hand techniques including bayonet fighting, fighting with trench shovel, defending unarmed vs armed opponents.

To make his Judo system spread nationwide Oshchepkov needed to train more instructors. In 1931, was working for the State Central Institute of Physical Culture as head instructor of his Judo system. There Oshchepkov was able to work along other teachers of Greco-Roman Wrestling, Boxing and Fencing and this was added to his combat system.

Oshchepkov, between 1931-33 was teaching Judo military police officers at the Central Higher School of Militia. He looked at ,thru interviews, real conflicts the officers had with criminals to better adapt his combat system for the police.

Another person, who is said to be involved in the development of Sambo is Victor Spiridonov.Born in 1883, he was a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War and WWI. In 1923 he began to work  in the new sports society “Dynamo” , used by special agents and military officers. He started to develop his own system of self-defense.


Victor Spiridonov


He based his system  mainly on Ju-Jutsu and other Western combat arts (ex. Greco-Roman wrestling , Boxing). As he never traveled to Japan, it is said that he didn’t learn Ju-Jitsu from any real instructor, rather from books along with testing out other techniques on his own. His system was officially adopted by the Soviet security forces within the Dynamo. He first used the word Ju-Jutsu in his system, then finally used Sambo as an abbreviation for “self-defense without weapons”. He wrote 3 books, his first 1927. Spridonov kept his system confidential to internal security officers.

Oshchepkov attempted to get better relationship with the Central Council Division of Self-Defense without Weapons,headed by Spiridonov  in the Dynamo. Oshchepkov and Spiridonov’s students met for unofficial matches. Unlike Spiridonov’s pupils,  Oshchepkov’s students competed in many more open competitions, and defeated easily Spiridonov’s students. Not wanting to acknowledge the flaws of his system, Spiridonov stopped all contact with Oshchepkov. He claimed his system was “secret” and kept to internal security officers , and stopped doing external demonstrations. Perhaps of jealousy, Spiridonov was able to eject Oshchepkov from all Dynamo contacts and the Central Higher School of Militia.

Oshchepkov’s subdivided his system into “Judo Combat Division”(combat) and “Judo Freestyle Wrestling”(sport) and was taught at the State Central Institute of Physical Culture. The basis of his system was the Kodokan Judo  techniques, but because of contact with students in Moscow from different nationalities, he included techniques from thees ethnic wrestling systems. These systems included: Georgian Chidaoba, Armenian Koh, Azerbaijani Gulesh, Kazakh Kures, Uzbeki Kurash, Turkmeni Goresh, and Tajik Gushtingiri.With the wide participation of ethnic wrestling styles at Sambo competitions, it cultivated the techniques of Sambo.

Oshchepkov’s “Judo Combat Division” was a system especially designed for the use of the military. This included such techniques of fighting unarmed vs an unarmed opponent and/or armed opponent in close distances. It also included fighting at close quarters ,armed vs armed opponent. The striking techniques were taken from Japanese traditional Ju-Jutsu ,Boxing, Chinese Wushu and Savate.

In 1933, Oshchepkov published the first competition rules for his Judo system. The Sambo uniform came to light. A jacket of special design,shorts and soft leather shoes were introduced.

In 1937, a dark shadow came upon the development of Sambo. Japan invaded China and the Soviet Union sent weapons and advisors to China. The diplomatic relationship between Japan and USSR deteriorated. Judo programs were removed from all institutes. Becuse of Oshchepkov’s past history of living in Japan, he was charged for spying for Japan and arrested. He died some days later in prison at the age of 44.

Although a repression on Oschepkov’s system, the Soviet state did not want to disestablish an invaluable combat sport and self-defense system. In 1938, Oshchepkov’s former students took over the reign and held a conference. There they decided that the creation of the Soviet Freestyle Wrestling system was proclaimed. To protect themselves from the possibility of Stalin’s demented purges,and be politically correct, they  declared that the Soviet Freestyle Wrestling was based on ethnic wrestling styles of the Soviet Union, and not that of Japanese Judo.

Oshchepkov’s students, headed by Anatoly Kharlampiev continued in honing the Soviet Red Army’s hand-to-hand combat system. They published manuals for the military, which were used in World War Two. Any further development was put on hold during the war.



Anatoly Kharlampiev

After the war, Kharlampiev in 1945 was assigned to the Defense Sport Department. There he was chief instructor of hand-to-hand combat for the NKVD(People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs).   Spiridonov died in 1943 at the age of 60.

In 1946, the All-USSR Committee of Physical Culture and Sports officially recognized “Sambo Free Wrestling”. Competitions resume in 1947 and in 1948 Sambo wrestling  acquired its current name.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the division of sport and combat Sambo was made. Combat Sambo was restricted to the military, internal security forces and law enforcement. The rest of the population trained in Sport Sambo.

During this period,Kharlampiev had a big role in the transmission of sport and combat Sambo. Several manuals were published by him. Kharlampiev was portrayed as the “creator” of Sambo thru press articles and even films, by traveling thru out the Soviet Union learning techniques from ethnic wrestling systems. This was a Soviet propaganda plan to distance the truth that Sambo’s fundamentals that came from Japanese Judo/Ju-Jutsu. Kharlampiev never proclaimed in his manuals  that he was the creator, but never denounced it either.

In the 1960s Sambo started getting international attention. Sambo wrestlers entered international Judo competitions. In 1962 USSR won medals at the European Judo Championships and at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In 1966 ,FILA (International Federation of Amateur Wrestling) accepted Sambo as a third style of international wrestling. International Sambo competitions started. These were all Sport Sambo competitions.

In 1984, the creation of FIAS(International Amateur Sambo Federation) , separating from FILA. In 2001, the first World Combat Sambo Championships started.






Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation, Thomas A. Green & Joseph R. Svinth, 2010.


Commando Sambo : Giho.Japan Commando Sambo Federation.1992.